Content Marketing

How To Create The Best Content Marketing Strategy

How To Create The Best Content Marketing Strategy

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of how to create such a strategy, I want to give you a compelling reason why you need to make Content Marketing an integral part of your marketing budget.

Consider this statistic highlighted courtesy of Lenati

67% of the typical B2B buyer’s journey is now done digitally, and 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say online content has a moderate to major effect on their purchasing decisions.

Even though this statistic is based on a B2B consumer I have no doubt that the outcome would be the same for a B2C buyer.  Why?

The consumer whether B2B or B2C is intelligent, protective of their privacy, does not want to compromise on quality, expects a personalised user experience and above all now conducts their own research before considering making an enquiry.  

Gone are the days of someone blindly engaging with a sales rep and this very point is encapsulated in this piece of research from the Demand Gen Report – Content Preferences Survey which states that:

47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.

At the end of day, while increased website traffic, increasing impressions and lots of social shares are positive, a business will only survive if it can turn casual visitors into advocate customers.

Therefore, a business needs to employ tactics and use strategies that will motivate and increase the chances your target audience will want to do business with you, and Content Marketing, done well, is just such a strategy in my opinion.

Business Is Buying Into Content Marketing

In 2017 Content Marketing is appearing to be now seen as an integral and vital part of a company marketing strategy. This is very well evidenced by an excellent survey done by Smart Insights who asked their readers the following question.

“Select one marketing activity that you think will give your business the biggest incremental uplift in leads and sales in 2017 (or your clients if you work for an agency or as a consultant)”.

Out of 2,352 responses, Content Marketing was polled at the top as illustrated by the image below courtesy of Smart Insights

 

Top Digital Marketing Techniques

 

Content Marketing Is Becoming Universally Accepted

In 2016, 90% of businesses were implementing Content Marketing as a tactic in their business and for 2017 it is estimated that this figure will increase according to this report by the leading authority in the area of Content Marketing The Content Marketing Institute

They define Content Marketing as follows:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.

This is a very clear definition of what Content Marketing is and when you think about it makes perfect sense.  

Customers, buyers and prospects in 2017 are more sales savvy, knowledgeable about what it is they want and are intent on doing their own intensive research when trying to find an answer or a solution.  

Therefore, it stands to reason that if a company provides quality information that is relevant to their audience that allows them to come to a decision easier, than the company in question should see positive results.

But this not the case!

Businesses Are Struggling To Get Success With Content Marketing

Even though Content Marketing makes sense and companies understand the benefits that can be accrued from employing such a strategy, businesses are struggling to get the success they want.

In their 2016 Content Marketing Benchmark report The Content Marketing Institute in conjunction with Marketing Profs found a number of challenges (see image courtesy of Smart Insights below) that businesses reported when trying to get traction with Content Marketing.

Top Challenges for b2b marketers

If I go back to the headline of this post titled:

How To Create The Best Content Marketing Strategy

I do believe that a number of these challenges could be tackled and the results improved if companies reviewed what they had defined as their Content Marketing Strategy.

Consider these core statistics for a moment:

70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. (Altimeter)

80% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy. 32% documented 48% not

Having a detailed documented strategy that is consistently applied, reviewed and iterated where and when necessary, is a crucial element that based on the above results a lot of companies are failing to do which then feeds into the issues and struggles that I alluded to earlier.

 

Strategy

How To Create The Best Content Marketing Strategy

Dart board

Step 1 Define Your Goals

This invariably is the most critical step.  If you don’t know why you are undertaking Content Marketing and what is it that you want to achieve from your Content Marketing activities you will struggle to see any real traction or benefits accrued. You may, in fact, do damage to your brand as you come across confused and inconsistent in both messaging and communications.

When defining goals when it comes to Content Marketing I believe you have to do it with your end customer in mind and based on the stage of the sales journey they could be on with you.  

Simply Measured did an excellent job to flesh this out and how you need to create content that has a purpose.  From this article, they put forward an excellent content funnel (see image below) where they mapped content against the traditional sales funnel journey a person would travel.

Social Metrics Map

I think the above map would be an excellent overlay to allow a company develop very personalised and relevant objectives for the various tactics that would be employed as a prospect moved closer to conversion.

Customer Personas

Step 2 Persona Research

Knowing and understanding what your customer and the target market pain points, needs and wants are is crucial so that you can align your message tailored to what will peak their interest.

Hubspot outlines a very detailed plan to begin creating your customer personas but a core element is you have to conduct your research on the market and use insights from customer surveys, reviews, interviews from your sales team etc.

