So, let’s start at the beginning. What is content marketing?
Well, put simply, it’s creating and promoting content with the aim of attracting and retaining customers.
This post isn’t really about defining content marketing though so that’s all I’m going to say on that topic. If you’re looking for a more in-depth dissection of the term “content marketing”, I would highly recommend that you check out copyblogger.
Michele Martinelli is a London based writer, you can follow him on @Greatbites.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s shift our attention to creating a content strategy.
Getting your strategy right
Part of the reason for the explosion of content marketing is the need for marketers to find new ways to engage consumers online. Simply draping expensive banner ads across popular websites isn’t going to cut it anymore. Marketers have realised this and have turned to content to attract consumers.
As a marketing technique, content marketing is not what you would describe as a quick win. It should be seen as a medium to long term process and it can take time before your efforts begin to bear fruit. However, once your stars align and everything falls into place, the benefits can be huge.
But, first things first.
Define your goals, challenges and get buy in
Who decides if something gets the go-ahead within your business? Is it the head of content? The head of marketing? Your line manager? You? Whoever it is you’ll need to get them and anyone else you might need (developers, copywriters, designers…) on side.
Tell them what challenges you’re facing and how your content strategy helps you tackle them.
A recent example I was faced with was a lack of a content platform for the business to create responsive content and tackle more niche topics. We had a news section and we had guide pages, but a lack of a blog section meant we couldn’t provide the concise advisory pages many of our customers were after.
Another example could be an increase, or over-reliance, on PPC spend. In this case, attracting more organic traffic, through your content strategy could be used as a tactic to reduce Cost Per Conversion (CPC).
At this stage in your planning you should be focussing on high level goals and KPIs.
Get into the nitty-gritty
Now that you’ve got buy-in, you can start building your content marketing plan.
This means thinking about more granular details such as who you’re making content for. So you’ll need to put together a number of user personas which will help you decide what type of content you should be focussing on.
How can you find this out? Research. Either carry it out in-house, or if you lack anyone with the required skillset, get in touch with an external agency. This can sometimes prove costly, but the rewards are huge.
Once you know who you’re targeting, get cracking on building a content calendar. Depending on the industry you work in, it will be more or less difficult to know what’s coming up, but do your best to have frequent, quality content coming out.
Don’t forget to share the editorial calendar with your colleagues in PR, they might have events coming up that you can backpack your content on, or vice-versa.
Promote your content!
You don’t just have to build it. Unless you signpost it and tell everyone it’s there, how are they going to find it?
I’ve banged on about this before, but promoting content doesn’t necessarily mean hammering it out over social media. Sure if you’re a cool brewery it makes sense to share photos and infographics about your latest IPA. If you’re a windscreen manufacturer, this strategy might not be the best way to appeal to potential buyers.
Part of your research into the various personas that you’re targeting should have equipped you with some knowledge of where they hang out online. Do they like to get content from social media sites? Do they read The Guardian? The Daily Mail? Wired? This info will help you figure out where to promote your articles/ infographics/ videos.
Once the process is underway, start digging into any relevant data you can get your hands on.
Which articles are converting best? Are people clicking through to other content or is your bounce rate through the roof? Are people engaging with your content? Is it being shared?
Identify your most valuable source of traffic and work out if it makes sense to invest more time in this area and less in other sections which are not performing as well.
Understanding and acting on this type of data can be the difference between a good and great content strategy.
- Keep the quality of your content high. This means having well written, well designed content, that provides accurate information. It’s much easier to destroy a reputation than it is to build one.
- Try to create content that is re- packageable. This could mean cutting a long video into a series of video posts for more targeted content or turning a number of articles into an e-book.
- Create an ideas folder and ask for input from the wider team. You’d be surprised how keen some people are to contribute and how good their ideas can be!
- Keep doing it! Content marketing is a strategy not a campaign – for the best results you’ll need to keep looking at what you’re doing and finding ways to improve.
Do you agree or disagree with any of these tips? Let me know in the comments below.