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There are hundreds, if not thousands, of new businesses being created every day. So, how do you stand out from the rest and start getting qualified leads? Content marketing is one of the best ways for your business to achieve both of these goals. While it can take up a lot of your time, it’s an essential part of every successful digital marketing strategy and cannot be ignored. Every brand should have a relevant and considered wealth of material behind them to establish them as market leaders. But what is content marketing anyway and why do you need it? Let’s dive into all that and more.
Content marketing is a strategic digital marketing process that focuses on the creation and delivery of material to attract a specific audience and encourage qualified leads. What you produce needs to be useful, relevant and consistent to create a trusted relationship between your brand and audience. Remember - its main purpose is not always to directly sell yourself to potential customers. It isn’t about publicizing your service. It’s all about delivering helpful and attractive material to all that interact with your business - whether that be your visitors, customers, leads, subscribers, promoters or more.
If done well, your content marketing strategy should attract, engage and delight your target audience. This will transform them into leads and promoters of your brand. So, what is content exactly?
It’s anything and everything. Content is any form of material that your business makes and puts out to your audience. It is expressed through various mediums using any of the creative arts.
Let’s work through some of the most common and effective forms of content.
It is a common misconception that email is no longer an effective way to communicate with your customers. However, 80% of business professionals believe that email marketing still increases customer retention. In fact, it is still thought to be one of the most effective forms of marketing content available.
To get started, you’ll first need to build a healthy email list that complies with regulatory standards. You’ll then need to segment your audience into different groups based on their demographics and interests to ensure you deliver the right messages at the right time to the people that want to see them.
Buzzfeed has quite a large set of newsletters with topics ranging from daily news to food hacks and Korean pop. The brilliance of Buzzfeed’s email content is that users only need to subscribe to the newsletters that they’re interested in and that the content within generally follows the same quick and witty style that the brand is known for.
Blogs are one of the biggest areas for conversion that a business can have. Having a consistent and informative set of articles can establish you as an authority in your field. Blogs not only drive traffic towards your website and help convert that traffic into qualified leads but provide long term results that will keep generating leads for the future. Your blog posts need to be well optimized for this to occur, but once they start ranking on search engines, they’ll have a constant role in generating leads. While setting up and creating blog content may seem like a time-consuming task, it is this investment that will bring you results in the long-run.
One of our favorite blog examples is Google’s official blog. It provides interesting content about their products, work, company, social involvement and more. Their posts are formal, informative and give readers a look into what one of the world’s biggest companies is doing on a day-to-day basis.
For many businesses, a website will be the main way to generate traffic. A website page or landing page is often the first point of contact that someone interested will have with your brand. It is essential that you dedicate the time to creating strong content for your website, as it could be the difference between keeping or losing a potential lead.
Website design and content is such an important part of marketing that there are several awards allocated to celebrating it. Awwwards is a professional website design competition that aims to showcase the best of the web. They consider user-submitted websites and place them in a ranking system that eventually crowns a Site of the Year. Check out their site for some innovative design and content ideas to help you create a website with a great user experience.
Social media wouldn’t exist without content. Everything you see there - from your friends’ posts to pages and groups - is based around it. This makes social media platforms the perfect places to create a content marketing strategy. Make sure you structure your posts to suit the platform though, otherwise you won’t connect with the audiences that exist there. We talk more about customizing posts below.
Menulog, an Australian online food and drink ordering app, is very effective at using social media to promote their business. Take their Facebook page for example. It uses tasty food pictures, funny captions, the occasional meme and various coupon offers to connect with and delight their audience. These types of posts are perfect for Facebook as their personable, casual and catchy style works well to entice their target audience.
Now that it’s clear that content is anything you put out to connect with your audience, you might be starting to realize its importance. Let’s take a look at an important statistic that might further convince you though. Content generates around three times the amount of leads when compared to traditional marketing. Pair this with the fact that it also costs 62% less to invest in and it becomes clear that a good marketing strategy cannot exist without it. Why does it work like this? It’s all about content consumption.
We all do it - check Facebook and Instagram on our phones, use search engines to find information, read people’s blogs for tips and tricks and the list goes on. If you want to get the authority that other brands have, you need to exist in the same spaces that they do and you need your audience to consume that information directly from you. Let’s take a look at some familiar brands that are doing exactly this.
With the era of digitization upon us, it has become so much easier to absorb content from sources all over the globe. For instance, in the last quarter of 2019, it was reported that there were 2.26 billion Facebook users on the platform (or one of its other products) daily. That means that most, if not all, of your target audience is on Facebook.
But they’re on other platforms too. They’re looking for information to consume on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and more. Don’t just take our word for it though - take a look through some examples of big companies that have proven that content really is king.
If you’re looking for an example that has stood the test of time, look no further than one of America’s most well-known manufacturing corporations, John Deere. Anyone who has ever looked into the history of content marketing will know of their long-running brand magazine, The Furrow.
First printed in 1895, The Furrow was born before the concept of content marketing and the idea of social media sharing were even blips in the future. Over the years, it has grown from a simple advertorial magazine to a subscription-based collection of extensive guides on growing your business in the agricultural industry.
Everyone has to be familiar with this one, right? Old Spice is another brand that has mastered the art of content marketing. Unlike John Deere, Old Spice went on a more trendy and widely-shared route - humorous viral videos.
