(1) Intro to Content Marketing
With so many businesses operating online, standing out from the crowd is essential. Content marketing is a great way to help you attract your audience’s attention. “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
How to build a Successful Content Marketing Strategy in 7 Steps:-
- Plan- Who you are, Where you are, Where you want to be
- Audience- Who you want to tell it to
- Story- What story you want to tell
- Channel- Where you want to tell it (Facebook, Twitter, Email, Linkedin, Blog)
- Process- Create and manage, Optimize, aggregate
- Conversations- Converse & listen (Interact with your audience)
- Measurement- Measure and learn
(2) Content Marketing
Consumers are wary (and weary) of brands, salespeople, and advertising that only promote the attractive elements of products and services. They’ve grown tired of being misled, shortchanged, or flat-out lied to by those selling them products. So, where are they turning to for information about products and services they need and/or want?
They’re going online and learning from third parties. They’re reading blog articles, watching YouTube videos, and listening to podcasts created by other consumers that are aimed at educating rather than pitching; teaching rather than selling. For consumers, a lot has changed since the earlier days, they now have access to the same information only companies/businesses/sales folks used to have. The power dynamic has shifted. Consumers no longer have to rely on the transparency of the guy selling them products and services, instead they can look up the information themselves. They can dive as deep into any topic they want and gather all the information they need to make the best purchase decisions for them.
Salespeople are no longer the sole gatekeepers of information. It’s a great time for consumers. So, how can businesses adapt to this shift? What is the best way for them to communicate with today’s sophisticated consumers? Rather than continue to play your cards close to your sleeve or rely on misleading advertisements, it’s time to get honest. And this is where content marketing can help you attract, educate, convert, and close happy customers.
Content marketing is based on the creation and sharing of online material, like videos, blogs, and social media posts. It’s designed to generate interest in a company’s products or services by capturing people’s attention. It can also help to increase sales by directing traffic to your website, boost awareness of your brand and build trust and recognition amongst your audience.
Let’s journey back to the days before the web, when TV, print and radio dominated. Two-way interaction wasn’t possible between brands and customers and audiences received advertising messages whether they wanted them or not. These days, people can pick and choose when they engage, and content marketing allows businesses to connect with their audiences like never before.
Great content campaigns are based on understanding who you’re writing for. The more you know about your audience and share their passions, as well as their pains, the easier it will be to engage them on a personal level. Try considering the challenges or pain points your customers face, and then tailor your content to these insights.
(3) Best practices for creating your own content marketing strategy
Next, let’s cover some effective content marketing practices. The key to success is creating a content marketing campaign that accomplishes three things: (1) answering your audience’s questions, (2) providing something of value and (3) keeping them wanting more.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you put together your own strategy:
Take the time to get to know your audience better. Look at which accounts they follow on social media to get a sense of their likes and interests
- Experiment to find the best types of content for reaching your audience and don’t be afraid to use multiple formats
- Choose the right places to publish your content and make sure you’re talking directly to your audience
- Throw away the business speak and stock responses, and prioritise natural language to interact with your audience
- Make your content unique, interesting and exciting. Use engaging headlines, eye-catching pictures and informative language to capture your audience’s attention.
(4) Get to know your online customers
Making sure you are saying the right thing, to the right people, and are connecting with them at the right time is critical when it comes to content marketing.
(a) Audience segmentation is and how it can benefit a business
Audience segmentation can be used to improve your content marketing campaigns. Segmentation involves dividing your audience into groups of who they are and what they like. Rather than spending time and money targeting a wide range of people, segmentation helps to identify the groups most interested in your product or service. The result is a more cost effective and persuasive way to connect with potential customers.
By researching your audience and segmenting them into groups, you can then create specific content that excites, entertains and engages them.
(b) How to use audience segmentation to boost your content marketing efforts
The next step would be to create content with that specific group in mind. But why exactly is audience segmentation so important when creating and distributing content? Understanding the habits and preferences of an audience can help you target content directly to that specific group of people. Another benefit is being able to pinpoint audience behaviour and using this information to refine your marketing approach. Try to answer: What social channels does this group use? What do they do with their free time? For example, people who enjoy the visual nature of a social media platform like Pinterest are likely to prefer different content to those who like to read and contribute to forums. All this information can provide value when it comes to creating tailored content for this group.
