Our Guide to Everything You Want to Know about Content Marketing
As most of us are aware, the days of traditional advertising being enough to sell our products is long gone. Now, people are sick and tired of advertisements everywhere. So, they use ad blockers, flip through TV channels, and ignore the billboards. What are we going to do about it? Recent trends tell us that content marketing is, and will continue to be, one of the best ways to market goods and services. How should we implement content marketing programs? Let’s look at some blog posts to help.
An Introduction to Content Marketing
First, some opening thoughts. How can we get results through content marketing? And what does this valuable format offer to brands? In short, content marketing done right offers an excellent return on investment. We just have to know how to leverage its power properly.
Here, Mitt Ray gives us some case studies of companies that have been highly successful with their content marketing. Buffer is a great example: they have used content marketing for a long time, and now they get over 4 million visits per month. This success is largely thanks to their excellent blog. Zyro attracts people who want to build a website by offering some free tools on their website. Even better, they don’t require people to sign in to use it, instead harvesting the tools value through retargeting. Gymshark generates a lot of sales by using their blog and Instagram page as a place where people can learn things about fitness. At the same time, they’re selling products. Finally, Burberry had an excellent campaign where they collaborated with acoustic music artists from across the UK. These artists performed for the camera wearing Burberry clothes.
Syed Balkhi gives us his best tips for making lead magnets. First, design a “customer avatar,” or an idea of what your ideal customer is like. This process includes combing through analytic data to see who is buying your stuff and reading your website. Plus, you need to think about who is in the right “segment” of your market. Next, write blog posts that people find compelling and want to read. Third, find the keywords that reflect your content. At the same time, tailor some content to trending keywords in your industry. Write at least some of your content in a longer form, preferably over 1,000 words. Add resources to your content through internal and external linking. Add some nice media, and structure your content into manageable portions. Finally, use calls to action. You never know when that’s going to be the trigger that gets people to buy something.
When people think of content marketing, SEO isn’t always at the top of their mind. According to Vikas Agrawal, that’s a mistake. SEO is very important for content marketing, because it helps people find the content you’ve left. This is true both for Google and any social media marketing you’re doing.
In order to have good SEO and content, follow a few rules. First, make sure keywords used are the best ones for your content. Then, focus on content quality and user experience. Build links in your content so that it can be found more easily by readers who aren’t necessarily looking for it. Finally, don’t forget the importance of social media-based distribution.
Here, Vinay Khoshy makes a great case for using content marketing in B2B sales. For one thing, content attracts attention by being useful, gaining valuable trust, proving the value of a brand, and building community. All of these are valuable for attracting and retaining customers. Next, use in-depth content to answer questions and overcome objections. Use case studies, and leverage content to help your prospects do their job. Make sure content is timely, and that you use influencers. Finally, by personalizing content, you can help set yourself out above the crowd.
Being new to entrepreneurship has its risks and shortcomings. Prince Kapoor gives us some pointers about what to avoid on social media. First, know what your audience is interested in so you can target those interests. Second, not having enough visuals in your content will make it less engaging. Third, neglecting to make evergreen content will make it harder to post often, or will make your content outdated quickly. Fourth, forgetting SEO will result in your stuff getting lost in cyberspace. Fifth, if you don’t have a marketing strategy, you’ll end up wasting your efforts. Sixth, choosing influencers to collaborate with only on the basis of follower numbers will yield poor results. Seven, forgetting to optimize for small screens will get your content passed over by those who use them. Eight, don’t make your only goal acquiring new customers, because more business comes from the old ones. Nine, you shouldn’t expect immediate results from this type of marketing, because it works by building relationships. Finally, if you forget to include a call to action, you’ll be less effective.
Content Marketing Statistics
If you’re not sure how content marketing is relevant for your brand, just look at the statistics. While every industry is different, most of them can benefit from content marketing. Let’s take a closer look.
