Next Lesson in Content Marketing 101:
The great thing about content marketing, aside from the fact that it's a relatively cheaper form of marketing, is that it's a real investment in your business or organization that pays off over and over again, year after year. When you create content today, it will be working for you a year from now. [some of the best content is ‘Evergreen' – think gardening terms – and we'll talk about that more later!]
After talking about, and defining, what content marketing is and some of what it's not – let's get into more details of how to do this thing!
No matter if you're a big B2B like GE's plane engines division (seriously, they have quite the Instagram account and they're on Tumblr – ROI? Not sure!), a small solopreneur, a public library system or a local nonprofit – there are some basics to the steps of CM.
Here are 4 steps at the core of the content marketing process, which can lead to success:
1. Create a Website for Your Content
You want to drive [targeted!] traffic to that home. Your website (or blog) is your ‘home' base. You don't really want to drive traffic some place else. One of the reasons you can't rely on an all-social-media platform or only having a Facebook page. You don't own it. They own the traffic, you're just renting.
Any content you share anywhere should drive traffic to your website. It doesn't matter if you have a bricks and mortar business, operate out of your home office, sell cupcakes strictly online, coach in your pajamas or lead a multi-state, multi-site organization. Driving traffic to your website, like sheep to the pasture, will ultimately convert into customers, clients, patrons or users. Online or offline.
The content that you create must be engaging, compelling and work to educate your audience about your products and/or services. What you deliver matters as much, or more, than HOW you deliver it.
There are many forms which this content can, and should, take. Not every member of your audience wants to interact with content in quite the same way. Some like to read, others to watch videos, executives may want to download a piece of original research and some folks want to listen to a podcast while at the gym. Sometimes the same member of your audience may try ALL formats or channels – depending on mood, context, environment, and what's in the content.
Blog posts and articles, both on and off your website, short reports, white papers (very common in the business + B2B arena), eBooks, videos, podcasts and more are all types of content that can be part of your arsenal. They're all potential distribution channels. Don't worry about trying to create all of those types of content! Experiment and see what you feel good about creating, and what your audience likes consuming. And if you're not sure – ASK them!
Remember – ideas and stories come before the container you put them in.
One of the lesser understood keys to using content marketing to grow successfully, is email. Use your content and lovely traffic to build your email list.
You create great content on topics that are highly relevant and useful to your audience, attracting your ideal target audience to your website. Then you ask them to sign up for your email list. You might offer them a goodie, a freebie, an opt-in gift to make it more worth their while.
Once they sign up for your email list, you can send them more content, educating and engaging with them and building a relationship.
No, email marketing is not dead. Yes, people still sign up and read emails. IF … you send helpful, useful, engaging stuff. Let them get to know your organization. Only then do you encourage them to purchase your products and/or services, make a donation, volunteer their time or come visit you. And all of this will be easier because they've given you permission to talk with them and you used that to create a relationship.
We're going to cover email marketing details eventually! Don't sweat about the freebies, lead magnets or opt-in pages. Just know for now that an email list is key, and people really will give you their email – if you promise and deliver really useful stuff. So go make sure you have a way of collecting those emails. [Outlook and Gmail don't count!]
Social media is a great tool for promoting your organization. It has wide reach, it's easy to create accounts, most of it is free, and chances are pretty darn good your ideal customer/client/user is on one of the big social platforms. Social media is an ideal way to encourage your audience to share your content with others.
Share all your content on social media, including your blog posts, articles, short reports, videos and more. Find the tools and plugins that make it easy to place buttons on your site to make sharing easy. Link your blog or website with your org's social media accounts. Some of this can even be automated. [e.g. the Publicize module inside the Jetpack plugin for WP– LOVE it] Social media sharing gives you an opportunity to attract the friends of your audience so that you can build a larger following.
Now you know the tools and process – time for strategy and repeating it all
4 steps. Sounds simple, right? Sort of. If you have a solid plan, get your tools in place and then keep repeating the steps that work throughout the marketing cycle. [did you say ‘uh oh'?]
Not sure of the marketing cycle? Or strategy? Ok, we'll go over that.
We'll soon go over setting goals or objectives for your marketing (and content), learning to love planning and scheduling with editorial calendars, researching to create solid content and more. Strategy, plans, schedules and good tools all lead to content that is easier to create, educational, engaging and gets the results that you desire.