The 4 purposes of marketing content

By Kathrin Opielka

30 November 2016

Discover the content marketing matrix, which shows the 4 main purposes content should fulfil to create a strategy that really works.

Great content should be at the core of your marketing strategy

More and more businesses have discovered the value of content marketing. If done well, it is a great way of generating leads, increasing your company’s visibility, as well as building a reputation for your brand and a relation to your customers.

Content marketing is closely linked to various marketing approaches, many of which you might already pursue. Be it SEO, social media marketing, inbound marketing, PPC or PR – content marketing is often either embedded into these strategies or is, in fact, a requirement in order for them to work.

As the name suggests, a content marketing campaign will either stand or fall depending on one main factor: the quality of the content itself.

By its nature content marketing is a complex beast; you want to reach your audience with the perfect piece of content at the right moment to start engaging with them or nurture your existing relationship.

Many businesses struggle to approach content marketing from a strategic point of view. Only a shocking 35% of businesses following this marketing approach have a documented strategy.

In order to do this complex beast justice and meet your overall business goals, you have to be aware of the four main purposes content fulfils.

The 4 purposes of content

Content marketing aims at building a relation to your prospect and existing customers and stakeholders. Both format and intent of the content you create can have very different effects on your audience.

During my enrolment at Google Squared, a digital marketing and leadership course developed by Google, I came across an interesting content marketing framework which I would like to share with you: the content marketing matrix.

The matrix, inspired by Smart Insights, illustrates the four main purposes of content.

Content should either entertain, educate, inspire or convince, depending on the stage of the funnel your buyer personas are at. Your aim is to provide content for your audience that is exactly right for them at a specific moment in their buyer’s journey – not catering one of these purposes will result in you missing out on potential needs of your audience, which would otherwise have added value for them and helped you build a relation with them.

Content matrix: entertain is emotional awareness, inspire is emotional purchase, convince is rational purchase, educate is rational awareness

As this matrix illustrates, content should address needs and interests of your audience on both a rational and emotional level and help you engage with your audience from the very first point of contact with your brand through to their purchasing decision.

Content marketing doesn’t stop there, though – it also aims to maintain this relationship with your customers by turning them into brand advocates and delighting them after their purchase.

Each of these four purposes can be met through different types of content.


Content marketing can enable you to engage with your audience through entertaining them. This purpose relies heavily on triggering an emotional response and is especially suited to get in touch with people that either haven’t heard of your brand yet or haven’t identified your product or service as a solution to a problem they might have.

Emotional content is likely to create a deeper relationship with your audience and contributes highly to brand loyalty.

Great formats for entertaining your audience are branded videos, quizzes, games, competitions, and viral campaigns (the latter of which is, of course, hard to achieve but very effective if successful).


Inspiring content reaches your audience on a similarly emotional level but is usually addressing people further down in the purchase funnel.

Be it widgets, community forums provided by your brand, celebrity endorsements or reviews and ratings – these types of content are aiming at pushing your audience towards the purchasing decision while inspiring them on an emotional level.


Depending on the type of product you offer and your buyer persona’s needs and interests, educational content can be crucial for a successful content marketing strategy. It is less emotional than entertaining content and aims at helping your audience solve challenges they might be struggling with.

Types of content that fall into this category are infographics, eBooks, PR, whitepapers, guides and trend reports. As they are typically positioned at the beginning of your funnel, they should enable your audience to successfully identify their problems and suggest solutions that help solve them, one of which would be the product or service you offer.


Convincing content aims at giving your buyer personas the last push they need to become customers. Demo videos, events and webinars are content types that are still in the middle of your prospect’s buyers journey, while case studies and price guides are typically decision-level content offers.

As opposed to inspiring content, this category convinces through facts and figures and addresses rational interests of your buyer personas.

Support all four purposes for successful content marketing

Many of these types of content can be situated in between purposes (such as eNews, for example) depending on the actual content you fill them with.

Nevertheless, this matrix offers the opportunity to make sure to have covered all four main purposes of content before launching a new campaign.

2023 update

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