9. Content Marketing Strategy
Once you know how content marketing works, how content is created, optimized, distributed and managed, you have the full picture. You get all the insights into things that make up content marketing, and therefore you get to design a strategy based on a deeper understanding of content and its role in marketing.
To make the best out of your content, to make sure that you benefit the most out of content marketing, start by developing the strategy, where you will determine the path you are going to take to achieve your goals.
You will first start with defining the goals. The goals in content marketing are often connected with the other types of online marketing, and with the mission you as a business have. When it comes to content marketing, determine how content helps you get to your goals. Here are some questions to help you with this:
- What do you want to achieve? (You want to increase sales, to generate new leads, etc.)
- How can content help you with this goal? (It will increase traffic, encourage signups, etc.)
- What kind of content would be the best to achieve this goal? (What your audience will appreciate, what they will find useful, etc.)
Choose the types of content
The second task is closely related to the previous one. When you determine the goals, you will also get to think about the types of content and which of them are the most suitable for achieving those goals. Analyze each type of content, how it is created and how it can be implemented online. When choosing the content type, always have in mind your own business and how you can adapt a certain piece of content in your business strategy.
Define your target group
Naturally, the next thing you will define is the target group. This should be done simultaneously when choosing the content type. The target group helps you create a strategy that is more personalized, more focused and thus more productive.
When you think about the target group during the content creation, this helps you create content that is focused on the end users. You get to think about what they would expect, need, appreciate, etc. You also get to think about how this content is going to make them feel. Will they be happy to read it? Will it be helpful or inspiring?
All these thoughts help you create content that resonates well with your target group and the main benefit is the fact that you get to connect with them. This kind of personalized approach creates that special bond between you and your audience. It helps you increase the level of loyalty and build your online reputation. It is what helps you acquire new customers and keep the old ones.
Start with content creation
Having finished with the preparation process, it is time to start content creation. During the content creation, as you go through the phases, always make sure you have your plan at hand to regularly look back on goals you want to achieve. This way, creating content will be more organized and you will be focused on goal completion.
The way people communicate has evolved over the years, which obviously affected the business world. During this time, businesses have been recognizing the emerging opportunities and how new ways of communication can be used to increase business success. The process of communicating with customers and gaining their attention has become a true challenge, and more and more businesses are struggling to get their message across. To make sure they overcome this obstacle, businesses have been introducing new strategies in the way they communicate with their audience. One of those is content creation as an opportunity to gain reputation.
As with any strategy, it helps to have a set of tactics you can use. These are techniques used to create content that is more engaging and generally performs better. The amount of content shared online gets bigger and bigger each year, and it is becoming more and more difficult to reach the online users and get them to actually read (or watch) your content. Fortunately, there are a couple of tactics that can help you with getting your content read (or watched).
Attention grabbers are statements, quotes or statistics that are used to attract the attention of the visitors. They are engaging, astonishing, interesting, funny, shocking, and their main purpose is to grab attention and “pull” the reader into the text.
Use the attention grabbers at the beginning of the text, preferably in the first sentence or the first paragraph. Add a statement that is shocking or provocative, stunning and surprising at the same time. The readers might agree or disagree, but this kind of statement will make them want to read and find out more.
Common attention grabbers are statistics, industry data, case study findings, controversial statements, and similar text that will get the readers interested in the topic and encourage them to read the rest of the article.
In terms of video content, a short snippet of the footage can be shown at the beginning as an attention grabber.
One of the reasons for using the search engines is to find a solution to a problem and you do that by asking a question. Search engines are asked a lot of questions each day, starting from “How to use Google Analytics?” to “How to cook spaghetti Bolognese?”. The best way to reach those users is to answer their question in an article, which will hopefully be ranked at the top of the search result page.
For content creators, this means that questions offer a variety of opportunities to create practical and useful content. The true value of such content is in the fact that with this content you get to help users solve the problem they have. If you understand your target group and if you are able to predict the problems and questions they might have, this gives you the edge as you get to prepare and make available the content they will find valuable. This kind of content performs well because it directly addresses the need online users have. As a matter of fact, you will notice quite a bit of articles, guides, and videos that start with a question word. Most common question word is “how”, followed by “why”, “what”, “when”, etc.
Storytelling is a process of sharing stories, embellishing the narratives and using them in the purpose of entertainment, education, or for business. It is the process of wrapping a message in a form of a story that is relatable and it brings out different kinds of emotions. Unlike promotional messages, storytelling focuses on the story and the emotion it creates, putting the promotional aspect into the background.
Storytelling stimulates imagination and creates a sense of community. These two features are the main reasons why storytelling has been so productive in the business world. In essence, storytelling connects the teller and the listener, creating a special bond which is built on a deeper understanding based on the story. Through the story, the teller tries to engage the emotions of the listener, and this way that special bond is established. The story should inspire and persuade the viewers appealing to their emotions awakened by a compelling story.
In terms of business, storytelling is the process of developing a concept that promotes a story your audience can relate to. Instead of promotional language and direct persuasive activities to engage the viewers, a story is a subtle way to connect with them. Instead of being direct and promoting your brand, products or services, as a business, you develop a story that will attract the interest in your brand, products, or services you provide. You only need to get the audience interested using this story, after which you will use other techniques to convert the viewers into customers.
