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You probably know about content marketing, hailed throughout the industry as the future and better version of advertising. Rather than overtly promoting your products, you focus on building content that is valuable enough for your audience to follow and believe in your brands.

The idea is simple. Build up enough credibility, and your audience will come to you. Once they do, they'll keep you in mind by the time they actually need a product in your category. In an age where blocking ads online is more popular than ever before, is the perfect way to get to your audience and maximize your brand reach.

But here's the rub: too many brands are now embracing content marketing at the expense of paid advertising strategies. Doing so could be a fatal mistake. In fact, and when done right, your advertising strategy should drive, support, and elevate your content marketing. This is how you can do it.

Find Your Core Value Proposition

First things first: you have to make sure that you understand exactly what you actually want to communicate. Advertising strategies fail when they focus only on promotion, without a deeper underlying message that's closely connected to your brand. And of course, random content without that same connection tends to be unsuccessful, as well.

Be careful not to confuse your value proposition with your selling proposition, which is a common advertising tool. The goal here is not to find the most convincing argument for your audience to become a customer. Instead, it's the value your content promises that would draw your audience to read it, whether or not it's directly connected with your brand.

That might mean focusing on your niche expertise within a wider audience. It could also be the unique formatting your content uses that connects closely to your brand promise. Either way, finding your core value proposition can help you define both your content strategy and the audience you want to attract.

Define Your Audience For Both Channels

Speaking of which: what do you know about your target audience? Sure, as an experienced marketer, you might already be familiar with their demographic and geographic tendencies. But don't stop there. Instead, look to define your audience based on their behaviors, preferences, and underlying needs.

Paid digital ads can be invaluable in this area. You're able to target your messages towards a very specific segment of your audience. But you can only take advantage of that benefit if you actually know what that segment should be. Once you do, you can use your content as a driving force to fulfill needs while your ads are built specifically for your audience.

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Use Your Ads for Content Testing

Many marketers underestimate the potential of paid ads to act as trial balloons for content marketing strategy. With little budget, you can push messages to your audiences that encourage them to click and engage. But what if you used that tool to actually test potential content?

The possibilities here are significant. Content marketing takes time and effort. Building high-value gated content, especially, will cost significant resources. If you can use your paid ads to test potential content topics and angles, you make an initial investment with the potential to pay off big in the long run.

Here's what that might look like: you're thinking about a topic surrounding a new development in your industry. But before you start building it, you run a short ad that highlights a single insight on that topic. If it performs well, you know that your target audience is interested in learning more. That's when you start building the long-form content with greater security.

Jumpstart the Awareness of Crucial Content

Advertising strategies, of course, can also work as supporting mechanisms for content after the fact. Any experienced marketer knows that it takes time to see the results of even the best content. Some estimates put that time at around 10 months. Paid ads can help you speed up the process.

In a way, it's the simplest form of digital ads. You have the content ready, so why not highlight it? Run ads not on your brand in general, but specific pieces of content. Direct your audience to a blog post or landing page for gated content. You can see traffic and the resulting leads in weeks and even days, compared to months of organic building.

Retarget Relevant Messages for Content Readers

Finally, don't underestimate the power of your advertising strategy after the initial audience exposure to your content. It's not just there to gain awareness. Done right, ads can also help keep your brand top of mind after your audience is exposed to your content.

The key to success here, of course, is retargeting. Build ads specifically to recent visitors of individual pages. You might choose to target visitors to your landing pages who did not become leads, or blog readers who might be interested in a long-form version of the piece they just consumed. Either way, you can set up custom audiences in most digital channels that easily help you reach those recent web visitors, and drive them closer to conversion.

Is Your Brand Ready for an Integrated Digital Strategy?

You might have noticed a theme throughout this post. When it comes to digital marketing, integration is the name of the game. Put simply, you cannot emphasize a channel (even one as successful as content marketing) at the cost of others. Only a consistent strategy that incorporates all of your digital efforts can be successful in sustainably growing your business.

That, in turn, means building an advertising strategy designed not just for its own sake. Instead, that strategy should drive your content marketing, ultimately leading to a singular, consistent experience and user journey for any member of your target audience.

This type of integration may sound complex. And we won't lie: in most cases, it absolutely is. But that doesn't mean you cannot accomplish it. Every business and brand, regardless of budget and size, has opportunities to better integrate their advertising strategies with their content marketing. Contact us to find out how you can, as well.

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