Here, I talk about the statistical basis of content marketing, some trends, and the kinds of results you should strive for. Statistically speaking, content marketing offers one of the lowest costs per lead in the industry. Better, it is a low-cost method of advertising, which means that it’s overall highly effective. For that reason, content marketing has become extremely popular over the last few years. Second, customers see content produced as valuable to them, so it builds customer loyalty. In other words, these leads are more likely to become regular customers. Our digital age makes online content more popular, and it also helps with distribution. Content easily reaches consumers, both through search engines and social media. Both infographics and long-form content are popular, particularly because they help people get information. Finally, videos and podcasts are increasingly popular. As a result of these statistics, marketing agencies are doing more content marketing.
Content Marketing Strategy
While creating content is often fun, there needs to be a strategy behind it. Knowing what to put out, and what formats to use, can take a lot of time. Not only do you need to know what customers are into, but you also want to understand your goals before beginning.
Holly Chessman gives us some tips for successful content marketing campaigns. She says that before you start, decide what your goals are. Then, you should create content that meets those goals. Next, make some anchor pieces that target your core areas, and then build other content around those anchors. This technique can include repurposing of core content. Her next tip is to make sure you understand what customers need, and then meet those needs through content. This involves providing valuable information or solutions. Use content more than once, so that it gets out there better and you don’t have to work as hard. Finally, don’t forget to measure your success through analytics.
As Ann Smarty points out, one of the best ways to reach people through content marketing is by answering niche questions. For one thing, these areas are less crowded, and for another, the information is harder to find. Succeed, and your website will be an important destination that’s easier to find. In order to do this though, you’ll first need to find what the niche questions are. Once you’ve done that, schedule the answering of each question on your editorial calendar. When answering the questions, optimize the answers for Google. Finally, use social media as a major distribution channel.
If you’re just starting out in content marketing, it’s hard to know how to track your results. So, Niko Prins gives us some metrics to watch, which allows us to determine ROI. First, track sales that can be credited to each landing page. Then, look at the quality of leads generated through each source. Checking page value allows you to see how much money each page is generating. Another one to watch is the opt-in rate for your email distribution channel. Check out the rate of branded vs non-branded Google searches, because this is a way of tracking the ROI of offline marketing campaigns. Search rankings show the quality of your SEO and the amount of traffic you’re getting. Visitor numbers give you an idea of how much of your traffic is buying stuff when compared with purchase numbers. Time on page stats reflect how many people stop and read your content before moving on. By seeing how many pages people visit per session, you can get an idea of how engaged they are with your content. Finally, check for social media engagement numbers such as comments and shares.
Content Marketing Tools
No matter what kind of content you’re producing, you can’t do it without some tools. For that reason, I’ve hosted several discussions about things that you can try, depending on what kind of content you’re making. Of course, some of the tools also deal with distribution and monitoring.
For this post, I talk about some tools, both free and paid, that perform essential content marketing tasks. For instance, the first group is intended to help with idea generation. Examples I discuss include BuzzSumo, Linkbait, and Zest. My next group is writing tools, including Grammarly, Copyscape, and Canva. Distribution is essential, so I threw in some resources for that. They include AgoraPulse, Tailwind, and LinkedIn. Of course there are other tools, but these are some of the more famous ones listed.
Whether you’re looking to save money or don’t have much budget, Holly Chessman’s list of free tools is a great way to find some value. This group is focused on writing essentials, enhancement tools, and social sharing. What they all have in common is some level of free service. Some are totally free, like Google Docs, Hemmingway, Survey Monkey and Twitter Lists. Others are freemium, such as Canva, Buffer, and Prezi. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find the perfect budget solution.
Here are some more free tool suggestions by Ann Smarty, which are organized into groups. First, there are research tools, including UberSuggest, Answer the Public, Google Trends, and Twitter. Next, collaboration tools are mentioned, such as Google Drive, Slack, and Hubspot CRM. Her third group is planning tools: Zenkit, Google Calendar, and Trello. Finally, there are the scheduling tools, including WordPress Editorial Calendar and ContentCal.io. These are great tools, both for the beginner and more advanced user alike.
