How To Start With Content Marketing – Complete Overview
Made Easy For Beginners
Last updated: October 27, 2017
The internet has grown to become one of the greatest forces of our time. It’s a daily necessity each day and more and more people are getting fond of it.
Internet users have grown by a whopping 82% since 2012, and that’s about a million new users each day.
This explosion holds huge potential for any business and has led to a new form of advertising known as content marketing. Content marketing mainly involves explicitly sharing product or services online via various means such as uploading videos, eBooks, webinars or advertising in social media platforms and popular websites. But that’s just a tip of the iceberg. What really is content marketing?
Definition of Content Marketing
Well, you’ve probably heard of the word content marketing. But it goes a lot deeper than that viral YouTube videos and Facebook posts.
“Content marketing 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”
This simply means that content marketing is focused on information, and to be clear, valuable content. That’s what makes all the difference.
This differs a huge deal from traditional advertising because instead of simply pitching your products and services to people, you’re actually giving them some valuable information they can use to in their day to day life.
Present of content marketing
Content marketing has become the secret sauce to successful advertising, and it’s even used in raising the SEO ranks of a business.
» Research shows that leading brands such as Microsoft systems, Cisco and John Deere are using content marketing and there’s a good reason why.
» Buyers are no longer the ignorant customers that were present years ago. They are spoilt for choice and constantly researching before purchasing any item. Research has it that consumers spend an average of 79 days on research before buying a product.
So content marketing is here to stay. If you really want to reach you niche consumers, then you’re going to have to get aboard.
Future of content marketing
But what of the future? What’s lurking in the beyond?
Well, though it’s hard to predict what’s coming, there are some things that are looking pretty undisputable.
The declining costs of the internet are taking people online and e-commerce sites and online businesses could easily take advantage of this and increase their customer base.
Another huge trend is that brands are getting more creative with their content, and messages are being targeted at an even more specific niche. Having constant entries into the market simply means that you’ve got to focus on the lower level details and niches as opposed to the general market.
Videos are also taking a huge leap. About 80% of all web traffic is going to come solely from videos by 2019 and customers are more inclined to buy a product after watching a video. So here’s where you should be putting more effort. According to Content Crossroads 32% marketers will use CMS to accelerate content personalization.
So why go for it?
With the rise of online information, people are constantly seeking information about products right from their seats. Customers will be more computer savvy and active seekers of online information. This means that brands that do particularly well in their content marketing would gain popularity while businesses not keen on taking their products and services online would perish.
While the rewards of content marketing are plenty, only businesses that actually pay keen attention to their content would reap the benefits. Narrower niches and more creative brand content would make the competition stiff. They’ll be lesser winners but larger gains for them.
So if you’re going to engage in content marketing, here are a few considerations to make.
Top Content marketing considerations you need to have:
- Set clear objectives and strategies
- Figure out who your target audience is
- Create your content with precision
- Figure out your measurements and metrics
Your first move should be in planning. Proper planning is a necessity whenever you want to successfully get into content marketing.
This should be way before you even start creating content. Think of what impact you would like to make and how you’re going to make it. Have your objectives well planned out and know exactly what your product and customer is.
You could be looking for:
- brand awareness
- lead generation
Additionally, you need to know the channels that you’re going to use for content marketing and how the products would be sold and delivered.
Step2: Set Clear Objectives And Strategies
Before you even get on with the execution of your content, your objectives need to be sharpened up.
For starters, think about what exactly you want you content to do. Remember, the ultimate goal of your content is to make your customers do what it is you want them to. I mean, you may have a steady flow of content but if there are no tangible results, then you can well sit back and play video games.
Have a roadmap
You also need a clear roadmap on how you’ll achieve the set objectives.
Consider how exactly you’re going to design your content to achieve the set goals. Have a review of your current content marketing techniques and see where you can improve on them. For instance, you could have a content audit of your blog to see its performance and if not satisfactory, optimise the blog content.
Create a fall back plan
Also, have a fall-back plan in case things don’t turn out as they should. In fact, this is something that should be expected because, with content marketing, even the best attack can sometimes yield less than average results.
Your strategy also needs to have a brand story, that is, determining what your core content is. Here’s where you’ll have a clearly developed plot of what ‘stories’ you’re going to tell in their raw form and how to tell them.
Step3: Figure Out Your Target Audience
Trying to please everyone is impossible, and that’s that. You’ll end up spending so much of your energy and time with no results to show for it. That’s why getting to the details of your target audience is important, and this is something that should continuously occur along your content marketing journey.
You probably know who you’re targeting, but are you really specific enough? Have you clearly defined your niche? “Pet owners” may be a bit too broad for a target audience.
Narrow your demographics
This is a good way to get as specific as possible with your target audience. Most brands tend to have a problem being specific with their target so narrowing down on the demographics might be a good place to start.
