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Content marketing: definition, basics, types, goals, FAQ ...

You are interested in the topic Content marketing. Then you are exactly right here. In this post you get all the important information on the topic Content marketing.

Table of Contents

Definition: what is content marketing?

Content marketing in German Content marketing is a marketing method that aims to inform, animate and entertain target groups with valuable content. Tracked as part of corporate communications Content marketing Goals such as lead generation, reach, link building or SEO or brand building. Sub-areas in Content Marketing is PR, SEO, social media, email marketing and content creation.

More definitions for content marketing

Here is the definition from the German Wikipedia:

Content marketing is a marketing-Technology that is intended to address the target group with informative, advisory and entertaining content in order to convince them of your own company and its range of services or your own brand and to win or retain them as customers.

And for the sake of completeness from the English language Wikipedia:

Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. Content marketing is also defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

From both definitions, one can determine three main goals for content marketing.

  1. Positioning the brand
  2. Customer acquisition
  3. Customer loyalty
When defining the termContent marketing However, the opinions and comments of the experts differ. Depending on the perspective, branding-centered, SEO-centered and PR-centered interpretations of the term content marketing have emerged over the years. Definitions from the SEO scene see content marketing as part of search engine optimization to build links. Definitions from the PR point of view see it as a means of public relations.
We understandContent marketing as an elementary part of corporate communication.

What types of content are there in content marketing?

Content marketing usually includes free content in the form of e.g.

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • software
  • Play
  • Testing
  • Survey
  • Studies
  • Whitepaper
  • Advisors
  • E-books

Here you will find a detailed overview of content and content types.

How does content marketing work? The content marketing process

The content marketing process follows through different phases strategy, analysis, Conception, production, distribution and Evaluation.

Overview of the content marketing process

However, the process should not end after one run. Depending on the amount of content or content marketing campaigns to be published, this process starts again with the idea development. Depending on the effort involved in creating content, it makes sense to consider more or fewer subtasks in the process.

A distinction must be made between the operational activities within the content marketing process and the content marketing strategy, which must be implemented and implemented holistically and across departments in the company.


Advantages and disadvantages of content marketing

The attention span of people for new information, including content, is decreasing year by year due to the density of information. If you consider the amount of information that only affects us every minute via digital media, this is not surprising.


Advertising in particular is affected by this development, as people are only interested in product information in a small phase of their customer journey, i.e. they are open to advertising. In addition, the widespread use of ad blockers is coming in many new browser versions.

Here, content is a way of accompanying or addressing customers throughout the entire customer journey. With content, people can be addressed long before the actual product interest. In addition, free coverage can be achieved through content. The dissemination of advertising, on the other hand, always costs money.

Content should always be designed and produced in a user-centered manner. Advertising is usually produced from a company perspective.

In summary, here are the benefits of content marketing

  • Content marketing is user-centered.
  • Content marketing works in all phases of the customer journey.
  • Content marketing can generate a large free reach through viral effects.
  • Content marketing can create very beneficial synergies with SEO, PR and social media.

In summary, the disadvantages of content marketing

  • Selling directly through content marketing is difficult
  • Content marketing can be very complex due to the interplay of different disciplines

The role of content marketing in the (online) marketing mix

A successful online marketing strategy requires a suitable mix of pull and push marketing methods. The target group (s), industry and the market are decisive criteria. Online marketing measures that are based only on push methods. mostly doomed to failure due to the different willingness to accept advertising in the different phases of the customer journey. Especially in the awareness and consideration phase, people are often not open to advertising messages, but rather look for content that satisfies their needs for information. This is where content marketing shows its real strengths.

Overview: content marketing in the online marketing mix


Who are the target groups for content marketing?

In most cases, the target groups result from the goals that have been previously defined. These can be defined as persona profiles, for example. When creating a persona, you should make sure to include useful information for later content seeding. More on this in the article How do you create personas for online marketing? Content target groups are not always just potential customers. The following target groups are possible content stakeholders:

What are the goals of content marketing?

