The term content marketing is often used by marketers and webmasters alike when discussing promotion of their site or business. It is somewhat of an ambiguous term which that encompasses different avenues of marketing your business or product in a unique and helpful way.
Content marketing is the new way of presenting your products, ideas, and business to your audience. The goal is to create free, yet valuable, relevant content for a targeted audience. Instead of pitching potential customers with a product or service, you provide relevant and useful information that helps solve a problem. Providing this helpful content builds trust with your prospects and hopefully turns them into customers. The most important aspect of this strategy is helping the reader: without offering value or solving a problem, your content may as well be an advertisement.
Successful content marketing will allow you to expand and diversify your user base, increase sales, and increase brand recognition and credibility. Remember, people don’t want to see advertisements when making a purchase decision, they want to see the information that will guide them.
What is content marketing
Beginners of content marketing often struggle to put a plan in place and struggle to take the first step. It’s easy to experience sensory overload with mulling through the enormous amount of information regarding content marketing available. It helps to start with a few objective in mind to streamline your plan.
To be successful, it’s helpful to set a defined goal for your marketing. Content should never be created just for the sake of creating it. Each piece of content should help you reach your goal. For example, you may wish to build a list, convert a prospect to a customer, or raise awareness and credibility for your brand or product. Before, during, and after you have created your content, ask yourself if the piece helps to reach any of the goals you’ve set for your marketing campaign. If the content doesn’t, then it should not be included in your plans.
Once a goal is defined, the next step in to create a mission statement. Your mission statement explains a site’s or business’ reason for existing. This will identify your target audience, what you intend to deliver to your audience, and the expected outcome once your message is delivered. Remember, it’s important to have a clearly defined audience in mind.
After identifying your target audience, and a particular issue or problem you can help them with, you can begin creating your content. Successful marketing involves a deep understanding of your potential clients wants and needs. Once you understand your customer, you can market to them in the most profitable yet helpful way.
Organize your content in a way that your reader can quickly find something that grabs their attention. Bold, eye-catching headlines, bullet points, and italics will help achieve this goal.
There are quite a few mediums at your disposal for creating content. Some of the most popular include videos, infographics, e-books, how-to guides, and podcasts. Choose the form of content that you believe will best resonate with your potential clients. For example, a person shopping for computer parts is more likely to listen to a podcast than a person shopping for adult diapers. Besides, it’s a lot harder to sell adult diapers with a podcast, and the main goal of a podcast is not to sell a product.
Let’s take a look at how some of these forms of content marketing can be effective.
Ebooks – ebooks are a longer form of content marketing. They are usually detailed, in-depth and much longer than an average post. Ebooks are an excellent way to generate a list as well. Offer a free ebook to your customers by having them submit their name and e-mail. Think outside the box when creating an ebook. Having cover art designed for your ebook can be done very inexpensively by a freelance artist, but gives a professional touch and makes your ebook standout. Include high-quality pictures as well as references and links to your website and other authorities. The benefit of an ebook is twofold: you’re giving them a helpful resource, and by adding them to your e-mail list, you can market to them forever.
Infographics – An infographic takes common text information and creates a visually appealing, creative graphic. Infographics are perfect for gaining your audience’s attention. They are so valuable because they present relevant, helpful information in an easy to understand way. Plus, you can link them back to your website or an offer you’re promoting, which is beneficial for SEO.
One of the main reasons infographics are so powerful is because of social media. An interesting visual or picture is more likely to be viewed, liked, and shared. A great infographic presented to the right audience has a chance to go viral. Your content going viral could completely change your business.
Video – Likely the most engaging medium, video is one of the best forms of content you can create. It’s scaleable, so it’s great for desktop, mobile, and tablet users. Videos are also perfect for social media. They are easily shared amongst social networks, and usually, have better interaction than pure text. Upload your video everywhere: Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Some users are only on one platform, and excluding one will mean you are missing out on viewers.
When creating a video, it’s important to tell a story. Use all of the standard components of storytelling – introduction, conflict, climax, resolution. This will require time construction a script and a bit of writing and editing. The ending of your video should either create suspense for another piece of content or entice your viewers to become customers by promoting an offer or leading them to a sales page.
Like with ebooks, it’s worth the price or time to acquire an appealing thumbnail for your video. A thumbnail acts as a preview and in some cases is your best method for getting someone to click on your video. This image needs to be compelling. Uploading in HD is also great for increasing views.
