You’ve probably heard the expression Content is King and undoubtedly been informed that in order improve your search engine results page (SERP) rankings your site needs quality content.
Although both of those statements are partly accurate, they don’t really provide a definitive explanation to what content marketing is or more importantly why you need to do it.
Content marketing is the process and practice of creating, curating and cultivating text, video, images, graphics, e-books, white papers and other content assets that are distributed through paid, owned and earned media. These assets are used to tell stories that help brands build and nurture relationships with customers, prospects and other audiences to drive awareness, generate demand, influence preference and build loyalty.
So by that definition we can deduce the objectives of content marketing to be;
- Attract and retain customers
- Create and Curate valuable content
- Change or enhance consumer behaviour
The art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.
The ultimate trade off your business makes with your customer is that if you deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information, they ultimately reward you with their business and loyalty.
Content marketing is hard, slow and methodical work that requires a deliberate strategy and flawless execution. Results will not happen over night and in some instances the true results can only be measured in 6-12 month time frames. However, it does require constant monitoring and analysis.
content marketing should make you stop, read, think, behave differently.
The primary goal of content marketing is to educate your customers and as a result drive more sales. It’s not just about creating content for content sake.
Truth be told, in order to implement an efficient, productive and profitable content marketing campaign will place a significant resource burden on your organisation, not only in the creation of your content but also in the research and analysis.
A typical content marketing strategy may comprise of any combination or all of the following items:
- Blog Posts
- Cheat Sheets
- Workbooks and Templates
- Whitepapers and Reports
- Slide Decks
- Case Studies
Each of these will be specifically targeted at addressing customers needs, concerns objections and questions regarding your company and products. In some cases customers will consume each and every content piece before deciding to engage with your company, in others they may only read one blog post before they commit to a purchase. This will not reflect on the quality of the content item, but rather more specifically the customers persona.
Gaining a greater understanding of your customers persona, enables you to generate content that specifically targets their information needs. The key point being made is that each persona will have a different content needs and will most definitely have different user journeys and methods to how they consume content.
You will have specific persona’s that will find your brand or product by actively using a search engine and searching for specific keyword term, which may lead them to a blog post
In order for your customer to understand you, you need to understand your customer
The key requirement of any content marketing plan or strategy is taking time to understand your customer. You will need to do this in order to tailor each and every content piece towards fulfilling specific content of your customer persona’s.
It is not enough to to try and lure all your customers with a one size fits all piece of content. The downside is that you will obviously not have the resources and time to create all the desirable content items but you can aim to target your most profitable customer segments. In truth your content marketing strategy needs to have a lazer target focus. In order to get it right it is going to take research and data analysis.
The type of content artefact type you will need to create is entirely dependent on the customer type and market segment you target, there is no sure fire shotgun approach tactics.
Content Marketing helps you to understand your business
Probably the most underrated benefits of content marketing, especially for small and new businesses it helps them to understand their business and their customers a lot better. When you initially start down the path of content marketing you may think it is out of necessity to attract customers but you will soon discover it will actually help you to truly define not only your business plan but also your business model. You will also find great ways to repurpose alot of your content you generate to radically transform your business offerings.
Whilst undertaking the research into your customers and understand what stimulus they respond too it will help you to craft and shape your company’s products. Due in part because you will achieve your focus.
Content Marketing is great for Search Engine Optimization
The secret to a great content marketing strategy is obviously knowing who your target customers are and strategically placing your content where they can find it. Creating accounts on these platforms, sharing content on those platforms which all have links to your site. This gradually builds your sites in bound links, but it also helps to establish your brand as a thought leader and will create positive associations amongst your targeted customers.
If your content is valuable and shareable then this improves that likelihood people will share it amongst their friends and associates.
It is important to understand that Content Marketing does not replace SEO but rather content marketing complements your SEO Strategy.
Content Marketing needs a strategy
For your content marketing campaign to be successful you need to devise a content marketing strategy. You should endeavour to clearly document the strategy and share it with your team. It doesn’t have to be a war and peace level of detail document. We’ve devised plans that are a one page at most, but the most important aspect of the strategy is that it details the Why, Who , How and When of details to be executed. Probably the most important part is how your results will be measured.
It’s important to manage your expectations, in that in all likelihood your content marketing efforts are not going to result in triple digit growth in sales, but they should be a steady interest in sales and at a minimum should result in increased customer engagement. It is how you manage this engagement that leads us on to the other vital component of a digital marketing plan and that is your Contact Management Strategy.