According to a recent report by the Content Marketing Institute, 76% of the businesses surveyed said that content marketing formed part of their strategy. Perhaps more tellingly, only 38% professed to being effective at this form of marketing.
Clearly, we’re living in an age where intrusive marketing techniques such as pay-per-click advertising are starting to take a back seat as businesses invest more heavily in the creation, curation and promotion of engaging, free content.
Content marketing, at its heart, is a strategic approach to building a loyal following by sending valuable, relevant and consistent content their way. This builds a level of trust over time and that trust can be leveraged in order to generate leads. Put simply, you educate first and sell later.
But how do you create content that works? Is it just a case of publishing a blog post every other week and waiting for the masses of subscribers to sign up?
I’m afraid there’s a bit more to it than that. Here’s how you can create content that works.
Set a goal
Without a goal, your content marketing strategy has nothing to aim for and will, ultimately, prove fruitless. What is your end goal? What do you want to achieve from content marketing? Some example goal are as follows:
- Raise brand awareness
- Generate and nurture more leads
- Increase subscribers
- Increase ability to upsell
- Improve customer service
You may discover that you have more than one goal. That’s absolutely fine, but make sure you define it clearly, and stick to it.
Develop some buyer personas
A buyer persona is a fictional version of a potential customer. Depending on the industry in which you operate, you may have more than one, but defining your potential customers is key to creating content that they will engage with.
Knowing that you target a male audience aged between 20-30 simply isn’t enough. What are their pain points? What do they do at the weekend? What kind of lifestyle do they lead? Develop buyer personas so that you can fine tune your content for its audience.
Brush up your writing skills
Don’t worry – no one expects you to become the next Shakespeare; quite the opposite, in fact. If your principal form of content creation is blogging, you’ll need to ensure you can write in an engaging, conversational manner.
Your potential subscribers have short attention spans and you’ll only have seconds to engage them. It is therefore advisable to spend time reviewing the basic principals of great copywriting in order to develop content that sticks.
Include content upgrades
If you’ve read any blog posts recently, you may have spotted a rising trend, which is to offer additional, free content at the end of the main piece. This may be an eBook or checklist relating to the blog post, but the principal is the same; content upgrades are designed to draw the reader in further by providing something else of value.
Always include a call-to-action
A piece of content without a call-to-action (CTA) is next to useless. Always include a CTA at the end of your blog post, podcast or video telling the subscriber explicitly what they need to do in order to get more value from you.
Use an editorial calendar
Content marketing works if you publish your content on a consistent basis. For example, you may commit to posting a new blog every Thursday morning and distributing it via email to your subscribers. That’s great, but planning ahead is key if you’re to avoid staring at a blank page come Thursday.
Use an editorial calendar to plan future blog posts. A spreadsheet will do – just list the dates, the post titles, main theme, CTA, author and target audience. Plan 6 weeks ahead on a rolling basis and you’ll never be out of ideas.
Content marketing is an incredibly exciting way to build an audience of potential leads. It simply requires creativity, time and forethought. Use the tips above to create content that will chime with your audience and turn them into advocates of your brand.