What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy focused on creating consistent, relevant online material valuable to your target audience. The goal of content marketing is usually to build an audience, create a brand or engage customers with the eventual purpose of encouraging a profitable action. It is not self promotional.
The internet has changed the way we research and purchase services. We used to be reliant on businesses for information about their product. Salespeople would cold call office managers - or fax information sheets - to drum up business. Now, customers have full control over their buying cycle. They can read blogs, download white papers and compare competitors by themselves. By the time they contact sales, they’ve often already decided which product to go for. They’re simply looking for pricing.
Content Marketing helps businesses influence customers earlier in the buying cycle. By providing interesting, thought provoking content that’s helpful to your target market, you become a trusted source of knowledge. When they do decide to purchase, you’re top of the list.
Content for SEO
Hosting relevant content can also help you appear higher in search engine results for your desired keywords.
But be careful. Low quality content will actually result in Google penalizing your rankings. If your “content” is just a string of keywords, you will see higher bounce rates and potential customers will be turned off.
Instead, focus on creating high quality content that will be widely shared and linked back to. Google see this as a complement of the highest form, and you’ll see a boost in both referral and search traffic.
Creating a content marketing plan
1. Determine your goals
Why are you spending time creating content? Knowing what you want to achieve will make it easier to plan. While the end goal is always to drive business and increase revenue - what tactics will you use to get there?
Common goals of content marketing:
- Build your share of voice - get more people talking about you and your brand
- Build your audience - get more views or more signups to your email list
- Establish your authority as an expert - get asked to talk at conferences, approached for quotes in industry news
- Educate customers on a new industry - are you creating a new category? Content marketing can help spread the world
- Empower your sales team with collateral - give your sales team more ammunition when chatting with customers
2. Determine what you want to say
The best content is authentic to your business, and helpful to your customers. If you write about something you know very well, like the finances of starting a business, but your customers all work in social media, you’re not going to attract your target market.
The reverse is also true. If you’re writing about social media, but know nothing about it, your audience can tell. They won’t keep reading.
You need to find your overlap between interesting and genuine.
3. Create the content
Once you’ve decided what you want to write about, you need to create your content. Consistency is key. If you’ve got five great ideas, maybe you want to publish an article each week or even every two weeks. Keep coming up with more ideas so that your publishing machine never runs dry.
Think about the difference stages in the buyer’s journey. Some of your audience could be new to the topic and some could be experts.
Tell your story as you learn more about your chosen niche. What did you wish people had told you a year ago? What are you surprised about? Anytime you have an epiphany, success or failure, that’s a really great topic to create content about!
Creating great content doesn’t guarantee anyone is going to find it. You’ll need to push your content out into the world.
- Share on social media
- Post in relevant communities
- Use sharing buttons (like SumoMe) to encourage readers to share
- Answer Quora questions
- Ask influencers to share your content
- Use Twitter or Facebook ads to boost popular content
5. Remember the long game
Your first article isn’t going to “go viral”. Building a following for your content takes time and consistent effort. You’re building a long term relationship with your customers. Becoming a trusted advisor and go-to-expert doesn’t happen overnight.
Even the blogs that you love (like ours) put in months of effort before becoming an “overnight” success. Keep plugging, keep being consistently helpful to your customers and you’ll see that line trend up and to the right.