They needed a way for their brand to become relevant to younger users. This meant creating something that would get the kids on their phones and laptops sharing it with all of their friends. Enter The Man your Man could Smell Like. The first video in a series featuring the ‘Old Spice Man’, its confident and absurdist humor connected with people all over the globe. It was so popular that the company released a 10 year anniversary special towards the end of January 2020. It starred the original Old Spice Man (Isaiah Mustafa) and his son (played by Keith Powers of Straight Outta Compton fame), and functioned as a brand push to launch the company’s new line.
Sometimes, a content marketing strategy is so good that it’s run multiple times. And sometimes it’s as simple as changing one small thing on your product. Coca-Cola’s Share-a-Coke campaign has been so popular that what started as a test in one country has expanded all over the world.
This strategy was first launched in Australia in 2011 but had such a high turnover that it was subsequently rolled out in more than 80 countries. If you’ve not heard of it, the concept was simple - replace the logos on Coke bottles with 150 of the most common names and hope people scramble to find their own. And it worked. The increase in sales was so high that it reportedly reversed more than 10 years worth of decline in the purchase and consumption of the product.
After all, people love finding their name on things. The customer and brand relationship built by this campaign was so powerful that it’s still going strong nine years later. If this doesn’t convince you to personalize your content to your audience, there won’t be much that will!
Beginning your content marketing strategy is not an easy task. But don’t let this dissuade you from investing into what is one of the most important parts of any brand’s digital marketing plan. There are a few stages of a good content marketing strategy, so let’s take a look into what you’ll need to get started.
You’ll need to consider what kind of material will work for you. Like we mentioned earlier, this content needs to be useful, relevant and consistent for your audience. The topics you cover should be related to your brand and demonstrate why you are an expert in your field. Establishing yourself as an authority is one of the key goals of online content marketing.
You’ll also need to research relevant keywords. This, alongside SEO, is important to ensure that the content you produce has a good search engine ranking, to ensure that it will be seen by the right audience. After all, what’s the point in investing time into creating content if it won’t be seen by anyone? Your keywords need to relate to what your target audience will be searching for and common searches related to your topic. You also need to look at keywords that your competition is using so you show up where they do. Don’t let your competitors take the leads that should be yours!
A lot of the material that you share will be text-based. The copy you produce will have three main stages - writing, proofing and editing.
Regardless of the platform you post on, your message should be consistent. Do not contradict yourself or you will risk losing authority. However, this doesn’t mean your copy needs to be the same for every post. For example, professional and formal content is best suited to platforms like LinkedIn, websites and landing pages. However, you could also include more personal, casual and humorous material occasionally on Facebook. It’s this diversity of content that will help you connect with your audience.
Part of your authority comes into the clarity of your written work. All of the work your company outputs needs to be proofed to a consistent standard. Your language use (e.g. preferring to use American English over British English) needs to remain the same throughout every piece of your content. Your grammar also needs to be formal - unlike tone, there are no exceptions. Try creating a style guide for your employees to guarantee that your content is consistent across the board.
Finally, you need to edit your copy. Like proofing, the best rule of thumb when it comes to editing is to have another person look over the work. You may think that your copy is perfect but you’re used to it. A new set of eyes always helps improve your work - whether it be written or visual.
Visuals are some of the most important parts of any good content marketing strategy. For example, reports indicate that adding video to your emails can increase click rates by up to 300%. Your creative output is a huge aspect of creating an attractive user experience and it needs to be done well. It’s all about providing your audience with what they’re craving and haven’t seen before.
The type of creative content you use could be anything - video, imagery, podcast, website design - the options are endless. If you’re a hairdressing business, you might want to invest your time into a good website design and imagery. If you’re a video gaming company, perhaps you’d prefer to get into podcasting or video. What you use is up to you and the type of business you run. Look into what your competitors are doing and see if you can get any ideas.
What’s the point in investing your and your employees’ time into well-designed, interesting and attractive content if you’re not putting it where your audience will see it? You need to put your material in the right place so the right audience will see it at the right time.
Your website, blog and social media pages are the best platforms to connect your content with your audience. But it’s not enough to just share it. You’ve got to work your audience into interacting with it, commenting on it, sharing it with their friends and more.
The way you share your content relates to the platform it’s shared on. For example, infographics perform better on Facebook and long form text does better on blogs. Don’t be afraid to change up your work depending on the channel as it is not effective to use the same material everywhere.
You need your output to be successful. Fortunately, you can track its performance to see where it’s working and where changes should be made. Analytics is a crucial part of any marketing strategy - whether it’s content based or not.
Most platforms will have their own performance metrics systems where you can see important information related to your posts including their reach, engagements and click-through rates. This is a good start for your content marketing plan as it provides visibility and scope for how you’re tracking against your overall marketing goals.
You’ll also need to look at your operational metrics. This includes your costs, effort level and ROI. You need to ask yourself - are the effort levels I’m putting into creating, optimizing and sharing this content worth it? Am I getting the results that I expected for my level of input?
If you’re not keeping a record of how your content is performing, you won’t be able to work through your marketing goals and grow as a business.
This blog post may seem long, but these are just the basics. What works for you won’t be what works for everyone else. As content marketing should be a major part of your overall marketing strategy, you will need to put a lot of time into researching and planning what your brand needs. At Game Marketing Genie, we understand that it might be difficult to start this process. Our team of specialists - selected from the industry’s best creatives, analysts and strategists - can help you plan and execute a high-level content marketing strategy that is customized for your goals.
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