Content marketing is all about storytelling and let's face it, we’ve been doing this since we started to speak. Good storytelling holds attention, engages the audience and delivers something valuable and memorable.
But in order to ensure your stories are heard and remembered, there are some basic guiding principles for getting started.
Your content marketing strategy should be fully integrated with your marketing and overall business strategies. Taking a holistic view of marketing will help performance with marketing channels supporting each other.
Define your goals
Firstly you need to determine the 'why'. What are you aiming to achieve from embarking on a content marketing initiative?
Are you wanting to:
• generate brand awareness
• generate more sales leads
• be seen as a thought leader in your industry niche?
Once you have identified your goals it's important to keep them in mind when generating content. Each piece of content produced needs to be aligned to these if it is to serve your business well.
Define your audience - personas
Understand 'who' exactly you are talking to. If you try and hit the whole world your story will get lost. Trying to tailor it to suit everyone will only dilute your message.
To do this you’ll need to undertake research and include the following elements:
• Demographics (age, gender, location etc)
• What is their job role, their level of seniority?
• What other sites do your potential audience frequent on the web?
• What channels do they use to communicate? LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs?
• Which influencers do they listen to?
• What are their pain points? And importantly can you help with these?
Realistically there will be more than one 'fits all' profile. Refer to your current customer base and break this down into several personas. This is where content mapping comes in - match each step of your sales funnel to individual personas and content types to maximise engagement.
Implementing your content strategy
Define a format
Understanding your audience will help you decide which content format is likely to work best for your business. Identify what your listeners already consume and take this as a starting point.
Blogs, newsletters, e-books, video, podcasts, white papers, emails etc. There are a plethora of ways in which to get your message across. And you'll need to define a mix that works for you.
But you'll be able to spread a body of content across multiple formats. A white paper can be chunked down into a number of blog posts, blog posts can be chunked down into social media messages and so on.
Choose your topics
The nitty-gritty. This is your story. It needs to be relevant, to educate … to be useful. It also has to have great UX. And importantly it needs to be something that can be amplified.
Go research what’s out there that is working well. Use social media can provide a good window into trending topics and competitor activity. Check out industry thought leaders. And don't forget to speak to your customer-facing team.
Some things to look out for are:
• What's trending?
• What topics are getting links?
• What keywords are getting top traffic?
• Who follows whom and what do they share?
• What type of content are the top brands and your competitors creating?
• What’s happening in your world that is relevant? Hot topics, events, seasonal changes etc.
Now you’ve got the story in hand you need to think about the delivery. It will need to have the 'Wow' factor if it’s going to cut through today's content noise. And for that it’s going to have to be:
• Visually impactful
• Engaging and interactive
• Easily accessible across all platforms
• Easy to navigate
• Easily shareable
“Content is king, but distribution is queen. And she wears the pants.” Jonathan Perelman, Buzzfeed
Analyse and improve
The best way to know whether or not your content is working for you is to gain insight from your readers. Select tools with strong analytics platforms.
The more granular the insight you can obtain the more you can learn. It takes time to build an audience and the more information you can glean about what is valuable to them the better.
Better to get going, analyse, see what works and see what doesn’t. Iterate as you go and amend your strategy and the content itself accordingly.
Key steps for success
• Define clear objectives
• Understand who your audience is - build personas
• Match content to the user journey
• Define the format that will reach them
• Research and understand what content will be relevant and useful
• Think about how to publish and distribute in the most engaging and interactive way
• Measure, measure, measure
• Repeat process as often as necessary!
And don't forget...
"Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.” David Beebe, VP, Global Creative + Content Marketing, Marriott International
By Andrew Frater, business development manager at Turtl
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