When I started in marketing, content was a necessary evil. Of course, you had to write some brochures and issue some press releases. But communicating the real value of your solutions was done one-on-one with journalists, analysts and your sales force.
How different the world is today! Through web and email, the marketing team directly talks to prospects. Also, you don’t need a journalist anymore to be published–just write a blog post. With this change in doing business, great content is now mandatory.
Content marketing is about creating and distributing valuable content to attract a clearly defined target audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Key points are “clearly defined target audience”, “valuable content” and “profitable”. You need to know as much as possible about your target audience to be able to create relevant and compelling content. The ultimate goal is to attract more customers, so that’s how you will measure your strategy. For more detailed definitions, see Wikipedia and Junta42.
1. Develop Buyer Personas
Personas contain a detailed description of your target group. Developing a persona helps understand who you are marketing to, and therefore what content will be valuable to them. If you don’t know who you’re writing for, content marketing won’t be effective.
It’s hard to stand out with content because so much information is already freely available on the Internet. To be successful you should focus on a niche that interests your personas: you can provide your unique view on the market and attract a dedicated audience.
3. Create Value
If you want people to read your content it should be about them, not about you. If the content provides value to the reader, they will continue to read it and recommend it to others. If it reads like an advertisement they will leave and not come back. Use yourpersonas to find out what is interesting, and what is not.
4. Avoid “Gobbledygook”
“Gobbledygook” is a term invented by David Meerman Scott to highlight examples of bad writing. Examples of “Gobbledygook” are powerful, flexible, seamless and easy. These words mean very little and they sound like advertising. For effective Content Marketing, use simple and authentic writing.
5. Keep Content Fresh
Unfortunately Content Marketing is not a one-time effort. It requires a constant flow of new content. You can refine the content based on feedback from the readers. This does not only build a loyal audience, but also creates lots of long tail keywords for search engine optimization.
6. Share information and Link to Others
In this broader community there are lots of great ideas and the best part about social media and bloggers is they are open for comment, dialogue and sharing of information. Take advantage of it. It’s more than ok (as long as you attribute the source!) to expand on others insights.
7. Invest in Search Engine Optimization
And finally, a content strategy really pays off when search engines are rating your content highly. This will drive lots of people to your site, at no additional cost. However, for this to happen you need to optimize your site, choose your topics wisely, and promote your articles (see also my SEO Optimization 101 post).
For more information you might check out the Essential Marketing Automation Handbook: A How-To Guide for B2B Marketers. Part Two, Content Mapped to Buying Stages, is available as a free download. For those who would like to register you can download the entire handbook by clicking here.