The Internet has changed the way businesses market themselves. Content marketing has become a buzzword, but all too often, businesses still neglect to provide customers with valuable content.
The focus is on driving customers toward the website or social media pages for a business, but little is actually there for the customers once they arrive. Too often, content becomes an afterthought, and in such an environment, it is unlikely that content will be produced that has anything to offer customers.
A content marketing strategy is a key part of a company’s overall marketing strategy, and can make the difference between a marketing failure and success.
So, what are some of the top tips for creating effective content?
- Dedicate adequate resources to the task. Too often, businesses do not commit fully enough to content marketing strategies. Employees need the time and proper expertise to develop and execute an effective marketing plan; this is not something that can be piggybacked on to other duties.
- Understand the objectives. The content marketing team must come up with a list of specific goals for the content marketing plan. For example, this means that the goals should not be “attract new customers to the site,” but specific; a better goal would be “attract x number of new customers per week for four weeks.”
- Know the target market. Who is the audience the content marketing should reach? This will dictate channels, content and more.
- Choose the right channels. These channels will vary depending on both the audience and the type of content offered. Product information may be best delivered using blogs or YouTube while promotions could be best offered using Facebook, Twitter or an email newsletter.
- Put it all together. A content marketing strategy worksheet can be invaluable in examining information, objectives, the audience, the right channels and more and putting it all together into a coherent master plan.
- Offer something valuable. This is where many companies stumble. Content needs to have a point. A technology company might inform customers about new products; a design company might use a photoset to demonstrate a new look for interior design.
- General Mills found great success with a tip for using pie pastry. The point is to both know the customer base well enough to identify customer wants and needs and to genuinely offer content that the customer can’t get elsewhere.
- Keep standards high. As part of offering something valuable, the content provider has to go beyond churning out dry content that resembles dozens of other pages on the web. It’s important for content strategists and those who write content to think like journalists. What is fresh and exciting about this content? How can that enthusiasm be conveyed to readers? What story does the company have to tell, and what is the most engaging way in which to tell it?
- Vary types of content. All too often, companies box themselves in with their content. It can be particularly easy to become too reliant on text when podcasts, video, photography and various types of interactive content like forums can increase customer engagement. Ultimately, the message should drive the type of content meaning that if text is the best way to deliver the message, then text should be used, but companies may find that there are a number of different ways to present content.
- Remember longtime customers; content marketing is not just for new business. The idea behind content marketing is that it creates more dedicated and loyal customers who are less likely to be drawn to competitors by things like lower prices.
- In other words, the customer needs to feel that a company provides value on a number of levels. For example, a technology company with a products forum could appoint valued contributors to be moderators. This gives longtime customers a sense of belonging.
Establish ways to measure return on investment. Outside marketing circles, this is one of the most controversial points in content marketing, and marketers often have a difficult time convincing CEOs and sales teams about the worth of content marketing.
One of the main reasons is that unlike many forms of traditional advertising, content marketing does not always lead to immediate sales. On the other hand, it has been shown to be an effective strategy that over a period of months can in fact be more effective than traditional marketing. For example, Sears uses page views, membership increases, and more to measure ROI.
Some companies may shy away from content marketing because they see it as overhyped. In fact, content marketing represents a significant shift in the way advertising is perceived and delivered, and solid statistics support its effectiveness. A well-planned content marketing strategy can provide a company with a strong advantage over its competitors.
About the Author
Steve Minks has over 25 years of IT & Digital expertise with a background in Property Development, Telecoms and as an accredited Health & Fitness professional. Outside of work, Steve enjoys writing on a range of subjects, functional exercise, visiting historical places and spending time with his family