Content marketing is not about the direct sale. While you may view a sales page as content, and it is part of it, content marketing is a long term strategy and process by which you develop, create, publish, and promote informative and educational content that helps you reach your goals.
This doesn’t mean you don’t give the audience opportunities to buy, or that you don’t include a call to action, but content marketing is more a seduction process than it is a direct selling process. The content that you develop and publish works its way through the buying cycle in a deliberate way and is almost never forceful, always putting your ideal customer first.
Instead of focusing on sales, focus on:
- Delivering Value – Whenever you produce content, besides setting a goal for it, you should also ensure that it provides something of value for the consumer. This means that it needs to solve a problem or define a problem or do something that the user determines has value. You can only do this by fully studying your audience so that you know the pain points and the available solutions for your ideal audience.
- Creating Personalized Content – The more the content speaks directly to the reader or viewer, the better. Try to create content that is as personalized as possible, using all the technology you can afford to ensure the most up-to-date and possible personalization. This is especially important in email marketing.
- Building Trust – The content you publish on your blog can also work to build trust. The more consistent you are with your brand voice and the messages you deliver to your audience, the more people will naturally trust you.
- Getting Back Links – One of the goals for publishing content is so that it gets shared, and the person who shared it is offering more links to your content so more people can find you. To ensure you get more shares, you’ll have to create more shareable content like infographics, for example.
- Asking and Answering Questions – This is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Ask questions of your audience so that they can give their opinion and give your opinion about your expertise freely by answering their questions.
- List Building – This is almost the most important part of content marketing. Use content marketing right by producing lots of opportunities within the content you publish to get your audience to move to your lists, such as in-content downloads, gated content, freebies, and more.
- Getting to Know Your Audience – The more content you publish, the more opportunities you have to engage with and get to know your audience. If engagement is a goal, always ensure you include the right calls to action to ensure it happens.
When you understand that content does make sales but that it is not supposed to appear like a sales letter to your audience, then it is easier to understand the way content marketing works. Each piece of content needs a clear non-sales-oriented goal, as mentioned above, with clear steps for achieving the goal included. When you start understanding that content marketing is a long-term strategy for building your business, you’ll realize how powerful it really is.
One goal for content marketing is to continuously draw in new potential customers so that you can get on the radar of your target audience. With content marketing, you can help create a great first impression, remind existing customers of your offers, and delight them too. But first, you must draw them in. Let’s look at how to use content marketing to draw in new potential customers.
Publish Informational and Educational Blog Posts
A new potential customer is someone who may still be in the awareness stage of their research about their problems and the solutions offered. For this reason, use your blog to post educational and informational content that systemically teaches them about their problems and points them toward your solutions too.
Write Guest Posts
You can do the same thing with guest posting. Find out where your ideal audience hangs out and offer to contribute guest posts that are very targeted and relevant. Don’t pay for the privilege. You may even be able to find sites that will pay you instead. You are giving them something of value, and the value for you is the links back to your landing pages.
Encourage and Incentivize User-Generated Content
The content your users generate can also attract more search engine traffic. When users put a lot of content on your behalf – such as comments on blog posts, social media posts, or in your forum – that helps other people trust you more and makes search engines send more people to your information.
Curate Relevant Content
You can also use curated content to help get the attention of your ideal customers. When you create a one-stop-site for all the information about your niche directed toward your audience, it’s just a natural progression to mention relevant content and discussions happening and give your thoughts on it.
Solicit Expert Content
You can also ask people that you believe have something to offer your audience the opportunity to guest post on your blog. Allow them to directly sell their information through the blog post, and you’ll find more willing participants. If you’re an affiliate, you’ll earn from the effort, too, while also providing interesting content to your audience.
Incorporate Images That Make Your Audience Curious
Always include images in every post that help advance the meaning of the information you’ve shared with them. Also, if you include video, infographics that explain data, and other images into your content that look interesting and match your brand, you’ll cause them to be curious enough to click through.
It’s Okay to Entertain Your Audience Too
Don’t forget that the content you create for business awareness doesn’t have to be boring and uninteresting. You can use interactive quizzes and games as well to attract and inform your audience.
Trade Something of Value for Their Email
Remember that every single piece of content you create should also somehow move them to your list. You can accomplish this by offering gated content in addition to the initial content that brought them to your site so that you can move them to your list. The list is where you’ll encourage them to become customers.
Using content to draw in new potential customers is one of the ways that content marketing is most effective. You put the material in front of them, give them what they want essentially, and then they join you so that you can tell them about your offers and thus finally solve their problems.
Properly executed content marketing plans will increase your brand’s reach, demonstrate credibility, advance your subject matter expertise, educate your audience, and so much more. But only if you learn how to set clearly defined content marketing goals so that you can avoid busywork that slows productivity and tricks you into thinking your ideas are bad.
Define the Purpose for the Content
Some potential purposes for any content you create include earning more links to your site, ranking higher in the search engine results, educating your audience, driving social engagement, building your list, or something else.
