Tips for Making Your Content Marketing a Success
Content marketing has been a growing part of the overall online marketing industry in recent years, with several factors driving this growth. Firstly, a study by Kapost has shown that content marketing delivers three times the ROI of paid search. Secondly, it is widely accepted that consumers are fed up with traditional advertising that interrupts what they’re doing.
Instead, they prefer to see “authenticity” and “transparency” in the brands that they engage with, and that interaction should be natural. Therefore, content marketing is an important part of your overall marketing mix, and to do it well requires you to have a well-planned strategy. Without a strategy, your content creation will likely be done on a whim with nothing in particular to aim for.
The importance of having a strategy becomes particularly evident when you consider that the Content Marketing Institute reported that content marketing accounts for around 40% of total marketing spend. With so much content being published online, well-planned and produced content will help you to differentiate your offerings from that of your competitors and demonstrate why your product or service is better or unique.
Understand Your Audience
In order to plan and produce content that will be of interest to your audience, you must firstly understand who they are. This can be achieved by collecting information from several sources, including:
Your Google Analytics data
This will show you demographic information, as well as the types of devices that they use to access your website.
Social media websites like Facebook (accessed from Facebook Page Insights) and Twitter (accessed from Twitter analytics)
This will provide you with demographic information such as gender, age, education and income levels.
Feedback from your existing customers
What are their needs and problems? How can you solve these problems with your content? Where do they go for information when they have a problem?
Engage Your Audience
From this information, you can produce some “buyer personas” that will outline your ideal readers (i.e., potential customers); you can use this data to tailor your content towards targeting them more effectively. By understanding who your customers are and the problems that they face, you can begin to devise content that will provide solutions to these problems.
You will also need to consider where your customers look for content to find answers to their questions (whether it be search engines, social media, or video sites). From this you can decide the most effective format for your content (e.g., blog posts, eBooks, templates, videos, and/or infographics) and where it will be published (e.g., your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube).
You can produce content that will answer the questions being searched by your customers. For example:
A clothing company that produces products that are printed with their customers’ artwork could produce content that helps the customer understand what format their artwork needs to be in.
A construction company that sells interior design makeovers could produce content that explains “what to consider when remodeling your home” or “how to get more space without moving home”.
In both of these cases, the content is providing answers to questions the customer may have at different stages of the buying process.
Align Your Content With Your Wider SEO Strategy
The content strategy should be aligned with your overall SEO strategy and optimised with the keywords that you are targeting. If you are struggling with understanding what keywords to target with your content, tools such as Ahrefs can help you see what keywords your competitors are focused on.
Beware of Intellectual Property
Navigating the world of intellectual property can sometimes be a minefield for small businesses, particularly with regards to content marketing. Many businesses fall into the trap of using any images that they find online. However, these images are often subject to copyright and therefore cannot be used without permission from the creator. Instead, use websites that provide royalty-free images such as Pexels or Unsplash. These sites host photos and images that can be used on your website and in your marketing materials without the need to pay a fee or credit the creator (although the latter is encouraged).
The use of trademarks is also an area that businesses need to be careful of. For example, the NFL heavily polices the use of NFL team names (such as the name of the current Super Bowl favourite, the New England Patriots) and the words "Super Bowl" in marketing materials. When the NFL becomes aware of unauthorised use, they take action against the businesses involved. Instead, brands often choose to refer to it as "the big game" so as avoid infringing on the trademark, but still allow everyone to understand what they're talking about.
Utilize Guest Content
Bloggers and writers are often looking for ways to widen their reach and build backlinks to their own website. One way that they do this is by writing guest blog posts that are published on other sites. Many websites will allow you to write a guest post for free, providing that the content is relevant to their website and will be of interest to their audience. If you search Google for “write for us” you’ll find thousands of websites that allow you to submit articles. If you create a similar page for your website, you, too, can attract guest bloggers.
If you attract other writers and bloggers to submit content to you, you will be able to have free content that aligns with your strategy. You can usually discuss the topic with them and even give them direction for what to write. This will help you to ensure the guest content is aligned with your strategy.
Overall, content marketing is an effective tool for engaging with your audience. Its efficacy is evidenced by the fact that successful marketers are directing 40% of their budgets to content marketing and that this delivers three times the ROI of paid search. Having a solid strategy for content marketing is important, as without it you’ll likely produce un-targeted material and publish it in the wrong place. The strategy should be informed by your buyer personas and aligned with your overall SEO strategy to target specific keywords. Well-executed content marketing will differentiate you from the competition and provide real value to your customers. You can even get other writers to help out for free; just be sure not to infringe on the intellectual property rights of others.