Content Marketing – Understanding key elements

Content Marketing – Understanding key elements

Whenever we open our favorite website-we talk about its awesome content, right? It may be the style of Content Writing, the way it presents the information, the layout etc., content is pretty much important in the digital era and has been a topic of various marketing blogs. As discussed in our previous post (Website Content: make it work for your business) content is:-

Content is the combination of text, words and animation which form the body of the website

Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience. And for marketers it forms the core of what they do- the message they are trying to convey, whichever way they are conveying, is content. Every post, tweet, email, product description is an example of content. Now, our job is to spin that content so well, it urges people to act. The rate of our success depends on how far we’re able to convince the consumer to be on our side. Here is where Content Marketing comes to play.

WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING ALL ABOUT?

Content marketing can be called as using the content created to meet marketing goals. That can be construed as acquiring potential customers, retaining existing ones, building awareness of the brand/products or anything related to marketing. Contentmarketinginstitute.com has said-

“It is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Suppose you have a website, you need people to come visit it, refer to it and to what you’re offering. For that you need to market the content in your website

It is vital for marketing your business online.

HOW CAN CONTENT MARKETING BENEFIT BUSINESSES?

Many companies haven’t yet chosen content marketing in their arsenal as they are not quite convinced over the benefits of content marketing. Many are not even aware of what content marketing does for their business.

Content marketing is not about instant, tangible results.-but its effects are on a long term scale

  • STRONG BRAND AWARENESS– when you write content and market it, a buzz is generated. People talk about it-awareness increases. A person who likes your content, talks about it to someone who’s not aware of your company. That other person gets curious and checks it out. He’s impressed and talks about it to someone else and the cycle goes on.
  • SITE TRAFFIC– traffic is the “but obvious” benefit. Creating great content ensures more people visit your pages. People will check out your products/ services more often.
  • IMPROVED SEO– great content attracts editorial links, which tell search engines that you’re important and authoritative. Search engines can also crawl through your content, getting a conclusive idea of what your company is about, allowing it to return to your site for more relevant queries. Search engines are sophisticated things with their own set of algorithms; so naturally, half-baked content won’t even come close to the top searched ones. The better your content is, the more it will be listed on top and more the ranking will increase.
  • DIRECT CUSTOMER CONVERSIONS– Better the content you provide, better understanding your customer gets. This enables better customer service and precise response. The fact that customers get to see what unique value you have to offer them, brings the numbers up to a different level.
  • INDIRECT CUSTOMER CONVERSIONS– you want to increase your customer base. Through good content, you can bridge the gap between potential customer base and conversion. It will ensure that these potential customers act upon it.
  • TEAM COORDINATION– content marketing takes you across people you wouldn’t generally converse with. The design team, digital team, marketing team all come together to make a great content marketing strategy on which the entire marketing campaign could be based on.

Content marketing can be cost effective too!

CAN CONTENT MARKETING BE BUDGETED?

Content marketing seems may seem unworthy for a lot of money to be invested on- but it can be budget friendly too.

It’s not always that you need to go on draining your resources for content marketing, when you purchase a site, domain, pay designers and content writers.

And content writers charge a lot these days.

If you don’t have the resources to produce great content regularly, try focusing on what’s known as “evergreen” content, which is less timely time-taking and requires less upkeep, but serves as a great industry reference.

The fact that you’re producing quality content that keeps its relevance through time is seen as something one should refer to again and again. Bible is still relevant, right?

Make your content a bible of sorts, and people even light-years ahead would gain value from it.

Budget constraint is a gift in disguise- it makes you frame out and shape up your content carefully. This, if seen as a whole, adds value to for the consumer.

CONTENT AUDIT

In the past articles we have discussed enough about content and content strategy- let’s recapitulate a little:

SEO Content Writing is a very important part of content marketing. Your content keeps the website in recon with most traffic coming on the basis of the keywords used. It is a symbiotic relationship i.e. both are dependent on each other. The sign of an active domain is strategically placed keywords/phrases. Content marketing fills the SEO gaps and the more useful your content is the more popular your site will become”

We also spoke about how to create great content strategy:

  • KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
  • CREATE MISSION AND VISION STATEMENTS FOR PEOPLE TO RELATE TOO
  • RESEARCH THOROUGHLY
  • LINE UP IDEAS-THE MORE THE MERRIER
  • SINGLE OUT THE BEST IDEAS OUT OF THE LIST
  • AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR IS A MUST-ASSIGN TASKS TO YOUR TEAM
  • PUBLISH AND PUSH FORWARD YOUR POSTS

But while we are at all this, one of the key points that we generally overlook, is content audit.

