Understanding the Content Marketing
I’m sure you must have heard about the age old saying that “Content is king”. This phrase has created a lot of buzz in the digital marketing domain. It has become so prominent that content marketing has become an integral part of the overall Digital Marketing strategy. Marketers consider a digital marketing strategy incomplete if content is not included in it in any form.
Did you know that according to Hubspot, 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.
Well, that’s quite a huge number.
A majority of marketers have already made their way towards Content Marketing and the ones who still haven’t are preparing to embark their content marketing journey.
Where marketers have started focusing on making a comprehensive Content Marketing strategy, there are still some of them who haven’t attained the perfection of creating an exclusive Content Marketing strategy.
In this post, I’m going to share the insights and tips for creating a comprehensive Content Marketing strategy.
But, before that let us first discuss what is content marketing and why it is important to create a content marketing strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is laser focused on creating, publishing and distributing content to the target audience using various online platforms.
It is also referred to as attracting and converting potential leads into customers by offering valuable content for free.
The main aim of content marketing is to deliver valuable, relevant, and consistent content with an aim to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and convert them into loyal customers afterwards.
Content Marketing can be done through the following mediums:
- Social Media Marketing
Importance of creating a Content Marketing Strategy
Content Improves Brand Reputation
One of the major benefits of having a content marketing strategy is that is helps you to build and improve your reputation in the eyes of the target audience. As the internet is highly cluttered with millions of brands serving online, it becomes important for businesses to build a sense of trust among the target audience and customers. Building trust portrays a positive picture of yours, builds goodwill and further creates positive brand reputation.
When your target audience reads your content, they begin to develop an opinion about your brand. As soon as they start feeling that your content is engaging & educational, and provides valuable insights, they will start trusting your brand.
Valuable Content Boosts Conversions
Content Marketing is no less than a blessing to most of the marketers who rely heavily on Content part to generate leads. When you consistently share content with your target audience, you build a relationship with them which is based on trust. This allows you to connect with them on a regular basis and they tend to move ahead in the buyer journey.
Together with building trust among the target audience, Content marketing also improves conversions. Any type of content that is created and shared must have a CTA that guides the reader to take the next step in the conversion process. The next step could be signing up for the email, downloading an ebook, making a purchase, referring friends.
Optimized Content improves your Website SEO
The need for Content Marketing becomes more precise when it comes to implementing SEO strategies on your website. Search Engine Optimization is that type of Digital Marketing which particularly focuses on improving your website for better online presence. It makes sure that your website gets a good rank on Search Engine Results Page. Thus, to improve your website on the basis of SEO, you have to create optimized content.
Adding to the facts, websites that consistently publish blogs & other forms of content have on average of 434% more pages indexed by the search engines than those that don’t publish at all. Thus, the more content you produce, the more your pages will be indexed and the more your online visibility will increase.
By having more content on your website through blog, you can target and rank for more keywords that are relevant to your target audience. Also having more content increases the visitor’s time on your website which positively impacts your search engine optimization. When Google notices the time spent on your website, it gets an indication that your website provides valuable content and rewards you with a good rank on search engine results page.
Note: Stop creating random contents! Document the content strategy & then execute.
How to create an exclusive Content Marketing Strategy
1. Set Your Goals
Everything starts with a strategy whether it is Content Marketing or Digital Marketing. The very first step that you need to take while creating a content marketing strategy is to set goals and objectives that you want to achieve.
While defining the goals, ensure that they are SMART in nature. In other words, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Clearly understand what you want and then define your prime objective, whether it is to drive traffic to your website, initiate conversions or increase brand awareness.
Having a clearly defined goal at an early stage will help you to take important decisions as you develop your content marketing strategy.
For example: You can send an email to your list that has a goal of having them click the link in the email to reach the sales page of the course.
Here, Content = “your email”, Goal = “driving prospects to the sales page”.
Define your audience
The very next step after defining your goals and objectives is to have clarity on the type of audience that you want to target.
