Content Marketing is an integral part of your Inbound Marketing Strategy and if it’s not carried out correctly, it can lead to poor results and wasted hours. But don’t fret… Just follow this simple guide and you’ll have a fantastic content strategy in place in no time at all!
So, what is Content Marketing?
The definition provided by the Content Marketing Institute sums it up perfectly. They define it as – “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
In essence Content Marketing is about creating and delivering content which will generate leads and sales for your business. This content can take the form of a blog, video, podcast, infographic, help guide, or any other form of content that may be relevant and helpful to your audience. Tied in with this piece of content will be a call-to-action (CTA) and a content offer which your user can access in return for their contact details. It’s a simple quid pro quo exchange which benefits both parties, so long as the content is useful and relevant, and the audience has been correctly targeted.
So how do you get started with your Content Marketing Strategy?
1). Define your goals and aspirations
Before you put pen to paper and start creating your content, you will need to define exactly what you want to achieve with your Content Marketing campaign. Of course, we all want more sales, but your audience is unlikely to give you a sale straightaway in return for some useful content. Instead you need to think long-term and focus on obtaining and nurturing your leads over time.
Let’s say, for instance, you’re launching a new accountancy software for small businesses and looking to get the word out. Your goal may be to collect as many signups as possible for a demo of your software. Once you have determined what your goal is, you can then start to think about who you will be targeting and what content will pull them in.
2). Identify and define your target personas
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer and will be used to help direct your content production and distribution. Having an in-depth understanding of your personas can help all areas of your business processes, particularly those relating to marketing, sales, and customer support.
A good place to start when creating a buyer persona is to look at your existing customers. Which of your customers are a pleasure to work with? And which are not? What are their individual pros and cons? This process will not only help to identify your ideal customers, but also those at the opposite end of the spectrum. This can form your base for negative personas – the difficult customers who you wish to avoid.
Taking the time to carry out interviews is another great way to find out more about your personas. Reach out to customers both good and bad, prospects and referrals and ask them about your product. You may find that the “bad” customers are actually just having trouble understanding how to use your product. Uncovering information like this could lead you to write a helpful no-nonsense guide, or a useful FAQs page. Although it may sound daunting, many customers will in fact be happy to give you their feedback and have a say on the future direction of a product they use.
In addition to asking questions about your product, it is equally important to find out about your interviewees – what their occupation is, which industry they work in, age, gender and demographics are all important elements of your buyer persona. You can also include mannerisms and attitudes which you may pick up on during the interview.
Some of this information will be guesswork, as a buyer persona is after all a semi-fictional representation. The deeper you can delve into their interests and personality, the more “real” the persona will feel to you and your team. We even recommend naming your buyer persona and assigning a photo or caricature, so your whole team can visualize who they are and what they look like.
3). Define your content and content offers
So you’ve defined your goals and identified your target audience, now it’s time to get on with the hard slog of creating all that content. The first step in this process is to brainstorm content ideas. And remember, your content should solve a problem your audience is experiencing. Once you’ve finished your brainstorming session, take your ideas and feed them into Google to see what blogs are performing well with your keywords and what your competitors are doing. This process will help you to further develop your content ideas and identify possible blog titles that you could use.
The next step is to get an idea of search volume and traffic for your potential key phrases. There are several tools out there to help with this including:
These tools will help you identify the key phrases that will provide you with the most relevant traffic and the phrases your competitors are targeting. You can also get ideas for long-tail key phrases you may not have thought of.
You now have everything you need to start writing that all important content. But remember, it’s not just about search volume and traffic. You also need to provide your audience with timely, relevant and remarkable content, to help solve the problems they’ve been experiencing.
4). Publishing and promoting your content
After your content is written you need to make sure your target audience is going to find it. The first step is the ensure your content is fully optimized for the key phrases you are targeting. Page titles, description tags, correct use of headings, and inbound and outbound links are all critical and can mean the difference between being on the 1st page of Google and languishing on the 10th page.
Your next step is to make sure your audience will be able to find your blog posts. Remember all that research you did when constructing your buyer personas? Take a look at their interests, demographics and where they like to ‘hang out’. Are they Facebook lovers, or do they like to get their news and info from Twitter or LinkedIn? Search for groups within the social sphere that your personas like to frequent, start conversations with them and build those all-important relationships. Don’t just post monotonous links to your blog post, as this will be seen as spammy and irritating, and is soooo last century! Chat, be friendly and be helpful. This is what will get the best response from your audience.
To boost your promotion even further, look for relevant industry leaders and influencers and build up a rapport with them. Like, share and comment on their posts and they are more likely to do the same in return.
5). Analyse your data
This step is critical in maximizing the performance of your content and content offers, and will be an ongoing process. Firstly, you need to be tracking user data for your blog posts, CTAs and content offer landing pages. From this you can find out how many people are visiting, clicking on your CTAs and submitting your forms. If people aren’t visiting your blog posts, you will need to look at further promotional strategies to improve this. If people are visiting but not clicking on the CTAs, you may need to look at A/B testing on the CTA buttons, or try placing them in different areas of the page. If people are clicking through but not submitting the form, you could try reducing the amount of data you are requesting, or improving the message on the page.
By making organised, methodical changes to your campaign you can hit that sweet-spot and start capturing the necessary leads to grow your business.
Following these 5 steps when creating your Inbound Marketing Strategy will help ensure you deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time. Your campaign requires a solid foundation to build upon to deliver qualified leads, higher conversions and more customers for your business!
To find out more about Inbound Marketing, get in touch with our team for a friendly, no obligation chat.