Last week, we covered what content marketing is and why it’s a valuable tool to have. In short, it’s about creating, publishing, and distributing valuable content to a target audience, with the goal of driving customers towards purchasing and loyalty. Quality content marketing connects brands with lead generation through building trust and sympathy. As Rena Taylor pointed out, this isn’t limited to businesses but also to people who have built brands around themselves, for better or for worse. What’s needed for a successful effort in content marketing is a clear plan with targeted goals and steps for execution – a strategy.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to developing a content marketing strategy.
Why do you need content marketing?
That’s really the important question to ask before taking any steps down a particular path of content creation. A good answer to this question will fit into an organization’s larger goals, be it a growth strategy, yearly revenue target, or unique value added through new content. This ensures everyone within your organization will be on the same page. Marching to the same drummer is a key, no matter what size the organization, or the duration of a content marketing strategy.
What makes content marketing appealing to consumers is that they aren’t being sold something. Content that educates or entertains may lead to sales in the future. The better the content, the more likely a consumer is to reward the source with their loyalty and purchases. In order for this to be successful, it’s paramount a business knows who their audience is, what they want, and how they engage with content. This can be done in several ways, including speaking to your sales force and using buyer personas.
Once it’s understood who and where the target audience is, selecting the appropriate content mix is what will make or break your strategy. It’s about creating content that the consumer will find useful, not necessarily what your organization wants to say. By using content that is appropriate for the consumer it makes it more sticky, that is, more useable and likely to be shared.
Content comes in all shapes and sizes, but can be broadly grouped into three categories: blog posts, long-form gated assets, and visual content. There are many kinds of blog posts including how-to’s, lists, interviews and so on. Long-form gated, or premium assets are pieces that don’t get posted onto blogs but are used for brand building or lead generation, including eBooks and Webinars. Visual content is broad and are usually included in the other two categories with inclusions of pictures, infographics and videos. One kind of content usually isn’t enough, but too many can be burdensome and redundant. Finding the right balance comes from measuring initial effort and tweaking as metrics are evaluated.
And remember, useful content isn’t always original content. Curating and presenting content from across different platforms in interesting ways is also a great way to increase traffic and lead-generation.[caption id="attachment_622" align="alignnone" width="724"] The Content Marketing Pyramid by the folks at curata.com[/caption]
This goes back to everyone marching to the same drummer. A planned and detailed editorial calendar is the battle plan for a content marketing team. At the core it’s a place where content is mapped out with the themes, buying cycles and important events, publishing platforms and social media channels. Here at Awkward Media, we use Trello to map out our blog content.[caption id="attachment_616" align="alignnone" width="563"] Our editorial calendar for blogging.[/caption]
So you’ve written a white paper, or made an infographic. Now what? It’s time to push that bad-boy! Basically, you’ve created content, now it’s time to market it. The marketing bit is done through a few avenues. First, search engines rank content. What you want is to be ranked highly, and for that it’s important to know the rules of SEO. We use the plugin Yoast as an easy way to ensure we’re living up the top search engine standards. Social media is another way to spread your content like rapid fire. It’s a way for your audiences to be involved by commenting, sharing and ultimately using your content in a way that is valuable to them. Finally, there’s email, which with a large subscription list can do wonders for engagement and re-engagement.[caption id="attachment_617" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Recipe for Success from reliablesoft.net[/caption]
These metrics can be calculated, tracked, and evaluated with several different analytic tools mentioned in the article. With these four broad areas covered it offers a full understanding of what’s happening throughout the executed strategy. Overtime this can help reduce costs, help identify strong versus weak content and how many leads or sales have been generated by the efforts made.
Don’t forget, content marketing is just one of many tools in a marketer’s toolkit. It’s not an all or nothing approach, but can (and should) be added to an existing marketing strategy.