Are you just starting out in your content marketing endeavors and looking for a guide to get it right? Are you lost in the chaos of not knowing how to start and be successful?
Oh, dear! I’ve been there before and know how frustrating this can be for a beginner. Hence, I wrote this guide with an understanding of the beginner’s predicaments and did my best to address your confusion and help you win at content marketing even on your first attempt.
What is Content?
Content is everything a customer or prospect or audience touches and interacts with. This includes all your online properties created for the customers, web pages, blog posts, social media posts, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, emails, and the experiences they offer.
Content is basically the entire user experience you offer your audience in any form – visual, text, or infographics, and through any channel – social media, blog, or email.
Good content gets noticed, no matter what form it ultimately takes. And that’s why as a content manager, you should first aim for good content.
Any business aims to make sales and accrue profits over time. This aim underlines the marketing process and effort adopted by the business. In essence, it is important to create awareness about your business’s services and products so that consumers can know about them and patronize you.
What Is Content Marketing?
According to Content Marketing Institute:
In simple terms, content marketing is the process of marketing your products and services by delivering content to your target audience. It is a process of providing helpful information to your target audience while advertising your products to them.
Let’s see how it works so that you can understand it better.
To get the attention of your target audience, you provide them with valuable content that they want. This valuable content can be in the form of an entertaining content or informative content; the defining factor is that it appeals to your target audience.
Examples of these valuable contents include YouTube videos, social media posts, podcasts, blog posts, whitepapers, and many more. The purpose of these contents is to attract the target audience’s attention by providing information or entertainment through these contents.
Within these contents, you advertise your products and services. It could be by identifying a problem peculiar to the target audience in the content and proffering your product or service to solve that problem. In any case, while enjoying your content, your target audience gets to know about your product and services. Content marketing works because your audience is online.
Examples of Content Marketing
Content marketing is currently the best option for many businesses and brands. You can see this from the statistics. As a result, these businesses have experienced a resounding increase in their sales and profits over time.
Toyota is the first brand that comes to mind when discussing businesses that have aced the content marketing approach to their favor. The automobile giant took a deviating step from the conventional TV ad that shows a cool car and its features. Instead, it opted for a rap video on YouTube for its new Sienna, dubbing the minivan a “Swagger Wagon.”
This video was a marketing success as it garnered over nine million views in a very short while. The video was an entertaining content that appealed to lots of music lovers. Thus, rather than pay for TV ads that most of their target audience will avoid, they created content that appealed to their target audience to advertise their product.
Another example worth mentioning is a local business that has helped itself to marketing success through effective content marketing. River Pools and Spas is a local business in Ashburn, VA, with no online presence at some point. Then it adopted the marketing approach to become a leader in the swimming pool industry.
The businesses started with a blogpost to provide their target audience with informative content on swimming pools. Within these blogposts, there are inbound links to the company’s website and services. As of writing this article, the company has recorded over 200,000 page views and has made over $2 million in sales through inbound links.
These are some examples of the marketing success that some businesses have achieved through content marketing.
Why is content marketing important?
To keep the answer simple, content marketing is important because it works. According to Hubspot, 40% of marketers say content marketing is a very important part of their overall marketing strategy. It is one of the effective means of creating awareness about a product and generating impressive sales.
Some of its benefits include;
- Content marketing provides value to your target audience. It is a known fact that people now get bored with TV ads and the likes. They mute it, ignore it or remain unmoved even after seeing it.
However, with content marketing, your target audience won’t ignore your content. You know why? It is what they want!
You are providing them with the content they want to read, watch, or hear. Hence, it is impossible that they will ignore it. Attracting a target audience’s interest by delivering content that is valuable to them is the hallmark of content marketing.
- Content marketing helps your target understand why they need your product or service. Your target audience is more likely to buy your products or service if they understand what it is and how it helps them.
- It allows you to do this by underlining the problems solved by your products or services in the content. Thus, by accessing your content, your target audience will understand your product and how it helps them.
- Content marketing is an asset. When you create video content or write a blog post, it may reach numerous people amounting to thousands or even millions at times. Apart from the large audience, these contents will be available for life as long as your business exists.
Thus, it is easy to see that content marketing is more of an investment and an asset to your business.