Video Content Marketing
Not all content is in word form. In fact, content such as blogs and articles are just the tip of the iceberg. And, like pictures a few years ago, video-based content marketing is becoming increasingly popular. Here are some resources.
Looking to make your mark on social media? Vinay Khoshy gives some tips. First, try live video if you’d like to be able to talk to your viewers. Tutorials save customers a lot of frustration if they buy…along with the accompanying service calls. Behind-the-scenes content lends humanity to your company. Explainer videos help sell products by demonstrating their value. Q&A’s let customers get answers to common questions without tracking you down. Finally, event videos give a uniquely close look at your company.
Wondering why livestreams are so hot right now? Arti Agarwal gives us some reasons. For one thing, they provide an excellent ROI, in part because they’re cheap and customers love them. Livestreams have a better reach than webinars, and subscribers can get alerts when a livestream is on. When a livestream is interesting enough, people will share them, too. From the brand’s standpoint, livestreams are better for both SEO and lead generation. Plus, they’re easy to set up and promote. Finally, livestreams can be put on more than one platform simultaneously, while also being very versatile content.
Social Media and Content Marketing
Gone are the days when content marketing was primarily done through your blog, website, or email blasts. Now, social media has become an important tool for content marketing, to the point that it’s one of the best distribution channels.
Did you know there are seven types of social media content? My guest Vinay Koshy tells us about them. Educational content is a great way to spread the word about your products and services, while also giving out useful information. Inspirational content gives your audience an uplifting moment, while still promoting your brand. Interactive content is a magnet for engagement. Connecting content builds relationships with your customers. Promotional content is a classic approach. Newsworthy content is a great way to connect your brand with current events through curation. Finally, entertaining content lets people get a good laugh, or an escape from reality, while making your brand memorable.
Need help planning your content on social media? Irina Weber has some helpful tips. First, analyze the status of your current social media presence, and then do the same with your competitors. Next, make up your first content calendar, using a spreadsheet or similar tools. Look to other people for inspiration, and then plan ahead for any major events or launches you’re having. Lastly, review your strategy to make sure it’s performing well, and adjust as necessary.
In this lengthy post, Koshy returns to tell us about some great tips for social media content. The goal is to make the content valuable for your audience. They are: create visual content, go live, add social credibility, use emotion, don’t forget consumer content, and follow trends. In other words, keep it relevant, and don’t look like an unmoving corporate robot. This will keep you from getting left behind in the dust, at least from a marketing perspective.
As a sort of extension to the last post, Koshy tells us how to make the kind of content that people love to share. One way is to hint at a solution, which makes people want to come back for more. Another is to make it memorable. Well-designed content is also extremely shareable. Or, make content that is highly valuable to your audience. Use influencers that people follow, and it’ll often get shared. Connect by telling stories and exhibiting transparency. Finally, use a call to action in order to turn those views into leads or shares.
Probably the biggest problem in online sales is the nearly 70% of shoppers who abandon their carts just before checking out. There are several reasons for this, including shipping or other fees that are too high, the need to create an account, and unfavorable return policies. In order to increase online sales, it’s often beneficial to use social media content. Options include opportunities for the customer to save money, improved hashtag use, contests, formatting changes, involving real customers, social media listening and customer support, and increasing shareability, among others. Try a few of these things, and your cart abandonment rate should decrease.
Unique Content Marketing Strategies and Tactics
Feel like you’ve tried most of the common strategies, but need to go the extra mile? Want to add some variety? Facing an unusual situation you need to deal with? Fortunately, there are some content marketing strategies that aren’t used as often.
Have you thought about using emojis and emoticons in your content? Emojis are pictures that convey a thought or are a small icon in messages or on photos. Emoticons are the old-fashioned expressions of emotion made with punctuation marks. Here’s how to use them. First, know what each one stands for, and then incorporate them into your strategy. Next, add them to social media posts and email subject lines. However, be careful not to use too many, or it’ll detract from your message. Finally, consider adding them to push notifications.
