Content marketing has become something of an industry buzzword in recent years. A buzzword that has been used and abused depending on who you were speaking to, and the smoke and mirror techniques they were applying. Worse, “content marketing” was something that business people, even professional marketers, rarely understood. This, of course, resulted in an excellent technique being underutilized or ignored. A shame, because “content marketing” is most straightforward, most inexpensive, most effective, and most powerful search engine marketing tool we have available to us today.
Despite the mystique, content marketing is quite simple to understand. and implement. Think of it as a strategic approach to creating and sharing information with your target audience. There is no mystery to it. Content can be anything you write; you draw, you photograph, or video that you want to share with your audience.
Original blog articles, promotional or educational videos, podcasts, original photos of events, infographics on customer service or vehicle maintenance or anything else that is informative, educational, or even entertaining can be used – no, should be used – two engage your audience and build loyalty and interest in your brand.
The ultimate goal is to harness useful and relevant information in order to drive engagement with your business and ultimately lead to an increase in sales and customer retention.
Today, content marketing should be a big piece of every business’s marketing strategy. For someone wanting to create a powerful marketing program, content marketing is practical, easy to manage, and relatively inexpensive. The reasons for the increase in content marketing’s popularity and effectiveness over the past several years are easy to understand.
Of course, costs can vary widely depending on the type of content you’re creating and sharing with your networks. But with careful planning, it is certainly possible to run a successful content campaign on a limited budget: content marketing has been shown to produce three times more leads than traditional outbound marketing while costing 62% less.
You can reach a lot of people in a relatively short amount of time by sharing the right content. But it has to be good quality and be useful to your audience. Otherwise, it’s not going to cut it. Shareable, engaging, and relevant content can have a life far beyond your own marketing strategy, too. It can keep generating leads for your business as your customers continue to engage with it and share it across their own networks.
You can react to relevant announcements, news stories, and events by quickly creating or sharing content that taps into these talking points with more than one audience. With traditional marketing, this is virtually impossible to do. The resources and logistics involved would have been prohibitive even if it had been planned out well in advance.
Content marketing is a way of connecting with your customers; that is both informal and authentic. By sharing genuinely useful content, you are building trust with your audience that goes way beyond what you can offer with a traditional “pushy” marketing approach. The conversational nature of many channels such as Facebook and Instagram means you can directly respond and interact with your customers in real time, too.
But it’s not always that simple. Many companies struggle with making content marketing work effectively, mostly because:
So, how can you avoid these pitfalls and make content marketing work for your business?
Putting this together doesn’t need to be scary, confusing, painful or even very time-consuming. Just give yourself an hour or each month two to sit down and think about your customers, who they are, and what they want to see from you. What will add value to their experience with your company? What would help you build trust and a meaningful relationship with your customers? If you have shared content before, do an audit of what worked well and what didn’t – what was shared widely, got the most likes on social media, or how many click-throughs did you achieve? Use this to inform your strategy development.
So, you’ve thought about your target audience.
This could depend on a number of factors – resources, time, budget, availability of exciting content for your audience. Keep it relevant and be realistic. It’s not necessary (or practical) to create and share original content every single day, but plan for one or two times per week depending on what your customers like and engage with. You’ll get a better idea of this once you start experimenting.
Try to plan out what you are going to share in advance (or at least make a plan around a particular “theme”). This is relatively straightforward when you are creating your own original content, but it can be a little trickier if you are looking for some of it from external sources (a mix of both is fine to keep workloads manageable). Either way, when creating or searching for good content to share, here’s what you need to keep in mind:
This is one of the fundamental rules of content marketing – and one that many companies forget in their haste to share as much as possible with their networks. People are inundated with content in our information-saturated world, with smartphones at our fingertips and WiFi readily available most places you go. This means you need to focus your energy on content that really resonates with your audience. Choose something that will grab their attention and solves a problem that they can immediately identify with.
It’s great to share – but here are some things you definitely want to avoid when you’re putting together your content marketing strategy:
If you’re still struggling to formulate a content marketing strategy – don’t panic! There are plenty of resources out there to help you. If you want to learn more, there are countless blogs on the subject to help you design and put a content strategy into action yourself. There are also plenty of tools and content management software that will help automate some of the process for you. Or, alternatively, there are full-service agencies who will plan out a detailed strategy for you based on their own industry expertise, execute the plan, then report back on results – an easy option if you’re short on time and resources and want to be sure your content marketing is done right.
Whatever way you go, you can’t afford to ignore the huge potential that content marketing has to help drive your business forward.
Posted on Sep 13 2019
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