Content Marketing Guide
Content Marketing Overview
In 2020, content is king. Content drives traffic, it’s that simple. Content marketing is attracting and retaining customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content. Content marketing can be broken down into 4 steps:
- Attract potential customers
- Convert potential customers into leads
- Close these leads into real customers
- Satisfy the customers
While all 4 steps are important, step 4 is essential. Happy customers will not only buy more but become promoters of your business. Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful marketing there is. More than 84% of millennials don’t trust ads, and word of mouth marketing is a way to engender trust between you and potential customers. This cycle of satisfied customers leads to more and more organic leads and conversions.
Tangible Benefits to Content Marketing
- Increased site traffic: Creating great content that is targeted to your ideal buyer personas (more about this in upcoming weeks) will bring potential customers to your site where they will also find information about what your business offers, where it is located, etc.
- Improved SEO: Great content attracts editorial links, which tell Google you’re important and authoritative. Google is also able to crawl your content, getting a far better idea of what your company is about and allows it to return your site for more relevant queries. Without content, there is nothing for search engines to optimize.
Intangible Benefits to Content Marketing
- Strong brand awareness: Creating content gives your audience something to talk about. This awareness of your brand is marketing gold, as the audience is teaching each other about your company, passing recommendations and links around in the process.
- Respect in the industry: This benefit will take a considerable amount of time to build, but if customers look to your brand as a source of reputable knowledge, this authority transfers over to your products and services, separating your business from the competition.
- Customer conversations: Content targeted towards your buyer personas shortens the distance between your potential customers and your product offering, making it all the more likely that they will turn into realized customers later on. You don’t even need to mention what you are selling in your content, simply generating a high quality post that engages the reader will make them ask, “I wonder what this company does?”
Content Marketing Goals
Before you Begin
One of the most important questions you have to ask yourself is what are your marketing goals? Is it increased site traffic, decreased shopping cart abandonment, higher conversion rates, or heightened brand awareness?
After deciding which areas, you want your marketing campaign to focus on, there must be metrics from which you can determine success. Number of clicks, sessions, and visits determine site traffic improvement. Session duration, bounce rate, and conversion determine conversion improvement. Number of social media followers, brand mentions, increase in search volume, and increase in google trends determines brand awareness improvement. Decisions without data are uninformed and unlikely to succeed. Most importantly, they are not replicable.
All content marketing should be laser focused on your target customer. How do you know who your target customer is? Buyer personas, fictional generalized representations of your ideal customers, make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different types of buyers. These are based on market research as well as insights you gather from your actual customer base in the form of surveys, interviews, and customer information that can be extracted from Google Analytics.
Elements of a buyer persona analysis include 6 main areas.
1) Demographics, Psychographics, Firmographics
2) Buying Characteristics
3) Unmet Needs
4) Job Responsibilities
5) Thinking, Feeling, Doing
6) Content & Channels
After you’ve developed 1-5 buyer personas, you are now able to tailor your content, such as blog posts, towards your target customer.
Blogging is for Everyone
The first thing that pops into people's minds when they think of content? Blogging. Low barriers to entry combined with the ease of new platforms in setting up a blog make this a no-brainer first step in your content marketing plan. All you need is a computer and an opinion.
Step 1: Write a blog post
Step 2: Pay for syndication using Outbrain, Taboola, or Content.ad (Syndication is a term for re-posting your content on websites that accept guest contributions)
Step 3: Determine which article has the greatest viral potential and keep paying for syndication on this article
Step 4: Once you’ve found the best article, reach out to though leaders or influencers to share it as well.
Step 5: REFINE AND REPEAT: After determining which type’s of articles work the best, write more of them!
Be sure to write attention grabbing headlines for your content. After you’ve earned a few visitors, you have to keep them coming back. Retarget your existing traffic through sites like AdRoll, which allow you to pay-per-click to display your banner to existing visitors on sites.
Content Syndication is effective because you're able to get your content seen by new people while getting more traffic to your blog/website. Aside from paying for syndication, as mentioned above, there are 4 main platforms to get even more exposure for your blog post.
1) Reddit: 330 million users, an extremely active user-base, and over 1 million subreddits makes Reddit the king of getting information on basically any interest or topic. Share your opinion on Reddit but without mooching, if all you do is advertise your blog posts and don't provide value to the community Reddit users are very aggressive in their online verbal justice. Don't tarnish your brand!
