The Internet has long been anchored in people's minds as a fixed and familiar part of everyday life. As soon as a problem or a need becomes apparent, the search for appropriate solutions is primarily conducted online. Advertising is largely ignored or simply excluded by ad blockers, especially due to the immense density of relevant playouts. This applies to both B2C and B2B.

If companies today want to effectively operate web-based customer acquisition and customer retention, they must place this development in particular, and thus their target group, at the centre of all their efforts. In practice, this means an absolute requirement for the provision of content that actually helps the respective (potential) customers to meet their challenges or wishes and, in the course of this, convinces them of the relevant usefulness of their own products or services. Content marketing as a discipline of online marketing pursues exactly that in its core. Many companies have recognized the relevance of content marketing and actively adopt corresponding approaches. However, not all of them follow a concrete strategy. Although this is in fact indispensable for a target-oriented implementation.

What is, and how does content marketing work?

Content marketing essentially comprises the strategic planning, generation and playout of content to a previously defined target group as well as their typical customer journey. In the course of this, the company's own goods or services are primarily referred to indirectly or promoted through the persuasive power of corresponding content. This can be done via the company website, but also via other channels such as social media or newsletters.

In contrast to classic online marketing approaches, such as banner advertising, content marketing does not focus on the services to be sold, but on the problems or needs of (potential) customers, i.e. readers, viewers or listeners of the content provided. Customer acquisition or customer loyalty takes place very subtly here. Described in a highly simplified way, this succeeds according to the following customer-side thought pattern: Company A understands my concerns better than Company B, so I make use of the services provided by Company A.

Ideally, the branding of the content marketing company and its positioning in the minds of (potential) customers and ultimately in the market is pushed enormously. Because with the continuous provision of target group-specific, highly value-added content, the expert status of the company, the trust in its services and, last but not least, the number of those who consume its content grows. Ultimately, many new leads and customers can be generated.

In addition, the customer relationship is strengthened. The probability that existing customers will buy again and again from the right company is significantly increased, provided that there is a continuous supply of optimal content. Ideally, such customers will eventually even develop into genuine advocates of the brand, who in turn generate buyers.

Furthermore, such processes do not remain hidden from the major search engines. Put simply, they interpret the frequent and extensive use of content as an indication of a good customer experience. As a result, the content concerned, or the pages on which it is found, tends to receive an increased positioning in the ranking. Consequently, content marketing is also an important factor in search engine optimization (SEO). Due to the increased visibility within the search engines, more and more (potential) customers reach the corresponding pages, which further increases its potential with regard to customer acquisition and customer loyalty.


Why is a strategy so important in content marketing?

Content marketing is - as the previous section has made clear - an extremely comprehensive discipline whose measures achieve a variety of (reciprocal) effects. Proceeding here without a precise strategy is like erecting a building without first drawing up a construction plan. In both cases, the prospect of ultimately achieving a completely satisfactory result is nil.

Without a strategically systematic marketing approach, the previously mentioned multi-layered advantages can even turn into the opposite. The marketer loses the overview within the numerous directions of impact. Since the target group as well as its customer journey and relevant keywords may not have been determined at all, the challenges and needs of (potential) customers are not adequately covered. This weakens the own expert status as well as the ranking. Ultimately, this results in an enormous waste of resources.

The structure of a typical content marketing strategy

Of course, it is not possible to provide a detailed content marketing strategy here that is sure to work in every company context. Rather, it is important to clarify the measures that must always be taken into account when setting one up. Basically, a content marketing strategy or the path to it is divided into these phases:

At this point, the first step is to create a basis for further planning and implementation. Primarily, the goals that content marketing pursues in the specific company context are defined as well as the target group or personas and their typical customer journey, to which the content is directed. Likewise, the main keywords are to be determined here, which will then show up across all content. At best, (potential) customers receive the optimal content at every touch point with the company during their journey. Potentially beneficial topics are elicited in this phase.

In the second phase, the focus is on the organization of the operational process. This is done with a view to the respective customer journey and the brand core. Clear messages are formulated that optimally convey one's own identity, the best content formats and communication channels are determined and, if necessary, the coordination between pull and push measures is carried out.

Now the generation of maximally beneficial content takes place on the basis of the previous steps. It is important to proceed systematically according to a clear (editorial) plan and to continuously check the quality and accuracy of the content.

Once again, a structured approach is to be assumed for the distribution of content. The editorial plan determines which information is to be played out when, which part of the customer journey it relates to, whether it focuses on customer retention or customer acquisition, and so on.

The last step does not in fact mean the end of content marketing. Because the successes or failures of initiated measures optimally always remain in the view of the marketer. Only a constant sequence of content playouts, controlling, evaluations and further development can guarantee maximum success.

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