Content marketing is one of the most effective strategies that you can integrate into your web marketing efforts, but it’s also one of the most demanding.
Like good SEO, there’s no trick to good content marketing. You’ve got to dedicate the time and hard work required to attract your target audience and provide the value necessary to keep them on your website. Content marketing is what will help you build brand awareness, win the support of your online community, and reap the benefits of stellar rankings.
Content marketing is the process of creating quality content and sharing it with your customers with the intention of engagement and retention. Focus more on the content part and less on the marketing part. It’s really all about the quality of the content.
Like social media, content marketing requires a strategy so that you have a plan to follow. A plan that details exactly what types of content you are generating, who you are creating it for, and what specific goal it’s going to help you accomplish.
As Google continues to improve the quality of search results with algorithmic changes that devalue websites spamming for better rankings, content marketing will continue to become more imperative. Big brands like Coke and Red Bull have embraced content marketing and are already integrating it into their online strategies.
If you want to have have an advantage over your competitors and make content marketing part of your web marketing strategy, keep these three rules in mind:
Rule #1: You’ve gotta know your audience
The most important rule in content marketing is knowing who your audience is. Your company may have more than one audience that you are targeting with your content. If this is the case, you may consider developing a persona.
Developing personas for each type of customer your company is trying to reach will allow you to form some great ideas, develop some interesting angles, and utilize a unique voice. Here are some prompting questions for getting your personas started:
- What is the demographic of your audience (age, background, job, hobbies, etc)?
- What is their technical knowledge (how savvy are they and what tools do they use)?
- What do they want to do (what are their goals are why)?
- Why do they care about your service/product?
- How will they become engaged with you?
Personas not only make writing easier because you know exactly who you are writing for, but they help to target your content so that it really resonates with your audience.
Rule #2: Your content has gotta be worth sharing
There is a ton of content you can generate to help gain brand recognition, product awareness, consumer engagement, traffic to your website, and much more.
But, among many things, it’s got to be funny, valuable, informative, unique, and worthy of being shared by others.
One of Mack Web’s favorite ways to get ideas for content that is worth sharing is to follow innovative and creative companies, people, and blogs through social media outlets.The key here is that you need to follow the right people.
If you feel like you’re not getting any good ideas from the people you’re following, find some new people who provide value (doesn’t even have to be in your industry). Check out who they are following and follow a few of those people. This will help you to build a better community that generates creative ideas.
Listening to the conversations (reading posts and following the links to information) also allows you to understand the type of content that should be created based on audience needs, wants, or interests.
Focus on what is happening in your online community and observe the gaps. That’s your opportunity to create something that people will want to read and pass around to the influential players in your community.
If you’re new to content marketing, you probably already have a ton of content that you can leverage. Dig out what you have already created, whether it is a section of articles you’ve written or specific pages on your website (i.e. about us, the team). This is valuable material that just needs fresh eyes and a targeted perspective.
Look to see how you can add value to the content you have already created. Make it new and reintroduce it to your audience. Sometimes, just turning your written words into visuals is enough to make your content engaging enough for people to share. Think visual learners.
The Oatmeal is a great example of how to turn your words into infographics and stories.
Here’s some other ideas:
- If your industry deals with a lot of data, create a spiffy infographic (you can even integrate graphs and pie charts and stuff) so the numbers are visually appealing.
- If you have a lot of images, utilize them to tell your story through a photo album (maybe on Facebook, or even Pinterest). You can even create a blog post that has a ton of photos with captions that walk your reader through the story.
- If your company has a rich history, develop a timeline so your audience can get a good visual of how accomplished your company is.
Rule #3: Your content has gotta be creative
When developing new content you’re going to have to get creative; you’re going to have to put in some work. Research, data collection, edits, designs, and input from people on your team makes creating content a tough task. But remember that you are developing value and assets for your company which always makes it worth it.
Sometimes you just have to tell your story in a different way. Check out this video of a guy who makes custom knives. He’s not trying to sell you anything, he’s just trying to tell his story (which clearly makes you want to buy his product).
There are all kinds of ways to generate content that goes beyond an article. Here are 10 ideas:
- Blog post (telling your story with images)
- Press Release
- Photo Album
- Informative or Documentary video
- Music Video
- FAQs or Myths
- Webcast or Webinar
- And if you really want to put in some work…
Host an event
One final check on your content before it goes out. Where can you integrate images? Where can you link to other articles that will tell the reader more (link to your articles, or even better, give a link to someone else who deserves it). How can you make the experience more engaging?
Once you’ve generated your valuable content, you’re ready to get it out there for people to get a hold of and share.
Give it a shot. Think of your goal, the content you need to create to reach it, and get to work. Repeat. Over and over. If your content marketing involves good strategy, good content, and good social media, you can rely on the relationships in your online community to make your content marketing efforts a success.