Every customer and prospect is looking for a solution or an answer, but the core interest or element that they deem critical in order for them to make a decision is vital to know.

For example some customers maybe price focussed, others look for testimonials and proof of delivery.  Once you can identify these you can then better craft your message to resonate with them.

Content Audit

Step 3 Content Audit

A lot of companies have produced lots of content yet it gets forgotten in place of yet another campaign.  

You must review what has been done before, how did it perform, did it work, did it not, why did work, why did it fail, could it be used again, updated etc.

Looking at what the company has initially produced and reviewing how it performed the first time will provide not only potential content for the new strategy but doing this review will yield critical performance information to ensure mistakes that happened the last time don’t occur again.

Wordpress

Step 4 Content Management

You need to document and agree on a system for creating the content, publishing the content and then reviewing how it performs against your objectives and KPI’s.

For example if the company decides that a blog will be a core content tactic to be used, will this be managed via WordPress or an alternative solution, or will you decide to have one all encompassed approach that allows for content marketing, analytics and CRM to be contained in one bespoke piece of software such as Hubspot.

Brain storming

Step 5 Content Brainstorming

While this is down as a step it will not be a once off action.  

Setting up agreed idea generation meetings is a necessity to allow for new ideas or the iteration and improving original content previously shared with the market.

At these sessions, you need to agree what types of content should be produced and for blog posts using a blog post title generator like this one from Hubspot is valuable.

Ultimately though at these sessions you are looking to come up with ideas and solidify the core content you wish to create as part of your content strategy.  

Some excellent forms of content that could be created are as follows:

 

 

  • Blog
  • Ebooks
  • Whitepaper
  • Industry Report
  • Infographic
  • Video
  • Tips sheet
  • Templates
  • Podcast
  • Quotes
  • FAQ’s

 

 

Blog

I placed a blog at the top because I truly believe that it is a content marketing tactic that is mandatory for the majority of companies.  

Not only does having a blog help in the long term with SEO and page-rank, but it allows you showcase your expertise to your market and the beauty of a blog is that a post or multiple posts under the same theme could be repurposed into any of the other content forms listed above.

Calendar

6 Content Planning

Creating a plan around an editorial calendar is critical from a Content Marketing point of view.  You need to work towards having your content designated for a certain audience and then scheduled to post and be distributed at key periods ahead of time rather than try to do it live on the due date.

An editorial calendar allows you plan what content should go on what date against each of the social channels, and it can also allow you forward look at specific events or seasonal times like Easter or Christmas where if applicable, you can ahead of time create content specific to that event, and hence, become more relevant and on topic in the face of your audience.

Key unlocking

7 Unlock Influencer Relationships

A lot of companies fall into the trap that because they are “the company” they see themselves as automatically being an influencer in the market.  While that may be true of some of the large brands it is not a given.  

In many industries from tech to food to fitness, there are individuals who have built up a follower base of raving fans who live and breathe every word and piece of content that these people promote.

However, I would never advocate any company or individual that they go down the influencer route by purely paying for an influencer to endorse or promote their company or product to their audience.

I believe in creating genuine relationships with influencers where there are mutual respect and support for what each other is doing by building a trusted relationship built on transparency from which the benefits that can be created are very positive for everybody.

Megaphone

8 Promotion

One of the biggest mistakes both individuals and companies make when it comes to Content Marketing is the area of promotion.  For example, with a blog post, a lot of bloggers and companies will simply post the blog once and forget about it.  

However, promotion and multiple publishing are key to ensure that as large a segment of your audience gets to see a piece of content.

This is yet another reason to have an editorial calendar where reposting of content at set times across various mediums from email to social can be utilised.

Conclusion

Content Marketing is becoming an integral part of every company’s marketing strategy, but I do believe that a lot of the struggles that companies are facing with their own Content Marketing as identified in the research is down to the fact that either there is no documented strategy in place, or at best they are using a very loose plan.

For it to work it needs to have its own detailed plan that is linked to the overall strategy for the business.  You need to set a budget to ensure your Content Marketing can properly work towards achieving the objectives set, you will need to actively measure and monitor results of how content is performing and iterate or change as required, and above all, you need to have patience.

Strategy

Apart from having no documented strategy, I believe the number one reason why a lot of companies struggle for content success is that they don’t have patience and expect it to be an instant win.  

Unfortunately, this is not the case and I always advise a client that at a minimum you need to allow for 6 months of consistent activity before you could see any traction.

This is where Marketing and Finance can come to blows as return on investment is questioned.  

However, building awareness, reputation, expertise and trust takes time.  If you commit to it and focus on aligning your content against the requirements of the target audience at the right stage of the content funnel, I honestly believe you will seriously increase the likelihood of taking that prospect from intent to conversion.

