According to a post on TechCrunch, every two days we create as much information (content) than what was produced from the beginning of time till 2003. Marketers today, are churning out content at a never seen before pace. As a matter of fact, there are about 2 million blog posts being published every single day.
Here are a few more interesting statistics by Content Marketing Institute:
- almost 35% of businesses have a documented content strategy
- about 42% of businesses publish new content on a weekly basis
- 55% of businesses are willing to expand their content marketing budgets
Even though content marketing has been around for a while now, traditional marketers are still facing many challenges in making the shift from outbound to inbound marketing. And with the rising competition in the market, the going is only getting tougher.
So how do you ensure your content marketing strategy and all the efforts you make for executing it don’t get lost in the volumes of information available online?
Here are the 5 pillars of content marketing that you need to establish before creating content and marketing it:
1. Understand your target audience
Before you write even the smallest piece of content, you need to know who are you writing it for, what value will it add to that person and how will it help you achieve your marketing goals.
A few questions that could get you started are:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- Who are your current customers?
- How does the content piece add value to the customer and to your goals?
- What goals are you associating with your content?
In simpler words, like any other marketing effort you make, even content marketing requires you to create buyer personas. In case you’re not too sure about how to create personas, here’s an amazing template by HubSpot that you could use: Free template for buyer personas.
According to a survey by MarketingSherpa, the following are the most effective tactics used by businesses to define or identify their buyer personas:
- interviewing prospects and customers
- interviewing sales reps
- conducting industry specific surveys
- using in-house database to identify customer characteristics
- evaluation of web analytics
- interviewing customer service teams
- interest specific keyword researching
- monitoring social media activity or social listening
The agenda behind understanding who your target audience is, is to be able to create content that immediately resonates with them. The closer you are to what they expect or need, the better is their response.
2. Map the content to the customer’s journey
The content isn’t just supposed to engage your target audience or prospect momentarily, it is supposed to help them move to the next stage of the funnel, towards conversion. Hence, it is important to keep the customer’s journey in mind and identify the important milestones while creating a content marketing strategy.
The most effective approach to map content to the customer’s journey, is the 3 step process:
- Create awareness – Reach out to your target audience with your value proposition and educate them about it. Brand awareness plays a very important part in all marketing efforts. A few types of content you can make use of include blogs, infographics, white papers, webinars, etc.
- Evaluate – After creating brand awareness, create content to increase the number of quality leads. Since the person is already aware of your brand, it is time to convince him to convert. The content types that help with convincing include case studies, research papers, product demos, etc.
- Convert – You have converted your prospect into a marketing lead. Now is the time to convert him into a sales qualified lead. This is the step where you offer free trials, live demos, implementation guides, consulting, etc.
The idea is to tailor content according to the stage a prospect is in your defined customer journey or buying cycle.
3. Create valuable content
Once you understand who your customer is, the stage he is at in the buying cycle and the kind of content he needs to convert, it is time to create it.
But here’s the tricky part – What format will your customers find the most consumable? What content would they share happily in their circles? Well, the only way to know is test.
Create different content formats – long and short, textual and visual content. Here are a few things you must create for your customer and potential customer consumption:
- research reports
- data sheets
- white papers
- blogs or articles
- how to guides
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that irrespective of what response you get on long form content, your business must create it. Why?
A study by serpIQ found that long form content ranked better and higher on search engines. And the average number of words to get a higher ranking on Google, is 2000 words.
Here are a few benefits on creating long form content:
- better SEO
- more inbound links
- can be repurposed into other content formats
4. Promote your content
Content marketing isn’t just about churning out content at a maddening pace. It is 20% writing and 80% marketing. Because even if you have the best piece of content to offer, if not marketed or promoted well, no one is going to see it.
It is important that as soon as your piece of content is published, you start promoting it on different digital channels. Here are a few ways to promote your content:
- Share it on your social channels over a period of weeks.
- Send it over to your email list and even ask them to ‘please share’.
- Run paid social campaigns to reach out to your target audience.
- Syndicate the content on various digital channels in the form of graphics, infographics, guest posts, etc.
- Share it in online communities like Scoop.it, List.ly, etc.
- Co-blog on Medium and LinkedIn Pulse.
- Here are 101 ways to promote your content by BuzzBlogger.
And here’s a nifty Checklist by CleverClicks:
5. Measure, measure and measure
You created a piece of content, published and promoted it on a few digital channels. But are you measuring the results that each piece is getting for your business?
Most marketers don’t pay attention on analytics when it comes to content. And that’s exactly where they go wrong. Since each piece of content is created to serve a particular goal for the business, it is important to know if it was effective enough in the market.
Here are a few things you should ask yourself when analysing your content’s performance:
- How many views did the content piece get?
- Which content format got shared the most?
- What topics resonated with your audience the most?
- Which keywords are your prospects more likely to search for?
- What are the number of leads generated by the piece of content?
When you consistently measure your content’s performance, you are able to understand your target audience better and improvise your strategies of reaching out to them.
Over to you
A successful content marketing strategy can go a long way. Here are 11 case studies that prove content marketing can bring the best ROI, when executed well.
Apart from these 5 pillars for basing your content marketing, what other tips do you think are important for a content marketer to keep in mind?
Feel free to add to this post by dropping a comment in the box below!