Is content marketing the “next big thing”?
It is likely that you are familiar with the saying ‘content is king’. People are still claiming it to be next big thing in online marketing – which is a lie. It has always been a big thing and its importance in the digital landscape continues to grow as each year passes.
When I first started in online marketing, way back in 2004, I knew that content marketing was ‘king’ and the best way to increase my websites exposure. I created a men’s health website and within 6 months I went from 0 to 20,000 daily visitors. Due to this enormous growth it was necessary to put together a team of researchers and writers to follow a digital content strategy.
What I did not predict was how huge it would become. With the rise of social media, content marketing now has an even larger reach and is more vital than ever. Without it, you are missing opportunities that your competitors are seizing upon.
Content is still king right?
Yes, but content alone is useless. Content needs a purpose and sometimes cannot work by itself. You might need a social media or online marketing strategy too. If you don’t any of these strategies it’s like having a website without Google knowing about it.
Note: Google rewards unique quality content. Google’s recent Panda 4.0 algorithm affected eBay due to thin and low-quality content.
Digital content can be in the form of website content, blog posts, emails, social media updates, videos, eBooks and webinars – all of these fall under the umbrella of content.
Now are you beginning to see why it is so important? Let us know what content type is most important for your business.
Outcome of this content strategy guide
This guide will help you implement a kickass digital content strategy for your business.
In it, I will help you create content that will assist with:
- Brand: Develop awareness
- Trust: Making you recognised as an industry leader
- Rankings: Increase organic search engine results i.e. increase your rankings in Google
- Traffic: Drive valuable customers to your website
- Leads: Receiving profitable leads
What is a digital content strategy?
A digital content strategy, much like any business plan, is a goal-orientated process that assists with your overall marketing efforts. The purpose of a digital content strategy is to provide direction towards an outcome. By the end of this guide, you could will know what tasks need to completed in order to achieve specific objectives for your business.
Give me the magic formula!
There isn’t an exact formula and even though it may seem daunting, don’t fear it as I will be providing you with valuable insight from many years of experience, making sure you have the foundations right.
Content marketing is an evolving process that requires evaluation and refinement in order to see improvements. What works for you, might not work for someone else. That is why it is super important to follow the next few steps, in order to identify the best pathway.
Content will come in three forms:
- Published content – This is anything published by your company and can be anything from a blog article on your website to a post on a social media platform.
- Reactive content – Ever commented on a business’s Facebook post and had them reply directly to you? That is an example of reactive content and is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and to answer any concerns they have with your product or service.
- Proactive content – This is a proactive method of promoting your business on other people’s networks. This includes sharing content, retweeting and publishing on someone else’s site or page. It also includes inviting people to an event.
It is important to have a mix of the above content forms. Do not just be a taker.
Understand your audience
What is a persona?
Quite simply it is a representation of a regular customer. In most cases, you will have to create 2 or 3 personas. The research into your audience is going to harvest insight into their needs, wants and concerns. This will help with your content brainstorming.
Creating your personas
This is the most vital step in the content strategy process and you should not continue unless you have a firm grasp of who your market is and what they want.
In order to create content that is going to appeal to your audience, first you have to map out who that will be.
You can find this out in a number of ways:
- Online survey
- Online discussions
- Focus groups
- Interviews with customers who use your product/service
- Looking at the audience of your competitors
For example, www.business2community.com’s ideal person might be:
- Name: Sally
- Gender: Female
- Age: 26 – 36
- Education: Graduate School/College
- Browsing Location: Work
- Location: United States
- Interests: Business Management and Marketing
In order to differentiate between personas, I often find it useful to give each persona a name, as I have done above.
Pro Tip: Use www.alexa.com to understand your demographics. If there is not any data for your website, use a competitor.
Content research – Ideas and content
Set yourself up with a content calendar. I use one similar to Digital Populate, but it is just as easy to create one through your Google Drive account. Having one will help you allocate time for research, schedule in content writing/posting and make people accountable for their work.
