Blog: Digital Marketing
5 Content Marketing Essentials, Part 1
Content marketing remains one of the best ways to grow your brand, boost lead generation, and improve overall conversions and sales. However, content marketing also remains one of the biggest challenges for businesses to overcome, given the time and resources that are required to get it done right. Whether you are working solo, have a small team, or a full marketing department, these five content marketing essentials will help you to produce better content with greater consistency.
Start with a Plan
The best content marketing follows a set structure that can be adjusted when performance doesn’t measure up, and replicated when a particular piece of content goes well. The plan you develop for your content need not be complex. In fact, you only need to address a few key areas:
What is the goal of your content?
Each piece of content you write should serve a clear purpose. Are you looking to bring in new prospects at the top of the funnel? To nurture people on your email list? To qualify leads based on their interests? The goal of your content will provide you with the necessary framework to understand what type of content you should create (blog post, downloadable guide, video tutorial, etc.) as well as a means to measure the effectiveness of what you’ve created.
Who is the content for?
As people learn more about you and what you offer, their expertise levels will also change. The topics you cover for someone who is in the initial research stage will be very different than for those who are further along in the sales process. Identify a specific customer persona for your content, and create content with that persona in mind. This will help you to communicate value effectively and prevent your topics from becoming too broad or too narrow.
What comes next?
This aspect of your content creation ties in with the first question about goal-setting. After a person reads your blog post, watches your video, or downloads your whitepaper, what’s the next step? Ultimately, effective content marketing is a process where you guide your prospects along naturally from one conversion to the next.
Address Real Needs
Once you have a plan in place for the type of content you need to write and who it’s for, the next step is to do some research on what questions and pain points your target market is facing. By taking the extra time to look for unaddressed answers and underserved issues, you do two things:
- You stand out from the crowd of people who are writing the same articles over and over again.
- You provide immediate value to your prospects, which builds trust in your brand.
There are many tools that you can use to find out what your target audience is looking for, but one of the fastest and simplest ways to start your research is to do a simple Google search for forums on your niche. For example, if you were selling pet grooming supplies, you might use the search the term “pet care” +forum to find relevant forums to browse. Another option is searching for groups on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. The goal here is simply to find out what people are asking questions about, and what problems they run into again and again so that you can answer those questions as part of your ongoing content strategy.
Create Content Funnels
As you get into the habit of creating content regularly, it can be easy to fall into the pattern of posting a single piece of content that stands alone, then moving on to a new topic. A better option is to create content funnels. A simple way to start is by creating a report, template, or some other lead generation piece that you can tie to your major offerings.
When you create a blog post, article, guest post, or other related content, link to this lead generation piece as a logical next step in the funnel for people who are interested in learning more. Once you have your lead generation in place, you have several options:
- Create a simple autoresponder with additional information designed to guide prospects through the next stages of the sales funnel
- Create segmented email marketing with additional relevant information
- Create a simple questionnaire or survey to garner additional information from interested prospects
In part two of our content marketing guide, we'll cover ways to get the most out of your current content, as well as key strategies to ensure that your best content gets the exposure it deserves.
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