“Content isn't King, it's the Kingdom.” - Lee Odden
Creating content can be difficult. Creating content without a strategy is even more difficult.
We have all heard about content marketing and how important it is, but what is it? Content marketing commands the ability to reach new and existing customers, further your brand awareness, and ultimately extend your business's reach and online presence. The more engaging your content is, the more you will stand out from your competitors and build your authority online. The purpose of your videos, infographics, or blog posts should be to engage, grow, and retain your audience.
In 2021, 4.4 million new blog posts were published every day across all platforms. The battle for online relevance has never been more challenging, and leveraging your marketing materials has never been more important.
By creating a strategy and foundation around your content marketing, you can create content more easily.
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln
The first thing you need to do is identify your target market. What are the demographics, interests, or lifestyles? You should also consider why they might care (or not care) about your message. These types of questions will help you establish a clear path during the planning phase. Determine your user personas, define your voice, and understand your position statement. Getting to know your audience allows you to predict and plan the most effective marketing campaigns.
Your user persona helps you humanize customer data and represent the mind and behaviors of a group of customers. Successful brands use user personas to identify their customers, serve them, and build relationships with them. Keep the following questions in mind when creating your own user personas.
- Household income
- Wants and needs
- Pain points
- How to reach them
Benefits of Your Content
There's a saying in the marketing world: "features tell and benefits sell." A customer-centric approach is key when creating content. Stay true to your brand and don’t be afraid to engage with your audience by building a more emotional or powerful message. Customers who are emotionally engaged spend up to two times more on brands and are more likely to recommend them to their friends or family. Know your products well and act boldly.
- What does your brand offer?
- What are your strengths?
- How does your brand differentiate from your competitors?
- How does your brand make your customers feel?
- Why should they trust your brand?
- What kind of experience do you want your customers to have?
- What do your customers get from your brand?
- How do you solve the pain points of your customers?
- Why are these features so important?
VOICE & TONE
Multiple people can say the same sentence and you can still tell them apart by their voices. The voice of your brand is HOW your messaging gets delivered. This will include what personality traits and tones you'll want to use with your different user personas. Does your brand embody a practical, useful, or sensible tone or more of a vibrant, curious, or energetic tone?
- What well-known celebrity best fits your brand personality?
- What adjectives best describe your brand? (playful, practical, welcoming, adventurous)
- Who do we not want to be?
Positioning statements are not mission statements. Position statements identify a brand's place in the market, while mission statements describe a company's direction. Positioning statements guide all future communications. These statements can be used to communicate with customers, but are really meant for internal use to communicate the brand.
Example: “For athletes in need of high-quality, fashionable athletic wear, Nike provides customers with top-performing sports apparel and shoes made of the highest quality materials. Its products are the most advanced in the athletic apparel industry because of Nike's commitment to innovation and investment in the latest technologies.” - Nike
These statements focus on the identity and purpose of your brand, as well as its unique features from a customer's perspective.
- What promises does your brand make to your customers?
- How does your brand deliver this promise?
- Why do you do what you do?
- Who is your target consumer?
Knowing your user persona, benefits, voice, and position statement will make content creation less intimidating. Each piece of content produced needs to be researched, constructed, edited, and optimized to provide engaging and useful information for your target audience. You may not always have a brilliant content idea for a blog or infographic, but when you do, you'll have a solid foundation to work from.
Optimize your content with the intention of attracting traffic from search engines.
- Perform a keyword research to find out which words your audience is searching for online.
- Include titles and descriptions for all of your websites pages.
- Link to existing content.
- Ensure your URLs are easily readable.
- Use images and include ALT text to describe what it is.
Create valuable content that is interesting and original.
- Answer your audience’s questions.
- Know the topics that matter most.
- Choose a specific search intent content (educational, navigational, commercial or transactional).
- Write catchy headlines.
- Be clear and concise.
On the days when you are feeling stuck or have writer's block, refer back to your strengths and create something new based on them. Repurpose the older content and create new landing pages, videos, blog posts, or infographics. This is called content atomization and allows your content to travel much further and potentially reach new customers.
In order to create content experiences, you have to create more than just another piece of branded content, no matter how good it may be. The human attention span has dropped to 8 seconds, according to a new study by Microsoft, and continues to decrease as technology is used more frequently. This can make it extremely difficult to generate effective content and create interest in your brand. Leverage your content and create a meaningful user experience for your audience.
- Choose one topic - Avoid cramming too many offers or products and focus on one thing at a time.
- Keep it simple - High quality content can easily be consumed and explained.
- Speak to your audience - Your content is never about the creator it's always about your audience.
- Use more visuals - Create unique visuals and create curiosity.
Even if you have a great piece of content, if it is not distributed properly, it might not reach the right audience. This may be one of the most important aspects because this is where high quality content either fails or succeeds.
Effectively distribute your content by...
- Own the channel where your audience is most active and regularly post your own content there. Despite Facebook having more users than any other social media channel, if your audience isn't active there, focus your efforts elsewhere.
- Build your email subscriber list or begin building a new one. Email marketing is still effective and very affordable. Your audience will want to engage with your content when it is targeted to their needs. The more personable you are with your email contacts the more trust you build.
- Create PPC (pay-per-click) ads to bring in quality leads. The top PPC platforms you can start using today are Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads or Adroll. The great thing about PPC is that you're only charged when someone interacts with your ad (impressions or clicks) and produces fast results.
The final piece of content holds the goal of helping us understand what went well or what went wrong. In order to improve your marketing efforts in the future, you need to regularly reassess your efforts, using the data you collected from your campaigns.
Analyze the following data or insights:
- Where is your content most popular?
- How did your audience react to each piece of content?
- Which topics resonated with your audience the most?
- What imagery or creative caused the most buzz?
Collect your insights from the right sources like Google Analytics and your other marketing automation platforms. You also need to understand how each piece of content is contributing to your ROI. Research new tracking methods that work for you and your business. There are a lot of analytic platforms that can give you the kind of tracking you're looking for.
With content marketing there is no end or final step; we are always trying to create better content, keep up with the latest trends, or algorithms. These five foundational steps will help keep you on top of content creation regardless of your experience. Use these tools to help your brand stand out and create better content.