What is Content Marketing?
Simply put, content marketing is giving valuable information to your target audience in the form of articles, blogs, infographics, reviews, how-to-guides, videos, etc. This helps build a relationship with your target audience that eventually results in leads generation, conversion and sales.
Anyone with limited resources or any small business does not need an exhaustive, full-fledged content marketing plan. 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing (source: TopRank). What you need is a simple plan utilizing blogs, videos and podcasts that helps you reach your goal.
Here are the basic content marketing steps for every small business:
Know your audience
Every piece of content should appeal and address the needs of a specific target audience. The content has to be optimized for the audience and itdoes not work the other way around. Get to know your audience by learning about their demographics, interests and communities that they are a part of and listening to what they are talking about.
Determine your objectives
What is the purpose of your blog?
– An individual’s content marketing effort is to teach and show his expertise and understanding of the industry to like-minded people. They help in establishing you as an authority in your field.
– A SMB generates interest in the products offered and educates people about their product range. This can also be used a platform to help troubleshoot and provide support to already existing customers.
– An agency creates a community around their area of expertise and builds relationship with its potential customers. The objective is to convert them into clients in the future.
Set realistic goals / Define goals
It is important for you to set a minimum of two goals that answer the following question. Where do you want to be and what is the success criteria you want to achieve 8-12 months from now? Over time, you would be able reap the benefits of your content marketing efforts.
– Your goal as an individual can be as distinct as landing a job, publishing your own e-book or raising money for your entrepreneurial efforts
– Your goal as a SMB can be focused on selling x number of products or increasing the share of your online sales by 20% within 6 months.
– Your goal as an agency will be to convert 50% of leads into clients from the current 25%. It can also be as different as hiring resources, doubing or even tripling your email base and subscriber list, or increasing your e-book downloads.
What type of content will you produce?
There are two ways to look at the types of content to have a clear picture of what you will create. One approach is to focus on what are your skills and strengths that can be used to create content, since you will be doing this by yourself.
The other approach is to determine what your target audience needs and create content catering to their needs. Once you have determined which approach will make sense to your content marketing effort, you will have a clearer picture of the types of content you should start working on.
In order to be successful, your content marketing bucket needs to be an assortment of text, visual elements and call to action to consistently engage with your audience. Your campaign should include how to guide, explainers in the form of text and video, real life scenarios, facts and statistics, etc.
It is the act of discovering, gathering, organising and presenting digital content related to a particular topic to your visitors. Though there is minimal original content, it becomes highly valuable content to the visitors’ thus driving traffic.
Among the plethora of content types, here are a few common types that are generally used:
The art of presenting facts and figures in a visually appealing and easily understandable format. Infographics crunch numbers and present it in an easily sharable and understandble format.
May people search on google and yahoo to learnhow to do things. What makes a tutorial most interesting is the fact that you teach people to do something with easy to comprehend, step by step instructions using visual elements. The easier your tutorial is, more the number of visitors.
A guide should be a value add for your visitor by teaching them to do something that they did not know earlierdevelop a new skill or teach them how to do their business better.
What should your content do?
The most important step is to visualize and imagine what your content will do when your efforts are in place. This reverse tracking helps your content marketing efforts stay relevant and meaningful.
Content about celebrities or the current stock market scenario is a definite hit in bringing traffic to your site, but its time based and once the traffic drops, there is no coming back. When your content remains relevant, useful and wanted over time it’s a sign of successful content marketing, also referred to as evergreen content.
Give away knowledge
Your audience remember you more when you share with them. Share your expertise, experiences or knowledge. If you can combine two or more of the above, you have a winning strategy.
Building credibility does not happen overnight and it takes patience, hard work and time to reflect. Once you build credibility, you can sit back and enjoy the benefits. Establishing your blog is the first step towards credibility. Your content shows acceptance and credibility through visitor traffic, comments, subscriber list, social media shares, etc.
Develop an editorial calendar
An editorial calendar is a document that helps you create a roadmap for your marketing plan and helps you keep track of your efforts. Companies spend, on average, 25% of total marketing budgets on content marketing (Source: Heidi Cohen).You will know what to create, design, develop and publish well in advance, thus reducing the last minute pressure.
Your calendar includes the timeline of content to be produced, what type of content will be produced, topics, keywords, personas, distribution and ensure it’s posted on time. When you have separate teams taking care of design, content writing, promotion, SEO and analytics, this acts as a solid system to manage all teams.
Stick to a publishing schedule
Consistency shows professionalism and commitment, accompanied with results in content marketing. 54% of the most effective marketers has a documented content marketing strategy (Source: SproutWorth).
Your schedule does not need to be two blogs per week. It is extremely difficult and takes time to reach a comfort level at this stage. Start with twice a month and have a goal of reaching once per month within a year. Whatever be your schedule, stick to it! Meeting deadlines help you shorten your deadline and also improves your efficiency.
Always remember, quality of your content is more important that the quantity of content you produce.
Promote! Promote! Promote!
Believe it or not, writing content is only half the battle won and is usually overlooked by many. One of the most challenging parts of content marketing isn’t the content creation part, but figuring out the most effective way to promote it.
Even the world’s greatest content need some visibility among audience to consume, appreciate and share. There are a few tested methods to gain attention in the digital world:
There are multiple other ways to reach your audience using both organic and paid promotions. The options range from emailers, social media, online communities, SEO, advertisements, content curators, comments and much more.
It will be impossible for your audience to discover your content among the pile of information on the internet. Social media is the most effective strategy to reach your target audience effectively. There is no single successful platform but the ideal platform depends upon your target audience. Schedule your posts on social media to promote your content.