What is content audit? It is an in-depth look at the content you’ve already created.

Do you need to audit your content? Yes you do.

If you review your content, you’ll be able to figure out the pattern of writing you follow and also be able to point out the flaws. Plus a synchronized content is always an added help for the marketer.

Here are the basic steps to audit your content:

STEP 1: CONTENT INVENTORY

Make an inventory of your content. There are special websites like thecanvus.com and inflowinventory.com that you can use to keep an inventory of your URLs.

STEP 2: ORGANIZE

Ensure that you organize and tag your content under these criteria:

  • Topic
  • Length
  • Tonality
  • Dated-ness
  • Relevance
  • Features

STEP 3: ADD METRICS OF SUCCESS

Having a goal makes things easier for you. Without a goal, you don’t know where you’re going and what outcome your efforts will bring. You should have these defined in the beginning, preferably before you build or redesign your site.

The success metrics are basically these goals that you set for your website to achieve. These can be based on traffic, time on page, no. of pages visited, shares in social media, conversions etc.

STEP 4: ANALYZE

Analyze the content for any trend that you follow or something that needs to be improved. Combing through your past content will point out how to proceed further and where to step back, for success. Make Excel and Google spreadsheets to track the content route and consider pivot tables as your allies. They are easy to use and help you compare large sets of data.

Enlist helping tools in content auditing- whatever makes it easy for you.

Let’s talk about the content and marketing funnel.

CONTENT AND MARKETING FUNNEL

Many of us get confused when it comes to talking about the marketing funnel. The marketing funnel basically talks about the journey of the customer towards purchase

It starts with the wider end, where people are aware of your brand, to the next level where out of them, fewer will consider purchasing your product. Consider is the main word here. And the bottom of the funnel is very small, as only a few actually end up purchasing. Your role as the marketer is to ensure that out of a number of people aware, many end up buying your product/service.

Content marketing can reach out to customers at any stage of the funnel- that’s the beauty of it. It helps widen the neck of the funnel further down, as those customers keep interacting with your content/website. Due to the flexibility of content marketing, you can customize your message to reach any stage of the funnel.

There are 4 stages to the content marketing funnel on which you can base your strategies:

    • Top of the funnel: discovery

      You have an awesome product/service to provide and you’re sure that customers would love it. But at first, you need to make them aware of your brand. You’re trying to catch their interest and make them realize what you’re offering is something valuable to them. Some of the finest Inbound Marketing strategies are formed and implemented at this stage. The types of content that you will need at this stage are: blogs, webinars, big content, guides, videos etc.

    • Middle of the funnel: consideration

      Here, the main challenge is to convert the entire buzz into something more than just a mild interest. You need to provide solutions as in giving them space to consider purchase. At this stage people start considering you, regarding the solutions you offer. So you provide them with content that strengthens your position and provides them solution that is unique and adds value to their lives. But don’t brush up your sales pitch yet- there is some amount of distrust that they still retain and aggressive sales pitch may increase the void. This is a great stage for the viewers to differentiate between you and your competitors through the ease at which you provide your services. The content that works at this stage includes: case studies, demo videos, usage articles and product descriptions.

    • Bottom of the funnel: conversion

      Here is the stage where consideration needs to be channeled to action. The visitors now are almost inches away from becoming customers. Here is when you have to go all out to ensure that the all importing purchasing is done. Depending upon your brand’s style, this is where the direct pitch is made. At this point we know that the people who remain are the ones seriously interested in going further, but need a slight push to complete the process. The types of content that are needed here are: testimonials, reviews and a good, comprehensive, streamlined sales process action plan.

