As the competition in advertising heats up, more companies and major brands are turning to content marketing to attract customers and build awareness among consumers. Experts are predicting that search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing will go hand in hand to boost page rankings in Google search results.
Content marketing can take many forms and often viewers hardly realise that they are sponsored by major brands. It may be an in entertaining article or an informative video. However, with so many avenues for distribution, the content can be developed in almost any format to be read or viewed on various devices. These include slideshows, marketing videos, images, press releases, events, webinars, games, apps, tools, e-books and whitepapers, email and e-learning. There are seven steps involved in the content marketing process to make it successful.
- Defining the content strategy
- Choosing the best format
- Content types that appeal to your target audience
- Content distribution and social media
- Key metrics and goals
- Main sharing triggers
- Double checking
The first step of content marketing is to develop a clear plan of the objectives you want to achieve. This process will include the topics to be covered, the audience to be targeted and the overall campaign goals. With consumer attention spans getting shorter, it might be wise to combine multiple formats into one piece of content. For example, a blog post with a professionally designed infographic will generate much more interest than a plain article.
The topics to be covered should also be clearly considered and relevant to the goals you wish to accomplish. However, stick to proven topics that work well, and that will appeal to the target audience and motivate them to share. Examples of popular topics include:
• How to
• Q and A’s
• Beginners guides
You should also have a clear idea of how the content will be distributed. The options include hosting on a personal website or blog but this only works if the audience already knows about your website. Consider whether the topic is a good fit with other content on the site, and the capacity of the host location is able to handle high traffic if the content goes viral. Social networking sites offer a mass avenue to distribute the content to millions of people at little or no cost.
After your content has been published, you need to be able to measure its performance. There are several ways to do this. Tools such as Google Analytics give access to highly valuable detailed information that will tell you if people are interested in your content and how they are engaging with it.
Basic information such as page views are further broken down into unique visitors, new visitors, and bounce rate to give a clearer picture of the true numbers versus spam and webmaster visits. You can also track behaviours such as downloads and sharing and use this to tweak the content or change your distribution channel. Using Google Analytics, you can also set goals that tie in to your primary business goals. Whether it is to generate traffic, drive sales, or to increase brand awareness, all content should relate to the overall goal.
From the outset, one of the main objectives should be to create good content that users will want to share over and over again. There are several emotional drivers that stir people to share content, whether it is funny, shocking, addresses a controversial issue, or inspire them on a personal level.
Don’t just share a generic topic. Include a call to action, such as an invitation for discussion or comments. Most importantly, follow any company or personal style guidelines and keep the overall campaign goal in mind.
The Internet is not a place for static content. Review and revise your content periodically to keep it current and maintain interest over time. You can also offer the same topic in various formats to reach more people.
Successful content marketing requires companies and individuals to be strategic and deliberate with every step of the process. This carefully thought out process also involves keeping abreast of new developments in marketing as well as changes in audience behaviour.
Marketers should also be open to experimenting with different types of content with different distribution channels, and willing to adapt their methods to achieve the best results.