Creating video content can require a bigger investment, but with the rise in popularity of visual marketing, it’s an important aspect of many content marketing plans.
Podcasts – The secret to podcasts is your content has to be more than informational, it has to be entertaining as well. Listeners don’t listen to podcasts for advertisements, therefore providing value is of utmost importance.
It’s important to note that podcast listeners are not the same as your average audience. You won’t target the same customers with a three minute Youtube video and a forty minute podcast. But podcast listeners tend to be loyal, and they will invest time in a show, regularly listening if the content provided is quality.
Podcasts have a few unique benefits that that make them great for content marketing. They’re convenient to consume. Because a podcast is only audio, they can be listened to while doing other tasks, like driving or house cleaning. Your podcast can enrich your listeners while they go about their daily life. They are also much easier and cheaper to produce than a video. A decent microphone and recording program is all that’s required for starting.
One of the best ways to provide value to your listeners is to feature guests and experts on your podcast. This is an excellent way to connect with your audience and create authority in your niche.
Lastly, many of your competitors are most likely not providing podcasts. While podcasts have grown drastically in popularity, there is still plenty of room for shows. Some niches may have little or no competition in the podcast sphere.
A dynamic content marketing plan will include all of the above and more. Different types of media connect best with each audience. Study and listen to your audience, they then target them with relevant content.
Promoting Your Content
Once you’ve spent the time to create a valuable, unique piece of content, you’ll want to put it in front of your targeted audience. The beauty of content marketing is that if you do it right, you’ll get plenty of help and exposure from your current readers or viewers. Quality content gets shared naturally over social media and has the chance to go viral – meaning a huge chunk of your audience laying eyes on your business or product. But for most companies, doing some promotion is necessary to get the ball rolling.
Here are a few ways to market your content:
Guest posts – With guest posting, you get to create an original, unique piece of content on someone else’s blog or website. Find a site in your niche or industry that will let you post or contribute. Write interesting content for this blog or website, including a link back to your website, to encourage readers to view more of what you have to offer. Pitch the editor of the site an idea for an original post or content creation. Focus on making the best content possible then include a link contextually. This will guarantee your post gets approved, plus you get a backlink out of the deal. Even if the link is no follow, it still provides value and can bring targeted traffic for a long time.
Social media – Social media is ideal for so many types of content marketing and allows you to truly target your audience. Many of the most popular content marketing forms – videos, infographics – translate perfectly for social media. It’s still important to know your audience, though, as some content that is perfect for Twitter may not be so great for Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube.
The beauty of social media comes from building trust and a relationship with the audience. Rather than pitching or promoting to them, you are providing small snippets of content that brings value to their life or solves a problem. It is at this point that these people are more likely to become long-term customers.
Social media is a great vehicle for spreading great content. A savvy marketer can achieve great word-of-mouth exposure when a post goes viral.
E-mail marketing – We referenced e-mail marketing before when discussing ebooks. When you offer a free resource like an ebook in exchange for a person’s e-mail address and name, over time you will compile a highly targeted list of people in your niche or industry. This is an excellent way to keep viewers coming back, to convert them to customers, and to build your brand recognition.
Monthly or weekly newsletters can be used to maintain that relationship with your audience. They can include relevant information, tips, and other helpful content relating to your business. Make sure to add in your infographics and videos as well. Once a relationship with subscribers is built, you can promote offers to them long term.
Content is King
Ultimately, the first step for a content marketer is to create quality content that will appeal and engage your visitors. Your viewers time is valuable, and that must be kept in mind when you are creating content. Target each subset of your audience with specific types of content. Ask yourself: is the content I am providing worth my visitors time? Search engines, other websites, and most importantly your visitor’s reward will reward you for consistently publishing great content.
Imagine if your customers and potential customers actually looked forward to receiving your contents and promotions. Imagine if they looked it so much that they were motivated to Like it and Share it amongst their friends and family.
Successful content marketing will create many wonderful opportunities for your business. You can increase brand awareness and reach new customers. You will create a diverse user base, reaching potential customers you may have not even known existed. And last but not least, you will increase your sales and conversions. Because you’re using highly targeted content based on your audience, you will begin to understand your customer’s buying habits. Finally, once you know your audience’s likes, dislikes, and buying habits, you can profit unlike never before.
It is marketing, after all.