Content marketing remains one of the most popular and effective digital marketing strategies available to businesses - and for good reason. According to research from DemandMetric, content marketing costs an average of 62 percent less than traditional marketing, yet produces approximately three times as many leads.

However, many businesses approach content marketing in the wrong way, aiming to produce as much content as possible in the hope that some of it resonates with people. Yet, as all good SEO consultants will tell you, the key to a truly great content marketing campaign is to publish content that really matters to your audience.

Solving Problems

At their very core, businesses exist to provide solutions for their customers or clients. For example, if you run an office design firm, your primary purpose is to solve clients' space planning and design problems, while if you run an SEO company, your business exists to help companies become more visible on search engines in order to achieve their business’ objectives.

This very basic principle should also inform your content marketing strategy. Beyond serving as a simple marketing tool, increasing exposure to your business, the purpose of all of the content you publish on your website or blog should be to provide some sort of solution for the people who read it.

"It's about using content to solve the same problems that your company's products or services solve," says Alex Ionides, managing director of the content marketing agency Silx Digital. "As an expert in your space, your content marketing efforts need to be geared towards using your expertise to solve problems.

Questions and Answers

One of the best ways to make sure your content is addressing issues that potential clients or customers have is by thinking of it in terms of answering questions. What questions might people ask that would lead them towards your business? What problems do you solve and what might people with those problems search for on Google?

This can tie in with your keyword research. For instance, tools like Serpstat allow businesses to carry out their keyword research and then use a 'Questions' tab to see a list of queries containing those keywords. This can then be used as inspiration for new pieces of content.

In addition, focusing on questions can benefit your search marketing. Google search results now display instant answers at the top, and a 'People Also Ask' box further down the first page. This means websites providing answers to questions have the opportunity to receive extra exposure within SERPs.

Effective Content

Adopting the attitude that your content will provide solutions to your audience is one thing, but it is still important to make sure the content itself is of a high quality and deals with real problems, rather than imagined ones. A good starting point may be to check social media and find the types of questions people are asking.

Once you have settled on a question or issue, the goal of your content should be to solve it. From there, you can start to re-frame the issue to suit your business and target audience, seek out data to back up your points, and promote your business, or your products or services, as the answer.

It is also important to understand that there are ranges of content types to try out. While simple 'how to' blog posts may be the most obvious, it is worth experimenting with things like video content too. After all, 92 percent of mobile video consumers share video content with others, so this can be a great way to reach a wider audience.

By Christelle Macri, founder, Ebizpromotion and search engine consultant.