Was it two or three years ago that the term “Content Marketing ” entered the marketing lexicon? I first addressed the subject in March 2013 https://freelancetheconsultantsdiary.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/content-marketing-is-the-new-ad-copy . Back in the day, advertising strategy focused on which publications would reach the most potential customers at a price the business could afford. Depending on your business, traditional advertising can still deliver the desired ROI, but Content Marketing cannot be ignored. It is the conduit to engaging with customers on a granular level. Through it, we are able to reveal our understanding of customer priorities and challenges, build trust and credibility as a result of that understanding and demonstrate how and when they might benefit from using our products and services (and in that order, BTW).
KISSmetrics CEO Neil Patel defines Content Marketing as “…the way for a business owner to educate your customers and potential customers about your products and services. The goal is to offer tips, help and education about anything that can be helpful to a customer. This kind of information can be shared in the form of a blog, white paper, webinar, video or social post. The opportunities are endless.” Michael Brenner, a Forbes Magazine Top 40 Social Media Marketer and head of strategy at NewsCred, points out that “Small businesses don’t have the luxury of massive ad budgets…they need to drive brand awareness and (sales) leads with limited resources. Content Marketing is a great way for small businesses to do both.
Great. Now let’s get you started on creating Content that’ll do some good. First, define the Content you should create, i.e. the Content that your customers value, presented in a way that will make them tune in to your message. Think carefully and from the customer’s viewpoint about the reasons that they use your product or service: what are they trying to achieve and what information would they appreciate as they strive to examine and resolve that process? Chatting with customers about their business goals and challenges and getting a better handle on where your products or services fit in will give you some guidance.
Shelly Kramer, CEO and founder of V3 Integrated Marketing, insists that you will benefit from applying what you learn from your research to your strategy and, just as important, commit it to writing. “Write down your strategy. The key is to tie your overall business goals and objectives into your Content Marketing strategy”, she says. Kramer is very astute as she reminds Freelancers and business owners to remember the big-picture marketing strategy for the enterprise and incorporate Content Marketing, including social media, in that picture. “Social and Content have to work together in order for you to be successful….you can’t have success with Content without a robust presence in the social media space and….understanding the role that fresh, relevant Content and social media channels play. There is great Content being published on corporate blogs on a daily basis that no one ever sees.”
Next, choose your delivery system. Do customers visit your website often? Then maybe posting a white paper once a month or writing a weekly blog will work for you. Are customers part of your LinkedIn group, Facebook fan page, or do they follow your business on Twitter? Add those icons to your email signature block and your website to make social media connections that alert customers to your Content an easy process. A monthly newsletter is another great Content Marketing strategy. It’s the savviest form of email marketing (include an opt-out feature).
Fresh and relevant are your operative words, as Kramer notes. Volume, value and variety are your other guideposts. Brenner says “(Volume)….starts with this notion that you need to be present in our always-on, always connected world. The second thing is value. Your Content has to be good. I always recommend that brands identify what they want to talk about and then make every effort to produce as much valuable Content around those topics as often as possible. The final tip is about variety. People (and search engines) reward those brands that deliver value in multiple ways, so think about text-based articles, videos, SlideShare presentations, research reports (white papers) and all the different things we consume across the digital, social and mobile web.”
How do you measure ROI and recognize success? Patel offers 3 specific steps:
- Track Content views
- Use Google Analytics (free) to track which types of Content drives visits to your website
- Measure your search traffic
Patel advises “You have to give it time. Don’t expect great results in 3 months or 6 months, but you will see traction. Within the first 3 months you should see more traffic to your site. Within a year you should start to see good results and an opportunity to monetize traffic on your site.” Patel concludes “Good Content Marketing builds trust. If someone trusts you, they are more likely to buy your products and services and more likely to tell their friends and family.”
Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving,