Content marketing has been somewhat of a marketing buzz word that has slowly but surely made its way into the mainstream. It’s a great way to gain brand-new customers, retain old ones, and generate invaluable leads-but how do you optimize your content marketing program? In this content marketing guide, I’ll be giving you the basics of what content marketing is and the best ways to jump-start your content marketing strategy.
So… what exactly is content marketing?
The best place to start when discovering all things marketing is to understand its definition.
The basic definition of content marketing is: “delivering the content that your audience is looking for at the right time, in a format that they enjoy.” Content marketing can be everything from a social media post, to a blog post or even an infographic.
The main criteria in this definition is that it can be created by anyone at any level of your company and should bring value to your audience.
To further elaborate on this definition, you can break it down by understanding what makes content marketing so special.
CONTENT BRINGS VALUE
This is the most important characteristic of content marketing. It’s about more than just numbers and reach; it’s about providing unique value to your target audience in a format that they want to consume. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or what you’re selling-the only thing that truly matters is providing value for your customers with every piece of content that they interact with
CONTENT IS REAL
Most people think that the best way to gain loyal customers is by promising them something that they can’t get somewhere else. However, there’s a big difference between offering a poor-quality product and providing real value to your customers. You won’t gain loyal customers with poor content marketing, but you’ll also lose them quickly if it doesn’t resonate with them.
CONTENT IS PROMPT
Content marketing is about providing your customer with something that they want at the right time, in a format that won’t disappoint them. This means you can’t leave it to chance or let other people determine what gets published or when it will be published.
The most important thing to know about content marketing is that it’s not just about creating content; it’s about having a clear strategy and then executing on it. I’ll be giving you more information on this later in the guide.
What are the benefits of your business creating a content marketing strategy?
Given the effort involved in content marketing it’s worthwhile you exploring the benefits of the process and if it works well for your business. Here are some of the benefits people have shared that can help guide you on your content marketing journey:
1) You become more aware of how your customers are communicating.
This is a great way to get an understanding of your customers methods of communicating. This will help you to create a customer engagement strategy that meets the needs of your customers.
2) You can build customer loyalty.
You will generate a better understanding of your current customers and their needs, which you can use to create new products as well as services for them. By continually improving the quality of content you are communicating to your customers you will likely be able to develop loyalty with them.
3) You are more likely to have a long-term relationship with customers.
The more you can help your customers through content marketing the more likely they will be to stay with you, which is really the goal of every business. This is the most effective way to create a relationship with your customers and to keep them coming back.
4) You can expand your reach of potential customers.
You can gain new customers for your business by creating valuable content that gets shared around social media sites and shares with other people. Your business could be getting new customers for free since it’s not directly targeted advertising.
5) You can build your credibility and authority in your industry.
By creating valuable content that is shared with other people it will help to boost your credibility with potential customers. If you create a piece of content that is highly valued by others it can help to generate interest in your business since potential clients don’t want to work with people who don’t know what they are doing.
6) You know what works and what doesn’t work for your business.
By creating and then analyzing content that works for your business you will be able to create a better strategy for your business. If you are creating content that gets shared on social media sites and increases in value through word-of-mouth it could be that you have created something of value.
7) You can generate new leads for your business.
Generating leads is something that every business needs to be able to do to keep their business healthy and able to expand. There are two main ways you can generate leads with content marketing:
1. Your content can reach a large number of people and gain a lot of attention.
This can help to create a lot of interest in your business which you can tap into with content marketing. You could use search engine optimization to get the most out of your content marketing campaign. This is a formula that has helped some businesses create success with their content marketing programs.
2. Your content can help customers find the products or services they are looking for.
Your content is likely to be related to the products you are selling in some way. If someone is looking for a product or service that you offer it will likely help to bring them to your website. This kind of customer engagement can lead to sales and your business will benefit by it through content marketing.
8) You can use data collected from your content marketing strategy to create a better approach in the future.