As much as we marketers hate to admit it, there are times when we must go into crisis mode. This can be true whether the crisis is specific to the company or something more general. So, I asked Ann Smarty to give us some tips on handling bad situations. First, she says we should ask for patience. This shows customers you’re aware of the problem and are being transparent. Next, try empathy. In this case, it often means understanding customer frustrations or offering encouragement. Third, choose the best medium for passing on your message, because not everything warrants an email. Fourth, reach out to past customers in the hope of bringing them back. Finally, make sure your website is relevant to the immediate situation, even if it’s a bit off topic normally.
Often, content is relevant to consumers long after it stops being listed high in search engine results or gets buried on social media. So, how do we re-optimize content to stay current? One way is to change the keywords a bit to fit current trends. Or, consider consolidating your content into something fresh. Try creating topic clusters as a way of cleaning up your website. Alternately, try changing the headline to something more attention-grabbing. Finally, try speeding up the web page so it loads faster.
It’s fair to say that we don’t always want to create totally new content. At the same time, we can only do so much curation. So which one’s better? Holly Chessman gives us some situations where creation is better, and some where curation is better. For instance, creation is great for branding and driving traffic, but it’s expensive. On the other hand, curation is great for developing relationships. However, it does drive traffic to other people’s websites, so you don’t want to use too much of it. The bottom line is simple: neither creation nor curation are “better.” Each option is better in certain situations, but suffers drawbacks in others. Therefore, content marketers should be using a bit of both.
Need to increase sales? Marketers are always looking to do this, but some situations are more urgent than others. In that case, try these tips. First off, be sure to create evergreen content. This content is the best available, and it’ll drive lots of traffic. Next, try adding some user-generated content, because it adds real customer voices. Increase points of contact and remain active in online communities or forums. Don’t forget product listings and focus on your buyer persona for stellar results. These tips will help you make the most of your content strategy.
Behind any great branded content marketing campaign is a winning strategy. Here’s how to build one. First, appeal to your customer’s emotions, because purchases have an emotional component. Then, try to tell stories with your brand at the center. Here are some practical ways of doing both. Research your audience, and introduce visual branding that conforms with your guidelines. Then, make sure the content is shareable so you can get your message out. Once you have combined these elements, you are well on your way to that winning strategy.
Content marketing doesn’t always have to be expensive. So, here are some ways to excel on the cheap. Your first step is to find free or inexpensive tools, such as Google Docs, that you can use for content creation. Then, make sure the content you are producing is valuable to your customers, which increases your return on investment. Developing a content marketing plan is always a must, and carefully planning your content is part of this process. Make your content ideal for both search engines and sharing purposes. This includes SEO techniques and encouraging engagement. Finally, remember that this is an ongoing process, because nobody becomes an authority overnight.
Every so often it is a good idea to give your content an audit. This is a simple review of what content is performing, and on what platforms. This is an opportunity to tweak strategy and revise or remove nonperforming content. The first thing you want to do is establish clear content goals. Then, you’ll want to inventory your content and get it organized. Once you’ve organized everything, look at the analytics data and compare it with your content goals. Finally, divide your content into categories, determining what needs to be updated, rewritten, or retired. By doing this you can get rid of the dead wood and systematically improve your content offerings.
If you’re looking to update a corporate blog, Melanie Tamble has some strategies to consider. But first, she talks about reasons that these blogs fail. For one thing, they can fail to be relevant to their audiences. This often is because companies get very focused on themselves and forget about audience voices. Another problem is that they’re often a standalone part of the marketing strategy and cut off from other efforts. Lastly, content strategy is often inconsistent, and the blog becomes a casualty of that. Now for the strategies. Evernote runs a model blog, which is excellent because of the practical suggestions for workers. REI engages in journalistic practices to showcase tips for people who love the outdoors. Lastly, JP Morgan Chase offers customers financial tips to help them be successful, while also soft selling their services. Each of these companies has a three-part production process. First, they have a cohesive strategy. Then, they have a set process for production. Finally, content is strategically distributed and shared.