A CTA (call-to-action)is a link displayed as an image or as a text that invites the online visitors to take an action. The type of action can vary from website to website because the goals you have can be quite different, which means that the action you want to encourage can be as well. A CTA is clickable, so it is often referred to as a button. It should be engaging, concise, with a clear message for the user. Therefore, if you want the users to download your ebook, for example, make sure the CTA clearly says so.
The CTA takes the visitors to a specific page where the desired action is taking place. For example, if you want the users to fill out a form, the CTA will be linked to a page with that specific form. The text that is often seen on CTAs include:
- Download now
- Register now
- Get your ebook
- Sign up for exclusive access
- Get a coupon
- Attend a webinar
- Contact us
- Try it now
The purpose of the CTAs is to encourage a certain action, so here are some commonly used types of CTAs you could consider adding on your website:
This is a very common type of CTA nowadays. Basically, lead generation represents the process of gaining email addresses of potential customers, who are also referred to as leads. You do so by offering something to them for free. It can be an ebook, a guide, an audio file, a template, etc. Anything they can find valuable can be used in such an offer. To claim this offer, the users will have to provide their email address. Sometimes, instead of making the email address the only requirement for the access, you could add a form that will have to be filled out to claim the offer.
When asking for an email address only, the user gets access swiftly, and they are more likely to do so than filling a bunch of fields in a form. On the other hand, forms are great for getting to know the leads, which can be very helpful for email campaign segmentation.
Once you have generated leads, this means that you have gained new contacts, but this does not necessarily mean that you have been able to convert the visitors. To be able to achieve conversions, and to make sure you keep your customers engaged and loyal to your brand, you should nurture leads. This is mainly done through email marketing and the tactics used for this purpose include sending exclusive offers, enabling early access, premium features, etc. The concept is based on the interaction with the existing leads, and the CTA invites them to interact with you.
This is probably the most common CTA on a website. It is a read more button that invites the online visitors to click to access the full content. As such, it is often placed on the homepage, by which you invite and encourage the visitors to enter your website and explore content you offer. It can also be a part of email marketing. In this case, you would share a part of the content or an engaging description inviting the recipients to click on the read more button to check out the entire content.
Social sharing buttons on your website serve to encourage social sharing among your website visitors. This is a good way to improve reach on social media and work on word-of-mouth marketing because you expect visitors to recommend content they found on your website. However, make sure you post social sharing CTAs where it makes sense. This means that blog posts, tutorials, etc. are good places for these buttons. A subscription page or a page with a form to fill are the places where these buttons would be a sort of intrusive and people are unlikely to share these pages anyway.
Plan content distribution
Content marketing does not end with content being created. One portion of traffic will come from organic searches, and you do have to be patient for such reach to happen. This occurs when online users look for search terms that take them to your content. Content distribution involves your effort for sharing and promoting this content online.
Various ways of content distribution are available, but to make sure you are taking advantage of them and optimizing your efforts, your content marketing strategy should include planning content distribution. The plan should include:
The channels you have selected as the ones you will be using to share content. You will have to create profile/pages on those prior to starting content distribution. It is also recommended to customize each profile with images, description, links, etc.
You will have to define the approach you will be using, the way you are going to address your target group, and the plan you will follow when it comes to content distribution. What you need to do here is to define exactly how you are going to use channels to distribute content. Will your language be more formal or are you going to share funny GIFs and graphics as well? How is content going to be promoted? Are you counting on the organic reach or have you already planned a budget for paid promotion? These are all the questions that help you define the way you will use different distribution channels and tactics in the purpose of promoting your business and reaching new clients.
It is helpful to have a plan of posting activity to keep you organized and on track with content distribution. You might want to post each day, a couple of days a week, or you might want to post only when you have new content to share. A posting schedule will be different from one channel to another. For example, you are more likely to share on Twitter a couple of times a day, while you are unlikely to do that on Reddit.
Promotions or contests can be a part of planned content distribution. This way you encourage users to share your content online and in return, they get to participate in a promotion and potentially win benefits, awards, exclusive access, etc.
Analyze the metrics
When everything is in place, all that is left to do is analyze. You should analyze each and every aspect of the content marketing strategy as you go on with the implementation of each phase. This will help you quickly learn about benefits and drawbacks of each action, and it allows corrective actions if necessary. As soon as your content is live on the internet, you are ready to start monitoring. Make sure you check the content performance before any promotion and distribution, and then compare the results after these tactics.
What is essential for good and productive analysis is the comparison. Lots of comparison of all the metrics that affect content performance guarantees that you find a way to maximize the efforts and shape your strategy in a way that gets best results.
The bottom line is that content marketing should be an organized and well thought through strategy. It should be a plan of activities you are going to conduct and how you are going to conduct them in a way that the strategy boosts your business and promote your brand among online users. A key to success is customization and using the approach that is perfectly tailored for your business. Perhaps a certain type of content might not be performing well on your website. Perhaps a CTA button is more effective than the link. All of these are the things you will learn along the way after you analyze the efficiency of the strategy and think about steps to improve it.
In the end, it is important to mention that content marketing should be integrated into overall business planning and business strategy. Since it affects and overlaps with other segments of business running, especially with online marketing, make sure you plan and analyze content marketing alongside with other strategies and how this segment can be implemented in a way that it supports other approaches and tactics you will be using in online promotion of your business.