Content marketing is a lot more beyond great content
Content marketing is much more than creating, distributing and sharing content. Yes, you need to engage audiences, generate leads, improve branding, and other marketing goals you can serve with content marketing. But it also needs a strategic approach and that is what a content marketing strategy is all about. Content marketing fits in a broader integrated marketing strategy and it requires a strategy of its own.
Questions to answer before you carve out your content marketing strategy
- Who are the buyer personas and what are their content needs and choices? This questions look at the type of information different ‘archetypes’ of buyers seek during their customer journey and maps the customer touchpoints, preferred communication channels, and the content formats. Buyer personas haven’t been invented for content marketing. They are used for an overall marketing strategy. But in a content marketing strategy, you take a more wholesome look at them.
- Which marketing and other organisational goals can we improve by better using content marketing? What can be the possible goals? Traffic building, conversion optimisation, event marketing, lead generation and management, email marketing, social media marketing, marketing automation, customer service, etc. can all be improved by better use of content and content marketing. Your content marketing strategy looks at them. Research into what organisational goals you can support and strengthen instead of trying to separate content marketing from the overall equation.
- Planning budgets to better achieve the goals using content in areas where the ROI is low: An example: you may have an overall budget for your website but maybe it’s better to invest in more relevant content for your buyer personas instead. Maybe your organisation invests a bit too much in generating traffic and leads but conversions stay behind. You can turn down the volume a bit and invest more in conversion optimisation and lead nurturing, using content.
How to create a content marketing strategy?
- Golden question: What do you want? What is your purpose for developing a content marketing plan? Why do you want to deliver content and create a content marketing plan? Know your goals before you begin planning, and it will be easy for you to know what strategy works best.
- Conduct your persona research: To develop a successful plan, you need to clearly define your content’s target audience or your buyer persona. By knowing your target audience, you can produce more relevant and valuable content that they want to read and generate conversions. Depending on the context you have to decide if you want to target a new group of people or grow your current target market? Do you want to keep the same target audience? Revisiting your audience needs by conducting market research each year is crucial to building your audience.
- Run a content audit: Most people start out with blog posts, but if you want to experiment and try producing other content items, reflect on what you want to make. For instance, if you’ve been doing weekly blog posts for the past year, creating an ebook that extracts all your blog posts into one ultimate guide would be a one way to offer information in a different format. If you’ve been in business for a while, review your content marketing efforts and the results from it in the last year. Figure out what you can do differently in the upcoming year and set new goals to reach.
- Choosing a content management system: Have a system in place where you can manage your content. A few vital parts of content management include content creation, content publication, and content analytics. One of the most popular content management systems is a WordPress website
- Brainstorm content ideas: Apart from available tools, there is also great scope for research to find out what kind of content needs publishing. Gather your best ideas, catchy yet SEO proof headlines and of course generate and publish great content.
- Determine the content format: There are a variety of options out there for content you can create. Here are some of the most popular content formats marketers are creating, and tools and templates to get you started.
Types of content marketing
- Blog posts: If you haven’t already noticed, you’re currently reading a blog post. Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly in order to attract new visitors. Posts should provide valuable content for your audience that makes them inclined to share posts on social media and across other websites. We recommend that blog posts be between 1,000 and 1,800 words in length, but experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.
- Ebooks: They are lead-generation tools that potential customers can download after submitting a lead form with their contact information. They’re typically longer, more in-depth, and published less frequently than blog posts, which are written to attract visitors to a website. Ebooks are the next step in the inbound marketing process: After reading a blog post (such as this one), visitors might want more information. This is where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play, directing people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an ebook to learn more valuable information for their business. In turn, the business producing the ebook has a new lead for the sales team to contact.
- Case studies: Case studies, also known as testimonials, are your opportunity to tell the story of a customer who succeeded in solving a problem by working with you. A case study is perhaps your most versatile type of content marketing because it can take many different forms — some of which are on this list. That’s right, case studies can take the form of a blog post, ebook, podcast … even an infographic. Your goal in a case study is to show the people who are considering your product that the proof is in the pudding. Before choosing a customer for a case study, you should determine which form the testimonial will take and the area of your business to which you’re trying to drive value.
- Templates: Templates are a handy content format to try because they generate leads for you while providing tremendous value to your audience. When you provide your audience with template tools to save them time and help them succeed, they’re more likely to keep engaging with your content in the future.
- Infographics: Infographics can organize and visualize data in a more compelling way than words alone. These are great content formats to use if you’re trying to share a lot of data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.
- Videos: Videos are a highly engaging content medium that are shareable across social media platforms and websites alike. They require a bigger investment of time and resources than written content, but as visual marketing increases in popularity — after all, it’s 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content — it’s a medium worth experimenting with.
- Podcasts: Starting a podcast will help audiences find your brand if they don’t have time or interest in reading content every day. The number of podcast listeners is growing — in 2018, nearly one-third of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast in the last month. If you have interesting people to interview or conversations to host, consider podcasting as another content format to experiment with.
Platforms to promote your content: social media
Once you’ve been regularly publishing content on your own site for a while, it might be time to start thinking about distributing your content on other sites. This could mean repurposing content into new formats and publishing them on your blog, creating original content specifically for external sites — such as Medium — or publishing website content on various social networks.
Considering Medium? Check out our insights from our first year of publishing original content on Thinking design publication.
Posting on social media, however, is pivotal to amplifying your brand’s reach and delivering your content to your customers where you know they spend their time. Social networks on which businesses often post include:
- YouTube (yep, this is technically a social network)
When launching a business account on any of the social networks above, it’s important to post the type of content your followers expect to see. On Instagram, for example, users want photos, videos, and graphics that reflect current events, show off user-generated content or even go behind the scenes of your organisation.
On Facebook, your options for what to post open up a bit: Not only can you share your blog posts and website content, but you can also post native Facebook videos, product promotions, and original memes that resonate with your customers. You can also interact with other businesses that have a similar audience as your own.
While the goal on social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat is to connect more intimately with your audience, your goal on platforms like Facebook and Twitter is to expand that audience, drive traffic toward your website, and start conversations in your industry. Do some basic market research to discover which platforms your buyers are on, and mould your content to their expectations.
How have you thought of using content marketing to increase brand presence in the most efficient way? Share your thoughts with us.
Also published on Medium.