Content marketing has three overarching goals.

  1. Positioning the brand (brand building / strategic goal)
  2. Customer acquisition & lead generation (tactical goal)
  3. Customer loyalty (strategic goal)

In order to achieve goals, one can fundamentally differentiate between a strongly lead-oriented approach and a brand-building strategy approach.

The lead-oriented approach follows more of an inbound marketing strategy, whereby the potential customer should be turned into a customer via the intermediate step of the lead. More on this in the article Inbound Marketing: Marketing that inspires & does not annoy.

When looking at the goals of content marketing, it makes sense to differentiate between short-term / tactical goals and long-term / strategic goals. Content marketing campaigns primarily pursue short-term goals. A long-term content strategy.

Short term content marketing goals are:

  • Generating reach through the dissemination of content via social media / word-of-mouth
  • Creation of social buzz
  • Generation of co-occurrences, co-citations and backlinks
  • New visitors

A content marketing strategy pursues long-term goals as the main goal:

  • Community building
  • Development of your own communication system
  • Building a brand / authority
  • Building trust
  • Reputation optimization
  • Development of owned media / own communication channels
  • Findability on Google & Co.
  • Regular readers or visitors
  • Improvement in completion rates
  • Retention of influencers
  • Long-term, loyal customer relationships
  • Returning visitors

The long-term goals should always be in focus, according to the motto the steady drop wears away the stone. And here we are talking about a period of several years, not months. This is where the wonderful little word “sustainability” comes into play. This means that you have to make the pre-investment and sometimes wait a long time for the branches to bear fruit.

Also the following graphic:

Target group analysis

When determining the target group, it is sometimes important to differentiate between the target group who should meet the stated goals and those who should consume the content. There can be different target groups here. The target group analysis is therefore based on the target definition. If you want to generate backlinks, the linkeratis are the most important target group. At Social Buzz, so-called Network Hubs (more on Influencer Marketing: Working with Influentials). Regardless of the operational goals, the focus is on the actual corporate goal:New customers. That is why good content should always serve both target levels.

Content Marketing Audiences



How do you define goals in content marketing?

When defining goals, it is important to focus. What do you want to achieve with content marketing?

  • Do you tend to pursue PR or marketing goals such as reputation or market positioning?
  • Do you primarily want to generate backlinks and thus gain visibility?
  • Or is the creation of social buzz the declared main goal?
This focus is important with a view to the content and media formats to be created. Certain media formats such as videos are more suitable for distribution in social media than for generating references or backlinks.
A successful content marketing campaign will mostly work in all target areas, but a target focus is recommended when designing the content.

Content marketing goals & metrics

The definition of goals and the corresponding key figures is indispensably linked to the measurement of success and assessment or evaluation. Contents should entertain consumers, help them, convey knowledge, inform, build relationships and inform them about products. The purpose or goals of content marketing for us as a company are reach, retention, building trust and selling.

Accordingly, there are very different key figures depending on the content.

Possible key figures for the goal "To sell"Can be:

  • assignments
  • Request / order rate
  • Orders

Possible key figures for "establishing contact" can be:

  • Leads
  • Lead rate
  • Downloads against contact details
  • Download rate

Possible key figures for "binding" can be:

  • Number of returning visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Length of stay
  • Page impressions
  • Scroll depth
  • Comments
  • new newsletter subscribers won
  • Number of new friends on Facebook
  • New followers on Twitter

Possible key figures for "reach" can be:

  • Number of social shares
  • Number of backlinks
  • number of visitors

More on the subject of measurability in content marketing in the following two episodes of the Content Compass:


You are interested in the topicContent Marketing Strategy. Then you are exactly right here. In this post you get all the important information on the topicContent Marketing Strategy.

What is a content marketing strategy?

Before you get into these operational sub-steps of implementation, you should deal with the basic strategy.

A content marketing strategy provides the long-term plan for the conception, production and distribution of content. There are basically two approaches.