The data you can gather when implementing a content marketing strategy can help you to optimize your approach in the future. This will allow you to use data to your advantage when creating content and it will be easier for you to develop a more effective strategy.
9) You can increase the amount of time that people spend on your website.
One of the benefits of having a blog is that it is much easier for people to find what they are looking for when they are reading an article. This means that you will generally have a higher conversion rate than other content on the web.
10) You can improve the quality and relevancy of your online conversations.
If you are engaging with your customers through social media or any blog you will generally be having conversations that are more meaningful to them. You want to make sure that you are helping customers when they are trying to solve their problems and if they can find answers at your website it can help with customer retention.
11) It’s Free
While there is time involved with content marketing it also helps to be free or low-cost to implement. It also helps you to save money on any other marketing strategies that may cost you a lot of money in the form of advertising, production, etc.
Content Marketing Guide – What are the different types of content marketing?
Suprise! Yes there are many types of content marketing. These are just some of the most popular ones:
1) Social Media Content Marketing
Social Media has gone gang busters over the last decade with half of the worlds population currently being on Facebook and Instagram. These platforms allow users to interact with brands in highly personal ways that were unheard of before. The power of social media has changed the marketing landscape, opening the door for brands to connect with customers on a more personal level. Social Media is where you can create content that is either short form (some images, a few words) or long form (a blog post, an article or a video).
2) Blogging Content Marketing
The typical ‘blog’ today is a mix of content and images, videos and audio. Some blogs are informative while some are more traditional marketing pieces. Blogging is where you can have the most control over your content, as long as you have a strong voice that your audience will resonate with.
3) Infographics Content Marketing
Infographics can be seen as the modern day infographic – they give way more information than simply a picture. Infographics are similar to blog posts, but instead of you writing one article, you’ll create several. The reason why infographics are so powerful is they can inform a variety of audiences. If your content is about a medical product, it’s more likely people will take an interest in your infographic than in the actual article itself (unless it’s really good).
4) Video Content Marketing and Social Media Videos
Video is massively popular on social media platforms and probably the most engaging. Video marketing is trending fast right now. A video can be short form (a few minutes) or long form (10 minutes maximum). The marketer that takes the time to create a professional and engaging video will get LOTS of views, shares and comments on their content.
5) Podcasting Content Marketing
Podcasting has been around for many years. It used to be mainly a method for people to listen to interesting content, but today it’s even more popular than ever. Podcasts are now not only for listening but also for watching. Some podcasts have gone viral with millions of views on YouTube.
6) Native Content – Content Marketing
You’ve probably heard the term Native Advertising , which is actually an old and traditional marketing technique but in a new package, so to speak. And again, this method has been around forever, but now it’s being used by some modern brands such as Mashable. Native Content Content Marketing is when a brand’s content and editorial staff have ownership of the brand’s products and services. This leads to a much more personalized, engaging experience.
7) Sponsored Content – Content Marketing
Sponsored content is just that – content sponsored by another company or brand. The subject matter of your sponsored content will likely be related to the sponsoring brand, but not limited to it. This type of content is usually more of a piece than a blog post.
8) PR Content Marketing
Public Relations (PR) has gone through many changes over the past few years, but it’s not what you think it is. PR was originally created with the purpose of getting news out to as many people as possible. Today, PR is used by companies to get their point across in order to gain better visibility in the media and on social media sites. PR is also used by brands to get their message in front of prospective customers and gain a loyal following.
9) Customer Service Content Marketing
Customer service content marketing is focused on answering questions that customers are having about your brand, or asking questions about products and services that you offer. This type of content is created via email, social media, phone and live chat platforms such as Webex and Skype. The idea behind this channel is that it’s a more personal way for you to communicate with your customers.
10) High Value – Content Marketing
Creating high value content such as white papers and e-books is one of the BEST ways to engage with your audience, which is why we are seeing a growing number of content marketing brands going this route. The idea behind this strategy is to provide customers with “how-to” information that they can use to improve their own business or personal lives.
