2017 is the year of content marketing!
70% marketers are creating more content in 2017 than they did in the last two years combined. In the wake of today’s stiff competition, it’s really important to have a proper content marketing strategy in order to keep up.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is all about creating target-oriented content – whether in the form of text or visuals – which is then published and distributed across different channels to generate leads and drive conversions. A content marketing strategy combines as many components as possible, such as text, image, infographics, videos, etc. and utilizes different distribution channels, such as blogs, social media, and email to name a few. But a smart strategy uses only those components and channels that are consistent with their target audience.
Reaping the benefits of content marketing for your business
How can content marketing directly benefit your business, if you ask? Well, there’s no direct relation between content marketing and profits. Content marketing helps you create awareness about your business and build a strong reputation, which eventually generates leads that convert.
For that matter, you may use any type of content that you think you can create better than the remaining types. Let’s consider blogs, for example. The primary goal of writing a blog is to inform, educate and provide solutions to readers who are facing a problem that your business solves. When you post blogs on your website on a regular basis, your website will start to rank in SERPs. Now, this is where the power of content marketing kicks in.
Let’s suppose you run a carpet cleaning business, and there are people looking for easy hacks to remove stains from their carpet and upholstery. Now some of them stumble upon your blog, which has all the information that is needed to fix the problem, and realize that you can provide professional assistance in that regard. They will either remember you for future carpet issues or hire you right away to solve the problem, which, of course, you can solve better.
This is just one example of using content marketing to your advantage. As you delve deeper, you will discover even smarter ways to influence your target audience and generate more leads than ever.
How to develop a content marketing strategy?
The key ingredient to a content marketing strategy is unique to the business’s objectives and niche. You will need to understand the niche, the business and the target audience before starting out. Once you have the basic information, you can start out and progress by taking one step at a time.
Planning your content marketing strategy from scratch
Planning is really important to identify preventable errors or any potholes you might fall into. Planning covers various aspects, like what to write, where to publish, target audience, type of content and how to streamline and perpetuate the process. Below is the detailed guide that should assist you in building your content marketing strategy from scratch.
Determining your content marketing goal/objective
When you have a goal/objective tied to your content marketing strategy, you know where you are headed to and what’s the best thing to do to stay focused. Whether it’s generating leads or simply creating awareness about a topic, defining a goal will not only help you get off on the right foot but will also get all of your ducks in a row.
It’s never considered a wise decision to build a parachute after jumping off the cliff. So, stock up on resources beforehand that you may need along the way. First of all, you will need a content creator who can churn out innovative content that is not just consistent with your business but is also capable of boosting engagement. He who owns the business is the best resource for generating content, but if you are too busy managing your core operations, you can always hire content marketing services to research your niche and come up with suitable content to boost engagement and drive conversions.
You will need a team to publish and distribute your content across the right platforms and also handle reader engagement. Once you have summoned your team, you can move on to deciding on the content marketing tools and techniques.
Deciding on the content marketing tools and techniques: CMS, Design software
A content management system streamlines the process, saves time and keeps you posted on the progress through real-time analytics. Choosing the right content management system is crucial since not all of them are created equal. Based on your requirements and what you want to achieve with your content marketing strategy, you can sift through various CMS platforms to find the most appropriate one for your business. A few of the recommendations include Hubspot, CoSchedule and WordPress.
Now that you have all the prerequisites in place, it’s time things should start rolling.
The first step is to generate content and ‘What to write’ is the big question you are looking at right now. Before getting down to writing, you must sit down with your team to brainstorm. Brainstorming can churn out eclectic ideas and can give direction to your content marketing endeavors. However, you may also use a couple of Topic Generator tools to jumpstart your brainstorming session.
Taking help from several tools can form a strong foundation for your content marketing strategy. A wide range of tools are easily available online to:
- Keep track of trendy topics related to your niche
- Discover content that is most shared across social media channels
- Know the type of content your competitors are using
- Create a catchy headline for your blog(in case you are writing a blog)
If you want to go a little unconventional and create content that interests the masses, then your choices could come from the following types:
- Ebooks – provides in-depth information to your clients in the downloadable PDF format, which readers can read at leisure and share with others via email.
- Videos – thanks to high-speed Internet for making videos part of today’s content marketing strategies and encouraging viewers to share them on social media. Videos are an engaging, succinct form of content that is getting popular among marketers across the board.