  1. The focus is on the core story
  2. The focus is on the customer journey

In both content strategy models, both the core story and the customer journey play a role. Only the focus is different.


Content marketing strategy with a focus on the core story

This approach comes more from corporate communication and is primarily used to build branding for your own brand using content. The best-known representative of this approach is probably the esteemed colleague Mirko Lange.

Content radar by Mirko Lange, source:

According to Mirko Lange, the content strategy is based on

  • your own goals
  • Creating value for the audience
  • The conversion
  • Your own opinion

I would also think about the following questions in advance:

  1. Who am I ? What am I?
  2. Who is my target group and need group? Who are my stakeholders?
  3. What should my own medium e.g. blog stand for?
  4. How and where do I want to position myself as a brand / company?

Content marketing strategy with a focus on the customer journey

At Aufgesang, we take a functional, user-oriented approach when designing content marketing strategies. The focus is always on the target group, the topic and the corresponding customer journey. It is about a systematic conception, production and publication of content along the customer journey of the respective target group. Systematic touchpoint management is important for strategic content distribution.

7-step customer journey model by Aufgesang

This approach is more performance-oriented, which may be due to our roots in online marketing.

Based on this strategy approach, we have developed our own framework, the “content marketing wheel”, according to which we can systematically implement content marketing strategies. The starting point are target or need groups and the various events that can affect them in order to embark on a customer journey.

Content Marketing Wheel by Congregation

More on the topic of content strategies along the customer journey in the article How to develop a content marketing strategy along the customer journey

Difference between content marketing strategy and content strategy

There is no consensus on the distinction between a content marketing strategy and a content strategy. The esteemed colleague Babal Zand writes in his article Difference between content strategy and content marketing strategy here in the blog:

The term "content strategy" means the development of structures and processes that should be implemented in the company in order to enable content marketing on a permanent basis. A content marketing strategy, on the other hand, is the overriding message to which the individual content marketing campaigns are subordinated, as well as the selection of content formats, distribution channels and the like.

I would rather formulate the differentiation like this:

A content strategy primarily deals with the conception and production of content as well as the establishment of editorial processes in companies. A content marketing strategy deals with all phases of the content marketing process, including distribution and evaluation.

Difference Between Content Marketing Strategy and Content Marketing Campaigns

Content marketing campaigns are mostly individual, high-quality, planned content campaigns that, in the best case, go through a content marketing process (see below). Ideally, these campaigns are embedded in a content marketing strategy. Content marketing strategies primarily pursue long-term business goals, while content marketing campaigns pursue short to medium-term goals.


More on this topic in the article Difference Between Content Marketing Campaign & Content Marketing Strategy.


Importance of content marketing: hype or paradigm shift?

For me, content marketing is not a short-term hype, but a long-overdue trend reversal in marketing. For decades, people were harassed with advertisements, whether they wanted to or not. In the 1980s and 1990s in particular, advertising through new advertising-financed print magazines and TV stations assumed inflationary proportions, which led to advertising blindness and ignorance. Even the new medium of the Internet could not change that. The marketing concept of producing advertising material and placing it on advertising media, which was previously the focus of marketing, has lost its relevance and works even less on the Internet (see also why online advertising doesn't work).

Marketing must and will have to focus more on below-the-line or pull marketing methods. (More on this: Evolution of Marketing: From Advertising to Content - From Push to Pull [Infographic]).

Marketing Evolution Advertising to Content Marketing

Content is increasingly taking on the actual role of the advertising medium as a means of initial contact and emotional appeal. The content is the focus of PR, social media marketing, SEO and email marketing.

  • PR lives from good content
  • Email Marketing works better with good content
  • Social media marketing lives through emotional content on Facebook, Twitter & Co.
  • SEO Without good content it no longer works or the users and therefore also Google loves good content


Content at the heart of online marketing

Classic advertising is then only used as a reminder in a subsequent phase. According to the motto: inspire first, then sell!


Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing

Content marketing campaigns that are designed to be very sales-oriented should follow an inbound marketing approach.