Top tips for creating an effective content marketing strategy
If you run a business or work in marketing, you no doubt feed into the digital marketing strategy. Whether it’s a rough and ready plan or a finely tuned strategy, it could (and should) include content. With a significant amount of businesses from all industry sectors shifting half of their marketing budget to content in 2015, content marketing is a proven channel for engaging customers and increasing revenue that you can’t afford to ignore.
In this article we cover the nuts and bolts of content marketing, with tips on how to get started with a focused, effective approach that impacts the bottom line. You’ll get advice about factors to consider when crafting a content strategy, how to set meaningful objectives for your business, the different ways to reach customers, the Google penguins and pandas to dodge along the way, and how to know if it’s really working.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is everywhere. From the words on your website, to the newsletters and every other marketing communication, it’s all content. It’s what you use to connect and engage with customers and affects the impression people have of your business, right from when they first hear about your brand, through to becoming a customer.
If you’re unfamiliar with content marketing and what it actually means, our favourite definition is from Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute:
“[Content marketing is] how a brand creates, delivers and governs original or curated content to attract and retain customers, positioning the brand as a credible expert and, ultimately, motivating a change in behaviour.”
What are the business benefits and how can it impact the bottom line?
Depending on the type of business and what you’re trying to achieve, content can help by:
Engaging your audience
By tailoring your content to the interests, concerns and goals of your target audience, you can create much more compelling, useful content that will resonate with them and make your brand a helpful go-to authority for advice and information. The buzzword here is authority.
Attracting the right visitors to your website
High quality, useful and engaging content provides fuel for your social media channels and electronic direct marketing (EDM). Content that is interesting and useful is more likely to be shared online, driving warm prospective customers to your website. The more (high quality) content assets you have, the higher the chance of reaching your target audience and attracting them to your site.
Building trust in your brand
Good, informative and insightful content builds trust and credibility within your industry, whilst showcasing your expertise. People buy from people they trust. The important thing to remember here is that trust comes with time. One blog post every 6 months and a sporadic use of Twitter won’t build the same trust as regular, well curated content that addresses a concern, resolves a problem, is entertaining or helps the reader in some way.
Generating more leads and sales
Of course, the overall objective of content marketing is to generate to more leads and sales. Ensure that your efforts reap the rewards they deserve by ensuring that all content has strong call to actions so your visitors can move as quickly as possible to the next stage of the user funnel – e.g. a form to request a free trial, or to view relevant products and services.
Improving your position in search engines (SEO)
Content is king when it comes to SEO and with the influx of Google’s Penguins, Pandas and Hummingbirds, these pesky animals are here to stay. Google’s algorithm is changing continuously, with increasing emphasis on visitor’s engagement levels with your website so the need for good quality, genuine and relevant content is more prominent than ever.
Where do I start with a content marketing strategy?
Set your objectives
The key to a sound strategy is setting your objectives. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, and why you’re aiming for it, then how will you know if what you’re doing is working? You might be thinking, I just need more business. But what exactly is it you need? In terms of wider business objectives, do you need to:
- Generate new business enquiries?
- Increase repeat business?
- Increase the amount people spend?
- Increase sales of a specific product?
To break these into more specific marketing (SMART) objectives do you need to:
- Increase visits to your website?
- Improve conversion rate?
- Sell more products online?
- Increase average order value?
- Grow your database so you have a wider audience to target?
- Gain coverage in the press or on specific blogs?
Once you have a clearer idea of what it is you’re trying to achieve, assign figures and timescales to these objectives e.g.
Increase new business leads by 10% over the next six months by increasing traffic to the website by 40% through improved search engine rankings, more social media traffic and referral traffic from industry blogs.
By making your objectives as specific as possible it will be easier to measure whether the activity is working, and will keep your content marketing focused.
Identify what problems you can solve and remember who you’re writing for!
Once you have clear goals, you need to assess your target customers and drill down into the persona mapping we mentioned earlier. Understand what problems and issues they face, and how your company can help. These ideas can help you form content topic ideas that help solve the reader’s problems and build trust with your audience.
The next step is understanding what type of content they consume, and on which channels. Here are some questions to start provoking ideas:
- Are your target audience under tight time constraints?
- Do they need practical, ‘how to’ advice to solve a problem?
- Would a short video be more effective than a long article?
- Are they typically heavy users of Twitter or Facebook?
- Do they go on specific industry blogs?
- Do they buy based on customer reviews and case studies?
- Do they prefer to watch short ‘how to’ videos?
- Are downloadable whitepapers of interest?
A word of warning though, it is never safe to assume the answers to these questions. The best way to find out what will really work is by conducting research – why not ask your target audiences what type of content they’re interested and what information they prefer? In addition to asking them on an individual basis, online surveys (through use of tools such as Survey Monkey) are a great way to get responses from a larger sample size quickly and effectively.
Once you’ve decided on the content that will engage your audience, create an editorial calendar to help structure the creation, publishing and promotion of your content. Make sure someone is dedicated to being responsible for it, and make sure you have adequate resource and time to create regular content.
Ready, Steady, Go! Now’s the time to get started with creating your content, whether it’s videos, articles, podcasts, whitepapers or surveys.
A quick summary of the key points
With content marketing gaining even more importance in 2015, following the tips and advice here will give you a good starting point to think about your content strategy and whether it’s really aimed at driving results in the right areas. Setting objectives and understanding how your business helps solve people’s problems is key, together with understanding your target audience’s needs and concerns.
Once you’ve gone through this objective-setting and research process, you can then start generating ideas and forming them into an editorial calendar. You’ll also need to assign resource to actually create and promote the content so that you gain momentum and start to see results.
How can we help?
If you need help defining your content strategy, creating an editorial calendar or producing great content, just get in touch with the Transcend team on 01202 241 980 or email [email protected]. We can even arrange a free digital health check for your business!