You’ve heard the term tossed around a million times. Content marketing. The phrase seems simple enough, but what exactly is it?
Content marketing is just what it sounds like. It’s the process of engaging and growing your customer base through high quality content.
Content marketing is an investment.
- It’s part of a larger marketing framework.
- It requires strategic insight.
- It targets users across the entire conversion funnel.
- It should be held accountable to a standard set of success metrics.
Content marketing is NOT social media, an intern’s job, or limited to a company blog. Like any other marketing practice, it requires commitment to systems and standards. It should be held accountable to measurable results.
CONTENT MARKETING IS A RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING TOOL
Content marketing is more than just the creation and distribution of content. It’s a tool that, when executed properly, positions your brand as an influencer.
It starts with storytelling around the concepts that your customers value most.
Good storytelling can feel challenging, especially if you’re a marketer or business owner who comes from a sales background. With content marketing, you absolutely cannot and should not sell. Rather than pitching your services upfront, focus on driving awareness about your brand and thought leadership in your area of expertise. Think about moving prospects through the conversion funnel. Sales will happen as a natural byproduct of this relationship that you’re building with your customers and prospects.
FOCUS ON MORE THAN JUST BLOGGING
Content marketing is more than just writing. There are a variety of channels that your brand can leverage to connect with prospective customers. These include:
These can be entertaining or educational videos produced on behalf of your brand. Focus on a specific topic that is related to your product or service.
CONTENT PORTALS & MICROSITES
These are content hubs designed to engage and educate audiences about topics that they care about.
These are longer-pieces of content, designed for the purpose of education.
These are storytelling tools and visual representations of data. The key is to tell your story visually. Break down complex information into a simple, easy-to-follow form.
One way to build a relationship with your audience is to teach a class in your area of expertise. You can teach this class through e-mail, videos hosted on your website, or in your physical store. Online platforms like Udemy also provide resources to help you produce, host, share, and monetize your videos.
One valuable way to build your audience is to host a webinar: an online version of a seminar. These can be free to low-cost. The beauty of webinars is that they are scalable to accommodate as many people as you want, from anywhere in the world. KISSmetrics frequently hosts webinars to help customers and prospects develop their website analytics strategies.
CONTENT MARKETING CAN BE A MAJOR REFERRAL TRAFFIC DRIVER
- Be detailed and consistent. Short blog posts tend to get fewer links than longer pieces of content. Don’t feel pressured to churn out massive amounts of content each day. Prioritize quality over quantity.
- Make content digestible by using visuals. Information overload is the norm online. Make information as simple to digest as possible, and your readers will love you… which means that they’ll share your content.
- Be consistent. If you can’t publish content on a regular basis, it will be tough to get ROI. Make sure that you publish regularly.
- Write awesome headlines. If your headlines are boring, nobody will want to read your content. You need to be compelling, edgy, and speak to your audience’s exact needs. Your headlines are the first chance to make a strong first impression.
MAKE CONTENT A PART OF THE REFERRAL TRAFFIC ECOSYSTEM
Production is only 20% of the content marketing formula. The rest is distribution. In addition to creating high-quality content, you need to make an active effort to recruit eyeballs.
One way to bring visitors to your website is through email marketing. If you have a blog, make sure that there is a clear place for users to sign up to be a part of your email list. If you publish an ebook? Same thing. Collect leads. Make sign-ups the first step to download.
When you publish a new blog post, video, or ebook, tell your subscribers about it. Send them an email every time a new story is produced. Don’t worry about turning this into a promotional newsletter. Make it a short, attention-grabbing, and compelling personal note.
SOME GENERAL TIPS ON EMAIL MARKEtING :
- Title your emails with compelling headlines, which can be titles of your newest or most compelling blog posts.
- Be extremely personal and personable. Make it clear that there are real people on the other sides of your company’s computer screens.
- Don’t be spammy about your emails. Let your users know how often you’ll be emailing them when they opt-in to your mailing list.
- Send emails once or twice a week, max!
- Monitor unsubscribe rates closely. Use these numbers to guide how often you should send your emails.
- Once your subscriber list is large enough, A/B test subject headlines on a portion of your subscribers to see which inspire the most opens. An important metric to monitor are open rates (the proportion of emails opened compared to the number sent.)
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T TRY TO SELL!
One of the core purposes of content marketing is to build a community around your brand. Marketers and business leaders get that. But for some reason, brands feel like all of the content needs to come from them. That’s the wrong approach to your content marketing. You should only produce a portion of your content in-house. Hire writers and content producers. Here’s why:
Professional writers and subject matter experts frequently have their own audiences. Reputable writers will help you kickstart or amplify your audiences.
Professional writers tend to work with multiple clients. Smart writers will cross-promote posts between clients.
Great writers leave footprints all over the web.
People want to learn from their peers in the community. If your CEO uses your company blog like a megaphone to blast corporate messaging, you’ll instantly scare your readers away. Hire writers to neutralize your sales pitch.
Writers can write faster than you can. You don’t have time to spend hours on a blog post that your writers can knock out in an hour. Spend your time building your product, and leave it to your freelancers to produce greatw content.
SUCCESS METRICS TO WATCH
Content marketing is valuable for connecting with users at all stages of the conversion funnel. Make sure that you’re monitoring the right metrics to optimize your content marketing program’s performance:
These metrics quantify the relationship you’re building with your prospects and customers. Pay attention to the following metrics to capture this important concept:
- Pageviews: The total number of pages viewed on your website in a given time period.
- Average visit duration: How long visitors are spending on your site.
- Return visits: The number of total visits from users who have visited your website before.
- Bounce rate: The percentage of users who visit your website and then immediately leave.
- Average pages viewed per visit: The number of website pages viewed, on average, in a given time period.
This concept captures the influence, distribution, and reach of your content. It’s an indicator of whether audiences find value in what you produce. The following metrics will help you quantify this concept:
- Social media shares: Shares through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest give your content a higher probability of gaining visibility.
- Unique visitors: The total number of distinct visitors who come your website in a given time period.
LEADS AND CONVERSIONS
A marketer’s most important job is to drive leads and conversions. Content marketing should align with these goals.
- Leads: The number of leads that can be directly and indirectly attributable to content marketing.
- Conversions: The number of sales / orders that funnel in through your content.
- Sign-ups and inquiries: The number of people who express interest in doing business with your organization after consuming a piece (or multiple pieces of) content.
It is important to understand how leads are interacting with your brand throughout the purchase funnel. Depending on your company and business model, it usually takes a series of steps to ultimately convert into a lead or paying customer. Content marketing should help your customers through this purchase funnel. The process should be emotionally engaging, fun, and frictionless.
To measure this, you need to be able to connect your sales to your content marketing efforts.
- Recurring Revenue: Quantify the revenue that your content program drives over a specified time interval. Look for the percentage of revenue derived from content marketing as well as revenue from tangentially related marketing efforts.
LIFETIME VALUE & CUSTOMER ACQUISITION COSTS
How much does it cost to acquire each user through content marketing? On average, how much value will customers drive over a lifetime? These metrics will help you craft an intelligent budget for your content marketing strategy — to make sure that you’re ROI positive and not losing money from your investment.
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