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MARKETING: Getting Started with Content Marketing
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Getting Started with Content Marketing

By Justin Toy

Content Marketing

BT 201602 100 38 Marketing Content MarketingWhether you are trying to get more readers to your blog, more customers to demo your product, or sell software as a service, content marketing is the main component to every digital marketer's strategy. It is defined as "a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material - such as videos, blogs and social media posts - that does not explicitly promote a brand, but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services."

Content marketing is quickly increasing in terms of scope and importance in practically every firm's - regardless of industry or size - marketing mix. Many marketing professionals believe that as mobile continues to dominate, so will the importance of content marketing. Here are seven tips to consider when creating your company's content marketing strategy.

1. Have a Documented Content Marketing Strategy

BT 201602 100 40 Marketing social media channelsDeveloping and documenting a content marketing strategy is an important first step. It will help increase the likelihood that your content marketing will be effective and it helps create a clear picture of what needs to be done and when. Each firm's strategy depends on a number of factors but according to the Content Marketing Institute, there are five components that should be included in every business content marketing strategy.

The first area is "your business case" which identifies your reasons for creating content marketing, the risks involved, and what success will look like. Establishing a business case will help paint a vision of what success and failure may look like and can help keep your firm motivated and focused.

The second component is "your business plan for content marketing." This is where you flesh out your specific goals for your content program. How often will you publish content and who will write it? During this state you also want to identify unique values to provide you with your content and identify potential obstacles that you might run into.

The third component is to identify "your audience's personas and content map". This involves describing the specific audiences for whom you will create content, what their needs are, and what their content engagement cycle might look like. The key here is to get as specific as possible when identifying your audience. For example, if you are writing content for an English training center, and your center deals primarily with students who want to study abroad in America, then analyze the makeup of that specific demographic and target them.

The fourth component is "your brand story." Here you should characterize your content marketing in terms of what ideas and messages you want to communicate and how those messages differ from the competition. During this time you should develop and establish your voice, which should be distinguishable from the competition.

The fifth and final component is "your channel plan" which involves choosing which platforms to use and your criteria, objectives and processes for each one. There are a number of platforms out there to choose from, each with its own demographic of users. Determine what platforms your demographic spends its time on and concentrate your efforts there. Also keep in mind that your strategy is not set in stone, as your customers and business grow and evolve, so should your strategy.

2. Be an Expert

Content marketing is all about creating useful and entertaining information that pertains to your industry and market. Focus on what your customers want and are interested in. Provide facts, information and insight that are unique and helpful. Incorporate as much unique primary data as possible. You can mine data from customer surveys, focus groups, customer service department interviews, big data, and your company's own analytics data. The more useful your readers perceive your blog content to be, the greater the chance they will use your product or service. Unbounce is a web company that helps organizations optimize their landing pages and websites through services such as A/B testing. Their blog provides a host of insight and data analysis that many digital marketers subscribe to. Their blog content is also their greatest source of lead generation.

3. Quality over Quantity

Producing great quality, well-researched content once every couple of weeks is much more effective than trying to churn out low-quality content on a daily basis. If your goal is to produce content frequently or even daily, increase the size of your content creation team or think about outsourcing some, or all, of your content generation to a content marketing agency such as Contently.

4. Invest in Design

BT 201602 100 36 Marketing cheesy stock photoAlthough the content is what will keep your visitors coming back, don't underestimate the impact of a slick, eye-catching design. Using high quality digital images (not just cheesy stock photos) and other multimedia can have a huge impact on your web traffic. Paying close attention to design aesthetics will increase the amount of times your content is shared which will in turn increase your visibility, SEO, web traffic and sales.

5. Mix it up

It used to be that a content strategy could get by on just writing articles or blog posts. Although these are still important today, they should not be your only types of online content. Diversify your content plan by mixing in different types of media such as videos, infographics, podcasts, eBooks and data charts. Mine for gold by reviewing past articles or pages already on your website or blog and think about how you can turn them into another type of content. Take an old article that got a lot of traffic and make a video or podcast with that content to get more out of it.

6. Establish a Relationship

Building a relationship with your target audience is all about tapping into communities that already exist by sharing and commenting on their content. At the same time you want to lure these members to the communities that you establish across the various social networking platforms. Just remember that content marketing isn't just about you. Like all relationships, you should aim to give more than you receive. Many firms use the 20/80 principle to help guide their content mix so that about one-fifth of their content is original and the remainder is curated - a mix of recommended readings for their audience and some user-generated content).

7. Bring the Customer Inside

BT 201602 100 41 Marketing tradition vs content marketingSocial media is a great avenue for empowering your customers to participate in the value creation process. Empowering your customers will allow you to get a great low-cost source of research & innovation and will lead to better satisfied customers. This can involve asking customers for input on new-projects that you are working on and allowing customers to help with marketing by telling their own stories (think user generated content). After all, there's no greater sales force in the world than a satisfied customer.


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