    • Beyond the funnel: retention

      Many marketers stop contacting after conversion happens-they think that the involvement stops there. Wrong move, we say. Good marketing is also about customer loyalty- retaining the existing customers and delighting them throughout. Just like after giving birth you take care of your baby to ensure it grows strong and happy-your website/brand is your baby too. To ensure constant growth, you need your customers to keep coming back. The types of content that would work here are: customer care follow-up emails, loyalty programmes, privilege cards, bonus announcements, inside how to’s, email outreach and follow-ups.

Now here’s our bit on successful content promotion

CREATING SUCCESSFUL CONTENT PROMOTION

“The higher the quality of content, the less difficult it will be to promote”

We start our content promotion bit with the cardinal rule of content promotion, sworn by marketing pundits all across the globe. If you miss this golden rule and wonder why your content is not catching interest, you need to revisit your content plan and work accordingly.

The recipe to a successful content promotion is distribution. Then you want shares, which lead to influencer eyeballs, and then links and mentions.

Normally people get stuck at links and mentions but a quality content marketer would believe in working on the whole process-without missing a beat.

A few pointers to follow here-

Guaranteed content distribution: spruce up your contact with people working on host website. You can ask them to post an excerpt of your content so that people get a teaser of what you’re going to work on. It is a win-win situation.

  • Collaborations: go for collaborations with others in the industry. Collaborations are easy way of content generation and promotion. Contact influencers, ask them to go through your work and give feedbacks. But remember; do not ask for links, Ask for shares. You want your content to garner as much eyeballs as possible. The links will follow.
  • Paid distribution: paid channels give a certain push start to the content campaign as they guarantee the distribution. Paid tweets and Facebook shares help in the long run. But in budgeted marketing this is not feasible.

But before that, let’s try to prevent the bloopers from happening.

HOW TO PREVENT THESE 3 MARKETING FAILS

Marketing fails are for all of us-we’re starting out with our website, all pumped up for the content we have created. Yet at the time of execution, we fall short and thus the response received is not enough.

Here are the few mistake marketers need to overcome:

    • Mislaying content marketing with link building:

      No, sir! Content marketing doesn’t revolve around link building.

      Many marketers make this first mistake- confusing content marketing with link building. There is the whole process to content making where link building comes at the last. Marketers build their whole campaigns around link building only to have it fail. They are attracting eye balls but not knowing how to turn them into conversions. We need to understand what type of content is required in order to convert our customers into brand loyalists.

    • Improper goal alignment and tracking:

      There are times when we don’t know where we are going with our campaigns. Or maybe we have short term goals which have the fizz but burn out fast. Know the types of goals and metrics for tracking. Consume, lead, Sale and retain are the keys here. Have long term goals that you can achieve. You want the conversion and retention for the long haul, not for a short period of time.

    • Half-baked research and faulty strategy:

      Remember our semester projects where we used to haphazardly put all the pieces together, the night before. Well, our content marketing is not a school project. Marketers forget the importance of a well thought out strategy; they club in impromptu ideas and proclaim “this is our strategy!” A big fat NO! The kind of research needed to be done is:

      • Customers research
      • Competitor research
      • Online Market researchl
      • Benchmark audit

This, then, would proceed to the content strategy that would contain the brand message and means to go about promoting the message.

10 pointers in content marketing:

Similar to what we have talked about in content writing, the basic formula of content marketing follows the same frame

1.         Add clarity to your message and strategy. A clear message will attract the right audience.

2.        Be consistent with your content. Consistency instills trust in consumers and retains their loyalty.

3.        Convey your message like a story. The consumers will feel a connection with it.

4.        Content is built around SEOs. Keep that in mind. SEOs will help optimize your website

5.        Be active in Social Media and use it for promotion. The whole world is on social media. Utilize that.

6.        Visual elements are your friends. Use them. Visual elements add a believable factor to text.

7.        Keep a tab on what your competitors are doing. Give a shout out to them. Collaborate.

8.        Listen to your customer base. Note their suggestions and implement them.

9.        Revisit old Content. Old content is your fodder. You can chalk out your plus points and negative aspects from it.

10.      Think Long Term. Short term goals may give you the push but long term goals will sustain you.

TYING IT ALL UP

Content marketing is not all fun and games, but with these pointers, you can make a headway getting the right amount of conversions needed to succeed.

 

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