2) StumbleUpon: A site for content discovery, StumbleUpon serves content that is connected to your areas of interest. Submit your own links to the site for other users to "stumble upon". Receive thumbs up from other users and your content will get shared more and more on the platform.
3) Social Media Groups: Facebook & LinkedIn primarily, publish your content on each of these platforms in order to reach your immediate professional network. For startups, you want to post both on your personal page and on your company page to start attracting some of your relationships to follow your new company.
4) Quora: The most popular Q&A site, create an account and answer questions in your area of speciality. Link your answer to a blog post you've written that can further help.
Developing your Content Marketing Plan
2 main questions should drive your inbound marketing:
1) What channels should I pursue?
2) What tactics will move the needle?
Embrace your Expertise
We touched on blogging last week, but what are some other examples of content? Infographics, viral memes, slide-shares, whitepapers, how to guides, viral videos, giveaways, webinars, free tools, industry reports, news/press releases, etc. When pursuing any of these, remember that you are an expert your business field. Don’t be timid or afraid in putting this knowledge to good use and asserting your opinion. And be sure of your content, a common misconception is the lifespan of your content ends when you hit the publish button. In reality, the lifespan of content BEGINS when you hit PUBLISH.
In all of these channels, the Golden Rule of Content Marketing applies: In order to get value you must give value! You can't expect your infographic to generate your company 100 leads if it's not well-designed or educational.
- Allows you to monitor, in real-time, anything published on the web and social networks
- React by having an alert triggered by a keyword or key phrase you set up
- Content change detection and notification service
- Service sends emails when it finds new results – such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research – that match the user’s search term
- Great way to find authors, bloggers, and websites in your niche
FREE PRESS RELEASE
- Submit a free press release using a service like PRlog
CREATE AN INFOGRAPHIC
- Download free templates online
- Share on free distribution sites like visual.ly
OUR COMPETITOR VS. OUR COMPANY
- Post called “Our competitor vs. Our Company”
- This will attract search engine traffic looking for reviews of competitor
- Create and submit a presentation to Slideshare
- Stuff the description with keywords related to your business
- Anyone doing research into a particular solution will stumble upon it
- How to Guide for something that is generally very difficult in your industry (we’ve got some pretty good ones here)
Outreach & Press (PR)
Lasting relationships with relevant bloggers & journalists mean you may never have to spend a dime on marketing. If you have more time than money, you can do everything a PR company will do for you. Here are the 6 main tactics to greatly enhance your PR for free!
TACTIC 1: OUTREACH TO BLOGGERS: INVITE THEM TO SHARE YOUR CONTENT
TACTIC 2: WRITE FOR INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC BLOGS (MORE ON THIS COMING)
- Reach out to webmaster of industry specific blogs for spot as a guest author
- Be sure to include your name and a link back to your site. Great for SEO and link-building
TACTIC 3: OUTREACH TO INFLUENCERS: TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, FACEBOOK
- Influencer marketing
TACTIC 4: REACH OUT TO TARGETED CUSTOMERS ON LINKEDIN
- Have a compelling subject line
- No more than 3 paragraphs and 3 sentences per paragraph (3x3 rule)
- Make it about them, not selling your product
TACTIC 5: CONTACT SCHOOL ALUMNI
- Leverage their advice and assistance
TACTIC 6: PINPOINT A NEW JOURNALIST AT A BIG PUBLICATION, OFFER THEM AN EXCLUSIVE ON YOUR CONTENT
- Provide them with data that only you have access to
- Help the new journalist look good
How to Land a Guest Blog Post
In addition to traditional outreach asking publishers to be featured, a great way to increase PR is to land a guest post or guest blog through sites that are looking for guest authorship. Search for these opportunities through the following search tactics...
- “Write for us” + Your Industry/Niche + Blog or “Guest Post” + Your Industry/Niche + Blog!
- Use “quotes” around a term, this tells Google to look exactly for this term, in this particular order.
Strategy in a Nutshell
THESE TACTICS APPLY FOR BOTH TRADITIONAL OUTREACH AND FOR SOLICITING A GUEST BLOG POST APPEARANCE
- Identify 20-target publications that you want to be a guest author on!
- Put together a personal brand package: Basically a list of content that you’ve written, bullets on why you are an expert, and what exclusive piece of content you have to offer
- Track down e-mail addresses of the editor, or use their online form, tweet at them or message them on LinkedIn
- Wait for responses!
Submission & Posting Based Tactics
Social media strategy
Most businesses don't have documented social media strategies, but of the 60% that do most are unsure about their effectiveness. Today's social landscape is a pay-to-play world dominated by the world's largest businesses. Luckily, you're covered.
