How to “Do” Content Marketing: 5 Ways to Build Your Content Marketing Strategy
Building a solid content marketing strategy is almost imperative to every online advertiser out there.
In today’s info driven, visually focused market, strategic content marketing is a cornerstone for most marketing strategies out there- but, it remains a little hazy as to what content marketing actually is and how to “do” it.
Content marketing has been around forever, way before the Internet even came into play. Our current definition of content marketing brings YouTube, blogs, articles and social media to mind- but content marketing encompasses so much more than that.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing aims to create a story, a brand and a voice around a product or service. It involves the creation and distribution of relevant content to defined target segments, similar to creating paid ads for specific audiences online.
Content marketing is designed to initiate interest and buzz around said topics, and to support a business in capturing leads at every stage of the buying funnel. Effective content marketing doesn’t have the end goal of explicit promotion.
The goal is to produce valuable, relevant and consistent content for each defined audience in your market and to use this content to retain these leads.
What Isn’t Content Marketing?
Just because your activity online has content, doesn’t mean that it’s content marketing. Content marketing brings new and retained leads back to your brand continuously, rather than interrupting prospectives to throw your business right in their face.
Content marketing is not a campaign of paid ads with content, nor is throwing up a blog post a few times a year. Content marketing is not push marketing; content marketing supports inbound marketing- and the outcomes are very different.
Wait- What’s Inbound Marketing?
In order to grasp the core concept of content marketing, you need to understand the methodology of inbound marketing and how effective content marketing is built around these ideologies.
Inbound marketing comes down to the idea of drawing people to your brand through relevant content, offers, products, services and communication. Sometimes known as pull marketing, it’s counterpart – push marketing- focuses on bringing your brand to people and interrupting their daily absorption of advertisements to see yours.
While we aren’t saying one is better than the other, and we certainly aren’t saying you shouldn’t have both methods in your marketing mix, we are saying that effective content aligns with inbound marketing and brings people to your brand.
Successful content marketing also considers each stage of the buying funnel and capitalizes on each potential customers needs at that time.
The Buyers Funnel Stage & The Inbound Marketing Flywheel
Inbound marketing runs on flywheel, which aligns perfectly with the typical buyers funnel. The flywheel of inbound marketing was designed to pinpoint stages at which you, as a company, can offer value at every stage to each potential and retained customer.
At each of the flywheel’s three stages- attract, engage and delight- there is an ample opportunity to speak to your potential leads in a language that suits exactly what they’re looking for and boosting the chance of a later conversion.
It’s almost perfectly parallel with the natural buyers funnel.
Stages of the Buyers Funnel
1. Awareness- prospective is aware they have a problem or a need, but not a whole lot of ideas on what to do about it
2. Interest- prospective has become aware of your brand, but is actively shopping around and still unsure of what to do next
3. Consideration- shopper has decided they need to take action and begins shopping around to select best option
4. Intent- shopper has now indicated the desire to purchase and is looking to be “swayed”
5. Evaluation/Purchase- prospective now has selected a brand and may or may not need prompting to take final step of purchase
Step 1 correlates with the desire to “Attract”, while steps 2-3 speak to the need for an advertiser to “Engage”.
Steps 4-5 demand the need for advertisers to “Delight”, where customer service and value are paramount to getting that final conversion.
While inbound marketing as a whole is imperative to successful marketing in today’s world, it’s important to understand in relation to content marketing to understand why and how to produce content- and most importantly, what to say and when.
Building a Successful Content Marketing Strategy: 5 Tips
#1- Content Marketing Relies on Inbound Marketing and the Sales Funnel
We just covered it above, but we can’t stress it enough. Understanding and practicing inbound marketing, and having a concrete understanding of the buyers funnel is crucial to effective content marketing.
For example, during the awareness stage, you need to focus on producing content that captures prospective by relating to their problem in a non-brand centric manner. Someone suffering from seasonal dry skin may not yet know why this is happening or whether they need a range of products.
Writing a blog article on tips for dealing with skin changes during the winter will draw a prospective to your brand, but not give them a brand centered sales pitch that will likely put them off.
Where as during the intent/evaluation stage, an email with well done video with an influencer using your product and reviewing it would be a great piece of content to produce. By this stage, the lead has already formed some attachment with your brand and is now in the stage of wanting to be sure they have selected the right option.
The wrong message at the wrong time is likely to lose you a sale.
#2- Consistency Is Key in Content Marketing
Content marketing is like SEO- it needs to be consistent.
The Internet is a busy place, and there’s literally millions of pieces of content floating around everyday. In order to get noticed, you need consistent content to make sure you’re always at the front line.
Customers also look for fresh content to show relevancy and timeliness, but Google also looks for consistency in order to decide search page rankings.
Old content, or content that is sporadically uploaded won’t be readily available to prospective clients when they need it.
Be consistent in your creation and uploads of content, and always review your own specific buyers funnel to see any opportunities for additional or better conversation with your leads.
#3- Great Content Marketing Requires “Topic Clusters”
You could create the best content out there, but it will never bring you the desired results if you’re uploading content that changes focus every time.
We use topic clusters within our content marketing for many reasons. Building topic clusters allows you to create tonnes of pieces of content centered around one main idea. Not only does it allow for very targeted keyword optimization, it also draws a path for your content marketing online.
By circling around main subjects and directing towards others, you have a distinct content network that is harder to break and easier to get noticed than random pieces of content here and there.
For example, “seasonal skin care” would be a great centered topic, while your topic cluster could be comprised of:
i. How to deal with winter skin
ii. Best natural products for skin changes
iii. Summers here: how to choose your best sunscreen for the sunny months
And the list goes on.
Each article can branch off from a main topic, but be heavily and specifically keyword optimized while being written for each stage of the buying funnel.
#4- Only Use Platforms That Make Sense
There are tonnes of platforms to distribute content on.
Chances are, you should not use all of them.
Advertising platforms differ. So choose the ones that make sense to you- where your target audience is, where you can get the best message across and whether it will drive traffic.
For example, we see lots of people making YouTube channels because they heard that YouTube is the second largest search engine around.
Is it? Yes.
Does that mean you should advertise on it?
No. Not if doesn’t allow you to put valuable content in front of your target audience.
#5- Don’t Forget Analytics
Content is measurable. Many people assume that there isn’t a way to measure the success of content marketing, but there is- and it’s important to do so.
Once marketers understand the difference between general content and strategic content marketing, we can begin to understand how to track these pieces the same as you would paid ads or a TV commercial.
Track your blog posts, videos, social media campaigns etc. the same way you would your website. Depending on your goals, your metrics may be different- but watch for conversions, bounce rates, time spent on page, email sign ups etc.
Content is not content marketing. Your content marketing should be very defined and measurable and should always have a goal. Otherwise, it’s just words.