Today’s marketplace is quite different from what it was yesterday. In fact, a few years back, the store employees and sales personnel were regarded as the field experts, and the businesses used to spend considerable amount of money for advertisements in order to attract the attention of the prospects. However, today the buyer has the necessary information handy and it is he who is approaching different brands as well as businesses to seek their services. To take an example, an average buyer covers almost 60% to 90% of the sales funnel even before he interacts with a certain brand. Moreover, about 81% of the shoppers conduct online research before they actually visit a store. In general, this environment where buyers lead the game, is the result of one magic word – content.
There is no exaggeration in the saying, ‘content is king’ because content is everything. Owing to this reason, the relevance of content marketing in today’s digital world is very much pronounced. Content marketing can be defined as the process of creating valuable, high-quality content in order to attract, inform, and engage the target audience, at the same time endorsing the brand as well. It is often used by the businesses for generating leads and sales, expanding the customer base, enhancing brand awareness and credibility, and the like. In fact, content marketing does not encompass direct sales, rather it helps to develop trust with the customers. The main focus of content marketing should be on the requirements of the prospective clients, and once they are recognized, the details could be provided in a variety of formats like white papers, blogs, videos, and the like as mentioned below.
How to Design Engaging Content?
By the term ‘design’, we mean not only the color schemes and images involved, rather, there is much more to it. In fact, the designing process which begins at the earlier stages of producing content, would be different for each marketing team. Moreover, the basic style pertaining to every design depends on the marketing objectives as well as personas of the brand. Further, a solid content marketing strategy comprises of different genres of content which are listed below.
A blog published by a company could be utilized in cross-promoting other content, which helps in maintaining the consistency of the posts. If you seek the help of a SEO professional for this purpose, it would be much better for your content marketing campaigns.
This type of content is very short, spanning up to a maximum of two to three pages. This means that it would be impossible to incorporate larger images in cheat sheets. Here you can use text formatting to increase the readability of the content. Further, you can also provide links to different resources for obtaining additional information.
The content of an E-book have more or less a narrative structure along with attractive graphics. The primary goal of an E-book is to educate the audience, and it is important that the tone used should be conversational and matches well with the brand.
This term is self-explanatory and means offering info and graphics to the audience. While providing info, it is better to keep text to the minimum and allow the graphics to unfold the whole brand story.
White Papers and Reports
White papers are quite similar to E-books in that they are also concerned with offering information to the users and educate them about the brand. However, they may not contain graphics in general and also, the language used here would be much more professional. In fact, they present a great opportunity for brands and businesses to collaborate with those organizations which have similar interests.
An effective way of using videos as part of the content strategy is to keep them timeless, unless which you run the risk of wasting your valuable resources such as time and money, for updating videos on a continuous basis.
They are an ideal way to break down highly complicated details into a simple and easily graspable format. Here an important point to note is that the slides should be kept simple with minimum text provided in a single font throughout. However, you can make effective use of graphics and larger images here.
It is a good idea to develop case studies which feature real facts and numbers. In fact, this helps the content to be focused on not only the brand, but also the values and results.
Tips to Build an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing strategy is a kind of roadmap which not only give directions about what you are about to create, but also how you are going to create it, dispense it, and finally, utilize it to attract, maintain, and convert the readers into clients. In fact, it is more of a herculean task, but one which you should not hesitate to deal with it. Every part of it is unique by itself that you do not want to miss any of these. Let us have a closer look at what components go into the making of an effective content marketing strategy.
- Defining Your Content Marketing Goal
Every content marketing strategy should have a distinctive role. In other words, you need to ask questions like how do you want to calculate the success of your marketing activities, and find answers from many options like app downloads, new subscribers, traffic, social engagements, conversions, and so on. In fact, it is quite easy to be trapped between the numerous content marketing strategies and you would be confused about which route to take, without a unifying tactic in place.