Determine Where the Content Will Live
One thing you need to know when you define goals for content is, based on the purpose of the content, where will you place the content for maximum attraction and views.
Know the Format the Content Needs to Be In
When you know the purpose and where the content will live, then it’s easier to determine the format the content should initially appear in. For example, if you’re going to put the content on YouTube, it should, of course, be a video, but if you put content on your blog, it can still be a video along with a transcript of the video and so forth.
Define Exactly How You’ll Promote the Content You Publish
It helps to know the purpose of the content, where the content is going to live, and what format it is before you decide how to promote it. You’ll probably want to use a combination approach, but it does depend on who the content is for how you’re going to do things, and you can only know that if you have taken the time to set clear goals.
Use SMART Goal Setting Techniques
Anytime you need to set goals for anything, using the SMART goal setting techniques helps you create actionable goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. When you ensure that your goals cover those areas, you’ll also ensure that they are clearly defined so that you can easily follow them because the process creates clarity.
Transfer Your Goals to a Real Schedule
If you don’t schedule the work that you need to do in order to reach the goals you’ve set, then the goals aren’t really that clear. Put the information into a calendar, giving yourself enough time to get it done in a timely manner.
Like most things in life, if you create clearly defined goals, you’ll end up with much better results. Setting relevant goals for content marketing will ensure that you aren’t just creating content for the sake of creating content. That doesn’t work and will just frustrate you. Every single piece of content that you create must have a purpose, and you should define that purpose prior to even starting to develop it. When you do that, you will experience so much success.
When engaging in content marketing, one of the steps is to choose the platforms you’ll use to publish and promote your content so that you can reach your content marketing goals. Which platforms you should utilize will depend on the goal of the piece of content, where your customer is in their buying journey, where the customer likes to get their information and hang out, and other factors.
For most business owners, there are essentially three platforms that you need to be aware of using in your content marketing efforts. You’ll want to use all three, without exception: your website, your autoresponder, and your social media platforms. But there are also a lot of choices when it comes to each of these.
Your Website / Blog
Every single business owner, regardless of whether they are online or offline, needs to have a website with a blog. In fact, today, blogs are totally interchangeable with websites and should be thought of as the same. The term “blog” should be thought of as where you will place the informative and educational articles needed to bring awareness about your products and services to your ideal audience.
The content you put here will be designed to bring awareness to the problems and solutions that you are promoting for your ideal audience. It should be focused on informative, valuable, and educational content that helps the audience become aware of their problems and the solutions that you offer.
Pro tip: If you want to monetize your blog, you need to use your own domain instead of using free, ready to use websites. This is one of the things that you should invest in. You can register cheap domain names and hosting services at Namecheap.
Your Email Autoresponder
Content that you use in your email autoresponder, or even in one-time blasts to your list, is also an important aspect of effective content marketing. The platform you choose depends on your budget and the features that you need for the type of business you have. Always read the fine print because some platforms don’t allow you to do affiliate marketing, and some do.
This content is designed to inform and educate list members further on the information they desire, based on how and why they signed up to be on your list. For example, if you had inserted an in-content PDF file on your blog post about eating family dinner that required an email address to download, then you’d want to start marketing your products and services designed to solve their problem even more.
One of my favorite email autoresponders to use is Active Campaign because of it’s features. It took me some time before I was able to find which email marketing app I was comfortable using with and provided the best results for my clients. Active Campaign offers free trial. Check out Active Campaign here.
Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and so forth are great for promoting your content. You’ll want to choose at least the top three that you know for sure your audience uses. It’s always a good idea to set up a presence on any up and coming platform, but if you place your focus on just the top three, at least until you get a grasp on your process, it’ll be a lot easier.
The type of content you put on social media will be designed to promote the content on your site and landing pages so that you can drive traffic and convert buyers. You can also use content that is designed to help new buyers use their products or services more effectively and create delighted customers that become brand ambassadors.
Using these three platforms to publish and distribute the content you develop and create for your audience is an important part of effective content marketing that you shouldn’t skip out on – no matter what other people say. Email marketing is not dead, and neither is social media marketing or blogging. All are effective forms of content marketing that you need to utilize to succeed.
*This post contains affiliate links which may allow me to earn a few bucks to keep this blog going.
Content marketing really hasn’t changed much since its inception. The only thing that changes are the tools at your disposal for making content marketing work for you. Tools like blogs, social media, email autoresponders, streaming video, and more are developed all the time.
Often there are multiple options for each type of tool such as Instagram versus Pinterest. Audience knowledge will help you decide which tool is best to use. To understand what tools you might need for content marketing, let’s go over the basics of using content marketing to support your business.
Understand the Order of Operations
Content marketing is designed to bring more traffic to your website, first and foremost. You want more hits on your blog, landing pages, products, services, and so forth on the pages they can buy from. For this reason, content, for the most part, should start on your website, and then you should take action to promote it by using the other channels and platforms at your disposal – like email and social media platforms.