You can't compete with these multi-million dollar budgets, so what do you do? Organic content, such as a blog, and free distribution channels are your friend.
If your website resonates well with users, it’s very easy to leverage submission sites for traffic. Below are our 5 favorite tactics
Our Favorite tactics
TACTIC 1: STUMBLEUPON
- Free web-browser extension which acts as an intelligent browsing tool for discovering and sharing web sites by a recommendation engine
TACTIC 2: PRODUCT HUNT
- A curation of the best new products, every day.
- Discover the latest mobile apps, websites, and technology products that everyone’s talking about
TACTIC 3: SCOOP.IT
- Launch a topic at Scoop.it and post your website into your topic page
TACTIC 4: SUBMIT TO REDDIT
- Share your startup on Reddit’s /r/ startups category or any other hyper targeted subreddit
TACTIC 5: CRUNCHBASE
- CrunchBase is the leading platform to discover innovative companies and the people behind them
- Used by millions of entrepreneurs, investors, and analysts
Use your Competitor’s Strategy
A well thought out competitive analysis plan can put you ahead of your competitor and setup your business for future growth.
First, identify your competitors. You should already have a good idea of who these are, but do a little research to flesh out a complete list preferably in a spreadsheet. Once you've got your list, here are some basic questions you want to get answered
- How does their website look and function? What can you take away form it to add to your site?
- What kind of content do they produce? Blog posts, videos, maybe a podcast? Quality?
- Product differentiation? How different are your product offerings? Are there any products you could add to compliment your main products?
- Pricing. Is it higher or lower?
- How is their social media presence? # of followers? More importantly, how is their engagement? And what kind of posts get the best engagement?
- Do they collect emails?
- How high do they rank in search results and for what keywords?
- PPC Ads?
- Influencers? Any celebrities or another company with a large social following?
Competitor Research Tools
These next 5 tools can help you identify the answers to these questions in addition to analyzing your competitor's current website and marketing materials.
- How many people are searching for things on Google?
- How many clicks from the search engine your competitors are getting
- Who the top competitors are in your industry
- How to improve the SEO of your site (long term strategy)
- Who is linking to your competitors
- What bloggers have written about/mentioned your competitors
- How to find opportunities to get your website featured/mentioned based on who has talked about a competitor
- Customer engagement of competitors
- Traffic sources (other than SEO, like email, social, referral, etc.)
- Audience interests
- Similar sites
- Marketing strategies
- Reveal all sites who linked to your competitor's site
- Content change detection and notification service, offered for free by Google
Competitive Analysis Implementation
Now that you have all this great information, here are a few things you can do to beat your competitors' marketing strategies
- Create content based on competitor's keywords
- Reinvent content your competitor got a lot of engagement on
- Identify areas of weakness on competitor's site and make those your strengths
- Reach out to influencers promoting your competitors
- Test different pricing options
- Test social media marketing strategies
Why reinvent the wheel if there's already a path of proven success?
Customer Centric Content Marketing
Content Without Products
Does your company look at content through customers’ eyes? Here’s one way to tell: Look at your marketing content. For starters, riffle through some titles. Do the words typically convey customers’ concerns? Or do they mostly call attention to the things you sell?
Product should not and can not hog your company's content, as you're missing a huge opportunity to educate your customer and to build a lasting relationship of trust. Don't make it about what you sell. Identify the information that your customer is seeking, and provide that to them, with not hidden or ulterior motives.
TACTIC 1: SETUP A REFERRAL PROGRAM
- Offer an incentive for existing users to invite their friends
TACTIC 2: TRY TWILIGHTER
- Encourage social shares by using a service like Twilighter
- Makes it super easy for your readers to share your content and drive new visitors to your site
TACTIC 3: LEVERAGE YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS
- Send personalized E-mails to your existing users
TACTIC 4: ADD SOCIAL SHARING BUTTONS TO YOUR SITE
TACTIC 5: USE HELLOBAR
- One of the more popular lead generation tools available, and it allows you to add these eye-catching notification bars to the top of a webpage
TACTIC 6: CREATE A SURVEY AND ASK CUSTOMERS FOR FEEDBACK
- Invite your existing customers to provide feedback on the next version of your product
In 2020, content is king. Content drives traffic, it’s that simple. Use some or all of the above to begin to build out your content marketing plan and drive organic traffic to you and your site.
As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!