If you read our previous post, you know that content marketing plays a huge role in the success of your new website. A robust content marketing strategy will drive visitors to your page, add value, and help you get more out of your online presence. If you want your website to be more than just a digital business card, you need to start developing new and exciting content related to your brand and products.
First, let’s look at why content marketing works and then talk about how to do it well. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “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.” (source: What is Content Marketing?)
Traditional marketing tactics are quickly taking a backseat to the content marketing approach. Why? What about content marketing makes it more effective than the classic advertising of the past? The answer is simple: humans are consumers. We are consuming more and more in the age of social media than ever before. People are constantly on the hunt for new information to help them make huge life and purchasing decisions. Because of this, traditional lines between educational resources and sales-driven advertisement are starting to blur.
Instead of overtly selling people on your product or service, content marketing provides the awareness and research they need to arrive at that conclusion on their own. Content marketing gives you a unique opportunity to soft-sell your brand and model without ever making a direct sales pitch.
Content marketing also works to support your other digital marketing efforts such as social media and SEO. It naturally generates content and links that boost your overall success with search engines. Many companies choose to center their SEO strategy around content marketing for this very reason.
But does content marketing work for all industries? While it might be a more natural fit for some companies, it’s a common misconception that certain industries can’t use content marketing to their advantage. At first, you might have trouble thinking of good ideas for relevant content, but the more you do it, the more you will see opportunities all around you to produce valuable content for current and prospective customers.
Now that you’re sold on content marketing, let’s take a look at some ways to implement it well in your company.
What kinds of content are out there?
Think of content marketing as a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid you have the primary form you want your content to take. This could be blogs, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc. Under that, you have different types of content you can produce within that form. For example, you could publish product reviews, tips and tricks articles, expert interviews, or case studies. And, finally, for each type of post, you have a myriad of topics you can cover. Put it all together and you might end up writing a blog featuring a case study about the use of sustainable packaging in a small startup.
Just make sure, no matter what topic, type, or platform you use, that your content is truly helpful, relevant, and doesn’t come with a sales pitch.
How do you choose what kind of content is best for your audience?
Because the possibilities are so vast, it can be overwhelming to think about where to start, what kind of content to put out, and what form it should take. Instead of focusing on what you don’t know, focus on what you do know. When you built your website, you probably identified a few key features about your audience and their interests. Now is the time to revisit that information and use it to determine what kind of content you should focus on. Don’t overthink it– just start somewhere!
After a few months, you’ll begin to identify trends and you can use this data to laser focus your efforts. Do certain posts go over better with one group but not others? How are people using your content? Do certain types of posts consistently fall flat? Since content marketing is all about giving your audience what they want and providing value, it’s important to pay attention and adjust things as necessary to keep people engaged.
How often should you publish content?
Once you’ve decided what types of content you want to publish, make it a goal to post at least once a week. The more consistent you are, the better, but make sure you pick a frequency that you can sustain. If you publish sporadically, it will take much longer for people to catch on and start noticing your work. Post often to maintain your reputation as a trusted source for exciting, quality content.
Try to change it up each week in the beginning to get a feel for what people are after. Try out new platforms, types, and topics and see how people respond. Once you find out what content and days of the week work best for posting, you can settle into a rhythm and post consistently on the same day. People like to know what content they can expect from you and when they can expect it.
Is there a wrong way to do content marketing?
As long as you’re adding value in a genuine way, you really can’t go wrong, but there are a couple of pitfalls to avoid.
First, something is not always better than nothing. Posting boring, mediocre, or irrelevant content could do more harm to your brand than good. Think about the kinds of content you enjoy reading, listening to, and watching and use it as an example to make your own content exciting and share-worthy. A good rule of thumb is this: never charge for your content, but make it good enough that people would be willing to pay for it.
And they will pay for it…in the form of an email address. Think about the companies or websites you’ve given your email address to in order to access or receive their free content. Why were you willing to “pay” for it by providing personal information? Most likely, it’s because you trust them to put out hard-hitting content that interests you. By signing up, you gave them the ability to send you content directly because you’re engaged with their brand. Email marketing is effective for this exact reason: it gives you direct marketing access to a list of people who have already shown interest in your brand and content. Learn more about effective email marketing here.
Second, never assume your audience’s base level of understanding. If you don’t provide a basic education on your products and services, the average customer won’t connect with your content. Even long standing clients might not be familiar with everything you do, so take the time to help your audience understand what they should be looking for. As mentioned earlier, content marketing allows you to participate in the sales cycle much sooner than traditional marketing. Instead of waiting for people to respond to an ad, you can help bring awareness and research through quality, educational content.
Content creation is one of the most rewarding and cost efficient ways to build a community, engage your customers, and get new business. But it does take time and dedication to get there, so once you create your plan, stick to it for at least six months and then evaluate your progress. You won’t be a content marketing expert overnight. It takes time to develop a solid following of people who trust your brand and look forward to receiving content from you. Don’t focus on revenue off the bat; focus on building customer loyalty and producing high quality, genuinely helpful content. Over time, your diligence will pay dividends as people begin to turn to you for paid services in the same way that they rely on your free content.
As stated earlier, content marketing and social media marketing go hand in hand. Your social media channels are the best places to showcase your work. If you’re looking to get into the world of social media or need to up your current game, check out our this blog post.