The money is in the list. You’ve heard this a lot, I’m sure. The reason you hear it so much is because it’s true. It’s been true since the advent of email, and it’s even truer today. Email is not dead and using content marketing to get people on your list is the best way to accomplish building your list so you can nurture your audience with more content and convert them to customers and eventually turn them into brand advocates.
Choose the Right Platform for Your Needs
When you choose email marketing software, it’s imperative that you understand the terms of service of the platform. For example, if you plan to engage in affiliate marketing, some platforms don’t allow it, and some encourage it. Read the fine print but pick software that has room to grow, that you find easy to work with and understand, and that has the features now and in the future that you will use. Pay for the platform instead of using free versions. You need the features, and you need ownership.
Provide Many Opportunities to Enter Your Email List
To move more people to your email list, you need to have as many entry points as possible for your audience. Studies show that websites with 100 landing pages or more do a lot better than those with fewer landing pages. Make specialized landing pages for each product directed toward each member of your audience.
One product may have five or more landing pages, due to the audience you want to attract. For example, if you guest post on a guru’s site, you should create a specialized landing page for anyone who clicks through to your site from the article you posted.
Try Active Campaign for creating your first list.
Create Low Price and Free Entry Level Products and Services to Try
Your audience needs to build their trust for you, and one way to do that is to give away freebies or promote low-cost products that grab their attention. These products can be in the form of workbooks, checklists, cheat sheets, video tutorials, discount codes, PDF guides, trials, and more.
Plan Your Autoresponder Content
It’s not enough to just get people on your list, you must be prepared with autoresponder content in advance. You’ll need immediate welcome, thank you, and educational info to go out upon registration. Beyond that, you’ll need to plan for autoresponder content for pre-purchase information, during purchase information, and post-purchase and beyond information to go out to your list members based on how they signed up, so that it’s complexly personalized and relevant to them.
Promote Your Information
It’s not enough to create the landing pages, the freebies, or the low-cost and entry-level products, you must promote them too. Promote your freebies the same way you promote your highest-priced items so that they get the attention they deserve. You can promote on social media, in your profiles and bios, on your website, within the content you create for your blog, in certain Facebook groups, in your own communities and groups, where your audience hangs out, within your bio on guest posts, and within emails.
Check the Numbers
Once again, we’re to the point where it’s becoming redundant to mention it, but it’s so important that you always check the numbers and mind your data. The data you gather on your audience, on their behavior, and through the various platforms you use matters greatly. It’s the only way to be sure you’re using your time wisely and getting results from your actions.
The truth is, even more important than directly focusing on sales, you should focus on moving interested audience members to your email list. Most people just don’t buy these products simply by browsing a website. Instead, they buy based on the fact that they trust and believe in the person promoting the product. This can only happen if you help them get to know you better, and the best way to do that is your email list.
The first thing you need to do for any type of content you’re going to develop for your business is to know why you’re doing it. Every single piece of content needs a reason that is tied to a very specific and measurable goal.
When you’re focused on getting your audience’s attention, there are a few goals that you can work toward that work well in the attention-getting phase, or the awareness stage – such as building your reputation, getting to know your audience, and more.
Establish Your Expertise and Legitimize Your Reputation
Find ways to build trust in your expertise and reputation by publishing the right educational information that demonstrates your knowledge. You can also collaborate with experts by interviewing them a la Oprah Winfrey. When you surround yourself with other experts who are well thought of, you will be thought of as reputable too.
Types of content to use:
- Expert Interviews
- Long-Form Blog Posts
- Educational Blog Posts
- White Papers
Where to publish the content:
- Your Blog (Always)
Get to Know Your Audience and Let Them Get to Know You
Your audience is real human beings with problems and lives. Get to know them as much as you can by creating buyer personas for every single stage of the buying journey. For example, you might want to build a community on one of the social media platforms or by installing your own forum and message board on your website. User-generated content on forums and message boards is very important when building a community.
Surprise People with Unexpected Content and Bonuses
If you become too predictable, sometimes people tune out. Try to make the experience your audience has unique, regardless of the platform they’re using on which to engage with you. For example, if someone downloads your free eBook, why not give them a nice coupon or make a bonus offer to incentivize them to make a purchase – without telling them about it in advance. Or, you could host a spontaneous “live” event on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube to show your audience behind-the-scenes action.
Be Disruptive but with Caution
One way to grab attention has always been to be disruptive. Studies show, unfortunately, that negativity gets more engagement and views than positivity. This doesn’t mean that you need to be nasty. Poke the pain points; disagree with a guru. But always ensure that whatever you do that is disruptive isn’t painful or hurtful but instead ultimately helpful to your audience.
Mind Your Data
Everything you do must be data-centric. The only way you know why about anything you do is because you check the numbers. For example, you cannot assume a new blog post or interview is directly responsible for all your conversions unless the data supports that idea. When you set up the metrics based on your goals and really use them, you’ll improve your success with content marketing exponentially.
As you’ve learned from studying the buyer’s journey, as you build your content marketing funnel, the first step to connecting with your audience is to gain their attention. You can do this by focusing on content that informs, instructs, interacts with, and inspires your ideal audience to learn and act on the information you provide to them. To do this, you must get their attention. That is the first step in the buyer’s journey (awareness) and the first step in your marketing funnel. The next step is to move them to your email list, and you’ll learn about that next time.
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.