I hope you enjoy this post and please share with your community.

Phillip

If you are looking to understand how to create a Digital Marketing Strategy you can get my ebook by filling in the form below and you will be asked to confirm your subscription to my blog.

But don’t worry you can unsubscribe at any time.

 

Originally published on Marketing Maven

Posted by Phillip Twyford in Content Marketing, 0 comments
How to be a social media super hero with your customers

How to be a social media super hero with your customers

Do you want to know how to be a social media superhero with your customers? Keep reading.

I coined the phrase “The secret to becoming great at Social Media is to become great at being social” click to tweet

What does this mean exactly?  Well, to illustrate this for you, I want you to honestly review how you interact with any new followers you get on Twitter. 

Do you direct message everyone who follows you personally, and I am not talking about using those false and horrible autoresponders, but actually type back a genuine thank you to that person for taking the time to follow you?

I never did until I heard an interview between the excellent Michael Stelzner and the genius that is Gary Vaynerchuk on the must listen to Social Media Examiner Podcast

In this interview Gary relayed (I am paraphrasing because the brain cells are not what they were) how he saw all these very big named influencers and social media gurus, who had thousands of followers all giving out advice that companies and people need to ensure they are interacting and responding personally to their followers, customers etc, yet it appeared that some of them did not practice what they preached.

On the flip side, however, Gary made it his business to thank every new Twitter follower for choosing to follow what he does, and he actively made it his business to answer every email.  

I do this on Twitter with a personalised thank you to every new follower and the engagement and personal messages I have received back have proved to me how valuable taking the time to do this has been.

So, if you do nothing else after you have read this post, look at the social media channels you are on, and seriously critique are you really interacting, connecting, communicating and really been social with people in a meaningful way?

 

How to be a social media superhero with your customers

It takes hard work and dedication but the following 5 key things to focus on will provide you with an excellent starting point.

 

1 List

Your list is your customers, your followers, your supporters and your target audience.  Whether it is social media, direct marketing, email etc, having a list of people that support you, trust you, buy from you and advocate for you, is central to all business success. 

What is the point of been active on various social media channels, sharing great content and driving people to your website, if all the time you are not capturing at least an email of these people who want to engage with you, listen to what you have to say and ultimately buy from you, so that you can then communicate and reach out to them directly.

What is the point of been active on various social media channels, sharing great content and driving people to your website, if all the time you are not capturing at least an email of these people who want to engage with you, listen to what you have to say and ultimately buy from you, so that you can then communicate and reach out to them directly.

Therefore, at every opportunity, you must make it easy for people to be able to sign up for your blog updates and always look to capture key details about them when they go to interact on your website to download an ebook or request a quote. By building a list of people interested in your message you now have the building blocks for creating real long-term relationships that will be mutually beneficial to you both.

By building a list of people interested in your message you now have the building blocks for creating real long-term relationships that will be mutually beneficial to you both.

 

2 Offer

The offer is a core reason that hooks people into you and your brand.  In social media blatant self-promotion of your products, and constantly bombarding your audience with repetitive sales messages is the perfect way to alienate you and your business from your audience.

Be genuine, be useful, insightful, helpful and trusted.  Provide targeted content in the form of blogs, ebooks, white papers, infographics, SlideShare presentations, video and audio tutorials etc, to build real trust and rapport with your audience as you are offering solutions and answers to their problems.

Once you build up a trusted following, you can then begin to expand your offer into paid products and affiliate marketing. However, once again these must be seen to have a definite benefit in the eyes of your audience otherwise you could undermine the trust and credibility you have created.

However, once again these must be seen to have a definite benefit in the eyes of your audience otherwise you could undermine the trust and credibility you have created

 

3 Timing

Social Media and the business environment is constantly changing, but your target audience still has the same needs, questions to be answered and problems to be solved.

Review your analytics data to see when certain content and products seem to spike and increase uptake and engagement.

Actively communicate with your customers, followers and your email list as to whether certain times of the year are particularly challenging for them, and then plan to have solutions to be offered during these periods.

By looking at this carefully it may allow you to strategically map out what products, solutions, and content plan you need to be doing at certain times of the year.  For example, if you are a florist your strategy should have a timed objective around Valentines, and maybe you see that certain months there is always a spike in the number of weddings, once again content and offers should be aligned around these critical periods.

 

4 Relevance

This is the key one.  If you are not deemed relevant by your audience, your online presence will soon become a ghost town.  People look for answers on the web each day to questions and problems they have.  If you provide content that is relevant and answers these questions you will soon be seen as a thought leader and the place to go for information.