11) Live Streaming and Webinar – Content Marketing
Live streaming and webinars are the hottest marketing techniques today. Live streaming and webinars are LIVE events; meaning people can watch your live webinar as it happens. Many webinars today even offer Q&A, which is where you have the opportunity to answer questions directly from your viewers, and this makes for a much more interactive experience. While live stream content marketing has been around for a few years now, I personally believe it will become much more popular.
How to create a content marketing strategy
There are a few things that make up a successful content marketing strategy. These include having an idea about what your audience wants, creating content that educates and helps, and creating innovative and engaging content that breathes new life into your brand. This is the content you’ll publish throughout the year to show to both existing and potential customers just how special your business is as an organization.
1) Setting Smart Goals
When working on your strategy you need to understand what the goals are of each content piece. Are you wanting to reach a specific group of people? Reach out to a new area with a new customer base? Reaching out to an audience is part of content marketing, but it shouldn’t be your primary goal.
Smart goals should include:
- Increase leads and conversion
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Increase revenue
- Engage your audience
- Build a better brand such as quality or expertise
There are dozens of other goals you can set, but these are the ones that will help you start a proactive strategy. Content marketing is about quality content and not just spamming social media with links.
2) Setting your KPIs for your SMART goals
Now that you have SMART goals lets set some KPIs to them. Let’s look at the above SMART goals and give some examples.
Increase leads and conversions = Number of leads, conversion rate, lead quality, etc.
Improve customer satisfaction = Number of complaints and calls to the company, number of active reviews and ratings.
Increase revenue = Revenue generated through new sales and old customers.
Engage your audience = You can use metrics like likes, shares, comments, clicks, etc. to see how engaged your audience is with the content you produce.
Build a better brand = Ranking on popular directories, awards, press mentions, etc.
Content marketing is about educating your customers and helping them so you have SMART goals to work towards with an objective and metric that will help you achieve it.
3) Identify Your Audience
Once you’ve worked out your goals and KPIs, you need to figure out who will be reading and engaging with the content. This could be the specific people you want, as well as a wider audience of your target market. Use different kinds of analysis tools in order to dig up information about what your audience is like, who they’re likely to be and how much influence or power they have within a niche area.
A good way of defining your audience to either to a:
ICP (Ideal customer profile) – An ICP is a detailed account of who your customers could be and what they would look to buy. This will help you understand what kind of content might attract certain people.
Customer Persona – Similar to ICP the difference being that you can be more detailed, for example if your customers are students you could apply what they like to do in their free time.
This task doesn’t have to be exhaustive but you should pull together enough information to have a clear picture of who you want to read your content.
4) What type of content will you be creating.
As mentioned above there are different forms of content marketing. So selecting the types of content you’ll be creating all aimed at different types of audience. You could create short video content, articles, infographics, podcasts or even images. All these will drive traffic to your website and potentially drive customers to you.
The main aim here is now that you have identified your goals and your audience the content type selection is synthesizing which you believe will work best.
5) What content channels will you be distributing and amplifying your content?
Will you be using your own dedicated channels? If so, what will these consist of such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest? Will you be utilising third party networks such as LinkedIn, Digg or Reddit? What about Google+ and Tumblr for example ?
When creating your strategy there are many kinds of content which can work well but if you don’t know how to use them or if they don’t suit your business it’s not likely to work. If you are new to it. Don’t spread yourself thin. Try a couple of channels and be focussed on a few major ones.
In this instance, you need to be smart about how you use these channels, one I would recommend is ‘influencer marketing’ where you create blog posts which will get reposted by top-tier bloggers who have the same audience as your company. This then allows your content to be seen a lot more widely and since the blogger has so many followers and fans this can spin off into other things such as brand promotion opportunities.
Another and popular one is utilising social media to promote the amazing content your company has created. Use a social media strategy to promote your content and keep people coming back for more.
6) Create a content marketing calendar
The last part of the strategy is to create a content marketing calendar. This will help you keep track of what you’ll be doing and how it will fit together. Think of it as a set of guidelines which will make sure your content marketing strategy is going in the right direction.
