Written by Professional Academy Guest Blogger Kristin Savage
Content marketing, it's more than just a buzzword - it's here to stay, and rightly so.
Unlike other marketing trends that we see pop up and down, content marketing actually works. It drives in traffic, attracts new people and creates relationships. Whether it's through posting relatable content, informative blogs or fun videos, content marketing doesn't have to promote anything explicitly. Instead, it creates leads - which from a marketing point of view, has much more significant benefits.
Content marketing is increasingly becoming crucial for businesses, with studies showing that millennials a Gen Z-ers (the majority of today's customers) are disinclined to traditional adverts.
Before we dive into the essentials, we should really define what exactly content marketing is.
It's, in short, creating content which helps attract new customers. This content doesn't work like traditional adverts, with no direct selling. Instead, it just attains and maintains new customers.
The content has to be relevant, entertaining, valuable and compelling, with regular publishing and engagement, it's arguably the most important type of marketing at the moment.
A brilliant example of content marketing includes Shopify's entire blog which answers direct questions about the world of e-commerce. While none of the pieces scream "commercial," they all subtly advertise their services and expertise. In fact, small businesses with blogs get 125% more lead growth, in comparison to small companies without a blog.
Convinced? Let's look at all the content marketing essentials for 2019.
As with any strategy, your content marketing plan needs a clear focus. We highly recommend starting out with a clear guide on your mission, this includes, but is not limited to:
What do you want to achieve: Do you want more leads, more followers or more sales? Are you looking for more visitors to your blog or are you trying to expand your guest list to an event?
• How you'll do it: What type of content will you use, do you have inspiration from a competitor?
• A time frame: Do you have a strict deadline? Is it a gradual process?
• What are your business goals?
• Setting yourself some goals will put everything into perspective for you.
As a business, you've probably heard of KPI's, or Key Performance Indicators. Making your goals specific and measurable will be great for your content marketing.
Set yourself certain milestones, relevant to your business. We've listed a few tiny suggestions below:
• Revenue target
• Sign up figure
• Traffic to site
• SEO ranking
• New email subscribers
• Followers/likes/shares on social media
• Invitations to major industry events
These alongside your usual business KPIs, although might seem like a lot, will allow you not only track your progress but celebrate your achievements, too.
Perhaps one of the most essential, well, essentials. You really need to have a clear idea of just who your audience is, what they want and how they react to your content.
Collecting demographic data on your existing audience, preferably before you begin your content marketing strategy would be a significant step. Knowing your audience's, age, education, income, gender, location and, sometimes even interests could show you exactly what your audience wants to see.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Wordpress all offer analytics - utilize them.
You could even ask for customer feedback and reviews. This will help you understand even better what your audience likes, dislikes their needs, what content they like and what problems they have.
When you have an excellent grasp of the content your audience responds to, you'll keep them engaged and attract new customers. A win-win situation.
Okay, you have everything set out, now it's time to make the ultimate decision - what kind of content do you want to publish, and on what channels?
With the help from your goals and audience research, this should be relatively easy to decide. A lot of content marketing strategies have one clear focus on content on their website, which is then re-shared onto their other platforms. Yes, most commonly it's blogs.
A blog can include a selection of different article types, they're shareable, relatable and useful.
For example, a fashion store may create an article about "the must-have accessories this season" and post it on their blog. Inside the blog, includes links to their own products.
They then share that article on Facebook and Twitter with a direct link.
The same pictures used in the fashion article are then posted multiple times on their popular Instagram page, with a caption which directs them to the blog link. Do you see how content marketing could work for your business now?
Although blogs are still at the top, other media such as videos and podcasts are expected to make up 80% of the content on the internet by 2021. Maybe you should make a head start?
It has to be said, you won't get your desired results if you don't handle the distribution correctly.
To begin, you will need a content calendar that shares your content for a specific time, every day. CoSchedule is a content marketer's best friend. You can use this handy little tool to keep everything organized, schedule your posts, and most importantly, it adjusts everything when you change your calendar. No more accidental tweets.
For actual platforms to distribute your content, it really does depend on your content, audience, and goals. For instance, LinkedIn is brilliant for business-related content, Instagram is exceptionally visual, Twitter is short and snappy while Facebook and YouTube are leading the way with video.
Once you've created your content and distributed it, it's time to assess just how successful it was. Returning back to your KPIs and goals, you can see exactly where you're on target and where you might need to reevaluate. Sometimes, it's a little bit of a trial and error.
You should analyze your:
• Traffic to your website,
• The views or downloads your video had
• Quantity and quality of leads
• Social media likes, shares and follows
• Sales you had since starting your content marketing strategy
Importantly, only 30% of marketers believe that they are truly effective at measuring the impact of their content.
Like with all marketing, content marketing comes with its fair set of challenges. These can range from the actual creation of engaging content, measuring how compelling your content was and creating a consistent set of content, as time goes on.
With a clear plan, that includes a diverse set of content is the best way to overcome these challenges.
Remember, you also need to promote your own content - be your own biggest fan. This is especially true for start-ups, in the beginning, you need to be investing just as much energy into promoting your content, as you did to create it. Share it around and message influencers.
Lastly, be patient. Content marketing is a long-term type of strategy, that may take a while for you to really appreciate its returns. Focus on publishing quality content, the benefits will (sometimes) slowly but surely start to appear.
The essential to content marketing is having a plan, and being consistent. With a clear understanding of your audience and analytics, you'll be sure to stumble into success.
Content marketing isn't going anywhere, it's time to join in.
Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. She is practicing regularly while reviewing new translation services at Pick Writers and constantly contributing to other educational platforms. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. You can find her on Facebook.
Content marketing is included as part of our CIM digital marketing qualifications, along with various important online tools such as email marketing, SEO, and analytics. If you'd like to learn more about Professional Academy's marketing courses, get in touch with our friendly advice team or download a prospectus today.