The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing

guide to content marketing

It would not be incorrect to say that people today depend heavily on the internet and its content to understand everything about a product before buying it. In fact, many also stumble upon new and interesting brands and businesses while simply browsing online. 

81% of retail shoppers start their buying journey with online research.

This indicates the significance that content marketing holds for every e-commerce store. A business not just needs to create influential content but also offer it to its target audience through the most appropriate channels.

Even if you have a content strategy in place, it’s crucial to revisit it once in a while and align it with the ever-evolving trends. This article covers everything related to content marketing and is a useful guide to learning, assessing and improving your existing approach.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is essentially a process that involves planning, executing, distributing, publishing and sharing content. Its primary objective is to impact the target audience, create awareness about the brand, increase sales and ensure engagement.

However, content marketing is much more complex than it sounds. Along with multiple formats of content, it also requires the help of numerous channels to effectively reach the target audience. It also demands meticulous planning, consistency and relevance.

Moreover, in the highly competitive online space, content needs to be well-optimised such that users are organically able to discover your business.

Types of content marketing
Case studies
White papers
Paid Partnerships
News pieces
Email campaigns
Interactive content
Industry reports

Most Suitable Marketing Approach at Every Stage of User Journey 

content marketing


Why Should You Invest in Content Marketing?

Here’s a look at how the right content on the right channel and directed towards the right people can transform a business.

Increased visibility: Publishing useful and relatable content consistently across platforms and with proper optimisation tools can enhance its visibility. It can help users find your business easily, wherever they browse.

Higher engagement: Regular posts especially on social media channels give readers an opportunity to engage with the product. Apart from commenting and sharing them, it helps users ask questions, enquire, and know more about the brand.

Greater authority: Credible content presented in detail establishes authority among your competitors, while customers see you as a reliable source. This results in people visiting your content properties more often and viewing you as an industry leader.

More leads: Good content that compellingly presents the product is bound to attract more people, build their interest and eventually motivate them to invest in your offering.

Better traction: With the help of search engine optimisation, well-structured pieces rank higher to be among the top search results and secure more views.

Increased trust: Content is capable of generating positive experiences, addressing the reader’s pain points and offering value. Any user that receives all of this is certain to develop greater trust in the business. 

Higher brand recall: When you regularly and recurrently talk about the business and leverage all the mediums of distribution, users see the brand more often and are likely to remember it when making a purchase.

Cost-effective: Content marketing is certainly the most cost-effective way to talk about your business when compared to other forms such as advertising or video marketing. 

In 2021, global content marketing industry revenue was estimated at roughly 66 billion U.S. dollars. The source projected that it would increase to 76 billion in 2022 and that it would continue growing over the further years to reach 137 billion in 2026.

content marketing


Building a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing requires thorough planning for it to be impactful. Here is a step-by-step method that breaks it down and simplifies the process.

1. Decide your audience

This step lays the foundation for your content plan. You should know whom you are building your strategy for and what their preferences are.

You should begin by conducting quantitative and qualitative analysis to collect as much data as possible.

Some ways to do that include:

  • Existing customer analysis and interviews/surveys
  • Competition analysis to know who they target
  • Market research to check industry trends
  • Google Analytics to track your existing consumers
  • Social media data research

Based on the gathered facts and figures, you should be able to organise the information according to the following core characteristics

  • Demographics (location, education, income level, age, etc)
  • Pain points 
  • An expected solution from the product
  • Preferred channels of communication
  • Factors that influence their buying decision

Arranging and grouping this information will help you identify similarities among a set of people that also match with your business offerings to be able to come up with a basic buyer persona that represents who your ideal customer is.

An Example of a B2C Buyer Persona 

content marketing


Determining the buyer persona is useful for analysing how a user might make a purchase decision. Based on this you can craft your content strategy to make it relatable to those audiences.

2. Define your content goals

Now that you know who you are going to write for, the next step is to analyse the objective of generating that content and marketing it. 

This will largely depend on the type of business you run, the mediums you choose and how you market it.

Let’s look at the quantifiable metrics that will help you establish your goals better

Content goalsMetrics to measure
Customer loyaltyRepeat customers, organic promotions, reviews/testimonials, referrals 
Brand awarenessSign up for newsletters and other content, traffic 
Conversions through content effortsLeads generated and enquiries
Revenue generatedTotal sales closed
Customer engagementLikes, comments, shares, tags, shoutouts
PartnershipsCollaborations, mentions, backlinks

Based on a recent survey here’s how marketers rank their goals

  • 45% want to increase brand awareness
  • 37% want to attract more traffic to their website
  • 36% are focused on generating leads through content marketing
  • 27% of respondents want increased sales and revenue
  • 23% strive for improved customer loyalty and engagement with their brand

Interesting read: The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Marketing in 2023

3. Choose your type and style of content

Content is an extension of the brand – its personality, mission, values and objectives. It is also a reflection of your target audience and their needs.

Narrow down to the content format that you want to focus by evaluating the above-mentioned points with the help of the following questions:

  • What does your audience expect from you?
  • What are their pain points that you can address?
  • Why should people read your content?
  • What value does the content add to their lives?
  • How is your content different from the competition?