Perhaps you’ve got a target of entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises. Get a list of all these demographics and then focus your content on only one of them. Yes, it may seem like you’re leaving out the rest but this trick works.
Having a niche that totally loves your content is a lot better than having many demographics that are not really impressed.
Besides, you could always add some content for other demographics once your brand grows.
That’s why creating your persona helps. Personas are a really good tool to quickly identify what kind of customers you’re dealing with. That way, you can properly tailor your content to satisfy them. You’ll finally have “Cat owners that spend most of their time shopping” once you’re done with it.
Make content relevant
Yes, great content will attract people, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll attract the best audience i.e. people who’ll connect or buy your product or service.
According to Karianne Stinson 90% of consumers find custom content useful but only 68% of them spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in.
The content needs to be relevant. That is, it should be:
Judging whether the content is unique isn’t much of a problem. It’s pretty simple, if there’s currently nothing like it, then it is unique.
Here’s where you should focus on. You can have content that’s very unique. However, if it’s not appropriate to the target audience, then you’re really not doing any good. For instance, you may have a really unique post about dog food, but this is very irrelevant if your target audience doesn’t have pets.
Most businesses make the grave mistake of simply uploading information. The thing is, if the content doesn’t provide any practical information or insight, then it won’t lead to a call of action. Additionally, in-depth information is a lot more valuable and try your level best not to leave the consumers with questions.
Use social media
Once you’ve identified that specific niche, you can then use your soccial media channels to reach them. YouTube can be a good avenue to harness leads, or you could use Facebook to redirect followers to your website.
The best part about knowing the ins and outs of your customers is that you could easily understand their needs and tend to them effectively. Once you’ve gotten a customer and have properly serviced them, you’re assured of a loyal customer.
Step 4: Pick Your Content Marketing Channels Wisely
It’s always about the target audience
Start with your audience: research and know their needs and the channels they mainly use. Get to understand the user.
- How they behave on different channels
- How they interact with content
- What content do your users find particularly valuable
The aim here is to ensure your focus is on the user and not the channel. Then, and only then, do you select the proper channel?
Evaluate and plan
Know how your content aligns with digital initiatives and overall goals.
- Adjust your KPIs so that they are in line with your business and campaigns.
- Consider channels with more robust ad platforms if you’re looking for more engagement
- Your KPIs should guide your channel of choice. Videos give a great impression but may not necessarily satisfy your choice of business.
- Go SEO. Maximize the SEO value of your content.
How To Get Started With Content Creation
Once you’ve gotten a clear picture of your objectives and target audience, the next step is to work on the actual content creation.
Here’s where things get interesting.
Remember, you want to tailor your content to your target audience so that they can be interested in your brand and connect with it.
But the options here are many aren’t they? I mean, should you start a blog? Publish an article or go frenzy on YouTube?
Well, all that depends on your target audience and objectives. While you may have a good idea what kind of content format your audience would respond to, you may not be sure what exactly works for your specific case.
Identify correct people
Having the right team makes all the difference between success and failure. You need to have the right team for your company before creating the actual content. You could have digital strategists, content production specialists, outreach and promotion experts and biddable media specialists.
Know your resources
The resources you’ve got go a long way in helping you make a decision on the content format you should go for. If you decide to do blogs, podcasts or magazines, then consistency is a determining factor for success as people would expect new fresh content frequently. If you don’t have the team for that yet, you could opt for other techniques such as apps, in-person events or guest posting.
Carve out unique content for your brands
Your content needs to be unique and powerful to stand out in all the noise that’s online.
For that, you need to be unique.
Find the topics your audience is interested in by either profiling your potential customers or using google analytics to check which posts or topics rank better and try and generate unique angles from them.
Quality is king
Compromising on quality is destructive to your brand, as first-time impressions leave a lasting taste in the consumers’ palate.
And this goes a lot further than generating poor content. You may have really good content but all you talk about is your products and services.
Yes, your customers are probably interested in your product, but that’s not all they want. Your consumers have needs too and though the core of your content marketing is around your brand, try and figure out your consumers’ needs too. Yes, you’ve got pretty good carpets, but how about you give your consumers content on the best upgrades to make to their carpets or how to clean them using homemade solutions? Not only would they come for more advice when they need expertise, but you’ll also have created a loyal customer.
Neil Patel makes some really good examples of quality content and useful approaches to take when creating content.
Emotional bond between product and consumer
Remember, your consumers are attracted to your product for a reason. Identifying that reason also gives you a perfect avenue to create amazing content. Try and capitalize on it and create content that further strengthens that bond.
A good example is Luna, known for its diet and nutrition bars. Luna created a video that deeply connected with their audience by interviewing women on the streets and debunking common diet myths.
You could even use humor in your content and try to get as creative as possible. Giving people the monotonous content that’s all over the internet really doesn’t do you any good.
