What is Content Marketing? A Jargon-free Explanation

Updated 10 Jul, 2023 | Content marketing

Content marketing has been all the rage for years, for good reason. Here’s what you need to know about this valuable marketing strategy.

What is marketing?

A man is presenting his analytics report to his colleague, showing how content marketing works.

Marketing is the process of introducing people to the products and services they need or want, with the goal of getting those people to buy. At least it is when you’re referring to marketing a business. (Marketing a charity is a little different because the end goal is to get people to make a donation and you’re introducing them to a cause instead of a product or service.

Content marketing defined

For those with some marketing knowledge, content marketing is an inbound marketing approach that relies on strategically creating, distributing, and promoting content that’s engaging, valuable, and relevant to a well-defined target audience. As with all marketing, the ultimate goal of content marketing is to increase the number of desired customer actions, whether that be purchases (for businesses), donations (for charities), or another kind of action.

A man is holding a megaphone as a sign of how he markets his content to hit his target.

Jargon-free content marketing definition

Two woman checking their content analytics seeing how much profit they’ve gained from it by hitting their target.

For everyone else without a degree in marketing, content marketing introduces people to the products and services they need or want via content they appreciate. Instead of hitting people over the head with ads that interrupt what we’re doing, content marketing gives us something we’ll value that we can use whenever we need or want it.

Content marketing recognises that all positive relationships involve give and take. If you want something from someone, it’s polite to first offer them something of value.

Beyond a content marketing definition

A group of individuals working together to create a piece of content.

There’s absolutely a place for ads in marketing, so content marketing is almost always practiced in conjunction with other forms of marketing. However, content marketing is one of the most powerful ways to win loyal customers who’ll keep buying from a brand over an extended period of time and who’ll tell their friends about the brand.

Instead of just converting shoppers into buyers, content marketing achieves many marketing goals. For instance, content marketing:

  • Increases awareness of a brand
  • Allows businesses to reach more customers
  • Nurtures leads until they’re ready to buy
  • Helps customers make the most of what they’ve bought

When we combine content marketing with copywriting in content-copy funnels, we can take our audiences by the hand and lead them gently through the buyer journey and sales funnel, so they become happy brand fans instead of reluctant buyers. Content marketing increases the effectiveness of marketing efforts and it’s effective over long periods of time without constant funding injections. For many businesses, it’s much cheaper than traditional or old-school marketing.

Why I recommend content marketing

A man and a woman working together to promote their content and convert leads to customers.

Through content marketing, you can prove you can solve problems for your audience and that you’re an expert in your industry and niche. And you can help your audience buy the right products and services for their needs, without having to invest heavily in customer service staff and technology. In short, you can win the trust of your target market.

By attracting the prospects that would most benefit from your products and services, you can make a real difference in people’s lives and as a result, you’ll have happier and more loyal customers who spend more money with you and tell all their friends and connections how great you are.

There are three key ways you can benefit from content marketing. It can allow you to:

  • Attract better quality prospects and generate better-qualified leads who you can more easily convert into loyal customers with a higher lifetime value
  • Increase sales by attracting more prospects, converting more prospects into customers, and encouraging more customers to make repeat purchases
  • Decrease advertising and marketing costs by enabling you to reach more prospects and customers through free and less expensive platforms and by encouraging loyal customers to advocate for your business on your behalf

People used to call content marketing the future of marketing. Now it’s well and truly overtaken traditional marketing approaches to become the top marketing approach in the here and now and for the foreseeable future.

If you’d like to learn more about content marketing, here’s a more comprehensive list of the benefits of content marketing, and here’s an explanation of how content marketing works.