What Is Content Marketing?


by  DEMIAN FARNWORTH Listen. If you are even remotely connected to the business, marketing, and advertising world, then you’ve probabl...


Listen. If you are even remotely connected to the business, marketing, and advertising world, then you’ve probably heard the phrase “content marketing.”

You’ve at least been exposed to it through:
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Search engine optimization
  • Email autoresponders
  • White papers
  • Copywriting
  • Social media
  • Landing pages
But what exactly is content marketing? Glad you asked, because I’ve got answers for you. One short answer, and one really long. Here’s our official definition:
Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.
Which brings us to another question: how do you actually use content marketing?
Well, even if you consider yourself a seasoned practitioner or you’re a fresh-out-of-the-box beginner, this handy, systematic, and exhaustive guide — loaded with 100 articles that cover content marketing essentials for building a viable money-making platform — is at your finger tips.

How to use this content marketing reference library

Content marketing can be simplified into the convergence of three spheres: your audience’s interests, your brand story, and your unique perspective or content medium. Combine these three to achieve content greatness.

The 100-article list below reaches back to November 2008 and goes all the way up to the present. It contains 10 categories:
  • Content essentials
  • Content strategy
  • Content research
  • Idea creation
  • Content creation
  • Content promotion
  • Traffic generation
  • Content marketing case studies
  • Content auditing
  • Content business building
Yes, I read all 100 articles. It took me 15 hours over six days. I recommend you do the same — but work through it at a pace that’s right for you!
First, bookmark it. That way, it’ll be easy to find when you need to answer a question or reference one of our articles in your own content.
Then, you could:
  • Study one of the 10 categories each week, creating your own 10-week content marketing course
  • Read one-to-three articles each day
  • Identify the categories you need to brush up on the most, and make a note on your calendar to review them when you have free time
Side note: This list makes for perfect Twitter content … drip out just one article each day to your followers over a 100-day period, and you’ll look like a content marketing genius. 😉
This guide will fill in the gaps in your knowledge. It will help you become a content marketing expert in your industry or company.
And with that, I give you Copyblogger’s Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing.

Content marketing essentials

The Future of Content Marketing
New York City should have been destroyed 33 years ago. Because of massive amounts of horse manure. Here’s the lesson you can draw about the future of content marketing from that failed prognosis.
What’s the Difference Between a Professional Writer and a Content Marketer?
Five elements that separate high-quality content marketing from material that’s well-written but might not deliver the same business value.
What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Digital Commerce?
We’ve been talking a lot lately about “digital commerce.” This article for is anyone who’s wondered: “I thought content marketing was digital commerce: what’s the difference?”
The 3-Step Journey of a Remarkable Piece of Content
Remarkable content takes a three-step journey. If we keep this journey in mind, we can craft a profound experience for our readers. Pamela Wilson walks you through you each step.
Agile Content Marketing: How to Attract an Audience That Builds Your Business
How do you create a content marketing strategy that actually works? The first step is to get your head right.
The First Rule of Copyblogger
Great content marketing begins here. Those who obey this rule share content that’s worth reading with an audience who is hungry for it. Long-term gains in traffic, leads, and profits follow. Those who break this rule might experience short bursts of traffic, leads, and profits — but not for long.
What’s the Difference between Content Marketing and Copywriting?
When you combine great content with great copywriting, you end up with a powerful marketing platform that can launch you into the realm of the world’s greatest content producers.
The Three Essentials of Breakthrough Content Marketing
The glut of content on the web means that the market is crowded and cluttered. Your content needs to rise above that confusion. Here’s how to do it.
Why Content Marketing Doesn’t Suck
As the saying goes, “Haters will hate.” Don’t let them talk you out of the benefits that content marketing can deliver over a long period of time. This episode of The Lede (when it was still hosted by Robert Bruce) will show you what Procter & Gamble, soap operas, and content marketing have in common. And then some.
The Two Vital Attributes of Quality Content
Ever wondered what makes some blog posts funny, vigorous, and meaningful? You know, the types of blog posts you not only share — but save. Print out. Study. Wonder no more.
Everything You Need to Know About Creating Killer Content in 3 Simple Words
Try this sticky formula — one that basically consolidates what every guru, expert, and pundit has been saying about persuasion, usability, and web marketing — that will make creating compelling copy easy.

