Most businesses and organisations content marketing is an increasingly important part of an overall marketing strategy. But what exactly is it, and how do you get started?
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is an advertising technique where you focus on creating content that gives your target audience something of value. By offering up valuable content, you attract an audience and develop a relationship with them that helps convert people into customers.
Content marketing can help you achieve this in different ways, depending on the kind of audience you’re targeting and the kind of content you create. Thinking about the overall goal of your marketing efforts should be your first step when you get started with content marketing. This is important because your goal will dictate what kinds of content will be most suitable.
Some possible goals for content marketing include:
- Building brand recognition
- Launching a new product
- Establishing yourself or your business as an expert or thought leader
Ultimately, of course, your goal is more web traffic and more sales. The above examples are some possible paths you can take to get there. Before starting your content marketing, consider your content strategy.
The Importance of Long-Term Thinking
In content marketing there is no quick fix; it’s all about developing a long-term plan and then putting in the work to get it in motion.
To get the most out of content marketing, define both your long-term and short-term goals. For instance, your long term goal might be to become a thought leader in your industry; along the way you might also have a couple of short-term goals: to launch new products and build an online community. Both of these smaller sub-goals can be ends in themselves, and can also help you reach your long-term goal.
Next Steps: Audience and Content
Defining your Target Audience for your content
Once you have a goal in mind, your next step is to figure out who your audience is. Who are you writing content for? This is a relatively easy step, because once you’ve established your goals, you probably already know who your audience is going to be, and the best places to find them online.
For instance, if your goal is to develop your reputation as an industry expert, your audience will include both peers and clients. When it comes to social media, LinkedIn and Twitter are likely to be good places to find them.
Content Planning and Development
You’ve decided on goals and defined your audience, so the next step is content development. For the most part, centring your content marketing strategy around a blog and website is a good all-purpose strategy. This gives you a place to host your content, and provides a simple framework you can expand on as you go, creating new types of content as you gain more experience.
For instance, you might start out with a schedule of regular blog posts, and then develop an ebook or other long-form content to provide extra value. These types of higher-value content are useful because they can be offered as incentives for tasks such as signing up to a mailing list or completing a survey.
What types of content should you be creating? The simple answer is, whatever content is of value to your audience. What do they want to know about? Your content doesn’t always have to relate directly to your brand or products, but there should be a strong link between your business and the content you create to promote it. Some possible content ideas include:
- Start by writing what you know the most about: your business, your brand, and your industry niche.
- Take your readers behind the scenes to learn more about your products and processes.
- Learn about new industry trends, and write about them for your readers.
- Learn how to do something new, then write “how-to” posts to help your readers learn too.
- Write a post about a mistake you made when you were starting out in business, and about how you fixed it. Share tips to help your readers avoid making the same mistake.
Writing and publishing great content is just the beginning—because that content isn’t much good until people start reading and sharing it. To publicise the content you’re creating, you’ll be going back to social media, to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other platforms where you’re developing an audience. And the posts you create on these sites are their own form of content, with multiple functions in your overall content marketing strategy.
Measuring results from content marketing
You might think that most of the work is done once you’re publishing content regularly, but in reality you’re only just beginning. Content marketing has to be consistent in order to be effective, and you must continue to publish and promote content regularly, to keep building and engaging your audience.
It’s also important to measure your results, by tracking follower counts, engagement numbers, page views, clicks, and other metrics. As you continue to publish content, you can use these numbers to measure how your audience response to different kinds of posts, and adjust your content marketing strategy accordingly.