Understanding content marketing – ten tips to follow
When it comes to industry specific language, the marketing world is often out on its own in terms of coining phrases.
One of the most overused expressions that we hear is, ‘content is king’. People in the industry seem to drop it into conversation at nearly every opportunity and whilst the context of the term is true, words mean nothing unless you implement them properly.
Content therefore, is arguably the single most important tool marketers and those who rely on the industry, have.
In terms of search marketing, the smarter we are with our content and campaigns, the better the results for our clients.
Over the course of this blog we will be looking at what exactly content marketing is and give you our top ten tips for creating and implementing an effective communications strategy.
First of all then – What is content marketing, why is it so important and what difference can it make to your business.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the concept of creating materials of the highest quality, that are totally unique and that will attract and then engage with audiences online. If you want to make sales and turn your leads into transactions, then you have to undertake a strategy that balances the information that the consumers receive, so that they are drawn to ask questions, look a little deeper into the products and ultimately buy.
It is also worth noting that the job of acquiring leads and generating transactions is not the end game in terms of content marketing. The challenge once you have the new leads, is to close them and then, more importantly, to retain them. If you can do all of these things then it is a strong indicator that your inbound marketing – the promotion of a company or other organisation through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers and other content marketing strategies – is working well.
According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) on marketing benchmarks, budgets and trends, some of the biggest developments over the last year are as follows:
- 70% of all marketers in the B2B sector are creating more digital content than they were last year.
- Creativity in the sector is at an all-time high, with more content being produced for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
- Infographics as a form of content is on the rise with a 21.5% increase in their use.
- 93% of all businesses use a recognised content marketing strategy as part of their branding and advertising engagement.
Here at Click Consult, we’ve taken from this and have poured over enormous amounts of theory and data, whilst also developing a unique content creation process to ensure exceptional results for our clients. Looking at what works and what doesn’t, means that we are in a strong position to advise and educate both new and existing businesses. Of course when it comes to creating the content there are hundreds of considerations to make, but for the sake of this blog we’ll highlight ten of the most important.
Create the strategy
The first thing to do when it comes to the production of content is to liaise with everybody involved and come up with a strategy that will work and is deliverable.
As an agency it is our job to make suggestions and let the client know what works and what doesn’t. We do this by drawing on our past experience as well as trying to predict where the future of a campaign will lie. We are receptive to new practices and technologies and believe that our flexibility towards marketing brings about the best possible results.
For the writer, this is the part of the job where they can get creative. Writers will take the brief, the style guide of the company or individual they are writing for and come up with a plan to get the message out to as many people as possible across as many platforms as imaginable. Understanding that there may be various audiences depending on the differing products or services that a company sells is vital. The writer will have to alter their content and to fit these audiences and the platforms that they will read the information on.
Image source: spotONvision
Holding creative meetings where teams are allowed to brainstorm ideas gives you the best possible chance of producing unique content. According to Outbrain there are a few simple questions to ask when in the planning stage. They are:
- Who do I want to target?
- Is there a specific topic or niche where we want to excel?
- What information are my customers looking for?
- What type of content do my customers look at?
- How can I keep existing customers happy?
- How can I attract new customers?
- What do we like/dislike about competitors’ content strategy?
- Is there anything I do not want to highlight about our brand?
- What overall business objective do I want to achieve from my content marketing? What are our KPIs?
Create a customer/buyer profile
From a business perspective it is smart to create a profile of the readers you have and use this to turn them into customers. Whether you are writing for your own audience or, like us, you are acting on behalf of a client, understanding the audience is key. It is vital that the writer puts in place a set of tests to make sure that the work produced, fits the brief.
These tests are in essence something of a scientific theory. At first you do your research, and then come up with the idea or the hypothesis, before testing it and analysing the results. The way writers will test the effectiveness of a piece of content is to review engagement in the form of analytics.
Image source: Lead Generation Efficiencies
Don’t write short posts
One of the most important things to consider in terms of the content that you produce is that it is of meaningful length. If you are writing a blog post to raise brand awareness and you are looking for a link, then a short post won’t rank very highly. When you try to make a sale the customer will want as much information as possible; if you can get the required detail into your post you are far more likely to make the content financially viable.
Make it conversational
One of the most noticeable and sometimes troubling aspect of content creation is that there is a tendency to write in a robotic manner. The style of writing that many posts find themselves written in, conform to a pro-social media, Buzzfeed style of content. Whilst this style is highly sharable and encourages large audiences to interact, there is a growing hatred for posts seen as ‘clickbait’.