- Infographics – information delivered through a solid combination of visuals and crisp texts, helping viewers to absorb information quickly and effectively.
- Templates – help you make your content presentable and easy to read. Not only will you be able to save your readers’ time but you will also get the message across, loud and clear.
- Podcasts – let your audience listen to stuff they do not want to read. Reading takes time and efforts, whereas Podcasts are interesting and easy-going – a study says, 57 million people listened to podcast each month in 2016, and the count is estimated to increase year on year.
Publishing your content
Once you have generated enough content that should keep your campaign going for a month, you can use Editorial Calendar to publish your content at regular intervals. You may also set up a Social Media Calendar for publishing content on other sites as well.
Dispersing content across channels
It is important to decide what part of your content goes to which platform. For instance, audio-visual content is more suitable for social media sites whereas infographics should go to Pinterest.
Content distribution is all about sharing your content over various channels, which could be owned, earned or paid. Unless you own a channel, say a social media account or a website, which has superior hold in the online world, it is advised to prefer earned channels to the paid ones.
Allocating a team for content marketing and management
It takes time, efforts and a diligent team to develop and manage a content marketing strategy that sells. From building the foundation to execution and innovation, it will all become easy and fruitful if you have a team of experts on board.
Also, it is advised to take budget into account before allocating a team for content marketing and management. Calling off your campaign midway due to lack of budget doesn’t make sense. Therefore, you must loosen the purse strings accordingly.
Determining acceptance criteria for deploying your strategy: How will you measure success?
Now that you are putting your time and efforts into running a content marketing campaign, you will want to keep track of the performance at every stage, apart from measuring success on the whole. There are several ways to measure the success of your content marketing strategy – you may employ all of them or just pick the ones that are necessary.
- Website Metrics – using website analysis tools, you can measure success based on page views, retention rate, inbound links, crawl rate and much more.
- Leads Generated – the number of leads generated by your content marketing strategy is the biggest determinant of success. So, keep a close watch on your lead generation rate before, during and after execution of your marketing strategy.
- Social Media Metrics – the stats from your social media handle is a great measure of your marketing success and how well your content is received.
- Subscribers – the increase or decline in the number of subscribers to your blog can be used as a measure of your content success.
- Sales and Conversion – at the end of the day, everything boils down to ROI. If your marketing strategy is expediting conversions, you deserve a pat on your back, and if not, you need to work harder and use your brains to improve. As simple as that.
Content Marketing trends you must consider implementing in 2017
Evergreen marketing strategy is a myth, and with search engines becoming more content oriented in 2017, you need to be very careful about the type of content you choose. Here are some suggestions regarding recent content marketing trends.
- Influencer marketing – it’s a great way to reach your target audience quickly and efficiently. All you have to do is pitch guest blogging services to a few of the top influencers that have followers who might want to use your product/service.
- Visual content marketing – with the average attention span of online users reducing to 8 seconds or less, you will want to leverage the power of visuals to drive engagement.
- Personalized content – creating personalized content for certain target groups is said to increase conversion rate by several notches. It is important to look into the demographics of your target audience before creating personalized content.
- Automation – with personalized content creation comes bigger responsibilities, and you need to automate the process to save time and resources while delivering on your duties.
When it comes to Content marketing, don’t re-invent the wheel, just keep yourself updated
While content marketing trends change every year and get more challenging than ever, it becomes important to keep up lest you will go out of the business soon. Re-inventing the wheel is a lot of work, which may put you in a viscous cycle of trials and tribulations. Thus, the best way to succeed in content marketing is to use what is available, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.
Keep learning and keep experimenting with your marketing endeavors. Either you will succeed or learn a lesson.
Building a content marketing strategy in 2017 is different from how it was done in 2016 and how it will be done in 2018. There are going to be minor tweaks and advancement, but the underpinning for content marketing will remain the same. If you can build a successful content marketing strategy in 2017, you can build the same in the coming years as well. All you need to do is keep up with the trends.
Moreover, the festive season is around the corner, and you can start building your strategy today so that you do not fall behind on your leads and conversions when everyone else’s sales are going up.
There’s a bit of practice and a bit of secret behind every successful venture. While you’re consistent in your practice, you will discover the secret along the way.
All the best for your endeavors!