This step is crucial for those who are just starting out with online business or marketing.
You have to think about the audience that is going to see, hear or watch your content. Do not create content just for the sake of it. Create content that provides value, information and solutions to the problem of your target audience.
When you are aware of your target audience, you can produce relevant content that will initiate them to read and convert as customers.
You can segment audience by age group, gender, location, regional languages, income range, challenges they might be facing, their interests or where they are in the buyer journey (someone who visited your sales page, you might want to show them another content that can be testimonial video or invite them to a webinar).
So, you can make your ideal audience avatar and give it a name. Then produce the relevant content for them.
Measure your current position & Audit Your Content
Taking the emerging popularity of content into account, your content must be too available on the internet. It may be in the form of blogs, social media content, podcasts, videos etc. However, the next step to take is to measure and analyze the content that is actually helping you to achieve your goals.
For this, you need to conduct a content audit. Track the performance of your pieces of content, assess their usefulness & identify any gaps. Compare your content with that of your competitors and fill in the content gaps accordingly. Compare your content with competitors on the basis of content titles and descriptions, content length, keywords backlinks & Social shares.
Find out the best Social Networks for promoting you Content
In the process of creating a content marketing strategy, you should also think about the channels that you are going to use to promote your content. Your blog is the most obvious venue for promotion but simultaneously you also have to think about the platforms that have a higher user base and are most popular in terms of content sharing.
Here are a few social media channels for content promotion.
One of the most popular social media platforms with an active user base of 1.9 billion. To share the content on Facebook, most of the marketers take the Facebook Page route. Apart from sharing your content via Facebook Page, you can take advantage of Facebook Instant articles and publish short articles.
Facebook Groups is another way to share your content & discuss ideas. Find a group that is relevant to your niche, join it and then use it to add your valuable content.
To promote your content over a large variety of audience, you must also consider using Facebook Ads.
Twitter has a monthly active user base of 400 million. It is widely used as an influential platform to share content. Try Twitter Direct Messages to connect with the target audience on a personal level. Create a Twitter Moment if you are live-tweeting any event. You can craft a Twitter Ad to funnel people towards your Twitter profile & get your content in front of more people.
With a monthly active user base of 600 million, Instagram has become the latest trend in terms of social media networks. You can post images, collages and one-minute video content. Just like Twitter, Instagram also has a Direct Messaging feature that can help you to reach out to your target audience. Instagram also allows you to sponsor/promote specific posts, helping you reach a broader audience.
LinkedIn is more of a professional network that makes it a perfect platform for B2B content marketers. Apart from just publishing content and quotes from your profile, you can take advantage of LinkedIn Plus Articles to publish long forms of content and share it subsequently. Similar to Facebook, you can also join the LinkedIn Groups that are relevant to your niche and get involved in the conversations. You can further use LinkedIn Ads to spread your brand’s message.
Decide the types of Content
Blogs are one of the most popular types of content. They are the best ways to improve SEO and drive more organic traffic to your website from the search engines. Adding to the facts businesses that blog 20 times or more per month get 5x more traffic than those who blog 4 times or less per month.
Apart from improving your SEO, blogs also builds a relationship between you and your target audience. As a matter of fact, when you educate your readers through your blogs, they tend to develop trust in you and get ready to make a purchase from you.
You should keep in mind that your blogs should be informative and provide solutions to the problems of your target audience.
Various studies conducted on the working and statistics of Video Marketing have confirmed that video content rapidly increases organic traffic from search engines. After Google being the top most Search Engine, YouTube comes in the second position. Thus, by investing in video marketing, you can get your website ranked higher. Videos being visual content are the key to great viewer engagement and retention. Not only the visual content is pleasing to the eye, but it also builds a personal connection with the viewer. What is the most important reason for using videos in your marketing plan? The answer is quite simple, to generate more conversions and sales. As a matter of fact, the brain processes visual content faster than the text, hence videos have the potential to immediately grab the attention of the viewer.
Infographics is a type of visual content that educates the audience and provides useful information to the reader with an aim to convert them into leads and customers. This visual content helps the audience to understand data and statistics in the form of storytelling so that the viewer does not lose attention.
In the recent times, the attention span of the viewers is very short and it becomes utterly important to capture their attention. Hence, sometimes rather than using long forms of content, you should create infographics to deliver more data to viewers.
With the help of infographics, you can allow your target audience to easily digest information through the use of visual data, charts, and statistics. With a perfect blend of color, proportion, and negative space, you can create attention-grabbing and even persuasive infographics.
Another type of valuable content is the case study. They are basically the stories that portrays how your business has helped a particular client in achieving the desired goal. You can also use case studies to highlight your business services.
Consumers are more inclined towards Case Studies because this type of content helps them better understand how your brand/business has added value for the clients. This build trust amongst your target audience and they easily convert into leads.
Ebooks are a type of long-form of content that businesses can use to provide more valuable content. The Ebooks are supposed to have all the relevant content regarding a particular topic. Ebooks should be created with an aim to provide some type of useful information and insight for your target audience about their needs and challenges.
The main aim of Ebook is to build a relationship with the target audience so that they start trusting your brand/business and get ready to voluntarily make a purchase. Ebooks are the best way to collect lead information because they are generally gated and to access the Ebook, you can have prospect give you their contact information & in return of that they get the download link of the Ebook.
One of the most high-performing types of content is the interviews with industry experts or even your own customers. Interviews provide valuable information to your prospects and help them to better understand the challenges and needs. Moreover, interviews are profitable way to portray your brand as an expert in the industry.
Social Media Posts
Without any doubt, social media posts are one of the most powerful ways to share your content and reach out to the target audience. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram help businesses to reach out to new audiences and build relationships with customers. Social media posts can be used to help new leads to discover your products/services, lets the consumers to know about the sales and promotions, and provide leads and customers with additional information about your products/services.
Good customer feedback is one of the features that helps in the making of a successful content marketing strategy. Without knowing what your customers want, it is absolutely impossible to develop valuable content that generates brand loyalty and business leads. This is where the need to conduct surveys arise.
Surveys are basically a set of questions that we ask from the target audience with an aim to grab their feedback. This is generally done to acquire feedback for an existing product/service or at the time of launching a new product/service. Surveys should be brief and include very specific and relevant questions that are aimed at helping you to make decisions about what type of content to create and where to create it.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, over 60% of B2B marketers are using webinars as a part of their content marketing programs. Webinars are a convenient type of content. The lives of people have become fast. They find it difficult to leave their work and attend an event. Webinars allows the people to attend the event from their comfort zone. Webinars are a great platform to demonstrate your industry knowledge and expertise. This establishes trust and credibility. Webinars also generate quality leads because niche webinar topics allow you to attract and identify potential customers who have a specific interest in your business.
A Lead Magnet is generally a simple piece of content that people would exchange their contact information for. Lead magnets are neither promotional content nor they are a piece of sales copy. Rather, they are helpful pieces of content that provides value to the prospective customer.
After you have decided on the type of content that you are planning to create, you have to make sure that you deliver everything that is on your content marketing strategy on time.
Think and define who is going to be in charge of producing, maintaining & delivering content. This certainly depends on the size of your company, the content team or whether your are outsourcing content.
The next thing that you should keep in mind are the tools and resources that you are going to use. Are you going to have an in-house content team or hire freelancers.
Some small marketers prefer having a team of freelancers rather than having an in-house team of content writers.
Create a content calendar
A content calendar is a crucial component of the entire content marketing strategy. You need to know exactly when you want to publish your content on each of the platforms that you are using for content promotion.
If you do not have a content marketing calendar, you are not efficiently using the content marketing strategy.
With the help of a Content Marketing Calendar, you can plan and execute your content in an efficient and timely manner. It is a plan that tells you how your content will be laid out over a specified course of time. A quality content marketing calendar helps you to get organized and generate results in your content marketing strategy.