To get insights into what people search for, try free online tools like Answer The Public and Keyword Planner. You also can utilise analytics features on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to get a glimpse of audience demographics and behaviours. Experiment with a number of tools and compare results to get a more complete picture of who your audience is, and how they behave online.
(5) Popular online content formats
Online content can take lots of different forms: from case studies and ebooks, to infographics, images and video clips. Each of these different formats comes with its own benefits; whether it’s to inspire, educate or entertain. Whatever format you choose, the purpose of content is always the same – to connect with an audience. This audience, in turn, will engage, share, learn, and perhaps even convert into customers. Let’s start by exploring some popular content formats.
(a) Social Media Content Marketing
There are a number of platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat) to work with and several ways you can create and share social media content on each of them (such as photos, live and pre-recorded videos, and stories). All of these platforms and ways to share your content provide you with a plethora of opportunities to connect with your audience.
(b) Blog Posts
When most people think of content marketing, they think of blog posts. And for a good reason – great content marketing begins with creating awesome blog articles that address the questions your audience is asking.
That’s the key right there to a high performing blog. You need to write about topics your audience cares to learn more about.
Blogging best practices begin with knowing the appropriate topics to create content around. You have three important factors to consider:
- The buyer’s journey
- The topics people research at each stage
- How you can get people from one stage to the next
Too many businesses start blogging and only have posts like “Breaking News! We Have a New Head of Sales! Meet Steve!” or “We Sponsored a Local Little League!!!! Go Tigers!” (All the exclamation points are so you can hear how hard we pat ourselves on the back which only your team will love, and it’s good to give internal praise and give back to the local community).
When people turn to search engines, they do so for themselves. They care about solving their problems or satisfying desires. Once they start getting value from you answering their questions and being the go-to resource for them, then they’ll want to learn more about you. So, if you want to connect with them, write articles that address their most pressing questions about your industry.
You can’t escape it anymore. If you want to be top-notch at content marketing, you’re going to have to produce video content. It’s what consumers are consuming and demanding more of. They’re hungry for video content.
Videos can include anything from product demonstrations to tutorials and customer testimonials. They allow brands to create engaging, entertaining, and useful content that can be consumed on the go.
Whether you’ve got the budget for high-end video equipment and a studio, or only have the camera on your smartphone available, you’re more than equipped to create video content for your brand.
Got something to say but don’t feel comfortable on camera? You might consider starting a podcast. Podcasts are an awesome hands-off medium for people to learn about new subjects.
Podcasts are great tools for consumers to use to learn-on-the-go or multitask while performing other actions. You can give your attention to articles and videos while performing tasks like driving, washing dishes, and shoveling snow from your driveway.
(e) Premium Content
Let’s say you create an awesome blog that ends up on the first page of Google when people search that topic. Visitors come to the content, they read every word, they love it, now what?
How do you retain their attention? How do you get them to convert into a lead? By offering them free premium pieces of content.
Something of high enough value that they’re willing to exchange some information about themselves (name, email, persona question) for a download in return. These can be easy to create resources like tip sheets and checklists or comprehensive pieces of content like ebooks, guides, and whitepapers.
Premium offers are how you can easily turn anonymous website visitors into contacts that you can nurture through email campaigns to drive them through your marketing and sales funnels faster.
(f) Visual Content
In addition to video, there are tons of other forms of visual content your audience may find valuable:
- Press Releases
- Case studies
You can use visual content as standalone pieces of content — to share via social media channels or used as a premium piece of content itself — or, if you really want to make an impact, you can embed visual content into your blog articles. Visual content is awesome for consumers because of how easy they are to consume. Many folks on the internet may not have time to read your 3,000-word post comparing several types of riding lawn mowers. But, if you create a quick infographic, table, or graph showing how they compare in various categories, it might be a lot easier for your audience to unpack and retain the information.
Search for forums related to your industry and create multiple accounts on them and help people by providing more info with your content
Will not give you thousands of visitors but traffic coming in via a guest post will not just be a visitor but may be a second customer or follower.