Very often, the ultimate goal of content marketing is free trials or email sign-ups. Once you have set the higher goal of attracting readers to your blog or content, getting them subscribe for your emails, and ultimately making them your customers, it would be easier to take the path forward, as your marketing team works on creating meaningful relationships with the subscribers. This includes determining the number of viewers or users or listeners you should attract to the content which you are planning to publish, so as to attain your main objective of email sign-ups. Further, your traffic goal comprises of the number of people who you are able to attract to your blog. To attain this, you are required to market your content by getting it mentioned on industry blogs, making the influencers to share it with their followers, and so on.
- Conducting Research and Understanding the Audience
Once you have a clear understanding about the purpose of creating content, the next step would be to get a basic idea of your audience who may see or hear the content created by you. If you want to create effective content, you should not do it out of the blue from a random list of topics. Rather, it is made with the interactions and feedback of your target audience. In fact, the best content marketing tactic would be in such a way that it would be able to educate and transform the audience. For this purpose, you can interact with them, and understand and be empathetic about their situation.
According to Andrea Goulet, the founder of BrandVox, the audience could be divided according to their demographics and psychographics. Demographics denotes the quantitative traits or in other words the things that are measurable like age, gender, job, location, title, and the like. Psychographics refers to the attributes which are immeasurable like attitude, belief systems, values, and interests. The next step would involve generating audience personas, which necessarily represents the ideal audience in general. In fact, creating these personas give an idea about identifying such customers in real life.
Following the creation of audience personas, you would have to think of ways by which your content gets discovered by these personas – are they using Google or social sites like Facebook or apps like Snapchat to search out for your content, or do they prefer attending in-person events or group discussions? The key is to make yourself available where your audience is already present so that you can increase the opportunities for presenting your content before your target audience.
- Modifying the Already Existing Content
If you have already started to create content, you can style it to fit into your new content marketing strategy. For this, you need to be clear about what type of content you are going to produce, or the topics which form the building blocks of your content – termed as ‘content pillars’ by Andrea Goulet. Further, it is also important to include three types of content in your strategy like content which engages the users by talking about popular topics, evergreen content which would contain key business terms relevant for your business and which you can keep as a reference for many years to come, and finally, events which include content that covers a particular occasion in your industry or some important news.
- Search for Content Ideas and Utilize Keyword Research to Know the Expectations of the Audience
You probably have plenty of ideas for developing your content or blog. However, this initial enthusiasm can subside quickly when you would have to focus upon other things. To ensure that your content marketing strategy is effective, you need to have a strategical approach in what you create. To get a basic idea about the specific content you are going to produce, keyword research is the best option. The founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin explains the very basics of using keyword research. He offers a five step process for discovering the specific topics as well as keywords searched by your target audience, which is given below.
- Search Out for Topics and Terms by Brainstorming Sessions
Here you can start by jotting down the terms or topics which interests your audience. It would be better to involve those people who have direct interactions with the users at this stage like sales representatives or customer support personnel.
- Make Use of a Keyword Research Tool to Sum Up the Results
Soon after you have an idea about the topics and terms, you can plug in these into keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, keywordtool.io, or any other tool to analyze your results.
- Refine Your List
You can analyze the huge list of keywords and refine or group them to check which of these align well with your business objectives.
- Create a Spreadsheet and Prioritize the Terms
You can organize your list by creating a spreadsheet and include the data you collected from your keyword research like keywords, the approximate search volume, opportunity and difficulty, and set a priority to each of these in order to determine which one is more relevant for your business.
- Highlight the Content which Meets the Three Needs
From among the top terms, highlight the content which helps to meet your goals, the requirements of the users, and also, helps in targeting the keywords.
- Make Use of Social Media to Market Your Content
It has become quite difficult to differentiate your content marketing and social marketing strategies these days. In fact, social media has become a vital component in presenting your content before the right kind of audience. However, just posting your content on Facebook or Twitter and requesting people to share it or to subscribe to your newsletters is not enough, but you need to prove yourself to be a reliable source of information when you expect them to give something in return.
To conclude, you need to have a basic understanding about the different content marketing strategies in order to determine the one which best suits for your business.