Additionally, you must also choose the most suitable content tone and ensure that all the pieces have a uniform voice. For instance depending on your brand image and personality the tonality can be authoritative, instructive, friendly, conversational and so on. 

An example of a style guide

content marketing


In case you are reassessing your content in order to further improve it, understand the following factors to know what modifications can elevate your performance.

  • The topics and keywords that perform best
  • The formats that ensure highest engagement
  • The channels that are most relevant

4. Research and build a content plan 

Content research and plan is necessary to understand the market trends and accordingly conclude what will work best. Let’s break it into steps.

Set preferences

Always maintain a content/editorial calendar to schedule upcoming marketing plans in advance. It helps keep a tab on events/celebrations that are relevant to your business and accordingly build appropriate content.  

With a calendar, it is easier to plan multiple campaigns, publish more often, collaborate better within teams and keep the work organised.

Finalise topics

Topics should be finalised after taking all the aspects into consideration which include what your business wants to communicate, what the audience wants to hear and also what’s working for the competition.

Keyword research is fundamental to arriving at the topics. You can discover what the audience is searching for as well as the keywords you should be writing on.

Semrush for instance offers The Keyword Magic Tool which gives you a full set of related keywords upon entering the topic or focus keyword.

A good approach to cover vast subjects in detail and their every aspect is by adopting the pillar cluster model – also an effective SEO practice.

Pillar refers to an individual topic that talks about a broad concept with its synopsis. There are multiple themes within the pillar that can be further elaborated and explained.

Cluster topics constitute all those concepts which have branched out from the pillar resulting in a set of numerous content pieces linked to each other as well as the pillar.

Addressing each and every element of a subject ensures that the users find everything at one place without having to navigate. It also establishes credibility and authority for the business.

An example of pillar-cluster topics

content marketing


Research the competition

Regularly analyse what the competition is writing about to understand the following:

  • The content types and formats they use
  • The keywords they target
  • The topics they cover
  • Their content tone and approach

The Keyword Gap Tool by Semrush is an effective way to check how you are placed against your competition in terms of keyword ranking and accordingly edit your pieces.

Interesting read: A Complete Guide to Bootstrapping

5. Create content

All the aforementioned points should now help you write and produce the right content. Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember to not just write for the search engines but also for human beings.

Here’s what you can do to ensure that your content is interesting, impressive and unique for your readers.

Write original content – It’s tough to tag any content as original today. No matter what you write on, it is likely to already exist on the internet. However, content can be built around exclusivity by weaving in your brand’s experiences, stories and learnings. 

Additionally, any relevant topic researched in depth and simplified for the user will certainly get more people interested and add to the organic growth.

Cover myriad topics: Apart from what is directly related to your brand it also helps to cover topics that may be remotely associated with the business. Always try to give your users more than what they expect.

Listen to your users: Including user-generated content in your strategy is a great way to achieve a solid reputation among your consumers. Look for testimonials that matter or success stories that are driven with the help of your brand and add them to your content plan.

Repurpose your content: Every content format appeals to a certain set of users. Hence, it is a smart tactic to publish and distribute it in multiple ways to maximise results. Here are some tips:

  • An article can be repurposed as a video, podcast, and so on
  • Longer and more detailed pieces can be summarised into carousels for social media
  • Several correlated small pieces of content can be further detailed and converted into gated content 
  • Webinars can be also shared in the form of interview articles

Finally, remember to assess it from the perspective of SEO, content quality and grammar. Here are a few must-have tools.

5 popular content improvement tools
Yoast SEO Plugin
Hemingway App

6. Finalise the content distribution channels

There are a multitude of options to distribute content and each of them can be beneficial but it is a good idea to begin with those channels where most of your audience is present.

Also depending on the budget allocated at each stage you can decide to redistribute the content across different channels.

There are three broad channel categories

  • Owned channels (eg. blog, website)
  • Paid channels (eg. social ads, influencers)
  • Earned channels (eg. forums, reviews)

Types of media for content distribution

content marketing


The more insights you gather on your customers, the better will be your strategy for content distribution. For instance, Instagram is the best platform to target Gen Z users. It is also ideal for influencer-driven content.

7. Measure and analyse the performance

The last step is to examine the results and assess the outcomes. It is in fact a continuous process towards bettering the output.

We have already discussed the metrics attributed to each content goal that can be evaluated to check the performance.

Here’s a short list of popularly used content marketing analytics tools:

Content marketing analytics tools
Hubspot Marketing Analytics Software
Google Analytics


What are some common mistakes in content marketing?

Highly promotional content and sale-heavy pitches should be avoided as they can be off-putting for the reader. Secondly, churning content without research and strategy in place can certainly lead to disappointing results.

How can I expect leads without human interaction?

Users are keen on finding a solution to their concerns and content marketing is one way to do it. If it is aligned with what they are looking for they will continue to engage and eventually reach out if needed to complete their buyer journey. 

Does content marketing work for every business?

It definitely works for every e-commerce business but the results may vary depending upon how strong your strategy is and also the resources and budget you allot for it.

Is content marketing the same as SEO?

SEO is an indispensable part of marketing that assists in making it accessible to search engine users. Content marketing strategies may not succeed if they are not backed by a powerful SEO plan.



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