Content marketing may help businesses both increase site traffic and boost actual sales, but it can also be expensive, hard to execute, slow, and somewhat difficult to measure. Fortunately there are at least seven things marketers can do to increase the opportunity for success with content.
There is a significant amount of evidence to demonstrate that content marketing — the act of producing and distributing content with the aim of attracting, engaging, converting, and retaining customers — is the leading marketing movement, if you will, of the moment.
As an example, Smart Insights, a consulting and publishing firm, recently surveyed about 600 marketers, asking each of them what sort of digital marketing they believed would be the most important to their success in 2015. Content marketing won by a wide margin with 29.6 percent of those surveyed choosing it. By comparison, Big Data was in second place with 14.6 percent of respondents, and search engine optimization was “most important” to just 4.3 percent of the marketers surveyed.
Similarly, Brent Gleeson, co-founder and chief marketing officer at the digital agency Internet Marketing Inc., wrote in a Forbes article that “it’s no longer about if you should do content marketing. It’s now a question of how and when you execute it. Large and small companies that realize how critical content marketing is to their business are thriving in this new economic era by being more transparent, being better listeners, and ultimately providing more value to their audience and customers.”
So the consensus seems to be in favor of content marketing. But how do you make it work? Here are seven tips that might help you get more from your content marketing.
1. Aim for Something
All marketing should begin with a goal. You need something to aim at if you’re going to succeed. Perhaps, you want to increase overall sales, get new email subscribers or you may even want to differentiate from some competitors and earn better margins rather than competing on price.
Once you have a goal — something to aim for — you’ll be ready to develop your content marketing strategy and, ultimately, make content marketing work for you business.
2. Produce Content for Your Customers
The Content Marketing Institute has outlined a seven-step framework for content marketing. The second step in this framework is audience, and the institute recommends, among other things, creating customer personas and addressing influencers in your industry.
Similarly, in 2012, Brian Clark, CEO and founder of Copyblogger Media, encouraged readers of Entreproducer to develop archetypes “meaning a model of a particular type of person or personality.”
In both of these examples, the Content Marketing Institute and Brian Clark are ultimately suggesting that you produce content for your customers. Know who your current customers are, know who your potential customers are, and produce content that is aimed at them.
This might seem obvious, but if you’ve if you’re currently doing content marketing, can you describe whom your blog posts where written for?
3. Be Useful
“Today’s consumers are staring at an invitation avalanche, with every company asking for likes, follows, clicks, and attention. This is on top of all the legacy advertising that envelops us like a straitjacket. There are only two ways for companies to break through in an environment that is unprecedented in its competitiveness and cacophony,” wrote marketing guru Jay Baer in his book Youtility. “They can be ‘amazing’ or they can be useful.”
Make your content, whatever it is, useful to your customers and potential customers, and remember being helpful, entertaining and informative are all forms of utility.
4. Use Video
It almost goes without saying that online video is popular. As an example, HighQ, a software company that makes content marketing solutions, recently reported that online video accounts for half of all mobile Internet traffic. What’s more, something like 78 percent of people watch online video weekly and about 55 percent of folks watch online video daily, again according to HighQ.
Interestingly, video content marketing has not yet caught up with the demand, creating an opportunity, however brief, to differentiate and, one would hope, sell more. Even something as simple as adding product demonstration videos to product detail pages could do the trick.
One final point here. At the moment adding video to your content marketing tactics might put you ahead of some of your competition, but many predict that video will soon be foundational to successful online marketing.
“With online video quickly becoming a key means for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs, small businesses that fail to include it in their internet marketing strategies will do so at their peril. …Video is the future of content marketing. That is, if it’s not the here and now,” a 2014 The Guardian report said.
5. Include Pretty Pictures
While video, as mentioned above, might be the real up-and-comer in content marketing, but any visual content — think pretty pictures — can add to your content’s success. The images are relatively easy to share on social networks like Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, or Twitter, and those images might even help drive additional clicks.
As an example of good visual content in an ecommerce environment, checkout the Journal on the Mr. Porter website.
6. Promote Your Content
Your blog, however exciting, is not the only place you should publish and promote content.
Instead, as you plan your content marketing posts, you should also think about how those posts will be distributed and, perhaps, even more importantly, how those posts will be promoted.
At the very least, consider linking to content in social media, including content in email marketing campaigns, and linking from various sections of your site to relevant content.
7. Measure, Organize, Analyze
“Aim for something” was the first tip on this list. The idea was to set some goal which content marketing was to help your business achieve.
Of course, you won’t really know if you have been successful unless you measure, organize, and analyze your content marketing. Here are some resources to help you decide what’s the best way to monitor your own content marketing.
- “How to Measure Content Marketing,” from Practical Ecommerce.
- “A Quick-start Guide to Measuring Your Content Marketing Efforts,” by Mike King on Copyblogger.
- “7 Metrics to Accurately Measure Your Content Marketing,” by Brian Honigman on the SumAll blog.
- “KPIs for Measuring Content Marketing ROI,” by Danyl Bosomworth at Smart Insights.
- “Content Marketing Framework: Measurement,” from the Content Marketing Institute.