Content marketing is spear-heading inbound marketing campaigns and strategies this year, a trend that I predict to continue and grow in the years ahead. In the Content Marketing Institute’s report “2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” released earlier this year, it noted that over half (54%) of all B2B companies were planning on maintaining or increasing their content marketing spending, with an astounding 86% of B2C companies planning to do likewise.
Quality web content is increasing in value for a number of reasons: search engines love it, readers love it, and it allows businesses to quickly establish ‘authority’ status within their niches. My web hosting provider, Hostgator, recently published an article which very clearly outlined the 5 elements that are necessary to have a successful content marketing strategy, which I’ll illustrate below and then expand upon.
1. Know Your Target Audience Like A Friend
We’re all used to hearing that we must “get to know your target market”. So we dig around to discover our target audience’s age, gender, and maybe even their average annual income and education level. While these pieces of information can be very important, businesses these days have to do a better job of drilling down to understand who is buying from them.
Through surveys, online polls, and social media “likes”, “follows” and posts, strive to learn more about your ideal customers’:
- Belief systems
- Personal priorities and interests, and
- Online habits and activities
Once you know your audience like a friend, you can then begin to “speak” to them like a friend by using the appropriate tone, language, channels and content strategies that will appeal to them.
2. Not All Channels Are Right For Your Business
Understanding the online habits and activities is golden information that will help you to determine through which marketing channels you should direct your efforts.
Inbound marketers are quick to wave the ‘social media’ banner, which is right for many businesses. But there are some companies that will reap little to no benefit to being on sites like Twitter and Facebook because their target audience just isn’t active on these platforms.
By learning about your audience’s habits and activities, you can then decide to allocate more company resources towards channels that they prefer, which may be your blog, a niche forum, or YouTube.
3. Choose The Right Type Of Content
And that brings us to the next point: content type. Text content is always a good place to start, but it may not be what your audience prefers – or perhaps only certain types of text content appeal to them. Find out what engages you audience. Are they more ‘visual’, preferring infographics? Do they like “How-To” articles or are they coming to you site to read about industry current events? Or perhaps they find videos to be the best way to obtain company and product information. Maybe they like to listen to Podcasts as they drive or exercise.
4. Arm Yourself With Necessary Resources
Producing a regular stream of content can be a challenge. Start off with thinking about what types of content you personally enjoy producing, and outsource the rest. For example, if you’re a graphic artist, then you may love piecing together infographics and other visually-engaging content, but loathe curating current news articles related to your niche. Fill that gap by engaging on a content writer who’s familiar with both your industry and online writing best practices, to create that content for you.
5. Focus On Your Goal
It’s not only important to create goals, but it’s just as important to create target milestones linked to each of those goals. So let’s say that your goal is to increase your web traffic with you content marketing campaign. Be much more specific, and say “I want to increase my visitor count by 30% this month by posting one item of content each week on both my blog and Facebook”.
Once you have the goal and milestones in place, then work on devising a way to track your progress (i.e. Google Analytics). Create a schedule for a time when you’ll regularly check in on these metrics (e.g. every Monday morning or every first of the month) to make sure that you’re reaching those goals or, if you’re not, use those metrics to figure out why and change up your strategy.