Content marketing strategy

Content Marketing: A Truly Winning Difference
A simple lesson about learning how to accentuate the positives in your marketing from a little story about Claude Hopkins and Schlitz beer.
10 Content Marketing Goals worth Pursuing
What do you want your content to accomplish? You do have goals, right? If not, start with these 10.
How to Build an Agile Content Marketing Team
Eric Enge provides nine tips on how to build an agile content marketing team in a way that might just make the size of the task a lot more manageable.
A Content Marketing Innovation Cheat Sheet
Successful content marketers often have deceptively simple cheats for churning out effective online publishing on a regular basis. Let’s take a look.
Digital Sharecropping: The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Content Marketing Strategy
We’re professional content marketers — not subsistence farmers — and our work doesn’t involve 12-hour days in grueling conditions. So, is sharecropping still dangerous? Yes.
A Simple Content Marketing Strategy for Creative Folks
How do you display your work while making it easy for prospective clients to learn about who you are? The conclusion is simple.
A Quick-Start Guide to Measuring Your Content Marketing Efforts
Your job as a content marketer is to show your boss the money — not traffic, not links — mon-naay. Mike King talks about how to get started effectively measuring your content marketing efforts.
5 Steps to Revising Your Content Marketing Strategy to Attract and Retain Future Customers
Whether you already have a product or are just getting started, here are five steps you need to take now to attract and retain future customers of your product or service.
How to Use Customer Experience Maps to Develop a Winning Content Marketing Strategy
Eighty percent of businesses say they are delivering an excellent customer experience. But only eight percent of customers believe these companies were actually delivering. That’s a huge discrepancy. Why such a big gap?
13 Simple Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy
Square away an afternoon, ask yourself these questions, and document the answers in a notebook, on a whiteboard, in Evernote, or in the handy PDF we’ve created for you.
How to Create a Visual Brand and Fight the Dark Forces
What can we learn about building a visual brand from Star Wars? Grab these top visual branding tips from Rainmaker Digitals’s Lead Designer Rafal Tomal.
The 5 Keys to Content Marketing Mastery
If you’re happy being an average content marketer, then you can ignore this post. But if you want to be a content marketing master, tap into these five strategies of “deliberate practice.”
The Old-School Content Marketing Strategy that Scores Freelance Writing Clients
While the Internet is more effective and efficient in many ways, you won’t want to throw this approach to getting more freelance clients in the marketing dustbin — it still works. And marvelously.

Content marketing research

Research Ain’t Easy (But it’s Necessary)
What good research does for you and your readers. The first article in a three-part series by Beth Hayden.
A 6-Step Content Marketing Research Process
What should your research process look like? What steps can you take to gather the best possible data on your target audience? Beth Hayden answers those questions.
Become a Content Marketing Secret Agent with Competitive Intelligence
Using slick online snooping techniques and a little sweat equity, we can all find out what our competitors are doing well, what they could be doing better, and how we can adapt their best techniques to improve our own businesses.
A 3-Step Process for Painless Keyword Research
How to stay focused when doing your research and how to avoid getting bogged down in the stuff that doesn’t matter. Because you will.
How to Find the Keywords that Work for Your Content Marketing Goals
Accurate keyword research helps you optimize your website for the search engines, and it also allows you to shape your content strategy. So it’s vitally important that you use smart tactics to help you do your research in a fast, efficient way.
5 Ways Listening to Community Data Can Expand Your Content Marketing Strategy
When talking about content marketing, discussions often focus on decisions about topics, headlines, platforms, and distribution. But how much do you consider the data that supports these decisions?
Why Content Marketing is a Long Game (and How to Play It)
Whether or not you know it, you’re playing a long game with content. Let’s take a look at just a few ways to improve your online strategy.
How to Determine the Potential Size of Your Content Marketing Opportunity
Are readers already displaying a passion for your space? Are they looking for the type of content you’re producing or want to produce? Are they sharing it? Eric Enge explains
Don’t Create Your Content Strategy Until You Research These 6 Things
Here are six areas you should research to avoid a content strategy that’s DOA (Dead on Arrival), so your content marketing gets — and holds — your audience’s attention.
Empathy Maps: A Complete Guide to Crawling Inside Your Customer’s Head
The media you create can attract an audience. As that audience grows, you must learn their needs, wants, hopes, and fears. That information helps you learn about a customer’s worldview.
Tap Into This Psychological Driver to Create the Ultimate Message
Want to overcome content shock? Then you need to understand your audience’s outlook. In other words, you need to tap into their worldviews.

