It’s fun and simple enough to start, yet to be effective requires planning, consistency, testing, and analytics. It can be long or short, serious or funny, but should (almost) always be well-written and provide value. It requires patience, but just might be the most powerful tool you have to grow your customer base and strengthen customer relationships.
What are the basics of content marketing? How can you get started? What are the benefits?
Get started with our Quick Guide to Content Marketing:
1. What’s the difference between earned, owned, and bought content? Is one better than the other?
Not all content is created equal. Or should we say, not all content attracts the same viewers, is driven by the same ideas, or utilizes the same mediums. Check out this graphic from Spin Sucks:
While every organization should place a high value on earned content—high quality, original material—we don’t believe one is better than the other. When you’re trying to build your audience, paid content can be particularly useful (getting the right eyes on your material); earned and owned content is what keeps viewers coming back. All forms of content have their purpose, and ideally an organization utilizes each.
2. How should I integrate content marketing into my company? Should I insource or outsource?
Integrating content marketing into your overall business strategy requires everyone’s participation—not just marketing. On your own or with the help of a partner, determine your goals and direction, your audience, and the channels you want to test.
In all likelihood, you already have a lot of content on your hands—it might just need some fine-tuning, or that storytelling angle, before being distributed. (In case you’re curious, here’s a list of 15 types of content that will drive more traffic to your business, from Quick Sprout).
This is when it helps to outsource, or to have an outsider’s perspective.
3. How much content should I be creating?
A lot. You need to be creating quality content on a regular basis in order to establish a good rapport—trust—with your audience. The type of content created will be different for every brand, but it pays to try everything in the beginning, then review metrics like shares, return visits, and engaged time to see what content is most compelling to your audience.
4. And what should we write about?
There was a great article in Fast Company a while back, “Why Customer Pain is Your Most Important Resource.” It sounds dramatic, but it’s the truth: as a brand or a marketer, your ability to understand what troubles your customer most will be your key to reaching them in a way that resonates. “Look for the pain,” as the article notes. “Focus on healing.”
The best content provides inspiration, motivation, relief, promotes passion, and/or offers a solution.
5. Also, who should we be targeting?
Who desires your product, program, or service? Who shares your values? Your product is the answer to something. What’s the question, and who’s asking it? (See customer pain points above.)
Understanding your target audience is one of the first steps you should take when integrating content marketing into your business strategy. Building that audience is another matter, and sometimes requires help.
6. Now that we know our audience…how do we get them to find our content?
Make sure you’re creating valuable, high quality content. Pay mind to search engine optimization. Then give your content away—to anyone who has the audience you’re looking to connect with. Magazines, agencies, organizations, bloggers. Do your research.
In many situations, it’s also worthwhile to invest in paid content, whether that’s utilizing content distribution platforms like sponsored Facebook posts or Disqus, or partnering with publications and organizations on campaigns designed to reach your target audience.
7. Is there a way to calculate the ROI of content?
The value and benefits of content are all there: it’s permanent, informative and authoritative, caters to search engines, presents a personality, builds relationships, and fosters trust.
The problem? This doesn’t always translate to numbers.
As Hubspot’s Rand Fishkin explains in his excellent Slideshare presentation, “Why Content Marketing Fails,” content marketing is about earning familiarity, trust, and relationship—which converts to sales over time with repeated messaging. (In fact, Edelman research noted that up to 64% of consumers need to hear information from a company 3-5 times before they believe the message!)
The smart content marketer isn’t driven by ROI but by the potential for new relationships, fans, followers, and better rapport with customers. That being said, we invest in content, lead generation, sharing, and sales metrics to offer brands a clearer picture of who’s checking out your content, for how long, if they’re sharing it, and what its value is in terms of sales.
8. Does design matter?
Yes! Whether your site isn’t optimized for mobile, your blog is hard to navigate, your e-newsletter is written in Comic Sans, or your brilliant article has no “share” buttons available, design flaws matter.
Your content must be top quality, but your design must be responsive, consistent, clean, attractive, easy to read and navigate, and even easier to share.
9. Should I start an email newsletter?
Yes again. Newsletters are a consistent, cost-effective way to promote upcoming events and opportunities, distribute useful news and information, share your successes, recognize your partners, and maintain a relationship with customers.
In fact, we encourage you to sign up for ours!
10. What trends are some content marketers—and businesses—ignoring but shouldn’t?
Combining great content with responsive web design—or, optimizing for mobile. According to Search Engine Land, 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action. More than half lead to sales. Hubspot reports that it takes a consumer six seconds to determine whether your site is mobile-friendly enough to use.
What would their knee-jerk reaction be about yours?
Is content marketing a part of your 2015 strategy? For more tips, sign up for The Talk Bubble, our monthly newsletter, or give us a call!