Table of Contents
What is Content Marketing? An Introduction
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What is Content Marketing? Why is Content Marketing important?
Content marketing is not only about “what you sell”, but also it’s about “what you stand for”.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing technique of creating as well as distributing not only valuable but also relevant and consistent content, to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
[Read article: How To Create A Content Calendar]
Content marketing is all about creating content that has real value for your target audience with the underlying intention of motivating them to take a particular action. This action is any interaction with your brand that drives profitability – whether it’s sharing your content with their network, signing up to your newsletter, purchasing your latest product, or writing a review.
As a process that requires lots of experimentation, social aptitude, professional courtesy, technical knowledge, analytical ability, and financial management, content marketing is a far less tangible concept than content.
Importantly, content marketing differs distinctly from advertorial content.
Content Marketing is the gap between what brands produce and consumers want.
Content is something that adds value to the reader’s life.
What Can Content Marketing Do For You?
Effective content marketing is fundamentally about attracting and retaining customers. It can be used to accomplish all sorts of objectives, from driving awareness and consumption at the top of the sales funnel, to creating brand ambassadors and a loyal customer base at the bottom.
With every piece or series of content that you produce, it’s important to have clearly defined objectives for what you want you to achieve. This will not only help to steer content ideation but also enable you to properly track and measure success.
Do you want to
- Build your reputation?
- Grow your social community?
- Generate new leads?
- Increase email sign-ups?
- Communicate your brand identity?
- Keep customers coming back?
- Reach a niche audience?
[Read article: How To Create A Content Calendar]
Your Content Strategy: Where to Start?
Now that you have a sense of what is content marketing and how brilliantly versatile it can be, it’s time to look at how you go about putting together your content marketing strategy.
Content components: What, Why and Where
The substance is the part of your core strategy where you lay out exactly what kind of content your business needs to produce and what core messages you want to communicate. The substance should be rooted in a clear understanding of your business objectives and the needs and interests of your target audience. It covers where you intend to source your content and what shape it will take.
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What do you want people to take away from your content?
- What topics do you want to talk about?
- What is the objective behind each piece?
- Where will your content come from?
The structure is how your content is to be formatted, organized, and displayed. This includes determining where the content is to sit and how you plan to communicate its existence.
- What formats will your content take?
- Where can you reach your audience?
- How will users navigate your content?
- Which channels are best for starting a conversation with your audience?
- How will your content be linked to?
- What metadata and tags will you use?
Research and Analysis
The very first step of the content lifecycle is essential to ensuring your content is relevant and highly targeted to your audience and business needs.
Know your audience
This is crucial.
There are certain questions you need to be asking to ensure that you have a real understanding of the types of people your audience is made up of, what interests and needs they have? and where they typically consume information from?
- Where can your online audiences be found?
- What are they passionate about?
- What content topics and formats do they share?
- Do they have a sense of humor?
- Which sites/ newspapers/ magazines do they read?
- Who influences them?
- When is the best time to reach/engage them?
What are your competitors up to?
Keeping an eye on what your competitors are up to can help you to improve all areas of your marketing efforts and content production: know their strengths; know their weaknesses.
- How are their site and content organized?
- What topics do they cover?
- What content formats are they using?
- How do they interact with their digital communities?
- How is their content performing?
There are several different ways you can approach researching your competitors.
You can undertake a competitor site audit – gathering what detail is available and analyzing the content of their websites in a similar fashion to your content audit.
Tools such as Buzzumo and Ahrefs are highly useful for discerning the most linked to and shared content on your competitors’ websites, as well as the social channels where their content performs the best.
To keep continuous tabs on your what your competitors are up to, set up mention alerts through Google or services like Talkwalker
How to Get Your Content Seen?
Your next step is getting your content in front of the right people.
The research and planning you will have undertaken as you formed your strategy should have identified where your audience can be found, what they tend to read, and who their key influencers are. You should even have an idea of when they are most active online.
First and foremost, before getting into distribution, you’ll want to make sure you’ve optimized your content so that it helps distribute itself as far as possible. Below is a list of (more or less free) tactics and considerations to help increase your chances of success.
Create a Strong Headline
While click-bait titles make my soul cry a little every time I read one, there’s no denying the power of a strong and attention-grabbing headline. Come up with a few alternatives and consider a/b testing titles on Twitter. A bit of mystery can be effective, but don’t mislead or over-promise in your title – nobody likes to be tricked.
Optimize Share Buttons and Social Mark-up
Making sure that share buttons are clearly visible, preferably at the top of your content pieces, will encourage people to take action. Remember to include social markup that is aimed at inviting interaction – this means always including an image.
Include Targeted Metadata
A clear and targeted title tag will help your content to rank on search engines for relevant keywords. Including a targeted meta description and keywords in your headers and alt tags is best practice, but steer clear of keyword stuffing.
Work Your Internal links
Internal linking can help encourage site visitors to engage with a specific content piece. If the content piece is of high importance, linking to it from your homepage is the most effective way of driving traffic it’s the way. Alternatively, links from relevant landing pages or from popular past content pieces can be useful ways of encouraging viewers to stay on your site to peruse new content.
Submit to Google News
If your site meets the requirements, successfully submitting your content to Google News could give its organic performance a powerful boost. Read through the requirements thoroughly before attempting a submission.
Outreach to Publishers
Contacting journalists and bloggers who have previously demonstrated interest in your topic is one of the most effective ways of having your content seen and shared by the right people.
Share on Relevant Channels
Tweet and retweet your content several times on the day it’s published and continue to share it throughout the coming week or two. Retweet older content pieces intermittently to rekindle interest.
Upload visuals to Slideshare, Instagram, and Pinterest, be active on YouTube and consider how you might be able to engage through popular apps – such as Snapchat and WhatsApp.
Content with an emotional hook performs better on Facebook than Twitter. Avoid repeatedly sharing the same content on Facebook within a short period of time though – while this is encouraged on Twitter, Facebook audiences are less forgiving of seeing the same content from the same source in their newsfeeds.
While not a free tactic, you may want to consider social amplification tools, such as Outbrain or StumbleUpon, to help give your posts on social channels a boost.
Target the Right Audience on Email
Where relevant, feature your content in your email newsletters or similar comms to your mailing list. If your mailing lists are broken down by persona, you’re in a great position to target the distribution of your content pieces to the right audience segment, increasing the likelihood of engagement.
Take Your Content Offline
If you really want to grab the attention of a particular influencer – say a journalist at a prominent newspaper – consider thinking slightly out of the digital box. If you’ve developed a visually led content piece – such as an infographic or photography series – printing the asset and sending it to them by post is a sure way of standing out from the content crowd. Wrapping a box of chocolates or the likes in a print of your work also can’t hurt.
I hope you found value in this article.
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