I cover content marketing, entrepreneurship and startups. I am the founder of iScribblers, helping businesses with their content marketing. I love connecting with entrepreneurs and business owners to demystify their success and failure stories.
If you’re just getting started with content marketing, you’re a tad bit late to the party. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from the advantages content marketing offers. There are always new ways to create valuable content for the target audience and promote and distribute it to encourage them to take some action (mostly sales).
To many beginners, this idea is intimidating. Publishers everywhere have created thousands of articles on content marketing. It’s hard to differentiate actionable advice from the clickbait stuff not worthy of your time. Sure more knowledge and experience will lead to better results, but while getting started with a small budget and a lean team, these fundamentals are all you need. If you’re a content marketing beginner, follow these seven strategies and you’ll not go wrong.
#1. Who are you marketing to?
This step precedes creating content, crafting an offer or strategising your marketing funnel. You need to decide who you’re marketing to. Content marketing means connecting with the target customers on a personal level. Your goal is to connect with their pain points, needs and inner thoughts. Knowing the target audience you’re marketing to ensures that all your efforts are targeted towards the ideal customer.
It becomes easier to create ultra-targeted content by creating buyer personas.
These detailed personas (from Buffer) help you brainstorm content ideas that would resonate with your audience.
Some questions you can use to define your audience and create buyer personas are:
• What pain point does my service/product solve?
• Who is most likely to face this problem?
• What are their specific characteristics (goal, needs, behaviour patterns, job, salary, age, etc)?
• Will customers pay for my offering? If not, what should I modify or do I need to revise completely?
Your analytics will show the demographics (age and gender) information and insights about those visiting your website and buying your stuff. The custom reporting in Google analytics shows the ones who convert and their interests such as affinity categories (lifestyle) and in-market segments (type of products they’re likely to buy).
#2. Content creation – After defining your target audience, content creation is the next step. This could be in a written format (press release, website blog, report or a social media post), as visuals (meme, infographic or for social media) or as a video. The key here is to keep the audience in mind and create content that discusses the problems they face and how your product solves the issues.
Keep in mind that the main purpose of every piece of content should be to answer customers’ questions and address their problems. The theme of your content will be to acknowledge a problem and show the best ways to solve it (including your product and service). Getting them to buy your solution should be the secondary purpose.
When you put your customers’ needs above your own, you acknowledge alternative solutions that don’t mention your business at all at this stage.
Avoid making your product the star of the show. Instead of over-salesy content, think of how your content fills the void for the ideal customer.
#3. Bank on video content – Videos are the best way to tell a brand’s story. In fact, 4 out of 5 customers say that a video showing how a product/service works is important.
An explainer video on CrazyEgg’s homepage increased their conversions by 64 percent and their revenues by $21,000.
The value proposition of even boring products can be made interesting in the form of an enjoyable video. A great example is Squatty Potty. This product helps you correct your pooping posture. They gained their audience’s attention by telling their story in an engaging way.
Their video was viewed 29 million times on YouTube, got 446K likes and 1.4 million shares and 97 million views on Facebook. Their sales increased by 600 percent.
You can easily put up a video for a couple of thousands. You can tap into the sub-formats of videos such as how-tos, explainers, interviews and live streaming.
As said by Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute, “The sheer cost of video production has come down to a point where there are no barriers to entry. Buyers have devices that can play videos with them at all times… [and] are engaging in 100 percent more information year-over-year before they make a buying decision.”
#4. Publish high quality sharable content on your blog – According to HubSpot, companies that blog 15 or more times each month receive 5 times more traffic than companies that don’t blog.
The most common challenge I hear business owners complain about when it comes to blogging is what to write about. Your blog should be a valuable resource to your readers and to fellow bloggers. People wouldn’t read your blog because they’re interested in your product features or as a favour to you. They’ll only read your content if it contains valuable and relevant information they can’t find anywhere else.
Your blog has to address the questions and problems your audience faces. Different types of content to include in your blog are:
• Sharing the insider knowledge about your industry and market
• Sharing the primary data gathered by you along with the conclusions
• Expressing your expert opinion on hot topics or controversies in your industry
• Providing an ultimate resource guide on a particular topic
• Sharing case studies, videos, statistics and infographics from your industry
Consistently creating high quality content attracts both readers and search engines to your blog. Your content should inform, educate and entertain the visitors. Publishing high quality sharable content on your blog results in increased referral traffic, higher brand loyalty and trust and increased brand awareness.
#5. Guest posting – Blogging on your own website is the best way to connect with your current audience. By guest blogging, you get the opportunity to connect to a new audience who would not find out about you otherwise.
The advantages of guest blogging are:
• Driving referral traffic to your website
• Aligning your brand and yourself as an industry leader
• Building your personal brand
• Generating new leads
Before jumping into guest blogging, have at least 10 pieces of high quality content on your website. This shows to the editor what you’re capable of providing. Some publications allow you to link to your own blog within your guest posts, so these 10 pieces of content give you something valuable to link to.
#6. Promotion and distribution – What’s the use of creating high quality content if you can’t find any takers for it?
You need to take the right steps to bring it to the attention of the right audience. Having a promotion strategy doesn’t mean creating promotional content. Some of the best ways to promote and distribute your content to your target audience are:
• Sharing the content on forums and groups where your audience, potential leads, peers and influencers hang out. This provides an opportunity to network with other bloggers and thought leaders
• Using social networks to share your content and encourage your team members to do the same
• Sharing the blog posts with your email subscribers
• Advertising your content in form of paid ads on search engines, social media and by syndication to reach out to a new set of relevant target audience
Instead of producing many mediocre quality blog posts every week, concentrate on producing one piece of high quality content and spend the rest of your time promoting it. Try out all the possible outlets, measure the results and select the 2 or 3 channels that generate the maximum traffic and conversions. Then onwards, channel your efforts on promoting through those sources.
#7. Measure the analytics – 71 percent organisations with 200 or more employees say measuring ROI of the content produced is the biggest content marketing challenge. 42 percent marketers with fewer than 25 employees face the same problem. (Hubspot)
There is no silver bullet ROI strategy. You need to develop specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) based on your business model, objectives and growth channels. Track and measure these channels and compare them with your business goals. Tying them together gives an overall view of your content’s performance against the business goals.
As a content marketer you’ll have to learn the different KPIs (sales, lead generation, conversion and sharing metrics) and judge the ones meaningful for each business. Knowing how to read and interpret the data is a vital skill for a content marketer.