Content marketing is considered by many to be an expensive strategy which is only successful with the more exciting brands. Not only is this incorrect, but it’s holding back a lot of businesses from producing meaningful content and utilising the strategy to grow their business.
Yet on the flipside, there are plenty of content advocates hitting ‘publish’ who aren’t necessarily getting it right; throwing good money after bad and not seeing any tangible results from their content marketing efforts.
No matter what you sell or provide, these five essential tactics will make any business’ content marketing strategy successful.
1. Get a Strategy in Place
53% of the most effective content marketers have a documented strategy. It might be the least exciting part of content marketing, nevertheless, setting clear objectives is an essential step when planning how to engage your audience and what type of content you’ll produce to get their attention.
A focused strategy will help your business to stay committed to an activity that is ongoing and multifaceted. So what should be in your content strategy? It should primarily focus around these three areas:
Your company’s broader strategy and marketing goals – what do you want to achieve with your content marketing? Do you want to generate more leads and sales? Will your content serve to land more email subscribers? Do you want to simply boost your brand awareness? You might argue that all three are all a priority.
The relevant roles of people within the content marketing machine – who will be writing or creating the content? Who will be editing your content to maintain quality? Who will be publishing it and where and who will be promoting it? Which channels will you use to promote it?
Identifying your target audience – who will you be creating content for? What are their desires and pain points? What sort of content will they be looking out for? What are the various stages your customers might be at in the sales funnel and how can you target them with relevant content? Mapping your content to meet each stage of the sales cycle is an area not be overlooked when generating your content plan.
It’s also the phase where you elicit the stakeholder support you need to position your content marketing programme for optimal success – a detailed, objective, strategy document will be highly advantageous to share with stakeholders who will no doubt be quite far removed from the content side of the business.
2. Planning Should be Ongoing
Once you have outlined your strategy it’s essential that you continue to plan your content. We work to a schedule with a lead time of two to three months in advance which enables us to overcome any challenges – should they arise – and allows time to be reactive.
Considerations such as topics, procedural guidelines, workflow processes, channel priorities and the customer journey, should be factored into your ideas before the creativity begins otherwise you’ll be aimlessly creating content without any real purpose.
The most useful tool to plan your content is an editorial schedule. We use Google Sheets to plan what content we have coming up, with columns like:
- Copy date
- Publication date
- Author’s email address
- Whether it’s an internal piece of content
- If it’s an external piece of content (i.e. to be published on a different site)
- Content type – is it an article, PDF, infographic, video or a podcast?
- Content imagery – as it’s likely you’ll want to add really engaging visuals to your copy to make it stand out
You will also want to include columns for social promotion, making strategy and promotion as integrated and seamless as possible.
3. Set up a Content Hub
Having a place on your website to ’house’ your content is essential and what most website visitors have come to expect: typically a blog serves as the central hub for a business’ content. But, as your content marketing efforts grow, you might find that the variety of content stretches beyond simple blog posts, incorporating downloadable guides, infographics and videos. Once your content begins to diversify that’s when you’ll probably want to add a ’Resource’ section to your website; a bigger hub for your visitors to engage with your brand’s collateral.
For example, Organic Lifestyle e-tailer, Green People, has a designated ‘Beauty Hub’ to house its versatile content from articles to their ingredients checklist, and from their ‘ask an expert series’ to ‘shopping the Instagram’, feed:
This is where the content will be shared and other SEO (search engine optimisation) efforts focused, such as links back to the site: links coming back to the articles will benefit the website’s overall link profile.
4. Getting the Creative Input in Place
Producing the content is pretty important, right? To be successful, you’ll need to enlist the right people to work on the right projects. Having great writers isn’t the only asset your business will need anymore; great visuals should take precedence considering that senior marketers believe that visual content is the core to how their brand story is communicated. Plus, articles with visuals receive 94% more views than those without, so great imagery must now be integral to your content marketing.
However, if you don’t have an in-house designer, you can take advantage of external resources, so don’t abandon your plans at the first hurdle. The point is that you need the best people for the job and you can find affordable solutions externally to meet a skills gap.
If you do think the budget is standing in the way of your plans, it is possible to produce outstanding content on a shoestring. For example, we recently created this infographic ‘Guide to Football Economics’ for Discount Supplements which resulted in coverage on football sites and a tremendous amount of social media sharing and activity.
This multi-channel success is a great example of getting the most out of your content and ensuring it drives as much engagement and exposure for your business.
Aside from having the right creative people on board, don’t overlook the benefit of having someone managing the overall procedural process – it means your content machine will run much more smoothly.
5. Email and SEO Promotion
Don’t forget the ’marketing’ component within content marketing. The content has been created to be seen after all.
At Receptional, we promote content as soon as it goes live and recommend this strategy to all our clients. However, different types of content might require different types of sharing. For example, a blog post should definitely be shared on social media and pushed out on your newsletter, but a bigger piece like a whitepaper, or industry research, could benefit from a bigger push in the form of paid advertising.
Here are a few ways that you can promote your content, from paid advertising to SEO, for broader engagement and views:
AdWords – if you’re promoting a new downloadable white paper you could create a display campaign advertising the guide to retarget and re-engage relevant website visitors who abandoned a sale or enquiry.
Paid for social media – you can take advantage of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn’s paid advertising to target a specific demographic who are likely to be interested in your new guide’s content.
Email marketing campaign – whether you publish a new article, eBook or infographic, make sure you let your subscribers know about it. Email subscribers are already interested in your business and are therefore powerful promoters who might then share your content with their following.
Link building – don’t forget to break up your larger pieces of content into smaller pieces of content for external websites. From a guide you could create a series of articles or an infographic to place externally with links pointing back to a download page or to the relevant services or products you offer.
Content marketing is an asset to your brand and should be a considered and closely managed strategy. If executed effectively, it will generate both traffic to your site and sales for your business, so don’t let things like budget and any perceived skills gaps stand in your way. If you need help getting your content marketing started, or need to improve your offering, feel free to get in touch with us.