You’ve heard about it and probably seen it, but have you done anything about it? While content marketing is still a relatively new marketing term, it has become the focal point of best marketing practises for B2C and B2B brands alike. It’s even considered a good strategy for people starting their own business. Yet there are still businesses and marketing professionals who choose to ignore the importance of content in their marketing strategy, not understanding why this can sink their marketing efforts.
Coined by Joe Pulizzi, the term “content marketing” refers to finding the sweet spot, or intersection between your knowledge and your passion (or customer pain point), whichever is more appropriate.
Image courtesy of Joe Pulizzi’s Content Marketing Master Class 2016 Slideshare presentation.
What does this mean for us in marketing? It means our goal is now to try to educate and delight our prospective clients before attempting the sell and, if you do try to sell, it should be when they are ready to buy. Contrary to outbound marketing techniques such as paid advertising, telesales or sales emails, this inbound marketing strategy demands a big time investment. So ask yourself this: does the majority of your content on your social media or blog sound like an extension of your sales pitch? Or does it actually add value to the lives of your customers? (Note: the aim is to add value, not extend the sales pitch!)
Although it does take time and is not a quick fix, a good content strategy will:
- Support sales and improve the leads funnel
- Increase brand awareness and build trust
- Create brand advocates who add credibility to your business
In Hubspot’s Status of Inbound 2015 report, 45% of marketers were planning to invest more in their content marketing this year as it has brought success previously.
Planning your content calendar for summer? Don’t miss any key dates, download our free social media calendar to make sure you’re on top of all the trending topics.
So, to avoid a sinking ship and without further ado, here are the 5 things you need to do to kick-start your content marketing strategy and start reaping the rewards.
Make sure your content solves a problem
With the growing amount of content created and shared every day, it’s simply impossible to keep track of everything on a daily basis. Turn the table around and put yourself in your customer's shoes. Generalisations, random takeaway tips and thrown-together advice is at best frowned upon, at worst not even read.
Ask yourself, what problems do your readers have? What challenges do they face? Then create content in a way that helps resolve these issues for them.
Do a content audit
(you never know what content gems you may have hidden away)
This might be one of the most important things you do. It’s crucial to look at what has worked or what hasn’t in the past (or if you’re starting from scratch, look at what content pieces you can re-package). Make sure to include your main business objectives in this audit to help with the evaluation. If you’re in the process of changing what you want to achieve as a business, it’s the perfect time to implement a new and comprehensive content strategy.
This is also a great way to source content ideas - maybe there were some subjects covered in the past that could now be refreshed and improved on? Start by listing what you have, then what you think you need (or what’s missing), and then understanding how you can bridge the gap given the resources you have at the moment.
Remember the various content types and channels
It is important to remember that while blogs are central to content marketing, there are over 100 types of content, but not all need to be included in your content strategy. If you are just starting with content, this is a great opportunity to find out where your audience is and what type of content they respond to best.
Remember not to spread yourself too thin though - there are many platforms to publish your content to and different things you can create, but it’s best to focus on one platform before you move on to others. Best of all, content can be reused, repackaged and reformatted to fit different types and channels.
Create a content plan and calendar
Seems simple enough, right? But this is the reason most content marketing strategies fail. If you are just starting out, then keep it simple - maybe use a management tool that has as a calendar built into it. We use Trello to manage our content projects and use the calendar view it offers to get an overview of our scheduling, and, of course, our own social media scheduling tool Sendible for social media management.
If you have a number of departments or contributors, you may want to keep all of your content accessible to key team members. Share ideas and drafts via Cloud-based software, then decide when to publish them or keep them for later.
Publish, monitor, review and optimise - it never stops!
Once your content is created and shared, remember to monitor how it is performing. Ask yourself what is popular and what works best. With time, you will be able to create more helpful content geared towards what your audience loves. There are analytics and reporting tools that can help you with this. We use Sendible of course, but there are many options for you to choose to suit your needs.
In-between this ongoing process, make sure to take extra time to engage with the industry, talk with influencers and curate (collect and share) other authors great content.
Recent changes in search engine algorithms and the way Google indexes your content means that original, high-quality content is preferred. Pages that get ranked the highest are usually the most trustworthy and valuable source for consumers. This is the time when small businesses or personas can grow bigger, boring B2B companies get a personality and most importantly, customers get the best kind of advice without having to look too hard for it.
So, what do you think? Have you already started investing in content marketing or are you not sure whether it would pay off in the end? Would love to hear your thoughts!