The article talks about content marketing strategies that help channel the marketing efforts to achieve conversions. The goal is to empower the new entrepreneur on their way to content marketing success by providing specific advice on what exactly should be done and the time-frame for each step. The tips are supported by cases from successful businesses worldwide.
The Ultimate Content Marketing Startup Guide
Content marketing is one of the most popular trends in marketing today and it is still on the rise. More and more companies are going away from classic banner ads and concentrating on various inbound marketing techniques – those that draw audiences to their own resources. If you are not sure what the term “content marketing” means, here is a short definition from the Content Marketing Institute: “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.”
According to the Institute’s research, 90% of companies in North America today are doing content marketing in one form or the other. However, only 35% of those are noticing significant positive influence it has on their business and mere 8% claim that they are doing really well in content marketing. So the question is how to make sure that your efforts in content marketing do not go in vain. We have summarized 7 strategies and tactics that will help you succeed in this field.
1. Create a documented content marketing strategy and follow it closely.
Those 35% of companies who claim that they have reached some measure of success in content marketing all have the strategy written down. By documenting the strategy and then following it, you will make sure that your efforts are consistent and projects are not done in a vacuum. The successes will snowball leading to the much desired conversion increases.
2. Set out to create useful content – provide “sunshine” for your readers.
Remember that content marketing is not about you, your company or products, but about the customers and their needs. One of the first examples of successful content marketing long before the term was coined is The Furrow magazine first published in 1895 by the agricultural manufacturer John Deer. The magazine’s goal was to help farmers grow better crops. Nowadays, the publication is the largest media outlet in agriculture with 1.4 mln subscribers worldwide. And of course, most of those subscribers are loyal consumers of the company’s products.
What you should do is find a niche that is not taken yet where you can be the leading expert. Your content has to be different from all the other content on the web to build a loyal audience around it. You can use Google Trends to find the emerging hot topics which you can tie in to your type of business. The best content is actionable and “evergreen” – the copy that will stay relevant over time. How to guides and lists are among the best examples.
3. Choose a target audience and draw up a mission statement.
To create the right kind of content that will empower your readers, you should create a mission statement for your target audience. It is best to start with only one audience and to expand with time as there is too much competition on the web now to scatter your efforts. Take Huffington Post as an example: they started out as political blog for just one type of audience, and their ultimate success allowed them to grow to the gigantic media company that they are now.
Once you have chosen the target audience, create your mission statement. Make sure the mission statement includes 3 key elements: core target audience, what will be delivered, and how the audience will benefit from the information. If even one part is missing, your content marketing efforts will fail miserably.
4. Write interesting engaging copy.
Think of yourself as a publisher – somebody who has to create content that is so good other people are willing to pay for it. Make sure your copy does not contain too many fancy words and high-brow vocabulary, so that your readers do not get bored and interact with what they are reading. Create a conversation by using “you” and “I.” The posts which meet these requirements are more likely to be fully read and shared on the web.
5. Create a base of subscribers.
Your goal as a content marketer should be to build an audience rather than sell your products or services to your first-time visitors. You should be aware that it takes on average 12-18 months of active content marketing before you can start monetizing your site. If you do not have this time, regular advertising is a much better choice for you. But if you do, it is fully worth the effort. When you have a list of subscribers, you can blast new content to them as soon as it appears and get consistent traffic to your site. The return visitors are more willing to share and comment on your posts than first-time visitors are. This in turn generates better SEO and even more traffic. After a while (12-18 months), these subscribers will also be willing to purchase your products or services.
How do you get people to subscribe to your newsletter? According to the MindValley.com sales expert AjitNawalkha, only 1% of the site visitors will subscribe to a newsletter if you attach a sign-up form in a sidebar. Pop-ups are a much more effective instrument. Incentivize your visitors to sign up with free giveaways like an e-book or a pre-recorded video consultation in return for their email. These methods will boost your subscription rates to 30-60%.
But how do you get people to even come to your site for them to get a chance to subscribe? For that, you have to promote your content and the fastest way to do so is to use the already established opinion influencers.
6. Leverage influencers.
Create a list of 5-10 influencers in your field – people who blog about the same topics you are going to blog about and make sure to share their content consistently for at least one month. You can apply the golden 4-1-1 rule introduced by Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, and popularized by Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Content Marketing Institute. It states that “for every self-serving tweet [or post], you should retweet one relevant tweet and most importantly share four pieces of relevant content written by others.” This strategy achieves two important goals at once: gives your followers an interesting mix of content and gets you noticed by those you retweet or repost. Once you get on their radar, you can start building a relationship with them by mentioning them within your blog posts and articles. Every time you quote them, let them know you did and offer to share your content. A leading content marketing consultant Neil Patel, founder of QuickSprout claims that 20-30% of the influencers will retweet or repost your articles. This will bring loads of new visitors (and potential subscribers!) to your site.
7. Consider buying.
If you do not have time to build your audience, but you have some funds, think of getting a resource that already has a subscriber database relevant to your business. A classic example is a 2009 acquisition of photography focused JPG magazine by photo equipment manufacturer Adorama. This purchase saved the magazine from closing down and provided the camera megastore with a 300 thousand subscriber database. In your case, the deal can be much smaller – you can contract a popular blogger, for example.
Even if you build everything on your own initially, as your business progresses, you may want to hire copywriters and marketers to outsource some content creation and promotion, leaving you time for accomplishing new strategic goals. But that will come in a while. First and foremost, make sure that the content you publish is unique and high quality. As Bill Gates said back in 1996, “content is king.” 19 years later, it still is.
We hope the steps listed above were thought-provoking and will help you formulate and evaluate your marketing strategy. Which steps do you think are the most crucial? Have you already tried content marketing? How successful have you been? Go ahead and share your findings and thoughts in the comments to this post.
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