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The Future of Content Marketing Is Outside the Marketing Department

Since content marketing burst onto the scene about eight years ago, many marketers have thought of it as one piece of their company's overall marketing strategy. A big reason content marketing has become more popular over the years is that the practice aligns with the ways customers today are making purchase decisions and the type of information they're looking for online to make those decisions — all things that should sound pretty familiar to the marketing team.

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This chart from Google Trends shows content marketing's explosive growth over the past
eight years.

As neatly as it tends to fit into that marketing box, though, content marketing shouldn't stay restricted to it. When companies think of content marketing only as a tactic within their overall marketing strategies, they fail to reap the full benefits it can deliver. When executed properly, it can not only fuel your marketing strategy, but also many other aspects of your entire business.

To use content as fuel for your marketing team and beyond, you need a solid strategy. Download your interactive content strategy checklist to get started.

Meet the New Marketing Department

Let's start with how a well-executed content strategy can fuel all your marketing efforts. Now, it’s easy to pigeonhole "content marketing" into what you publish on your company blog. A company blog or brand publication is a great start, and it's often essential to any content marketing strategy. However, content can take many forms, including:

  • Written (blog posts, guest-contributed content)
  • Visual (whitepapers, infographics)
  • Audio (podcasts)
  • Video

The savviest content marketers understand that all this content can be the lifeblood of their marketing efforts. That's because content marketing isn't exactly its own department or even an arm of the marketing department — it's a hub that helps power all your other marketing efforts.

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A content hub like this can fuel:

Email marketing: Use content to animate your drip campaigns, include it in your email newsletter, use it as a reason to communicate with your leads. Content gives you meaningful messages to send your leads via email, making your email marketing more effective.

Social media: It probably goes without saying that you need an active presence on social media — and your company's content is perfect for social sharing. If you're publishing content regularly, you'll have something strategic to fill your company's social feeds beyond commentary, company updates, and industry news. (Not everyone can be Denny’s on social, and that’s OK!)

For more ways to use content to fuel distribution, download "The Ultimate Guide to Effective Content Distribution."

Lead generation and nurture: The right content can serve as a magnet to draw in qualified leads. Remember, to generate leads with your content, it has to be high-quality. If you help readers by providing valuable information that helps them solve their problems, you can build trust with them. Then, once you’ve generated leads who have opted in to your email marketing, use a drip campaign or email newsletter to stay top of mind with them and continue to nurture those leads.

Search engine optimization: Content is essential for any modern SEO strategy. Create content around what people in your audience are searching for, and start building a diverse network of links back to your best pieces in order to help increase your organic search traffic. This will help drive more qualified traffic to your website.

Thought leadership: Content is the perfect vehicle for communicating and establishing thought leadership. Develop content that's bylined by your internal subject matter experts and contribute it to online publications that reach your target audience. By highlighting your company’s thought leaders, you’ll humanize your brand while enhancing your credibility.

To learn more about how content works to build thought leadership, download "The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing for Thought Leadership."

Brand awareness: Now, brand awareness probably shouldn't be the only goal, but consistent content does help you get your name out there on a regular basis.

Content Beyond the Marketing Department

Forward-thinking teams use content marketing to power each of these marketing initiatives and more — it can be used as a tool throughout the entire company to make a valuable, measurable impact on multiple departments. Beyond the marketing department, content can be used to fuel:

Customer service and support: Content is great for answering common customer support questions, upselling your current customers, and providing resources that can help them become more informed customers.

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Sales enablement: Use content to empower the members of your sales team. They can use it to answer both common and complex questions in-depth; educate leads about your product, services, and industry as a whole; and build their own credibility and thought leadership as sales reps. Content can help them break down barriers and stay top of mind with their leads.

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Here's an example of an email where one of our sales reps used content to stay top of mind with her prospect. 

Internal communications: If you're consistently publishing thought leadership content that shares the "why" behind your business, your team’s leadership style, your company culture, and/or industry news and trends, that content will also be valuable for your team. It can help humanize your leadership team, provide more context on the purpose behind your business, and turn your employees into brand advocates.

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Here's an example of a post we wrote for Harvard Business Review on our mental health policy. Our recruitment team shares this article with potential prospects to help showcase our commitment to employee well-being.

Training: Why reinvent the wheel? If you're publishing educational, industry-leading content that engages your customers, then you can likely reuse that same content to educate and engage new employees during their training period with your company.

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Because we know that not everyone is familiar with content marketing, we love to start educating our employees from day one. Here's an example of an email that our recruitment coordinator sent to a prospective hire to start providing training on our industry during the interview process.

Gone are the days when content was owned and leveraged by the marketing department alone. Now, the most successful companies use content marketing as fuel for their entire business.

About Taylor Oster

Taylor Oster is the marketing director at Influence & Co. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn, and see other articles that she's written here.

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