At times Old is gold. Promoting your piece of content via email is very common but a highly effective method. Shooting e-mailers to your opt-in list increases followers, builds second customers with better brand image.
(j) Brand Evangelist
Writing compelling content over a period of time will build lots of second customers for you which will help your content go places and increase its visibility
(k) Connect with Influencers
Online influencers are the people who get the attention of the biggest brands, have a real following, are actively involved in social media and create great content. With a little patience, you can become a social media/online influencer. Here’s how to get started.
(6) Four main purposes for content marketing
Successful content doesn’t have to go viral or reach millions of people. Focus on the creating content should be tailored to your audience, and design it so that it moves customers towards a specific goal or action. Now that you’re familiar with different formats, the next step is to consider the main goal of your content. In content marketing, there are typically four main purposes of content, which are:
- to entertain
- to inspire
- to educate, and
- to convince.
(7) How to match different formats to your content goals
In your own business scenario, consider how certain formats are best paired with specific content goals. For example, if your goal is to educate, then guides, ebooks and infographics would be the ideal formats –whereas if your goal was to entertain, a better format choice would be quizzes or competitions.
When assessing which content formats are the right fit for your goals, think about the ones you can easily produce yourself, and consider recruiting assistance for those you can’t. Identify the purpose of your content, and then select the formats best suited to that goal. Finally, when designing your content, remember to consider your audience, and address their specific needs in a format that will wow them.
(8) Writing for online audiences
When it comes to writing for the web, there are key considerations to keep in mind which will help make online reading as enjoyable as possible.
(a) How online audiences and offline audiences differ in their the way they read content
When it comes to creating content, there are some key differences between writing for online audiences and offline audiences. Reading habits can vary a lot between online and offline content, with factors like style, length and structure all having a big impact when it comes to writing for different channels. To capture your online audience’s attention, you’ll need to adapt the way you approach writing. For example, while reading a long article in a newspaper could be enjoyable, reading multi-page articles online are more likely to be frustrating. This is because as online readers we are constantly flooded with information, so our need to multitask and consume online data quickly and efficiently has left us with shorter attention spans.
(b) Why it’s important to adapt your writing style to an online audience
Keeping this in mind, here are a few best practices for successful content writing:
Start with a good hook that clearly explains to the reader what they can expect. A great hook or opening sentence is important to draw people in. This could be a statistic, like “60% of people say owning a dog makes them happier”, or a question, like “are you up to date with the latest in puppy fashion?”
Make sure that as you’re writing, you always keep your target audience in mind, and focus on what you can offer them. Try to read your content through their eyes, and don’t be too salesy – you want to engage your audience, not bombard them with too many sales messages.
Another valuable tip is to incorporate a “call to action”, or CTA. CTAs are short statements designed to entice a website visitor to take a specific action, so you should make them as creative and persuasive as possible. It could be ‘start now’ or ‘sign up today’. Tailor your CTA to your strategy, and make sure it helps you achieve your objectives.
(c) Tools and systems to help support writing copy for the web.
Creating content regularly means it can be tough to stay inspired, so here are a few ways to come up with engaging topics.
Try researching your competitors to see what topics they cover. As you research, keep a list of potential topics and refer back to it when it’s time to brainstorm new content. In addition, tools like Answer the Public allow you to type in a specific subject or key term and receive a list of some of the most searched queries involving those words. This is great for creating content topics that respond to real user demand.
Other tools to help you get an idea of how popular a topic is include Search Console, which can help you see the terms people use to find your website, and Keyword Planner, which shows you how many people search for a specific term.
Finally, make sure you’re consistent in your writing style, so that when readers read your content, they immediately associate your brand or business voice with it. A clear and recognisable tone of voice will help to establish a relationship with your audience and differentiate you from competitors. Try writing down the attributes you want readers to associate with your brand, such as honesty and enthusiasm, and always write with these qualities in mind.
(9) Help your content be seen
Once you’ve created content, knowing how to distribute and promote it online is key to getting the reaction that you want.