Learn! Learn! Learn!
Learning is a never-ending process, for both the reader and yourself. You need to keep acquiring knowledge and make your content better in the process.
Don’t create a video and simply wait for results. You need to constantly give your reader fresh content. It keeps them engaged and improves the chances of boosting your sales.
Measurements and metrics
Content marketing is a long-term gain, and you need to have success metrics to ensure that you’re on the right path.
A couple of metrics are used to measure the ROI. A pretty obvious one is the increase in web traffic. You can easily tell if your visitors actually get what they want by how they behave when on your site. What’s the page bounce rate (how fast they leave the site)? Content writing is monumental at boosting your rank, and it’s the simplest and most effective way to do it.
Conversion and sales
Conversion and sales are ultimately the determining factors. Increased conversion and sales is a definite win as it may even be the goal of your business. However, you shouldn’t only use this to measure success, the real value is in customer loyalty.
Click through rate
Your click-through rate is another way to measure the success of your business. It’s the ratio of users who click on a website via those who visit. Whether it’s via email or online advertising, your CTR is a crucial tool.
Social media shares
Another working metric is using the social media shares. If you use social media for your content marketing, then the number of social media shares should give you a pretty good idea of the reception of your content.
Earning high-quality backlinks is another important metric you can use to measure the success of your content and brand. Having high-quality content makes other sites reference your material and this is really good for your SEO rank.
If a larger email base is also one of your goals. Then you could start by linking a signup form with an eBook or something your users would like.
Then you could start by identifying how many unique visitors you’ve generated from your content, how relevant that traffic is, and where they came from. Email Marketing tools can be used to assist you in this.
From that, get the percentage of how many really left their emails and contact information. You could also get the percentage of people that actually opened the emails (open rates) and actually buy from you.
Remember the four general metrics
- Consumption metrics i.e. page views, downloads, social chatter
- Lead generation metrics i.e. form completion, email subscription, conversion sales
- Sharing metrics i.e. likes, shares, retweets, inbound links
- Sales metrics i.e. online sales, offline sales, manual reporting
Tips for successful content marketing
Yes, content marketing can be the difference between a successful and a failing brand. Customers love doing their research and the better your content, the more customers you’ll have.
So here are some of the most helpful tips in content marketing when you’re getting your feet wet.
Content marketing tools
Content marketing tools are a good option when it comes to content marketing particularly if you start handling a lot of content.
We have made a great overview of most popular and helpful content marketing tools.
These tools assist you in analyzing your content’s effectiveness by figuring out their consumption.
Such data, when compared, can tell a lot about your business, and the tools can be integrated to the CRM.
Right Information to the right audience
Having the right information is crucial to your content marketing strategy. But knowing your target audience is an even better tool to have.
- For starters, don’t simply write short posts just to get it over with. You need to have content of about 1000+ words so as to assist in improving your traffic and site’s SEO ranking.
- Additionally, you need to have a clear picture of your audience. As discussed above, a persona could go a really long way in giving you the precise information you’re looking for.
- Another tip to get the right content is to actually listen. Monitor industry news, stay abreast of your niche events and then make impressive content using what you know.
The best part about this technique is that you’ll easily be in a position to boost your shares, reads and even directly impact your SEO scores.
How great is that!
Tailor your content to different users
One piece of information that goes to all your potential customers is not really helpful. You’ll need to convert that info into various forms that would be appreciated by different users.
For instance, you could have a picture on Instagram about that blog post on your product features.
Social media is your friend
As you probably know, social media is one of the best platforms to use in content marketing as people are constantly on platforms such as Facebook. Social ads are a sure way to boost the reach of your brand and capture more attention. Additionally, social media is a pretty inexpensive tool to use for reaching your audience.
- A good tip is to use social sharing buttons every time you upload content or blog posts.
Guest blogging on popular sites
If you can have a guest blog on a popular site, then you’ll be much better off.
- Having a link back to your site from a guest blog is a sure way of driving traffic to your site. You’ll be in a position to harness that site’s popularity and traffic and your SEO ranks would also rise significantly.
Repurpose old content
Repurposing old content is a pretty good way of shedding some new light to make it more interesting and may even attract new users.
- Remember, you’re not simply reworking content here, there has to be the element of unique content else the piece won’t really grab attention.
Use SEO tactics
Search engine and content marketing are like siblings. You really can’t have SEO, without content and keywords. SEO demands link backs and content provides the avenue.
- So start by seeing these two aspects as two sides of the same coin as opposed to totally different entities.
- Backlinks are a good starting point. They can really boost your organic traffic if you take the right steps.
- You can also start discovering untapped keywords on Reddit which you can use in your content.
However, if you’re not experienced in SEO, then you’ll need to hire an expert. They can make things happen a lot faster as there is a lot of technical skills involved for the best results.