We recently launched issue 10 of our Benchmark search magazine, it’s full of quality insights from our industry experts. We thought we’d share a few key articles on our site, here we have Sophie Edwards’ who talks about content marketing (found on page 26 of the magazine).
On a daily basis the content marketing team at Click Consult are set the task of developing creative campaigns for their clients. The aim of most of these campaigns is to support search engine optimisation (SEO) by building on the brand’s backlink profile which will ultimately pass authority to the website.
Many people think of SEO as a tech focused activity and whilst there are obviously tech heavy elements involved there are also some very creative areas. From the creation of user focused content to the development of content marketing campaigns, creativity is as much a part of an SEO strategy as tech.
Within this article we will look at what content marketing is, the creative process and the steps we take when developing a content marketing campaign that is both relevant and valuable.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of developing content that drives discussion rather than explicitly promoting a brand and its products. Content can come in many forms from video and animations to interactive assets that encourage engagement.
Of course any campaign that is created must be driven by research into trending topics that are relevant to the brand and its target audience.
The Content Marketing Process
The process we use at Click Consult is outlined below and uses five key steps. Imagine this process as a circle, the process is ongoing and never really ends, there’s always a story to tell or a reactive opportunity.
Outlined below are the five key steps that include: define KPIs, initial research, concept development, outreach and reporting. Each of the steps will be discussed in greater detail before highlighting barriers to the process and providing a summary of key takeaways.
A content marketing campaign can have several key performance indicators (KPIs) other than link quantities. The KPIs chosen really depend on the overall business objectives. For example, if you are looking to raise a brand’s profile one KPI may be to reach as many people as possible through your campaign, this would see large publications being targeted and the concept supported by paid social.
By defining KPIs from the start of the process you can build a concept and outreach strategy that are highly focused, whilst ensuring you are monitoring the channels you plan to report on and that provide valuable insights.
Start Initial Research
Once KPIs have been defined it is time to begin researching competitors, trends, current conversations and much more… As narratives start to form it is important to start asking questions such as:
- ‘What’s the hook?’
Try to explain the hook in one sentence, this ensures there is a clear angle that is simple to explain to journalists and influencers alike.
- ‘Is this clear and simple?’
Explain the idea to family or friends to get the opinion of those not immediately involved in the concept or industry. If they understand the concept easily this is a good indicator of a clear and simple concept.
- ‘What is shocking about the story?’
If you are using unique data from a survey or scoring system this question can be difficult to answer due to undefined results, if this is the case think of the potential headlines or answers – this can also highlight future problems.
- ‘Is my information credible?’
This is key to a campaigns success layout the methodology prior to undertaking the research to ensure it is clear and from credible sources.
Throughout this process it’s important to have conversations with other team members to ensure you see the information as it is and that the concept makes sense – discussions can also help you gain a better understanding of what you’re producing. Once you have a few ideas you are happy with it’s time to share with the rest of the immediate team.
When developing the concept we always start with an ideation meeting. Everyone who attends the meeting is expected to bring any research or concept ideas they have with them. This meeting is supposed to be a creative space where ideas are discussed but on occasion we go off topic – going off topic can be good as a free conversation can spark inspiration.
A few techniques we use for ideation are the creation of mind maps, social listening, online research during the meeting and moodboards. Once the concept is decided it is time to consider how the concept will be presented.
There are several ways to display data, stories or guides from infographics to videos and it’s important to choose the correct asset for your concept. The correct asset should; present the data in an easy to read format giving the reader clarity, if interactive should be easy to use with the user in mind, and should emphasise the purpose of the data to provide a clear story.
The asset along with content explaining the concept in greater detail should be added to the website, remember to include an internal link in the content so that authority is passed through the site. Usually the campaign’s landing page will sit on the blog, news or resource section of a website. Ensuring the story is made clear through the asset and content will encourage use of the asset on third party sites and can assist with outreach.
Once the asset is ready and a concept landing page is set up, outreach can begin. To start a press release highlighting the key areas of the story is created and shared with a media list of relevant websites.
After an initial push to press the campaigns team can continue outreaching to other websites and influencers. When outreaching to influencers it is important to set clear expectations as to what you expect from the influencer. Before approaching influencers, be sure they meet criteria that should have been determined from setting KPIs such as domain authority (DA) range, number of followers and engagement rate.
During the reporting process there are several tools that can help provide a clear picture as to the success of the campaign, some of these are outlined below:
- Google Analytics can be used to provide details for many KPIs but we usually use this for reporting on referral traffic and landing page activity.
- Brandwatch is a great tool for monitoring brand mentions, hashtag usage and keyword activity. The detail provided allows us to report on several things such as sentiment, mentions and impressions.
- BuzzSumo has a monitoring section where you can monitor any placements that are gained for a specific landing page or domain – again whether this is set up at campaign or brand level is up to you based on KPIs.
When creating a report we always ensure the details are clear and presented in a visual way, after all this is a creative area of digital marketing.
Any process should be classed as a framework and not a definitive way of working. As with most things it is best to be adaptable so that you can easily react to the market and media.
Barriers to the process
An important area to consider when developing content marketing campaigns is that of barriers to the creative process. Being creative doesn’t come easy to everyone and can mean different things to different people. In content marketing being creative can mean anything from identifying gaps in a story or dataset to the actual creation of aesthetically pleasing materials.
One of the best ways to create a concept is to discuss ideas with others, usually we do this during the ideation meeting. In this meeting people must be open to all ideas, listening to find the hook and story in any discussion. One of the main barriers in such meetings is feeling reserved and having a fear of being mocked. For this reason these meetings should be attended with an open mind as any idea may spark inspiration.
Other barriers to creativity include setting limitations on the data that can be used or having preconceived ideas as to what your audience like or dislike before actually doing the research.
These barriers do not support creative thinking and in turn can affect the whole content marketing process by delaying campaigns and changing narratives so much that the campaign becomes a mixture of hooks and stories.
In summary, like with any process you must identify what works for your business and this can be a case of trial and error. Set KPIs before moving onto concept creation and be sure to discuss concepts with those around you. Take the time to listen to the ideas of others and what’s in the media, and remember to be open to suggestions before testing the idea against a set of questions that look to determine success. When outreaching, be clear as to what you expect from influencers and allow time for PR success. Finally, when reporting, remember to use tools to help showcase your successes.
Thank you for taking the time to read through Sophie’s piece. If you are interested in similar content why not read through our Benchmark Magazine. If you want to get in touch with us, visit our contact page.
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