As mentioned earlier, there is no point in creating content if you are not promoting it. Content is created with a purpose of promoting it to create brand awareness and initiate more conversions. This is why you need to have the right mix of promotional channels.
You can start promoting your content with organic search. This involves creating content that has a higher rank in Google’s Search Engine Results Page. The content here should be keyword rich.
Next promotional channel is the email newsletter. Emails are a durable promotional channel for content. You can segment your audience and then create customized content.
Social Media Channels are the obvious choice for content promotion.
Conduct a thorough competitor research. Know the stories your competitors are telling & the types of content they are promoting. Understand what is working for what and what is making them so popular in terms of content.
On the basis of this, create unique messages and strategy. Study their campaigns, learn from them and then craft your stories that perfectly define your brand values.
Subscribe to their newsletter and understand their methodology of crafting emails. See their social media posts. The time of publishing, the engagement and the types of content that are popular.
Track the results
After you have created content, conducted competitor analysis, promoted your content through various social media channels, the next thing you need to have is a tracking mechanism that ensures your Content Marketing efforts are working in the right direction. You need to have a reporting format to track your goals. Initially, you can create an excel sheet and add your goals for each of the content channels. After this, add the views, fans, subscribers, potentials in front of each channel so that you know which activities and channels are working positively.
There might be times when certain content pieces might not work according to your demand. In that case, inspect what went wrong and how can you improve it. Track your results once in every month. Improve the content pieces that need improvement and promote the top performers.
Quick Tips for Content Marketing
- Understand the Content Marketing (Sales) Funnel
- To add value create a blog post with 1000+ words
- Make your content specific & relevant
- Repurpose old content
- Include Email in Content Marketing
- Interview Thought Leaders of Your Niche
- Promote your content through Social Media
- Use Catchy & short Headlines
- Add social sharing buttons in your blogs
- Use Guest Blogging to get authority links
- Create and share infographics
- Offer “Free” value through your content
- Understand your audience
- Offer your most valuable content through Emails
- Conduct a thorough keyword research
Future of Content Marketing
Content Marketing is dynamic in nature and is fast paced at the same time. However, predicting the future of content marketing can only be done by taking into consideration the content marketing efforts of the past. In other words, yesterday’s content is the foundation for tomorrow.
Taking the facts into consideration, infographics is still one of the top performing forms of content owing to its ability to attract audience easily.
However, with new technology on the rise, videos have become the recent engagement booster. It is one of the most adaptable types of content available and is used by a majority of brands.
Performance of content marketing relies majorly on the 4 pillars.
You should know what objectives do you want to achieve with the help of Content Marketing and for that you should create a comprehensive Content Marketing strategy and follow it religiously. While making a content marketing strategy, keep the above mentioned points into consideration.
Automation is the latest trend that has made a special place in content marketing domain. Gone were the days when content was created and distributed manually. Owing to the intense online competition, it is wise to shake hands with automation so that your content reaches out to maximum people and at the right time. This can be achieved by using platforms like hootsuite for social media content scheduling, behavior based email marketing platforms (hubspot, activecampaign, getresponse etc) & scheduling your paid ads in advance.
There is absolutely no use of creating content when you are not looking forward to promoting it. Ensure to promote your content through various channels. Optimize your content from the very beginning and also make sure that your content is goal-driven.
After you have created and promoted your content, start measuring and tracking the performance of your content. Analytics provides you with the right numbers that will give a direction of how to improve your content for even better performance.
Content marketing is a profitable method of promoting businesses, becoming an expert in your domain, providing valuable content to the target audience, selling products, and raising brand awareness.
Thus, making a content marketing strategy becomes crucial if you want to stay in the competition and increase your brand authority online.
Hopefully the above mentioned steps to create a content marketing strategy have persuaded you to create one for your brand.
So, if you still haven’t created a content marketing strategy, what are you waiting for?
Let’s get started!!!