You should make sure that all of your work is clear and coherent and that the reader can gain all of the information that they require. The content of the post shouldn’t look ‘spammy’ and there should be no sign that the post is actually a piece of cleverly disguised advertising.
Brand loyalty is a massive positive for businesses. Consumer confidence and word of mouth recommendations are vital for consumers so you must therefore try and strike the balance making sure that you maintain the brands reputation and that you don’t deter readers from sharing, commenting or recommending.
Consequently, a friendly, conversational style of writing is a must.
Nurture the buyer through the sales process
After identifying your strategy and your audience, one of the most important things is to make sure that you look after both of them. Monitoring your content to make sure that it is always up to date and is accurate is a must.
Nurturing the customers along the buyers’ cycle is important for many reasons; the difference between a caring, detailed approach which builds trust and a haphazard content strategy, which can have a detrimental effect on sales is huge. The initial stage of the buyers cycle relates to some of the earlier points, namely what product or service are you selling and to whom.
The first half of the job is to have a solid inbound marketing strategy. It is in this area that you write the content that will build your brand awareness, generate leads and create new opportunities for the sales teams. Once you have these, it is imperative that you write content that will, satisfy the customer, encourage brand loyalty and eventually allow you upsell to them.
Optimise your titles
Making your titles stand out could be the difference between somebody opening the link or the email. Just like we mentioned in the previous section, audiences are growing increasingly frustrated with certain styles of writing. Verbose sentences and headlines are not only bad from an SEO perspective but they don’t get the message over clearly enough. Long title tags – those over 80 characters or 15 words – run the risk of being truncated, so getting them right is a must.
It is therefore important that you write in a clear, concise manner and that all of your headlines and titles get the bulk of the information across to the reader. This information lies in the H1 tag and meta data of the site which are key components when it comes to telling users and search engines exactly what your site contains.
The H1 tag makes certain words to stand out, which allows readers to determine whether or not they want to read it. Search engines use title tags as one of their highest ranking factors so make sure that you match some of the keywords in your title with those that appear in your post. When used in conjunction with page title, META description and keyword targeted content, you can expect an improved search engine ranking and the highest chance of attracting qualified traffic.
Create topics and series of content
One of the best ways to make your content engaging is to generate topics and campaigns instead of just solitary posts. By running a number of posts that follow a similar pattern or concept, you are asking the audience to return. This strengthens your brand recognition and allows you to build rapport with the reader.
Blog, blog, blog
Blogs are a great way to get links for your business and the higher the domain authority of the website sharing your post the better chance you have of good performance. Over the last few years there have been a number of changes, the majority of which have been made by Google, relating to the outreach strategy.
Stricter regulations relating to the placement of paid links thanks to Google’s Penguin algorithm and the effect they can have on your SEO performance are well documented, but building a genuine relationship with a reputable blogger should form part of your strategy.
This is the tip that needs no introduction and it goes without saying that plagiarism is the cardinal sin for writers. There is much discussion around whether or not penalties are issued for websites with duplicate content and whilst not currently a ranking factor, if introduced, they could send your website plummeting down search engine results pages (SERPs). Poorly written content on the other hand is penalised and making a comeback from these penalties would then be both arduous and expensive. You may have to rewrite or repurpose all of the content and the longer this takes to both produce and to elevate you back to your original position the more of a financial burden you may face.
From the perspective of an agency, we endeavour to make sure that all of the content that we write is not only of the highest standard but that it is totally original. One thing that must be considered is that in the world of marketing there is an abundance of technical language. This means that whilst in principal, the theories are the same, it is crucial that the writers make the message unique.
Track your results
The analytical results behind your content are hugely important. They offer you the insights into what is working and what isn’t, as well as giving you an understanding into the historical performance of content strategies and campaigns.
Following up on the performance of pieces and reporting this to the customer is vital. You can track the monetary value of a post, the ROI and the number of interactions and the wealth of data you have is not to be laughed at.
Following these tips should give you some ideas how to create a coherent content strategy and help you garner results from your work.
Click Consult is proud of its strategic approach to search and believes that pushing the boundaries of best practice forward is an important part of what makes it an award winning search marketing agency. To find out what Click Consult can do for your brand, contact us today; or for actionable industry insights, check our blog or resource pages.