With so many inbound marketing approaches out there to choose among, you may be wondering whether yet another technique is worth mastering. If you’re not doing content marketing already, however, you’re missing on a huge opportunity for online reputation establishment.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a highly effective advertising approach that can build a relationship with the audience through the provision of high-quality content. It can be produced in all formats and spread via many channels – a website, a blog, social media profiles, etc.
When done correctly and consistently, content marketing can deliver excellent results.
Just take a look at the numbers – content marketing is 62 percent less expensive than traditional outbound campaigns but it creates three times as many leads. Companies that do content marketing benefits from conversion rates that are six times higher than those of competitors.
Content marketing delivers results for both B2B and B2C businesses. B2B companies that write blogs 11 times per month or more get three times as much traffic as the ones that blog infrequently or none at all. When it comes to B2C companies, blogging 11 times or more per month generates four to five times more leads than writing content less frequently.
All of this sounds great but what does it take to get started with content marketing? In order to get the best results from your efforts, you will have to master a few essentials. The following guide will outline the most important first steps that all newbies in the field will have to complete.
How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy: Tips for Beginners
As a newbie, you may have some questions about the best approach. Here are a few tips to follow when attempting to plan your content marketing strategy.
1. Content Marketing is a Diversified Approach
The first thing to learn is that content marketing happens to be a quite diversified approach. It can feature multiple formats rather than just text. Today’s audience has a relatively short attention span and it gets bored quickly. This is why you’ll have to keep things exciting.
In order to accomplish the goal, you’ll need to pick the content formats that will deliver the best results for the specific campaign.
A few of the most prominent content marketing tools that experts in the field rely on include the following:
- Blog posts and articles
- White papers and ebooks (often given out for free as a bonus)
- Podcasts and audio recordings
- Video clips
- Images and image galleries
Each one of these formats can be used for the purpose of either informing or entertaining your audience. In addition, giving people something valuable for free can be incredibly beneficial in terms of establishing brand loyalty.
Many learn about the effectiveness of different formats through trial and error. This doesn’t have to be the case. If you know something about the target audience, you’ll also have at least a basic idea about content that will appeal to these people.
Different content formats will also be suitable for the presentation of different ideas. If you want to provoke an emotional response from the audience, a video clip or an image will be most powerful. When it comes to providing complex information, you should opt either for an article or an infographic (because the second one allows for the simplified presentation of complex ideas).
2. Do You Need a Content Strategy?
If you just start writing blog posts, you’re not going to get the results that you’re hoping for. All of your efforts should be guided by a sound and cohesive content strategy.
A content strategy gives you a reason for content creation. It answers the most important question out there – why? Why are you creating content? You could be trying to accomplish a wide array of goals:
- Increasing your audience
- Establishing your leadership position in a highly competitive niche
- Increasing brand awareness
- Reaching a new market
- Increasing revenue and getting a bigger number of conversions
- Building a brand from scratch and assigning certain qualities to it
By knowing what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll find it much easier to attract the right crowd, choose the best channels and opt for the content formats that will be the best match for the respective campaign.
A content marketing strategy also makes it possible for you to come up with an editorial calendar, topics for your articles/other types of content, promotional campaigns, curation and other steps that will have to be undertaken to increase your reach.
When attempting to come up with a content marketing strategy, you will have to focus on the following:
- Tone and style that will be most appropriate for presenting the brand
- Audience research
- Long-term goals of the campaign
- Analytical tools that you’ll be using for the purpose of campaign tracking
- Content formats
- Channels that you’re going to be using for content distribution purposes
- Budget for content promotion (through social media marketing or paid search engine inclusion, for example)
- The budget for tools and software that can be used for the purpose of publishing, campaign automation, tracking results, social media marketing, interacting with the audience, etc.
- Budget for outsourcing content creation services or hiring professionals in the field
As you can see, you’ll have to answer a big number of questions before starting to create the content itself. Answering these questions, however, will give you clarity and a direction.
