Effective content marketing creates demand, it is the ligament that links brand awareness to lead generation. When it is put together well, the result is familiarity, trust and a positive rapport with existing and prospect customers. The message provided is crafted in the appropriate format, through the most efficient channel, at just the right time.
A study conducted by Econsultancy has shown that in the past couple of years, search queries for the term ‘content marketing’ have increased by more than double. This supports the claim that content marketing is now viewed as a separate discipline, placing a whole new level of emphasis on high-quality content creation. This puts added pressure on businesses to rethink their old ways and include smart content in their new campaigns or add it to existing marketing strategies.
But crafting the best possible content marketing strategy is no easy task. It results from having a clear and concise purpose, meticulous planning and sharp execution. Regardless of what type of marketing campaign you plan to launch, a foundation of strong content must be planted to attract new consumers, seed brand awareness, and nurture long-term interest.
How do Businesses Begin Executing Smart Content Marketing Campaigns?
Although there are many practical applications of content marketing, the following list narrows it down to five of the best practices to help you cultivate compelling strategies across all channels, at the right times for optimal conversion.
Secure the Support of a Stakeholder
Content marketing is a long-term business commitment. It requires ongoing collaborative efforts to be successful. You will most likely need to convince key players within your company that your ideas are worth backing. Executive support is needed to fund and source a great content marketing strategy.
Outstanding content marketing campaigns emerge when everyone works together to set engagement on fire. This means recruiting leaders from multiple teams and business channels to help build success.
A smooth way to initiate internal buy-in is to leave the topic out of the discussion altogether, at least in the beginning. First, put the spotlight on the pain points and goals. Also, focus on areas that will affect the success of your stakeholders, like bonus systems. Once you have covered these bases, then talk about the importance of content marketing, how it will add value and improve results.
Get to Know Your Target Audience Intimately
At its core, content marketing is not about selling products or services. The goal is to educate, entertain and captivate your readers to build a connection and earn trust.
The only way to make this happen is to first gain a thorough understanding of who makes up your ideal audience, and what they need or want you to deliver. This data is used to determine what existing content is of value and what needs to be created. Both key actions require both the participation and commitment of stakeholders for optimal effectiveness.
By developing customer personas to reveal your ideal target customers you will be able to identify the appropriate subject matter for your content. Begin the process by answering the following questions:
Who are our ideal customers? What demographics should we be focusing on?
How do they make buying decisions?
What are their concerns, pain points or objections?
What lacking or misinformation can my content correct?
- Align your marketing content with your customer’s journey: By tagging along, and mapping your content to line up with each stage of the buying process you will get the most out of existing content and discover what needs to be refined. Commonly used steps include:
Line up your sales cycle with a basic consumer buying cycle which typically consists of:
A typically shortened version might include awareness, interest, consideration and intent to purchase.
- Develop an on-going spreadsheet for visualization and tracking purposes: This step doesn’t have to be assembled in a complex way. It can be a simple list of phases in the buying cycle.
- Assess your existing marketing content: Evaluate case studies, tools, white papers, webinars, videos, etc. based on buyer persona, which phase of the buying process it will address, and which customer questions it resolves.
- Include each asset in the appropriate location on the spreadsheet: Create a continuous flow that builds on previous content.
Making your Customers’ Needs the Center of your Content Marketing Approach
To know what content will resonate best with your target audiences you must stay focused on exactly what they want. This requires a good amount of preliminary research to determine what has already been done effectively and what has not.
Here are a few good places to start the process:
- Research your site analytics and stay on top of it. Viewers provide a lot of insight into what makes them tick. They tend to leave clues about what interests them, who they are, and what they need. Decipher these helpful hints by examining search data, keyword statistics, bounce rates and user behavior.
- Delve deep into social media usage. This covers platforms like Facebook and Twitter, blogs, forums and any other channel your audience uses to interact online. Data can be collected through these tools regarding frequent conversations and discussions that relate to your brand’s products or services.
- Find up-to-date industry research. Currently, relevant data is more plentiful than ever. Studies are being published all the time. Important research results provide valuable insights into the workings of your industry and that of your competitors.
- Conduct customer research surveys. Ask very direct questions regarding the products or services you sell. What features are most important to them? What are their favorite websites to visit? What information is most interesting to them? What are the deal breakers?
Reviewing and analyzing this data will provide you with a great understanding of how current and future customers think, so you can meet their wants and needs.
Identify the Right Content for Success
Content marketing is geared toward solving problems for existing customers and prospects. It needs to entice stakeholders, influencers, and key decision makers with the confidence they need to want to proceed to the next step. If this doesn’t happen, your content marketing campaign is destined to fail.
Here are three steps to help you discover your best content marketing formula:
- Craft content your audience wants to read. Don’t follow the lead of so many organizations who go out of their way to push messages of interest to the company, but of no relevance to the consumer. Always take a customer-centric approach to ensure your readers find value in your content.
- Create a wide range of content types to post across multiple devices and channels. Learn about each channel and determine which formats are most widely used by your customers. To further extend your reach, diversify where and how you publish your marketing content. With the mobile boom in full swing, be sure to make mobile marketing a part of your content strategy.
- Don’t stop at simply creating great content, cultivate it. Although it is tremendously important to create original content, there Is also significant value in curating relevant existing content. By sharing compelling and captivating content for thought leaders besides yourself, you display confidence and credibility. This smart move can help boost brand loyalty and buyer affinity.
Make Sure Your Marketing Content is Search Engine Friendly
Search engine algorithms are ever-changing, making it difficult for marketers to keep up. Google alone makes about 600 changes to their landscape every year. Most won’t have a huge impact, but a few are significant enough to have a devastating effect on your company’s SEO efforts.
The following five tips can help ensure your marketing content serves the search engines and your followers:
- Use one target keyword per web page: Select a single keyword or phrase that can be searched to discover your It can be tough to optimize a web page for multiple keywords. Choose something that will resonate with your viewers. Add the chosen word to your copy three or four times, and make sure it flows naturally.
- Choose an exact term: Search engines rank pages higher that match searcher’s queries precisely, rather than a site that uses all the correct words in a different order.
- Optimize efficiently: Remember you are writing to attract human beings, so your content needs to be relevant to your customers and sound authentic. Don’t overdo it by sacrificing the customer experience to meet your SEO goals.
- Have flexible page lengths: A minimum measurement should be determined by the message you want to convey, not by a set limit. More content allows for better keyword placement that flows smoothly and provides more information to your viewers. A good standard minimum is 300 words of quality content. Just make sure it isn’t riddled with filler.
Get the Most You Can Out of Your Content Marketing
It can be challenging to churn out the content volume needed to fuel a successful content marketing campaign. One clever way to get this done is to use one great piece of content in a variety of unique ways. The goal is to recycle good content by presenting it in multiple formats and posting it across different platforms. Also, break up long copy into smaller content pieces and change the formats. You can try this by developing a webinar, converting that into an informative video, and sharing it on YouTube. Make a presentation of the same material and post it on SlideShare. This material can also be converted to PDF and transcribed as an audio file.
Make your marketing content pop by spreading it everywhere. Include social media links and share buttons in your blogs, web pages, emails, white papers, etc., wherever it works. Also, don’t forget to make sure your audience can find you easily by including the best keywords and metadata in your content.
Lastly, let me know your thoughts and tips for content marketing that has helped you. Leave a comment below and I look forward to hearing from you.