The Best Content Marketing Strategy
Having realized the benefits of adopting a content marketing approach to your business, you probably will want to adopt it for your business too. However, there is an important step you need to take – creating an effective content marketing strategy.
A content marketing strategy is a mapped out process of the steps and activities you need to succeed. You can see it as a GPS for a person driving in a new location.
Without GPS, he probably will get there, but that will be after missing many turns and wasting lots of fuel and time.
Trust me, you would want to avoid that in your content marketing approach. By creating a strategy, you avoid the mistake that most businesses and content marketers make. According to statistics, about 60% of content marketers do not have a documented strategy for their content marketing approaches, while 80% of those who document their strategies win their content marketing goals.
Below are the steps involved in creating an effective content strategy
Set Your Content Marketing Goals
Defining your content marketing goals is one of the most important steps you must take before choosing the perfect strategy to use. You must define what you or your business seeks to gain from the marketing effort. In clear and concise terms, write down these goals, and share them with your team, if any.
Setting these goals helps you understand what needs to be done and how to go about doing it as regards your content marketing efforts. You get a clear understanding of who your audience is, the contents they like, and how to reach them.
Lastly, setting content marketing goals allows you to track and record your progress. It enables you to identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which will be used to monitor the success rate of your approach. Thus, you see that setting your content marketing goals is the most important step in the content marketing strategy.
Identify your KPIs
As explained above, KPIs are measurable data indicators that track and record the progress of your marketing efforts. They are yardsticks for measuring the success of your content marketing campaign against the set goals. Some of the KPIs for the different aspect of content marketing are;
- Profit and Revenue are indicated by web traffic and day-to-day sales
- Brand Loyalty is indicated by the number of referrals, returning customers, and favorable customer reviews
- Brand Awareness is indicated by the number of followers on social media, sign-ups and subscriptions, and web traffic
These are some of the measurable indicators that you can use to track your success.
Select the best content type
When identifying your content marketing goals, you must have answered the question, “Who is my target audience.” After answering that question, here is where you use it. Understanding your target audience will help you identify the type of content that will appeal to them.
Also, you will be able to understand where they spend most of their time, how they want their problems solved, and how best to reach out to them. These questions must be answered so that you can come up with an idea and perfect content for your target audience.
Select Content Channels
This step will be made easy if you did your assignment on understanding your audience very well. Understanding them will help you determine the platform they use the most. Hence, you will be able to reach them through this channel.
Understand the financial commitment
In other words, set a budget. You have identified your audience, the type of content, and the means of disseminating the content. The next step is to understand how much all of these activities will cost and set a budget for it.
How much will go into producing the content you want? Do you need to pay for the channels selected? These and many other questions are the determinants of the total budget you would need to set. Remember,
Get to Work
After the planning phase, the actualization phase is the next step. Start producing and distributing content as planned. Ensure consistency and quality in the contents you dish out to your audience.
Also, you must exercise patience, as the results may not start coming in immediately. Should this be the case, you must ensure that you stick to the plan and wait things out for some time.
It is important to discuss the concept of the content calendar under this step. A content calendar is a schedule that contains your organized publishing schedule for your content. The calendar helps you organize the rate at which you put out content for your audience.
Setting up a content calendar is very vital to the success of your content marketing approach. It allows you to beat deadlines, come up with relevant content, and allows you to go over the contents with your team to ensure that they are the appropriate ones.
Measure Your Success
This is the last and one of the most important phases of the content marketing strategy. You need to track your progress and measure the results of your content marketing efforts. This will help you know if you are doing things right, and what you can do to make them better.
This is the part where you get to check your goals and align them with your KPIs. Use your KPIs to measure the results against your goals and see how well you have fared.
You can also use some analytic tools to measure the results of your marketing efforts. Popular tools that you can put into use include Google Analytics, SharedCount, and Mention.
Time to win your content marketing goals
The need for businesses to be as profitable as possible nowadays brought about an overhaul of the traditional system of advertisement. Content marketing has proved effective and functional in recent times.
However, adopting an approach without a strategy is disastrous. You need to set up a strategy and follow due process to create and distribute the appropriate content for your audience.
One more thing: endeavor to apply the principles of storytelling, as it is the soul of effective content marketing.
Personalize your contents where possible as this is the ultimate means of drawing your customers closer.