Content marketing is perhaps one of the most successful and authentic forms of digital marketing available to businesses today. If you are not currently using this strategic marketing practice, or if you feel you’re not using it to its full potential, that should change immediately. The effects of content marketing can be tremendous.
Content marketing allows you to connect with your customers and establish deeper, more sincere relationships. It also positions your brand as a subject-matter expert, and ultimately helps you improve your bottom line.
Are you ready to learn how to take your organization to the next level? Then you’ve come to the right place. Read on!
Definition of Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about the creation and distribution of content that resonates with your audience. It is a digital content strategy meant to draw in your customers with engaging and authentic information that is relatable and relevant. There are a varying number of approaches to content marketing across different mediums. However, the common denominator is content quality. No matter where it is published, or how you use the content, the most successful examples are ones that truly benefit the audience.
The purpose of implementing a content marketing strategy isn’t typically to solely profit. Usually, content marketing is used to help raise awareness of your brand, product, or service, drive traffic to your site and help influence readers to become loyal customers. Let’s be clear, though. Content marketing is not meant to be promotional. Though it sounds counterintuitive as a marketing strategy, it is the exact opposite. Effective content marketing is a more long-term approach that’s meant to be informational and educational to your audience.
Content Marketing Channels
Though the concept of a content marketing strategy seems simple, there are several ways you can use content to connect with your customers. While there are numerous articles and sources out there that describe content marketing, the below can be used as a guide to some of the best content marketing channels.
Although blogging first emerged in the 1990s, it really exploded into internet browsers everywhere in the past few years. It is arguably one of the most popular and cost-efficient content marketing channels. Your blog can be focused around a specific topic or be a more generic resource where your target audience would go to learn valuable information about your industry.
Blogs can be used to generate leads or to encourage potential customers to take action in an authentic way. Some content ideas include creating a collection of informational how-to guides, designing engaging infographics, publishing inspiring real-life stories, and sharing trendsetting tips. As for the actual content production, your process will be important here.
To stay relevant, your content should be timely and fresh. Think about your team’s structure. If you intend to produce a high volume of blog posts, consider hiring staff writers. Some companies may prefer to hire an overall digital marketing team that is responsible for executing the entire strategy. If not, there are other options to execute a successful strategy. These include hiring freelance ghostwriters or third-party content agencies. Just be sure if your content is outsourced that it remains high-quality and purpose-driven. You can also have a section for user-generated content and ask your audience to submit guest blog posts.
A bonus to starting a blog for your brand is the additional SEO traction you will gain! Sites with well-written blogs tend to receive more organic traffic and are indexed better in search engines. They can also help with your inbound marketing from reputable websites.
Have you ever heard the expression “content is king?” If not, it’s a great rule to live by when it comes to video content marketing. Video is one of the most popular channels of content marketing. There are a few reasons for this:
- Video is extremely captivating. Don’t just tell your audience, show them!
- It is much easier to understand by visualizing than reading through pages of copy.
- Video can entice viewers to make a purchase. (According to Social Media Today, 90% of people do say that video helps them decide whether or not to buy a product or service).
When planning out the type of video content you want to produce, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What would you want to see? What type of information would you want to learn? Your video strategy needs to go well beyond creating a promotional video for your business. To be effective, your video should follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% is relevant and valuable to your audience, and the other 20% (or even less if you can!) is about your company. You’ll also want to think about the actual production. High-quality, professional video can be incredible, but it does come at a cost. If you have a smaller budget, you may want to consider a mix of in-house and outsourced professional videography agency production.
Producing a podcast is considered content marketing through audio files that can be listened to on-demand from any smartphone or computer. They have also exploded in the past few years and can be a great way to further connect with your audience. Podcasts can not only be relatively cost-effective to produce, but they can also be very time-consuming. Planning out your content is even more crucial for podcasts, and they are typically published weekly.
Consider including interviews from industry leaders, influencers, and even your most loyal customers to your content plan. Each episode should have a theme and be structured in a way that makes it easy to follow. To maintain a subscriber base, you will want to continue publishing content in a timely manner to be able to build a loyal following. Be sure to plan out and record episodes ahead of time, so there is never a lag in content.
Your website is one of the most important showcases of content for your brand. Though your site provides an exception in that it should be predominately about promoting your business, the quality of your content should still be the priority. View your website neutrally, and navigate it as though you are a new visitor. In addition to evaluating how useful your content is, you should also consider the way your website navigates. If you approach the design and creation of your website from your customer’s perspective, you will receive a much better response to it. If you are implementing all of the above content marketing techniques, you should also include them (or at least links to them) on your website. Think of your website as the central hub for all information related to your brand!
Implementing a Content Marketing Strategy
Once you fully understand your options and select the channels you will initially pursue, it’s time to begin the implementation process. Here is a general guideline of how you can effectively implement a content marketing strategy.
1. Narrow down your audience.
Define exactly who you are targeting for every medium you will be present in. You may find that your audiences differ slightly between platforms, or that you will only be targeting one particular segment across the board.
2. Brainstorm your content.
Think about what type of unique, valuable, and engaging stories you want to tell your audience. As new trends emerge in your industry and organization, how will you track them? And even more importantly, how will you talk about them? You may want to also flag a few competitor sites to research and keep tabs on.
3. Plan ahead.
Creating a content calendar is one thing all successful content marketers have in common. They do not create content on the fly. All content should be strategic and well-planned. A content calendar can keep you on track and consistent with your content publishing. Depending on the number of resources you have dedicated to your content marketing strategy, you may want to have one overall calendar or a specific calendar planned by channel. A good rule of thumb is always to be working one month ahead. (Know that you still have room to publish in real-time if things need to change!)
4. Publish it.
The moment of truth is when you actually make your content live! Watch the reactions come in and track both negative and positive sentiments. Keep an eye on how your pages or podcasts rank. Measuring the amount of traffic you receive and comparing it month over month will provide you guidance on what type of content performs the best.
5. Continue to refresh.
Though you may produce a few pieces of evergreen content, the only way to continue driving traffic and consumers to your brand is by providing them with new information constantly. The key is to stay relevant, and things go out of style relatively quickly these days! Brands who stay ahead of the trends with their content and products are the most sought-out.
By choosing to implement one, a few, or even all of the content marketing channels listed above, you will be well on your way to establishing a relevant, actionable, and successful content marketing strategy.