Almost 30 percent of Americans say they’re constantly online. The explosive growth of smartphones and other connected devices means we have a computer in our pocket that’s waiting for us to look up anything we want to know more about.
Getting your content in front of those people is one of the most effective ways to build an audience and, if all goes well, new customers. This content marketing guide will help ensure it’s your content they find when they go looking for answers.
What is Content Marketing?
Content is any type of information you can find on the internet – blog posts, articles, podcasts, videos, and more. Content marketing means you use those things to reach a wider audience that you can turn into leads and eventually paying customers.
Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy. In other words, it gets people to come to you to read, listen to, or watch your content. You don’t have to run ads trying to convince them to look (although we’ll talk about why you still might want to do that shortly).
Content marketing has several goals:
- Attract your target audience
- Tell them about your products, business, services, etc.
- Educate them about what you have to offer and your market in general
- Turn them into leads and ultimately customers
Why Content Marketing is So Important
Most people are online all the time. And if not all the time, they’re rarely far from a connection. This lets them look up information about anything they want to know.
They might find the answer to their question without ever talking to an expert or a salesperson. If you’re the expert or salesperson, that’s a problem. How are you going to close the sale if you don’t even know you have a prospect?
You can connect with those “mystery” leads by providing the content that answers their questions. You’ll build a relationship with them and, assuming your content is helpful, you’ll get a reputation as an expert in your field.
When the time comes that they do want to talk to an expert or they’re looking to buy, you’ll be one of the first people they think of.
Content marketing is more passive than a lot of other marketing strategies but it can be a lot more powerful when you do it right.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
In the early days of the internet, you could get away with haphazard content creation. You could throw a bunch of content against the wall to see what stuck. Some would get attention and some wouldn’t.
That approach doesn’t work on today’s web. If you want your content marketing to attract an audience and bring leads and customers into your business, you need a content strategy.
Settle on Your Goals
The first step in planning your content strategy is to decide on what goals you want to reach. Do you want to capture leads for your business? Are you trying to sell to your audience directly from the content? Do you want to educate your existing customers about your products?
When you have a particular goal in mind from the start, the rest of your strategy will be much easier to work out.
Know Your Market
Knowing your audience is crucial to any marketing strategy but it’s especially important with content marketing. If your content doesn’t speak to the right people, you’re not going to get as many leads or buyers.
There are several things you need to know about your audience, including:
- Their most pressing problems
- What kind of information they’re looking for
- Are they likely to be in a position to buy
Study your market as much as possible. Watch what your competition is doing. Ask your audience for their input.
The more you know about your audience, the more you can fine-tune your content to be exactly what they need.
Create a Plan of Attack
Once you have your goals set out and you know plenty about your market, the next step is to create a content plan. This includes several steps:
- Who will create your content?
- Who will maintain and update it?
- What resources do you need to create the content?
- What schedule will you post content on?
- Who has final approval on the content?
You might be doing all these things yourself in the early days but it’s a good idea to separate them out in your plan. As you grow and your content needs expand, you may want to hand off some of the steps to someone else. Having them compartmentalized from the start makes that a lot easier.
Start a Blog
A blog is the cornerstone of content marketing. This is where your content will end up on your website. Some of your content will be posted on other sites, like YouTube and Facebook, but it’s always a good idea to post it to your own blog as well.
Putting it on your website will help with search engine optimization (SEO) and drive more traffic to your site. If you have a good lead capture system in place, you’ll be able to get some of those visitors onto your email list or another contact list. Having content hosted on other websites helps expand your reach but you don’t have nearly as much freedom to guide your visitors through your marketing funnel.
Once you have a blog on your site, do a content audit on all your existing content. Figure out what’s working and what isn’t. If you’ve got a reasonable amount of content, and you’re tracking it effectively, you’ll give yourself a headstart by focusing on doing more of what’s already working.
Some of the most popular types of blog posts include:
- How-to articles
- Market-related news
- Case studies and white papers
Promote Your Content
Once your blog is up and running and you’ve got some content posted to it, you can start promoting it to get traffic to it.
Share it on your social media pages, send it to your email list, and reach out to other websites in your market to try and arrange link exchanges. You can also promote your content by writing for other websites (known as guest blogging).
Repurposing content is another good way to promote it. For example, you could take a video you made for YouTube and use the audio track as a podcast episode. Take the same video and get it transcribed then post that transcription to your website. Each piece of content could link back to one or more of the others.
Need Help with the Steps in This Content Marketing Guide?
Content marketing isn’t complicated. None of the steps in this content marketing guide need a lot of technical prowess, only a willingness to put in the work.
Which brings us to the other reason content marketing works so well – it takes hard work. And because it takes hard work, a lot of people don’t do it well or at all. If you can master it, you’ll have an advantage over many competitors.
Most of us are short of time though. If you’d rather stay focused on what your business does best and leave the content marketing to experts, nobox creatives can help. We offer a range of online marketing services to help you grow your business. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.