Idea creation

Surviving “Content Shock” and the Impending Content Marketing Collapse
You and I both know that there is a hell of a lot of content out there. Here’s why Sonia Simone is not worried about it.
Conquer Content Shock with Illegitimate Ideas
An illegitimate idea is one that is unnatural — a mongrel. We don’t know its origins. It comes out of left field and is so surprising and disruptive that we halt and pay attention to it.
49 Creative Ways You Can Profit From Content Marketing
Build a membership website. Yellow page ads that look like a blog post. Address popular objections. And 46 more ideas to help stoke your content creativity.
How to Use Content to Find Customers
What do birthday cakes and content marketing have in common? More than you think.
The 10-Step Content Marketing Checklist
Sonia calls this blog post a “checklist” for building a solid content marketing platform. I prefer “law” or “commandment” because if you break one of these rules, you’ll pay.
The Powerful Resource You’ve Always Wanted When Presented with Creative Challenges
Avoid producing copycat content and discover how to create not-to-miss, valuable, unique online content that helps you achieve your business goals
Zen and the Art of Content Marketing
Content marketing in the 21st century might seem like an endless high-speed car chase. But it doesn’t have to be. Not when you apply the simple principles of quality used by this world-renowned Japanese sushi chef.
Why Content Marketing Is the New Branding
Your content defines you. And it becomes the vehicle in which you communicate promises and expectations to your customers. Check out the nifty infographic from PRWeb on different options for sharing your brand online.
How to Brainstorm Brilliant Ideas for Your Blog
You probably know what brainstorming is. But do you know how to do it correctly? Do you know what you need to do before, during, and after the event to make it actually successful? I didn’t. Not until I read this article.
How to Write 16 Knockout Articles When You Only Have One Wimpy Idea
Are you struggling to write articles for your blog? It’s time to get creative. Stefanie Flaxman describes 16 different types of blog posts that you can apply to any niche.

Content creation

Is Content Marketing a Hamster Wheel You Can’t Escape?
Here is a technique that — in exchange for some bursts of intense hard work — will bring you long breaks from the content creation hamster wheel.
The Unstoppable Rise of the Digital Content Creator
Software and digital content creators have become a powerful pair.
3 Components of a Content Marketing Editorial Calendar that Works
Are you strategic about your content creation? Or do you wing it, publishing content with a short-term view? One will help you be successful for the long-term. The other will stunt your growth.
A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Online Content per Week
Want a beautiful four-step procedure for creating a drop-dead gorgeous blog post each week? One that draws out the process leisurely over four days? And lets you do it in your slippers? Read on.
58 Ways to Create Persuasive Content Your Audience Will Love
You want to be a great writer. Seduce readers. Climb above the competition. If that’s you, then start with this step-by-step guide to creating ridiculously good content. Henneke doesn’t disappoint.
The Copyblogger “Secret” to Creating Better Content
Content marketers use content to advertise a product, service, or idea. You want to attract attention. Create desire. Stoke interest. But you also want readers to actually do something. Here’s how.
22 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue
It happens to the best bloggers and content marketers. Idea dry spells. After dipping into the well every day for months … you come up empty. This infographic is a fast and helpful tool that jump-starts the content creation process.
A Crash Course in Marketing With Stories
Stories are easily the most powerful tool in the content marketer’s arsenal. People love good stories. Stories communicate complex ideas simply. And stories stick in people’s minds. But if you don’t know how to write a good story, then they won’t help you.
How to Constantly Create Compelling Content
Where are you supposed to get all your ideas for content? The answer can be found in a little-known intersection that artists, scientists, and songwriters have been crossing for centuries.
The Simple 5-Step Formula for Effective Online Content
Effective content marketing comes down to two things: education and personality. The right combination of these two elements will lead to leaps in traffic, subscribers and — ultimately — customers.
The 3-Step Cure for Boring, Useless Content
If your business could benefit from content marketing, the worse thing you could do is avoid it. The second worst thing is to create lame content. Geoff Livingston tells you how to make sure that never happens.
The 7 Essential Steps to Creating Your Content Masterpiece
Johann Sebastian Bach — one of the greatest composers who ever lived — had one of the most grueling production schedules one could imagine. And that, my friends, is one of the reasons he cranked out so many masterpieces. Mark McGuinness explains.
How to Craft a Marketing Story that People Embrace and Share
Storytelling isn’t limited to a blog post or a sales page. Storytelling works for your overall position in a market. So, how do you write a story? Use these three steps.
Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series
Since your competitors are likely writing about similar topics, storyboarding is a technique you can use to craft a special experience readers won’t find anywhere else. Check out this storyboarding tutorial.