It should have everything from deadlines, to ideas for content, to planning in terms of who will produce and where it’ll be posted when completed.
You need to be realistic about this and don’t try to do too much, keep it fresh and changing and always make sure you have content which is going to help you achieve your goals.
7) Start creating and publishing
Now that you have created your content calendar. The fun part. Creating said content. Remember, there’s no need to rush and write down a couple of ideas so you can start work on it straight away.
You want to be creating content which is unique to your business which will help you achieve your goals not just produce a few posts here and there. Make sure you check out some other posts that are similar to what you are planning to do.
If you’re a start-up then this is really important; as your company may be competing with many others for customers in the long term. Having a unique and consistent message is the most important thing you can do.
Now to start putting it all together. Good news is you can get started straight away with these templates! Just download them by clicking here, use them for your own content marketing strategy and see how much progress it’ll make.
8) Measure results and get some insights
Measure results and see how much progress you’ve made with your content marketing strategy. This way you’ll be able to see how effective and easy it is to keep your audience engaged.
Once you’re done, you can start measuring different things such as new subscribers, where they are coming from etc. Each website will have different metrics which can help with your statistics but the easiest way to measure is going to be social media metrics.
If you’re looking to get even more insights, then you can use a website like BuzzSumo which will give you information on the most shared content in your industry. Finding out what other companies are doing well in your industry can help with coming up with new ideas, and even give some tips for what to do or not do.
Content Marketing Tips for Success
A Content marketing is one of the more fun exercises of using a digital marketing. But you also want to succeed in your efforts because it does take time and a concerted effort. Here the content marketing guide tips that will help you succeed.
1) Tell a story. Content marketing is all about storytelling. You want to create content that will resonate with your audience and build a connection with them, so make sure that your content is highly relevant to them.
2) Choose the right platform for the type of content you’re creating. Different platforms have different audiences, so make sure that you’re using the best one for your type of content. For example, if you’re creating educational material or something work-related, it may be best to use SlideShare or LinkedIn instead of Facebook or Twitter since those audiences are much smaller than others such as YouTube and Instagram which are known for their entertainment value.
3) Plan ahead and choose what kind of content you want to produce. If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll find yourself producing quantity instead of quality.
4) Execute! The only way to get content to consistently gain traction and increase your ROI is by actually doing it. This means that you’re going to need a dedicated team, so make sure that you’ve done your research about which company will be best for your content marketing needs.
5) Be consistent. Quantity is key when it comes to content marketing. The more content you produce, the more exposure you’ll receive. Your quality may vary depending on how much time you have to devote to each individual piece, but the important thing is that you consistently provide new information for your audience.
6) Make sure you have a budget to support your efforts. You’ll need money to pay for the team, research, editing, promotion and other costs involved with producing quality content.
7) Build relationships. It’s important to interact with people who will be interested in your content in order to get a sense for how they like to receive their information. This will enable you to build a better relationship with them, which will make it easier for you when it comes time to promote your content.
8) Develop your platform. After you build a relationship with your audience, you’ll be in a position to start developing your own personal platform. This will establish your credibility as an expert and create a two-way dialogue between you and the people that follow you.
9) Be relatable. People like to deal with real people, which is why it’s important for your online persona to feel like a real person. It may take some time to get a feel for how to do this, but eventually you’ll become comfortable with it and your content marketing will reap the benefits.
10) Be creative. As a content marketer, you need to be able to think outside the box and come up with unique ways of presenting content. The more creative you are, the more likely your audience is going to be engaged by what you have to say. This can also benefit you in other areas because it will separate you from everyone else who produces similar content.
11) Offer a call to action. Once you’ve finished producing content, it’s important for you to ask someone to do something with your content. This could be anything from an e-mail, survey, book or even a one-on-one mentoring session. Your content is going to get more attention when you follow through with a call to action.
12) Have fun! It’s important for both the writer and the reader of the content for them to have a good time while working together.