You need information about your persona to brainstorm content ideas. When brainstorming, you want to make sure your topics will elicit behavioural change in your customers and convert them to your brand.
If you have a goal to increase social shares, I suggest you brainstorm content that will invoke:
Note: Do not cover topics that express sadness or anger, as these are the least popular.
By putting together a content calendar you’ll be able to create consistent content that is relevant to your target audience. Not only are you going to help develop trust with your customers, which is an extremely valuable asset in the digital sphere, it will likely give you a boost in search engine rankings.
Content Writing – Do I have to…?
It can be hard to write content, especially if it is not your day job. Two years ago, I could barely get through two paragraphs without a double shot latte. However, practice makes perfect. I persisted with it and now I can write a decent post just like this *wink wink* in just a few hours.
People have very short attention spans. Are you engaged? If so, please leave a comment below. You need to get their attention immediately, or they simply will ‘bounce’. If you are posting an article, 38 percent of readers will be gone by the first paragraph and only roughly 25 percent will actually finish the article in its entirety (source).
That puts a lot of pressure on you to write appealing, well-written content.
Let us talk about writing for a moment, shall we? This article is far too short to outline all the features of great content writing, but let us go through the basics.
- Clear and Concise – Your writing should be so easy to understand that an 11 year old could read it. A great program for clarity is the Hemingwayapp. Just like Pappa Hemingway himself, it will help simplify the language you use.
- Conversational wording – You are talking to people, not at them, so use wording you would in conversation. Refer to yourself and your audience, as this helps establishing a personal connection.
- Evoke emotions – It is a long known fact that emotions work better in advertising than reason. Appeal to your audience’s human side.
- Magnetic titles – A title is a more important than you think. People will read a blog or article based on the title alone, so make it work.Did you know only 2 out of 10 people who read your title, will read the rest of your content? To increase those dismal odds, you need a title that draws people to what you have written.
Evaluate and Repeat
After a few months of implementing your content strategy, it is time to evaluate how successful it has been by using analytics. I use Google Analytics for basic evaluation, however if I really want to understand my target audience, I use Kiss Metrics.
If you are analysing your audience and content you will spend a great amount of time in the Audience -> Overview and Site Content -> All Pages section of Google Analytics.
Learn from your mistakes. Do not ignore underperforming content. Compare it with you more success content, make changes, and try again. Quite regularly, I will amend some content and re-publish it across all my social networks – generally with a better outcome then before.
You are not going to create the perfect digital content strategy immediately. It may take several cycles to start seeing results you want. The most important thing you can do is be patient. Things do not always go to plan and expectation. What differentiates a great content marketer from the pack is their resolve and ability to develop their skillset over time.
I would love to hear your feedback, feel free to comment below and share this wonderful and engaging piece of content!
Dear Adam Rowls,
I am interested in digital marketing and its an eye opening for me to know much about content marketing. Thanks and great job by you,
Thanks for sharing knowledge on content strategies. Actually I came here from Google expecting to see a sort of example of digital content strategy, or at least a real guideline that shows a typical structure. Your article title is a bit misleading – this article seems to talk generally about digital strategies’ whys but not the how.
Kim, I agree with you. Adam Rowles, I’m confused to what you mean by creating 2 or 3 personas? I know you gave an example, but it was too general and not specific. I get the why but can you really give in depth details or a specific example to getting or creating more than one persona?
Please send over some details about your business and I’ll share some specific examples.
Thanks for your article, but I’ll like to see a specifiec example where these principles have been implemented.
After reading so many articles about content this is a breath of fresh air- simple but not simplistic and completley realistic , it inspires me to improve thanks
Thanks Kris. Glad it helped. I will be posting a new article on content marketing shortly. Keep you updated.
I very much enjoyed your article. I’m curious, as this article was from 2014, have you seen anything “new” to add to your list? Do you have any updated blogs that would cover this? We’ll be reading! Thank you!