Content marketing promotion

The 7 Essential Elements of Effective Social Media Marketing
Here are the seven essentials that will turn your social media marketing from an annoying time-waster to an effective bottom-line booster.
Launching a New Product? These 5 Tips Will Get You the Testimonials You Need
If your content, product, or service is new, then you’re likely wondering how to get testimonials. I show you a smart way to gather proof with these five tips.
Content Marketing Is Easier When You (Partially) Delegate These 12 Tasks
These are partial delegation workflows you can assign to someone else that will either give you back the most time or help you with activities you’ve been meaning to do but don’t get to.
How to Create an Agile Content Marketing Strategy (and Stay Sane Doing It) 
Pamela Wilson admits: “I spent so much time this past year creating content that I didn’t make enough time to read. And reading is important when you’re a content creator.”
The Proper Way to Automate Your Social Media Activities (and 5 Other Best Practices)
Automating some of your content may be beneficial for both you and your audience. Keep these six automation tips in mind as you set your social media strategy.
Why Content and Social Media are a Powerful Match
It’s not enough to create jaw-dropping content. You need to take that content to your audience members, who are sitting around those digital campfires (think social media). They’re waiting for you.
The Must-Have Social Media Tool Every Content Marketer Needs
Introducing the ultra-powerful, infinitely flexible social media tool that allows you to publish effective content without holding you to any arbitrary rules. It’s not what you think. Promise.
Are You Someone’s User-Generated Content?
The dangers of failing to build a digital asset that you own are real. Casualties abound.

Traffic generation

The Right Way to Think About Google
Google is going to shift. Sometimes abruptly. You don’t need to go along for the ride. Develop a sustainable approach, and leave the panic attacks behind.
5 Ways to Get More Traffic with Content Marketing
We all want it: more traffic. But how do we get it? It’s the most common question new bloggers ask. And it’s the question seasoned bloggers never stop asking. Try these five strategies for solid, proven results.
No Blog Traffic? Here’s a Simple Strategy to Seduce Readers and Win Clients
Do you have the right building blocks in place to seduce readers and win clients? If you want to create a simple blog plan that will help you win more readers, fans, and clients, answer the five critical questions in this post.
How to Make Winning Infographics Without Risk
Research suggests that publishers who use infographics grow in traffic 12 percent more than those who don’t. This is because an infographic, unless it’s completely awful (and they exist), will more than likely go viral. Discover the best ways to create them for your content marketing.
8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content
Most content marketers are fighting a losing battle with obscurity. They write, publish, and promote — and get nothing out of it. That’s painful. To make matters worse, this goes on day in, day out. Follow Pamela Wilson’s advice and that will change.
Should Your Content Aim for Traffic or Conversion?
Cosmopolitan and The New Yorker approach content marketing in two entirely different ways. Both approaches are super-successful. And anybody can combine and use these approaches to create killer results.

Content marketing case studies

Our monthly Hero’s Journey feature taps the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world. Here are five inspiring case studies:
What The New Yorker Magazine Can Teach You About Content Marketing that Works
In a few moments, you’ll know how to not only write content that engages but that also positions you as an authority in your space and dominates in the search engines.
How Chris Brogan Built His Content Platform
Look at Mr. Brogan now and you might think he’s a “master of social media.” He rules over one of the most recognizable independent content publishing empires. But life was not always easy for him. In fact, he struggled for eight years to get 100 subscribers. Here’s his story.
5 Marketing Lessons You Can Learn from a Weird “Real World” Business
Ideas are good. They are even better when they actually work. Here’s a content marketing case study of a business that creates high-end beauty products — for dogs. Weird, but true.
What to Do When You Absolutely, Positively Must Know if Your Content Will Rock
Predicting what content will resonate with readers is tough — if not impossible. You simply cannot know unless you do this one thing. Indie band Wilco did and discovered the truth. So will you.
The Grateful Dead 4-Step Guide to the Magical Influence of Content Marketing
I can hear you now: “Are you serious? An elderly, endlessly touring hippie band can teach me something about effective content marketing?” Yes, they can. Jerry Garcia was a genius. Or should I say “guru?”