Once you have a strategy, you’ll find it a whole lot easier to focus your content and create pieces that are reflective of your long-term goals.
3. Content Quality is Everything
Should you be publishing new content every single day? There’s one single thing to remember when it comes to content marketing – quality is much more important than quantity.
Sticking to your editorial calendar is definitely important. If you’re pushing out mediocre pieces for the purpose of creating content frequently, however, you may be doing yourself a disservice.
In the past, content quality wasn’t such a prominent factor and many websites pushed out poorly written, unoriginal pieces. All of this started to change when Google began changing its website ranking algorithms.
The target of the algorithm changes were increasing content quality and helping better websites reach the top of the search engine results page. As a result, many websites with poorly written or duplicate content lost their positions.
On top of the Google algorithm changes, the audience started being more demanding.
People today have dozens of information sources to choose among. If your content isn’t standing out with originality and quality, chances are that you’ll find it incredibly difficult to build a loyal audience.
When putting together a content marketing strategy, you should focus on both the originality of the idea and the quality of execution. If you can give your audience something valuable, chances are that these people will keep on coming back to you time and time again.
While it’s a good idea to maintain a certain frequency of updates, you may want to slow it down when trying to put together something more impressive. If you’re planning a whitepaper, a detailed report or an ebook, you should take your time to make these flawless. The quality of such content will pay off, even if you dedicate a bit more time than expected on creation.
4. The Most Important Lesson: Content Marketing isn’t Static
Do you think that once you’ve managed to put together a strategy you’re done with this part of the process? Think again! Here’s the most important lesson to learn as a newbie:
Content marketing is not static and the preferences of the audience change all the time!
The strategy you have right now may be ideal for the time being but things will change soon and you’ll have to be flexible. The changes stem from the technologies that people have access to, the channels that they rely on for accessing content and the competition.
New content marketing trends emerge every single year. You have to be aware of those if you want your efforts to deliver the best possible results. Mobile has become a big thing. Right now, however, new opportunities are arising. Wearable technologies and virtual reality are providing content creators with brand new opportunities.
In the past, it was sufficient to create a fun and engaging clip. Today, people are crazy about live broadcasts via Facebook, YouNow or YouTube Live. User-generated content is also growing in prominence because it gives the audience a voice.
Don’t be stuck on a few formats and approaches that have delivered results in the past. Experiment with new options and you’ll definitely discover possibilities that will work better than your current approach.
5. Track Performance!
When it comes to the adoption of new content formats and channels, you can’t simply rely on luck to make such decisions.
With so many performance tracking tools out there, you have no excuse when it comes to being in charge of campaign effectiveness.
One thing that experienced content creators will tell you is that you may think that you know your audience but you really don’t. Analytical tools may surprise you when it comes to the performance of different types of content and the topics that people are most drawn to.
The best aspect of content marketing is that your approach can be changed on the go. Going through your analytical reports will reveal trends, patterns of behavior and content performance surprises. Based on this data, you can give your audience more of what it needs. If you’re open to the possibilities, you’ll soon see a much higher level of engagement.
You should never become comfortable in your current approach. The fact that you’ve nailed content marketing doesn’t mean that performance will continue being stellar in the future. Track trends in the field and interact with your audience. The more information you have, the easier it will be to modify your content marketing in a way that will deliver even better results in the future.
Grab the Huge Opportunity to Boost Your Online Reputation
Content marketing helps you boost your conversion rates like none other. Remember, whichever content format you choose, it must inform, entertain or do both for your audience. Answer the big questions before you lay down your content strategy.
Content marketing is not static, remember? So, don’t be afraid to change your strategy to better suit the needs of your audience. Tracking your analytics will give you the clues you need for the change. Technology has made everything that simple, isn’t it? You have a choice now. Get onboard, and let content marketing help you boost your online reputation.
Alice Clarke is a marketing expert and a writing coach at TopAussieWriters Reviews.
(This is a guest post. View guest posting guidelines.)