Anyone can create content, but not everyone can be successful at content marketing. Yet content marketing success does not depend on a secret formula. So where is the gap occurring?
The fact of the matter is that many people think that simply creating content is the beginning and end of the content marketing process. If you make “the right” piece, your audience will magically appear.
In reality, there are five critical steps you have to take in order to truly create a successful content marketing process and see your efforts bear fruit.
Step One: Set Your Content Marketing Goals and Objectives
The first step before you dive into the details of any marketing project is to create a plan. Without a plan, you will quickly get overwhelmed, your efforts will be scattered and less effective, and you will have a difficult time understanding whether or not you have achieved your objectives.
As you plan out your content marketing efforts, make sure it also ties into your overall company objectives. For instance, one of your business objectives could be to grow your revenue by a certain percent through new client acquisition. In that case, your content marketing campaign could be focused around a contest that would get people to recommend your business to a friend.
Plan Out Your Content Marketing “Why”
Start out your planning process by taking the time to understand your purpose in using content marketing. What do you want to achieve from your efforts?
Are you a consumer site that wants to encourage your audience to make a purchase after reading or viewing your content? Are you a B2B company that wants to build credibility or get people to fill out a form so they can be contacted later? Whatever goal you choose, be sure to establish it before you begin to create any content.
Benchmark Your Current Content Marketing Status
Next, it’s time to understand what you have accomplished so far. What are you currently doing for content marketing? How successful has it been? What have you achieved up until this point?
Use the information you gather as your starting point. From here, you can begin to set goals for your content marketing efforts over the next quarter or year.
Set Your Content Marketing Metrics
Now that you know how your content marketing program is doing currently, what are some achievable metrics for the future? For example, if you are tracking downloads of a white paper and currently five people download it each month, maybe your goal should be to have seven people download the paper each month.
It could also be that although five people are downloading the paper each month, their titles don’t match your ideal customer. In that case, perhaps your goal should be to better target your content marketing efforts so that the five people downloading the paper will have a particular title or work in a certain vertical.
Still wondering what metrics to measure? Read about the 6 Content Marketing Metrics You Can’t Afford To Ignore
Step Two: Create Content Marketing Campaigns
Once you have set your goals and objectives, it’s time to plan out and execute on your campaigns. Your campaigns can be based around a single piece of content or a variety of content pieces.
Map Out Your Content
Before you begin creating your content, map out each piece that will relate to your campaign. For instance, you may want to hold a webinar and use your content marketing campaign to drive people there.
However, often people want to understand a bit about your goals before they take an action (such as filling out a form for the webinar). You, therefore, might decide to create a blog post, an infographic, and a short video, all of which are teasers to drive people to fill out the form join your live webinar. Looking for other ways to promote a webinar? Learn How To Promote A Webinar With Social Media.
If your goal is to promote a charitable cause, you may want to create a video and a series of photographs that show people the impact they can have if they donate to the cause. That way people can gain a better understanding of where their funds will go before they are asked to make a commitment.
Understand Where Your Audience Resides
Once you have created your content, you may not need to share it on every channel. For example, if you are a B2B company, Pinterest may not be the best place to find your audience. Therefore, take the time to understand where your audience likes to hang out and plan to focus the majority of your content marketing efforts on those channels only.
Step Three: Make Your Content Consumable
One important fact about content shared online is that people want to move through the pieces fairly quickly. After skimming an article’s headlines or watching the first few seconds of a video, your audience may decide that the piece is relevant and go ahead and consume the entire piece. However, getting your audience to that point can be tricky.
Here are a few tips to get you started creating pieces that are perfectly suited to your content marketing needs.
Your headline is the first touch with your audience and it plays a critical part. If you lose them here, they won’t go any further. Make sure your headline is catchy, uses keywords, and draws your audience in.
You may even consider using a hashtag in the headline so when other people share your content, it will be instantly searchable. This is particularly relevant if your content relates to an event or a movement.
Looking for ideas to improve your headlines? Read about 5 Free Headline Tools To Make Your Eye-Catching Content Irresistible.
Subheads, bullets, numbered lists, and graphics are all key to breaking up your words when you write for an online audience. It can feel overwhelming to look at a long string of text. When it’s broken up into smaller chunks, it feels significantly more consumable.
Whether your video is short or long, adding subtitles will make it much easier to consume. Often people will watch videos in places where they can’t have sound because they do not want to disturb others (for instance, at work or in the evening when the kids are asleep).
Do not let your infographics become overwhelmed with text. Instead, find graphical ways to get your point across or focus on some specific statistics that underscore what you want to emphasize. Remember, an infographic is supposed to be visually interesting and easy to understand at a glance.
If you are creating a podcast series, make sure you have a page for each episode of the podcast. After all, someone might be interested in the topic of one episode and not another. You don’t want them to give up on the whole thing because they can’t find the episode that interested in them.
Step Four: Check Your Content for SEO
Your content marketing efforts should include a good mix of sharing via social media and enabling people to find your content through searches. One important aspect of making your piece search friendly is the use of keywords.
Using keywords in a written piece seems like a no-brainer. But how can you add keywords other formats, like video, podcasts, or graphics?
The answer is that it’s not hard at all.
Transcribe Your Words
If you create a video or podcast, you can either transcribe the whole piece or make sure each episode has a short article to go with it. The article can include several different eye-catching tidbits, like:
- Highlights of the episode, so people can decide if they want to take the next step and listen to or view the whole thing.
- Photos of guest speaker(s) or the host(s) of the video
- Benefits of the offerings your business provides
- Information about a website where you can find further information about the topic of the video or podcast
- A link to make a purchase or subscribe to ongoing episodes
Step Five: Make Your Content Shareable
One critical part of content marketing is the step of sharing. Content is only worth creating if it is going to be consumed. That’s why you need to make your content easy to share.
Share Your Content
As you share your content across multiple channels, be sure to tailor your social media posts to the appropriate channel.
- On Facebook, you may want to upload a video teaser that will entice people to click through and consume your longer video.
- On Twitter, you may want to include a clever GIF or create a Twitter story about the making of your video.
- On LinkedIn, you can write a post that draws your audience into the topic and then include a link to the longer piece at the end or in the comments section of your post.
Make it Easy For Others To Share
In addition to sharing your piece on social channels, you need to make sure that your content will be easily be shared by others as well. While they can, of course, share your social media posts, they may also want to create their own posts.
To that end, make sure you have social sharing buttons easily visible on your content pages. In addition, include sharable snippets like quotes, statistics, or interesting facts. You can emphasize those sharable snippets by making them bold or italicized. You can even make them look like a graphic, with a different sized font or color.
To make your content even more easily shared, add a Click-to-Tweet link. Click-to-Tweet is a free tool that allows people to click on a quote or statement. Each click opens up a Twitter window, pre-populated with a post you have written ahead of time.
Your audience can adjust the Tweet if they want to. However, many will simply hit the sharing button without making any changes. That’s why you should be sure to include a link back to your original content, preferably using a link shortener such as bit.ly so you can track how many people click on the link. In addition, you should include your own Twitter handle in the post.
Content Marketing Success Bonus Step: Measure Your Efforts
At this point, you have likely shared a number of content pieces. It is now time to go all the way back to the beginning of this list and compare the results of your efforts.
Are you hitting your goals or at least making progress in the right direction? If so, continue with your efforts. If not, take a look through the other steps in the process and make sure you are truly covering all of your bases.
How successful are your content marketing efforts? Do you have additional steps you would add to the process above? If so, let me know in the comments below or Tweet me up at @HollyChessman.