Why we chose content marketing
Since we started working on Exist, our first Hello Code product, we've been using content marketing to get the word out. Now that we're working on Larder as well, we've decided to keep using content marketing as our main marketing strategy.
There are three main reasons we've decided content marketing is the best choice for us.
1. Content is what I know
One of the reasons Josh and I thought we'd make a good partnership initially is that Josh was a developer with no interest in marketing, and I was working a day job as a content marketer. Josh has since taken on Android development for Hello Code as well as web, and I've picked up iOS development as well as marketing, so we continue to complement each other's skills.
But we're just a two-person team, and we're yet to get to the point that we can pay two full-time salaries, so even though marketing is one of my main focus areas, the time I have available for it is limited. Our budget is even more limited. So we've been forced to work with what we already have: my skills and knowledge, what we can pick up along the way, and the most time-efficient approaches available to us.
Since I'd been working full-time as a content marketer already, content was the obvious choice. I had experience with it, I'd worked at becoming more efficient at writing new content in my day job, and I knew how to get started.
2. Content makes sense for our products and audiences
When we started Exist, we didn't have many direct competitors. Even now, it's a bigger job for us to explain what Exist does and why it's useful than to drag people away from existing solutions.
When you're not entering a crowded market that people know well already, ads and SEO doesn't work so well. If nobody's heard of a product that does what yours does, they're not going to be searching for it.
We did try some keyword and social media ads early on for Exist, but the return was very poor, and with such a low budget, we didn't want to sink more money into that channel. Having a low budget (well, a zero budget for a long time, before we made enough money to even cover our costs) also meant we couldn't consider expensive marketing channels like print advertising.
Content, on the other hand, requires time and effort more than money. And when we were starting out, time and effort were certainly more abundant than money.
We also found content marketing was a better fit for our audiences. Exist is about understanding your life and improving it, which is a message that works well in content. We've written blog posts about fitness tracker apps and wearables, building habits, and getting better sleep. These are all adjacent topics to Exist that work well for drawing in the right audience, who may be interested in our product.
For Larder, we're building a bookmarking app for developers, so our marketing needs to reach developers. As a very general rule, we've found developers are more wary of obvious or spammy marketing tactics (as are we). And because Larder is a specific niche within bookmarking that no one else seems to be focusing on, it's not generating a lot of search traffic, so keyword ads haven't worked well for Larder so far.
Content is an inbound method of marketing—that is, it's not pushed on the audience like ads are, but the audience comes to the content by finding it on social media, in newsletters, or hearing about it from a friend. This makes it less overt than other marketing techniques, which is a good fit for our developer audience.
3. Content is the least tacky option
While it's certainly possible to make your content strategy as tacky as other marketing approaches, it's not necessary. Outbound marketing, in particular, is something we're not fans of at all. Nobody likes being marketed to. We don't like seeing poster ads, or navigating around huge pop-ups when we're trying to read an article, or listening to advertising in the middle of our favourite podcasts.
But it's possible to make content very unassuming. At its core, content marketing is about helping people by providing solutions to their problems, sharing information, or entertaining them. Not everyone focuses on this aspect of content marketing, but it's the part that makes us feel better about having to do marketing at all.
Content marketing isn't for everyone. Some products benefit greatly from keyword or social media ads, which don't suit our business well so far.
But for us, these three reasons have helped us decide to try content marketing. And thanks to the benefits we've seen from content so far, we'll be sticking with it for a while.