It is also critical that you employ relevance across your media strategy and ensure that you are being very detailed in the level of information you are capturing about your customers.

For example, if we take again the florist business and on their website, they have some ebooks such as a guide to choosing the best flowers for your wedding depending on the season or how to look after your bonsai plant.

By capturing the name and email of those people who download these very different ebooks, further relevant content can then be promoted and emailed to them.

The secret to staying relevant is to know who your audience is, what do they need, where do they hang out online, and what topics do they actively discuss and engage with.  Once you know this you can then ensure your information has the highest degree of relevance from an information point of view so that your audience will be drawn to consume it, share and come back to you for more.

I mentioned Gary Vaynerchuk earlier in this post and he details this strategy of providing ongoing relevant, benefit-driven content tailored to your audience in his must-read Jab Jab Jab Right Hook.

This ongoing content or jabs as he refers to them actively provides solutions and benefit-driven content using a variety of media and once you have built up that trust and reputation then you can introduce the sale or right hook so to speak.

If you only read one book this year this is it.

 

5 Patience

This is the toughest one for all businesses whether you are an entrepreneur or a large multinational everyone is looking for the sale, for the return on investment.  But creating long-term meaningful relationships requires dedication and above patience.

Be true to you as a person, as a brand and as a business.  Listen, engage and be committed to providing the best solutions to your audience as opposed to just thinking about the end sales.

Of course, I am not stupid, your business is there to make money but build the audience and gain their trust.  Once you have that and your solution or service is of the highest quality possible the propensity that your engaged loyal audience will want to buy and support you is very much increased.

I hope you enjoy this post and please share with your community.

If you are looking to understand how to create a Digital Marketing Strategy you can get my ebook by filling in the form below and you will be asked to confirm your subscription to my blog.

But don’t worry you can unsubscribe at any time.

Phillip (The Curly Marketer)

 

Posted by Phillip Twyford in Content Marketing, Social Media, 0 comments
4 Reasons You Need To Use Infographics For Content Marketing Success

4 Reasons You Need To Use Infographics For Content Marketing Success

Infographics over the last few years have become extremely popular because they can easily display information in a way that we can understand clearly.

Amanda Sibley listed 19 reasons in her article on the Hubspot blog in 2012 as to why you should include visual content in your marketing and the following 3 statistics in particular resonated with me.

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.
  • 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.

If you just focussed on these three statistics you quickly see how the use of visual content such as an infographic is critical to achieving success in getting your message noticed.

Think about the following statistics.  On WordPress alone, 53.8 million blog posts are created every month, 500 million tweets are sent on Twitter each day and 300 hours of video is uploaded to Youtube every minute!

So you can see very clearly that if our target audience is bombarded with all this content, the use of a visual tool such as an infographic may just be the help needed to create stand out from all the other content coming at your audience.

Jeff Bullas wrote a great article entitled 9 Awsome Reasons To Use Infographics In Your Content Marketing and from reading this piece here are 4 key benefits that should leave you in no doubt as to why you need to use them.

 

1 Easily Understood

People are highly visual and our brains can process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore, it makes complete sense to use a visual mechanism such as infographics to explain, share and promote your content.

 

2 Great For Sharing

People like to share great content, and because of the visual impact of infographics, the chances of it been shared across a number of social mediums increases and therefore increases your brand reach.

 

3 Awareness For Your Brand

Creating personalised, branded and data-rich infographics for your business can help position you as an authority and create real brand recognition for you in your field of expertise.

 

4 Traffic To Your Website

Infographics, just like a blog or an ebook, are a very valuable content tool.  Displaying information deemed relevant and useful by your target audience will help drive more traffic to your website, and have a positive SEO effect as Google starts to look on you as more of an authority and hence reward your site with a better page ranking.

Now before you say, “that is all wonderful Phillip, but I have no designer, no budget, and no design skills to create infographics”, help is at hand.

Canva is a brilliant tool that is very easy to use for creating your own, and best of all, they have a large number of templates that are free.

It is so easy to use, that I created a very simple one below in under 10 minutes, using some more excellent reasons to use this visual content tool courtesy of Pawan Kumar writing on the business2community blog.

 

Inforgraphics

 

I hope you enjoy this post and please share with your community.

If you are looking to understand how to create a Digital Marketing Strategy you can get my ebook by filling in the form below and you will be asked to confirm your subscription to my blog.

But don’t worry you can unsubscribe at any time.

Phillip (The Curly Marketer)

 

Posted by Phillip Twyford in Infographic, 0 comments