Today’s post looks at what a “content marketing strategy” is and why it’s essential to every business with an online presence. As technology advances and more and more options pop up for self-promotion, high quality content remains one of the few elements that can’t be automated. And it’s the single most important.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing refers to the process of creating high-quality, free and shareable website content with the intention of attracting and engaging your target audience. The key words here are “high-quality”. Creating content these days is easy and you’re almost certainly already doing it. Facebook status updates, Tweets, blog posts, Instagram posts, pins on Pinterest. These are all examples of online content. You might even be promoting your business using these very same social networks. But you may not be getting the reaction you hoped for. The key lies in creating valuable content that answers your consumers’ questions and demonstrates your degree of expertise in your chosen field.
Marketing is everywhere. And, dependent on your industry, many forms of marketing simply don’t generate the traffic and interest they used to. Paid online advertising can be costly and combatted with ad-blocking browser extensions. People generally despise telemarketing. Local newspapers often lose out to digital and more dynamic strategies. And face-to-face networking is a lot of hard graft.
You know your industry inside out. So how do you demonstrate that to potential customers and prove you’re the person they should be doing business with?
Copywriting is Not Content Marketing
A common misconception is that copywriting is essentially content marketing and that you just need to hire someone to write your website copy and be done with it. People will then find it organically on Google. Read it. Love it. And buy your products repeatedly.
There’s a difference between well-written, persuasive content and effective promotion of your content. Writing a blog post and hitting publish is not a strategy. People do that every day. That’s just the first step.
Equally, the content created specifically for content marketing serves a different purpose to that of the rest of your website content. Landing pages (product pages, for example), are usually designed to persuade a user to perform an action. Get in touch. Send an email. Buy the product. Content pieces, on the other hand, are crafted with a different intent: to entertain, excite or engage the user. They aren’t primarily about selling directly to the user. They inform.
Why You Need a Strategy
We’re overwhelmed with information on a daily basis. And we’re all growing tired of it. There is so much content out there and most of the time we just want answers. We jump on Google, hammer out a question and we’re hit with hundreds and thousands of results. Many of them repeating the same thing in just a slightly re-worded way. So when we find something that doesn’t simply follow the crowd, but addresses the specific questions we have in a direct and efficient way, we form an instant connection with that brand/company/person.
This is what we as content-producers should aim to achieve with every piece of content we publish.
In order to cut through the noise you need content that is more than well-written. It needs to answer the real-world questions of your users. It needs to educate, inform and persuade all at the same time. It needs to position you as the expert and make it easy for the user to choose you over your competitors. Much of it is about changing your mindset from that of a business owner to that of your perfect customer. What are they looking for and why are you the right fit?
90% of content published online is aimless. It’s churn. It just adds noise. And a scary amount of businesses don’t have a strategy for their content. Especially new businesses and startups. Yet they expect to publish a new website and begin counting the pennies.
What Does a Content Marketing Strategy Actually Look Like?
Strategies can vary greatly in complexity. We prefer to keep it as simple as possible and follow a basic three step process.
- Who are we talking to?
- What excites or interests them?
- Where do they hang out online?
- How can we help them?
Create content that answers the questions above in an informative, succinct and authoritative way. It needs to be easy to read, easy to scan and ideally aesthetically pleasing to look at. It should also be created in the most appropriate format for the audience – be it blog posts, infographics, video content or something else entirely.
Share the content in the right places according to the information unearthed in step one. Engage the audience – don’t sell to them, help them. And make sure that content gets in front of as many eyes as possible.
Of course, the inner workings of each step aren’t quite as easy to achieve as a three step process makes it seem. There’s a tonne of trial and error and it takes time and patience to develop an efficient, sustainable process. Simple concepts, difficult to implement. But executed correctly, an efficient content marketing strategy will help elevate your business above your competitors. As with many things in life, the devil is in the detail.