Content auditing

5 Powerful Ways to Keep Building Authority Once Your Content Has Matured
In order to keep the early momentum of your blog launch and deepen that influence, you’ve got to adjust your content strategy to reflect the new demands of your audience.
8 Conversion-Boosting Ways to Personalize Your Content
People love to get personalized content. Sadly, that message doesn’t seem to be getting through to marketers fast enough.
4 Ways to Identify Site Visitors (and Why It Matters)
“With adaptive content we are supposed to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. But how do you even know who is on your site?” I asked. In his exquisite English accent he said, “You could start with cookies.”
A Brief Guide to Fixing Your Old, Neglected, and Broken Content
There are a number of good reasons why you shouldn’t ignore old, broken, and neglected sections of your website. Here are three benefits of attending to expired content.
Is Content Marketing Worth the Effort?
Let me be frank with you: content marketing is work. It is hard work. Hard work like laying bricks or teaching middle school children. But for the practitioner who loves the work? It’s a turn on.
Why Nobody Cares about Your Content (and What to Do About It)
Glen Allsopp of ViperChill explains how to build your personal brand and authority by giving your readers everything they want — and never once talking about yourself.
Are You Creating Meaningful Content?
Ever think to yourself, “What does this content mean? Does it even matter? Is it significant? Do my readers care?” Those are good questions to ask yourself. And here’s the five-step framework to help you answer them.
How to Beat “Invisible Content” Syndrome
I’ve got some bad news for you: every new blog is born with a disease. Professionals call it Invisible Content Syndrome — or ICS. Others call it obscurity. The good news is you can conquer it. Here’s how.
The Foolproof Cure for Weak Content: 4 Ways to Get Some Perspective
You have a sweet idea for a blog post. You pop out of bed and hammer out the first draft. When you are finished, you read what you wrote and think that sucks. Don’t worry. That happens to all of us. And there are four great ways to fix it.
The Force that Powers Persuasive Content (And 3 Ways to Intensify It)
Bet you didn’t know this, but character building and content marketing go hand in hand. There’s a person behind every piece of content. Is that person honest, credible, and an authority? If not, then here are three ways to improve those essential components.

Content business building

How to Build a Business Using Paid and Free Content
Sonia will tell you how to raise your content marketing game by creating a platinum version of your content.
How to Decide Which Content to Sell and What to Give Away for Free
Not sure how much you should give away for free? Chris Garrett helps you find the line between freely available content and content that is locked behind a paywall.
The Key to Innovative Business Ideas: Cross-Pollination
No content marketer is an island. We all know this. But we don’t always take the initiative to strategically collaborate to generate the best content marketing ideas. Pamela Wilson reveals how you can get started.
Why Content is No Longer King (And Who’s Taking His Place)
Why would a novelist claim that content is not king? I mean, come one, this guy makes his living off of huge chunks of content. Check out his surprisingly good argument.
How to Use Ebooks Strategically and Reach Your Content Marketing Goals
Have you written an ebook yet? Some of the most respected content marketers have embraced ebooks for marketing their businesses and as a source of income.
Educate to Dominate Your Competition
Want to spark the buying process in your readers without resorting to a hyped-message? Dream of making your products so irresistible that customers hardly notice your sales offers? Then use the six psychological shortcuts of influence.
How to Succeed at Content Marketing Even if Your Content Skills Suck
Still a little weak in the knees about this whole content marketing thing because, well, you just don’t have any confidence in your skills? No sweat. Half the battle is doing this one thing.

Your ultimate guide to content marketing

Remember to bookmark this post and keep it as a resource to answer all of your content marketing questions!



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#DIGITAL: What Is Content Marketing?
What Is Content Marketing?
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