We have all become content marketers to some degree, how much we participate and how successful we are varies dramatically. It forms a key component in many marketing plans and serves to introduce your organisation to its target audience in a progressive and non threatening manner, sharing information and knowledge, and building trust.
Content marketing has become a more subtle marketing approach that some of its peers – advertising, pop ups, ebursts, etc. It invites your target audience to engage of their own free will, a willing participant in the process. And, better still, if your audience like and appreciate your content there's a pretty good chance that they will share it with their peers, extending your reach and gaining an all important third party endorsement along the way.
Over the years that we have been designing and executing content marketing campaigns there are a few things we have locked onto as key pillars of any content marketing campaign. As usual there is a magic number of key pillars and in this case the number is 9.
1) Value is king.
Whatever your content is going to be, you really must make sure that it has a value to the audience. It's not going to appeal to everyone on the internet so make it focused and valuable. There's no shortage of mediocre and plain awful content out there, so focusing on something of obvious value to your audience will stand out, it's more likely to be read and shared than something of lower value. And, whatever you do, stick to that principle, fewer pieces of very high value will always be more effective than a large volume of average content. Keep it high quality!
2) Make it relevant!
Whatever your content is going to be, it needs to view the world from your audience's point of view, if not it risks becoming a sales piece for your own organisation and that's not the point of content marketing. Don't use content marketing to sell, it needs to inform, advise and educate in a way that speaks to the reader, it needs to see the world from their side of the fence and help them to make sense of what they see. When you start to create the content, try placing yourself in the position of the reader and ask yourself what is it that they are looking to get out of reading your content.
3) Online content can boost your rankings.
On top of all the other benefits of content marketing, publishing content online in the form of articles and blogs on your own website also helps search engines recognise the value of your site and return it in appropriate search results. However, and it's a big one, the content has to be relevant to the rest of the website, it needs to speak about the things that the website is also communicating in other places, it has to be appropriate. If you are promoting an eBook or video, then share some of the content, with appropriate terminology included, as text on the page. It can be made to look like an excerpt or quote it will entice the audience as well as provide some content for the search engines to access.
4) Think about variety.
Your audience is like the rest of us, we all like a little variety to keep things interesting. So, when planning your content strategy aim to pick a number of related themes around which you can produce content. Clearly, they should be linked around a larger theme or overall narrative direction, but mix it up a little, if you have very heavyweight content continually your output will stat to become hard to digest, add some light and shade. Not only vary the tone of the content, you could vary the delivery mechanism, a blog, an ebook, a white paper a short video, a long in depth video. These will create variety but they will also appeal to the variety of ways your audience may like to consume information. Some may be avid readers, other more orientated towards audio visual input.
When people think about content marketing, they may quickly think that this means a lot of writing. Cranking out text-heavy blog posts, lots of ebooks and various white papers. In reality, creativity and variety will help you stand out more in your industry.
5) Use your social engine.
If you look at content as the fuel then social media is the engine, continually developing a variety of content will keep your social media buzzing. It's the place that your content will be shared and where the process of engagement with your content will really start to begin. As your content is shared more widely so your social reach will grow, followers will increase as will the number of shares. If your content is sufficiently good then a level of momentum will be reached and the audience you have built will start to look for and anticipate your content.
6) Friends and strangers.
You can give your content a quick boost at the start by asking your colleagues and close contacts to like and share it when you are first publishing content, not many people will engage with something that has no likes or shares. Colleagues may have a network of contacts within your target audience that may also give it a boost. Social liking and sharing is something of a reciprocal business, so it is well worth taking the time and effort to look at people with influence with your target audience and begin to like and share appropriate content. But, remember to make sure that whatever you share is thematically linked to your own content.
7) Are we all pulling together.
Marketing is a discipline made up from numerous strands of which content marketing is but one. If you can align all of the others – advertising, ppc, sponsored content, boosted posts, etc, you can aggregate the benefits of each and see even greater results. And, if you need one particular piece of content to gain an even greater reach then a bit of extra boost from an aligned channel may just be the ticket..
8) Watch what's happening.
Once you have started to publish content and share it through social media, it's important to keep an eye on what is happening, who is liking it, who is sharing it, who is downloading it, who is watching it, and so on. You can use a variety of tools for social listening, that is picking up where keywords and comments are appearing, what influencers may be saying. This is your measure of success.
9) It's all about engagement.
Don't be afraid to engage with people who like, share and comment on your content, they are the ones that have read it and who you are able to connect with. They could be prospects, influencers, media, in fact the list is long. Hopefully, if you have done your homework they will be the people you want to open up a dialogue with, so don't hold back, talk to them.
Is your content marketing strategy working?
We hope it is, but if you would like it to fly we'd love to help. Just drop us a call or an email.