Develop Your Brand Voice
It can really help you understand your brand voice. Your brand voice includes the selection of words you choose, the attitude and values you display while addressing your audience or others, and how you make the audience feel about you and themselves. Some business owners like to make a brand persona to help them remember their mission and reason for being.
Develop Buyer Personas
One way to really help you target content to the right person at the right time is to develop buyer personas for your audience members that you want to target where they are in their buying journey. When you – or someone you have hired – create specific content, you can use that as a guide on who you’re trying to target with the information.
Conduct Keyword Research
Based on the knowledge you have of your audience and your product, take the time to conduct keyword research. Start with brainstorming a basic list of keywords about your product, services, and audience. Use these keywords to help you find others using tools like Google Trends, SEMrush.com, WordStream.com, and others.
Identify Types of Content You Need
Do they like videos, or do they like reports? Do they like webinars live, or will they watch your YouTube.com channel? Do they like reaching educational and informative material on your blog? Determining the types of content that you need will require you to understand how and where your audience likes to receive information. Take some time to explore and even test the formats of content and types of content they prefer.
Know Where You’ll Place the Content
Audience understanding always helps you with all aspects of content creation, including distribution. Understanding the order of operations, plus where your audience likes to hang out to find the information that they need, will help you determine how you place and promote it.
Create a Consistent Strategy
It’s imperative that you create a strategy and then use it consistently for the best chance of success. Content marketing works. Content marketing is the most effective form of marketing ever to exist. If you publish and promote content regularly – the more, the better (if it’s valuable and relevant) – the more opportunities your audience has of finding you and for content marketing to pay off.
Analyze the Results
No matter what you do, you must always study the numbers. The metrics and data you look at come from the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are tied to the goals of each piece of content. For example, if a blog post is designed to pull traffic, look at the traffic numbers before, during, and after promotion to find out if it was effective or not.
Modify and Optimize
Using the data that you gather when you study analytics, you can choose to modify and optimize to improve results. Sometimes you may decide to do more of something, and sometimes you may decide to do less of something – all based on the numbers. This is the smartest way to ensure you don’t work hard for no reason. Focus on results and impact.
Mix It Up and Try New Things
After you’ve chosen how to get started, keep up to date on content marketing and what’s popular and effective so that you can occasionally try a new method along with the known working methods you’re already using. For example, today, Facebook marketing may be a great way to distribute your content, but tomorrow a brand-new platform could rise, and you should be ready for it.
Taking the time to develop your content marketing strategy before you get started is the thing that’s going to really determine your success. Knowing why and how you’re doing any action is imperative so that you can reach the goals you set.
Content marketing is not an invention that started just when the internet took off. The truth is content marketing has been around in various forms since the beginning of marketing and advertising. You’ve seen content marketing in commercials, television shows, movies, and even in magazines via “advertorials.”
Essentially, content marketing is simply creating and distributing valuable, relevant, attractive, and consistent content to your very specific audience with the goal of persuading those who consume the content to act on your calls to action.
What’s powerful and special about content marketing today is that you can distribute content marketing materials online basically for free. You don’t have to pay money for an advertorial or even pay to promote your posts if you don’t want to. Using content to get information to your audience is a long-term strategy that may include expenditures on content, but it doesn’t have to include any advertising at all because of the power of the internet.
A few examples of content marketing, as mentioned previously, are:
- Email Auto-responder Messages
- Videos and Webinars
- Case Studies and Interviews
- eBooks, eReports, and White Papers
- Checklists and Cheat Sheets
- Social Media Posts and Updates
- Infographics, GIFS, Memes, and Images
Your job when using content to market is to understand your ideal customers’ buying cycle. The basic buying cycle includes awareness, consideration, and decision. However, most marketers like to add more to the buying journey because there are many steps in each of the three basic steps of the buying cycle.
For example, they may list the buying cycle as awareness, research, consideration, purchasing, and retention instead. However, you decide how to define your customer’s buying journey. The more specific you are about where they are in their decision-making process or buying journey, the more targeted and effective your content marketing efforts will be.
When you endeavor to practice effective content marketing, you will create and distribute content that matches your goals that you set for each piece of content based on where the customer is in the buying journey. Having this knowledge about your audience and your products will make your content marketing efforts more effective.
Some examples of content marketing goals include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Increasing solution awareness and knowledge
- Driving targeted traffic to your website
- Building your email list with interested members
- Generating more sales
- Converting more leads to customers
- Drive up-selling
- Improving retention
- And more
You’ll determine the goal for the piece of content, and you’ll note the ideal audience you want to target and where they are in their buying cycle before you even start creating the titles, adding keywords, and developing the content. Finally, you’ll need to know where to distribute the content. That will again depend on the goals you’ve set for the content, as well as who the content is meant for based on their buying journey.