(a) Channels available to promote and distribute content effectively
In this lesson we’ll look at different ways to promote your content, how to create a content marketing calendar, as well as ways to increase visibility through owned, earned and paid channels.
Did you know – some bloggers recommend you spend as much time promoting your content as you do writing it? With so many people online at any one time, making sure you are promoting content well is essential to helping it reach a larger audience.
Imagine if you have just spent a lot of time and effort creating an entertaining content piece about your products/services. After all that work, you want to make sure it will be seen by as much of your target audience as possible – which is where promotion can help.
The key to your content promotion strategy is understanding where your audience spends their time online. Is your audience on Pinterest? Instagram? Do your customers watch videos on YouTube or do they prefer to browse blogs? Understanding how your audience consumes content will help you get your strategy right.
Before you start creating a content promotion plan, it’s important to consider the channels available. Identifying channels by Owned, Earned and Paid categories is a great place to start.
- Owned refers to the marketing channels you manage, for example your website, blog, and social media profiles. Promoting content over owned channels is a great starting point because it’s a typically flexible and low cost option.
- Earned channels refers to anything that’s picked up by a third party, such as a blogger that shares your content. Earned channels can boost the reach of content and add credibility.
- Finally, paid channels refers to promotion you pay for. This can allow you to target campaigns to a specific audience, based on your goals and budgets. You could invest in advertising your blog post over social media, and reach more potential readers who regularly browse those channels.
(b) How a content calendar can help you organise your content marketing activities
Once you know which channels to promote your content through, it’s time to create a content calendar. A content calendar is a detailed timeline that organises your content marketing activity. By clearly outlining what to publish and when, it can help make your content process consistent and efficient, as well as give everyone involved a clear action plan to follow.
(c) Best practices that ensure your content gets the attention it deserves.
Some tips to get you started on your own content calendar:
- Make it achievable. Your content calendar should include realistic time frames – if it’s not achievable, you’ll fall behind schedule and your content won’t reach its full potential
- Highlight key dates. Things like public holidays or relevant events are great for releasing seasonal content
- Consider multiple channels. Think about how a variety of marketing channels, such as a blog and social media, can work together to promote your content marketing campaigns
- Remember the audience. Clearly define your audience at each stage of the calendar. If you segment your audience, specify which group you’re targeting
- Explore online tools. There’s a variety of free and paid tools available to help you create a calendar, publish content to social media accounts, or collaborate on content with your team. These tools can save you time by automating some of the content creation and distribution process.
(10) Measuring your success in content marketing
Knowing how well your content performs once it’s published online will help you understand your audience, as well as provide you with insights as to how to improve campaigns in the future.
(a) Tools available to help track the success of your published content
Whether your target is to increase sales or spread the word about your business, if you don’t monitor your progress against your goals, it will be hard to know if what you’re doing works. To start, identify your goals and objectives, and make sure they’re measurable and trackable. For example, perhaps you wish to increase your YouTube channel subscribers by 200 people this quarter, or see a 10% increase in page views on your blog per month.
Once you identify your content goals, it will be easier to track what you set out to achieve.
(b) Key metrics used to measure the success of content marketing campaigns
Next, let’s explore specific metrics that could help improve your content marketing. Consider where your visitors are located, their age and gender demographics, how long they spend on a specific webpage and what they search for when they land on your site.
Some of the a business could track are:
– the number of page views the blog receives
– the number of transactions made on the site
– the number of visitors that come to their website from social media channels.
Try comparing your metrics to previous results, such as last month’s blog posts or the number of online transactions made during the last quarter. Tracking against past results will give you a clearer indication of whether new strategies are truly successful.
Now let’s explore some of the online tools available to help measure the success of a content marketing strategy.
Many social media platforms provide detailed information about the people who follow or subscribe to business accounts. This includes gender, age, and location, as well as which posts receive the most engagement. Such data can give you an indication of which content is the most effective at meeting your goals, and which provides you with the best return on your investment.
(c) How to use data gathered to better meet goals in future campaigns
Analytics can also show them where their readers are coming from, such as from social media or a search engine, and how many of their readers made a purchase after reading a blog post. By looking at the data available, they could refine their content marketing strategy as they go, ensuring they meet the company goals and objectives.