AN INTRODUCTION TO CONTENT MARKETING
Oct 19, 2015
What is Content Marketing?
Have you ever read a blog, seen a meme, read a social media post or watched a video from a local business? If you have then you have been on the receiving end of Content Marketing!
Content Marketing (also known as Inbound Marketing) is a way to promote a business by delivering content that users are looking for, rather than advertising products or services the business wants to sell. In simple terms, it is a way of attracting customers without trying to sell them a thing!
Consumers are changing
Consumers are tired of businesses trying to push their products & services on them when it suits the business – not when it suits themselves. Many consumers now simply switch-off when presented with advertising messages from businesses they don’t know or trust.
Focus on building trust
Trust is the key differentiator that Content Marketing provides. By building a connection with users through your content they are more likely to trust you and (over time) are more likely to purchase from you.
Content Marketing focuses on building trust with customers first and then promotes products or services later. Traditional marketing often has this equation the other way around. By building trust you create more engaged prospects, who have a higher propensity to purchase and become more loyal customers over the long term.
All successful Content Marketing generally includes 3 major components: Discovery, Development & Distribution.
Content Marketing: Stage 1 (Discovery)
To have an effective Content Marketing strategy, you need to know your customers interests, what content they are looking for, which content types appeal to them and where they are most likely to see this content. Simply creating a well-written blog on your website and hoping users will find it is not enough.
While there are many aspects to this stage of the process, some of the more common components include:
- Competitor Analysis
Knowing what Content Marketing your competitors are conducting will help you understand what you also need to be doing
- Consumer Persona’s
Knowing who your audience is will make your Content Marketing far more successful
- Social Listening
Knowing what topics, content types, platforms and distribution cycles will give you insights on what content to create for your audience
- Content audit & assets
You may already have a store of great content, or content that can be easily repurposed, so knowing what you have an how it can be used it’s a worthwhile activity
- Setting Goals
If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve with Content Marketing could end-up wasting your time and money. Setting goals helps to focus your efforts and give you the best chance for success.
To find out more about the ‘Content Marketing – Discovery Stage’ read our blog here.
Content Marketing: Stage 2 (Development)
Creating content can be an exciting and rewarding part of the process but this needs to be planned and coordinated to ensure you don’t waste time and money. The Discovery stage helped you understand who your audience is, what topics they’re interested in, what content to produce and what you’re trying to achieve with your Content Marketing. Additional planning is still required though before you start creating your content.
If your strategy includes a range of content like blogs, video, Infographics and Social Media posts then you need to allow enough time for each to be created so they can be ready for your Distribution stage. Editorial Calendars allow you to plan when content needs to be completed so that it aligns to your Distribution Plan. They highlight when content will be distributed, on which platforms, using which links and aiming to achieve what results.
Now you’re ready to create your content, based on your Editorial Calendar, but there are additional things you need to consider before you start creating. You need to ensure there is consistency, personality and ideally a ‘theme’ associated with every content piece you create. Without this, your campaign could appear fragmented, dull and without a purpose.
Whether it’s a consistent tone or style across your content elements, you should ensure that your whole campaign has a similarity to it. This helps associate your brand/business to the content so your audience will remember you.
To stand out from the millions of other content types that exist on the internet your content needs to have a unique personality. This personality should reflect your own brand so that your audience receives an authentic experience.
- Content based around a ‘theme’
Just like a well-written story, great Content Marketing should be based around a theme. Your theme could be the problem you’re helping your audience to solve, a topical subject or a series of informative tips you’re providing.
Your audience’s first experience of your business could be through the content you produce, and poor quality content will reflect badly on your business. Simple things like spelling, grammar, structure, layout, colours, images and video quality will all have an impact on how they see your business.
- Distribution platforms
You need to know which platforms will be used to promote your content so that each content type can be correctly formatted. For example, if you are going to use Social Media to promote your content, then each platform has it’s own unique specifications. Knowing this information before you start creating will save you considerable reworks later in the process.
To find out more about the ‘Content Marketing – Development Stage’ read our blog here.
Content Marketing: Stage 3 (Distribution)
Don’t let your great content go to waste by overlooking your promotion activities. Actively distributing helps your content be seen by more people and can help generate traffic to your website, leads for your business or promotion of your brand. Like with the previous stages, great planning and good management will ensure that your distribution efforts are a success.
Creating targeted content is an integral part of your strategy but have you considered how people are doing to find your blog, video or ‘how-to’ guide? Many business owners fall into the trap of assuming that if they create great content people will find it. To do this effectively you need a Distribution Plan.
A distribution plan will help you plan where and how you will promote your content. Will you only use your own Social Media platforms or will you combine this with paid advertising to reach the broadest audience? Have you considered distribution networks, or promoting your content in forums, lists, groups, pages or circles? Even small aspects like the day and time can affect the reach of your content.
Promoting your content on social media may not be enough, so utilising either paid advertising or distribution networks help you reach more customers. Most social platforms offer paid advertising and the costs vary depending on your audience and budget.
Distribution networks like Outbrain, Taboola & StackAdapt also offer paid advertising but promote your content on high-traffic websites like national newspaper and magazine publishers. This type of marketing is also known as Native Advertising, as it displays your content in the same style as the website that is promoting it.
Like all business activities, Content Marketing requires ongoing management to ensure it is successful. Regular reviews of performance against goals, new opportunities and current trending topics should all be considered as ongoing activities.
You should, monitor the performance of your Content Marketing as often as possible. Importantly, you should measure your performance against the goals that you set in the Discovery stage. Otherwise, you could end-up wasting valuable dollars.
The ability to quickly change your strategy’s direction is commonly called ‘pivoting’. Where possible, you need to have this as part of your own plans to ensure that you can teak, change, edit, adapt and modify your content to achieve your desired results.
- Trending topics
While most of your content might be general in-nature, you should also consider adjusting your content, or creating new content, based on trending topics. Topics must still be relevant to your audience and align to your overall strategy. Using this approach you can leverage some momentum of what your audience is looking for at different points in-time.
To find out more about the ‘Content Marketing – Distribution Stage’ read our blog here.
If you are prepared, plan extensively and create targeted content that meets the needs of your audience you can enjoy increased business exposure within a reasonable budget. Importantly though, a successful Content Marketing campaign will create trust in your brand or business very early in the purchase ‘journey’. Trust has been proven to be one of the major factors in consumer purchase decisions. While Content Marketing isn’t a quick-fix for business growth, it can provide long-term sales opportunities for many years to come.
Contact us if you are interested in starting your own Content Marketing campaign. We’ll be happy to help with advice, tools and knowledge on how to achieve the best results for your business. Feel free to look around our site for some information and tools to get you started. We’re here to help.