Content will be much less effective if fewer people find it, which is why SEO is so important. Vinay Koshy gives us some tips. First, try clustering your keywords around a particular topic. Or, ensure that content is relevant to various keywords by determining search intent. Another technique is to add variety to your content, but don’t forget to keep your writing polished. Be original, but don’t forget the importance of authority. Make sure that the form of content matches your topic, and that it’s optimized for both mobile and desktop. Remember to update older content and improve your links over time. Finally, be sure to consistently participate in the community surrounding your industry. Being out of touch is one of the worst things you can do.
This guest post by Niko Prins gives us 13 tips for generating more online traffic through content marketing. While content marketing was once considered a waste of time, it’s now a highly effective means of reaching out to customers. Prins suggests we find the right keywords by search volumes, and then do an analysis of our competitors. Then, break your articles into headings so they’re easy for both people and machines to read.
At the same time, write primarily for people, because they don’t like to read things that aren’t clear. Use guest posts for backlinks, and then SEO optimize your headlines. Keep your content up to date, and practice multi-channel distribution. Maintain brand-voice consistency, because you want the content to be part of your brand’s image. Don’t be afraid to write longer posts, because increasingly these are very popular with consumers.
Cultivate relationships with influencers, because they’re an excellent source of marketing (and you’ll be rated awesome). Be sure to have content that is both on-trend and stuff that’s evergreen. Finally, the key to content marketing is customer education, not direct sales pitches.
As author Irina Weber points out, it doesn’t do to just throw content out there. Remember, there’s a lot of user generated content on the internet these days, and a lot of it isn’t accurate. So, in order to build trust with consumers it’s a good idea to cast yourself as an expert. She then gives us a number of ways to accomplish this goal.
Chatbots are a great way to deliver information to customers on demand and build trust. In the same vein, influencer marketing is one of the best trust-builders out there. Publishing data and survey results you’ve put together are also highly effective. Use client data you’ve gathered to tailor your content to them. Similarly, use social media data to tailor your content. Want something eye-opening? Use germ swab-type ideas that elicit emotional responses to your message.
What’s the takeaway? Earn customer trust by meeting them wherever they are. Sometimes this is data-driven targeting, and in other situations you’re looking for an emotional response. Finally, nothing is as important as authoritative information.
For this post, guest Ann Smarty gives us several tips for content marketing. Here, she gives us pointers for each step in the sales funnel, which she defines as ending in advocacy rather than simply purchasing a product. This makes sense, of course, because it can start new people at the top of the funnel.
For awareness, be sure to deploy effective SEO techniques. Being found in Google is the best way to ensure people who are looking for something special will find you. Piquing consumer interest involves asking a good question, and then answering it well. Keep in mind that this will also help with SEO, because Google is question focused. Engagement is best encouraged with a CTA that matches the context of your content. To propel people to action, monitor the effectiveness of your CTAs. Then, adjust to improve results. Finally, advocacy is encouraged when you nurture customer relationships. There are a number of ways to do this, such as through consumer education focused content.
According to Syed Balkhi, we have it all wrong about emotion in marketing. Specifically, B2B buyers have a more emotional tie to the brands their businesses use than B2C purchasers have with what they use. This is probably true because, as a rule, buyers do more research when purchasing for their business. Making a mistake can be costly, both in cash and good will. With that being said, here are some tips on making an emotional connection with business buyers.
Headlines need to be emotionally charged, rather than matter-of-fact, in order to attract attention. Then, use case studies to show buyers in concrete terms how your product or services are beneficial to their business. Personalize your content marketing, being sure to leverage what you know about them and their company. Create a fear of missing out by offering discounts or creating a sense of urgency to save money by using your product. Finally, use images to elicit emotional responses.
Here’s another guest post. Moss Clement wants to challenge us not to forget about customer testimonials. In the days before influencer marketing, these were very popular. And the thing is, they’re still effective. Just look at the importance of reviews on online marketplaces like Amazon. Moss gives us some compelling statistics, then offers some tips for using testimonials. In particular, he encourages us to include those testimonials in our content marketing. This can take a variety of forms, such as inclusion in blog posts or other written material, social proof, and video testimony. Testimonials aren’t dead, after all.