Content Marketing 101
Content Marketing is a very important part of Online Marketing strategy, and SEO. Matt Cutts of Google has predicted that Content will be valued higher over Links in the next few years in the Google Ranking Algorithm.
So Content Is King. And you need to be doing it. Like Now.
Content isn't just the occasional blog post you write for your company, the infographic you post to social media, or the interview video with that expert you once knew. Content is anything you write that communicates with your audience. This can be; emails, social media posts, the copy on your website, product descriptions, website meta data, and even the images you use to showcase your products/services.
Each of these pieces of content leads your audience down the 'Slippery Slope' or 'Marketing Funnel' towards your intended goal, which can be anything from Brand Awareness to a Paying Customer/Sale. It is important to remember that each of the below sections are related to a different piece of content, and you should have each of them, in order to guarantee you meet your set marketing goals.
Awareness - The goal here is to tell your audience who you are and what your company is about. To do this, use Educational Content e.g. Blog Posts, Guides, Email Newsletters, Social Media Posts.
Consideration/Preference - With this stage, you are trying to help the customer evaluate which offering to go with e.g. you or a competitor. You should use a different kind of Educational Content here that tells the prospect more detail about your products/services/company, and why you are better than your competitors. Suggestions here include: Case Studies, Testimonials, Demonstration Videos, How-To Use It Guides, and Product Descriptions/Data Sheets.
Purchase - This is where the customer actually buys your product/service. Here it is crucial you have detailed Product Descriptions and Transaction Details e.g. how to buy.
Loyalty - Here you should encourage the customer to stay with you, and buy further products/services, or stay with the plan they've setup with your company. Content here should include; Help and Support Documentation, FAQ's, Special Repeat Customer Offers, Insider How-To's, Email Outreach and Follow-up, and Effective Product Experience.
Advocacy - Making sure customers shout about your product to all their friends and family is crucial to generating those extra orders and referrals for more business. Producing discount codes and other incentives for referrals, encouraging them to like and comment on your social media pages, having buttons to tweet or post snippets live from your website via their account, and/or leaving reviews, are all great for this stage.
Now if this wasn't enough to convince you of the power of Content Marketing, maybe some of these benefits will:
- Brand Awareness/Personality Building
- Industry Respect, Credibility, and Authority
- Conversations amongst customers about your brand
- Increased website traffic
- Improved SEO
Convinced yet? I thought you might be.
The thing to remember with Content Marketing is that it takes time to gain momentum and really reap the rewards it can bring. So please don't expect it to happen overnight.
To increase your speed to success, follow the below steps below and create your own Content Marketing Strategy.
1. Create a set of company guidelines for all employees to follow, ensuring there is consistency across the board, there are no hiccups or problems with the content put out, and what to do if such an occurrence happens.
2. Decide on the message you want to convey to your audience. What are you trying to tell them? A guiding statement will help you decide what to write, what not to write, and how to structure your content.
3. Configure the goals you want to achieve from content marketing. Increased Brand Awareness, more website visits, direct sales? Write those goals down. They will govern why you are doing this, and how you can achieve it.
4. Establish exactly who your audience is, where they hang out/look for the products/services you sell online, and who the influencers are that they go to for advice. This will now help you make a decision about the platforms you are going to use to create/publish your content, and who you should be approaching for influencer content e.g. interviews or promotion. This could be any multiple of; Blog posts, podcasts, videos, reports, slideshows, infographics, eBooks, pdf's etc.
5. Now you will need to figure out which voice/tone and style best fits your audience, and brand. Is this conversational, educational, or informative? Set the tone that will resonate with your audience and make them listen to you.
6. You will now need to create an Editorial Calendar. This will detail when, and how often will the content be published, the creation/curation process (who will write the content, and who will edit and publish it), and also key dates in the calendar to talk about - Christmas, Easter, Release of a New Book related to your brand etc. Tying in to all this will be your Content Calendar (the topics, themes, and keywords you want to talk about in upcoming posts).
7. The final step is to create a Promotion Plan - Decide how you will get traffic and eyeballs to actually read and engage with your content. Think about where your audience hangs out - and be there, front-and-centre. This could involve; Influencer Marketing, Guest Posting on popular large blogs/sites, Social Media, Outreach/PR, Paid Ads on Google and Social Media, Email Marketing, Content Distribution Networks, and on Large Content Platforms (e.g. Medium).
Now that you have your Content Marketing Plan sorted, here are a few handy general tips:
- Make sure you are adding value to your audience for each piece you write, not just churning out bland posts for the sake of it. Ask yourself 'Is this genuinely adding to my audiences knowledge and/or interest?' (knowledge about the topic, industry, your product, or your company).
- In order to produce effective results, you should teach, not sell. This essentially means conveying knowledge to your audience, and giving something to them that is useful, so they trust you as a source of expertise - before you ask for anything in return (the sale).
- Storytelling is also very powerful in Content Marketing. People love stories, and connecting with the people and experiences behind companies (people buy from people, at the end of the day. Be sure to convey who you are, the story behind your company, or the reason you wrote this particular piece of content.
- If you're stuck for ideas on what to write:
- Look at what your competitors are writing about (find out what's working for them and create a 'Swipe File' of inspiring content and ideas)
- Repurpose existing content - could your blog post be read aloud and turned into a podcast or video?
- BuzzSumo.com for ideas of popular content currently
- Google Alerts for interesting and trending content
- News Channels - The Guardian, Forbes, Entrepreneur etc
- A few proven successful Content Starter Ideas:
- Tools (tutorial how to use a tool, tools you recommend etc)
- Alternative ways of using certain tools or doing certain things
- Lists (for different skill levels, rank favourite tools, reasons to do x, reasons not to do x etc)
- FAQ's about your industry, company, or product/service
- Write about you, your company, your story, your company, your team
- Comment on a new trend or emerging trend and thoughts on its future
- Lists (10 ways to do X)
- Ultimate guides - thousands of words, niche down and go in deep, definitive resource for a specific topic
- Expert roundup posts on one specific topic
- Inspirational Success Stories
- Create a rally to unite ur audience around a specific idea, tipic or theme e..g opinions
- Lead by example e.g. how i do x
- Series posts (e.g. part 1 of 2)
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