A Beginner’s Guide to Effective Content Marketing
Content marketing has taken the marketing world by storm in the last few years, and is expected to become even more popular in 2015 and into the future. A cost effective method of marketing a business, content marketing is a great resource to gain and retain new consumers.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing approach that focuses on creating and distributing great content on a consistent basis to gain a larger audience and consumer base. This is a great way to sell your product or service without actually having to pitch it.
Content marketing provides you with the option to educate your audience about your field. This can help them to make better and more informed decisions. The theory is that, by providing your audience with valuable information, you gain their trust as well as their business.
Content marketing can come in many different forms. Blogging is a very popular form of content marketing as is website copy. Both of these electronic forms of content are great resources to educate and engage your audience in your topic.
There are tons of content marketing options for virtually every business out there, even businesses that are not web based. For example, a flooring company could have a blog. A few topics of interest for their audience might be; how to clean tile effortlessly, choosing the best flooring option for you, and when is it time to replace the carpet. All of these topics serve to educate the audience about the topic, flooring, but don’t require a pitch or sale. By teaching the audience you can gain their trust and can further cement yourself as an expert in the field. When they are ready to choose a different flooring option, they’re more likely to choose you.
Why is Content Marketing Important?
Many businesses don’t understand the importance of content marketing. Seeing as there are many other marketing methods, they often feel that they can just skip out on content marketing. The fact of the matter is, if you want to remain competitive, especially in a web driven market, you need to implement content marketing.
Content marketing promotes relationships, builds trust and can change the way consumers view your business. It can help you further develop your brand. All of these elements results in more leads, a larger audience and a greater consumer base.
Content marketing may very well be “the heart of online success”. It widens your reach, promotes relationships with your audience as well as increases your website visibility. These are all huge indicators of success on the web. Companies with blogs get far more inbound links than those without. Content marketing helps with SEO and brings you more leads. It’s a web marketing must.
Getting Started: Choosing a Topic
Now that you know what content marketing is, and why it’s important we can start to discuss how to get started. The first step in moving forward with content marketing is determining what you’re going to be writing about. To do this, you may want to evaluate the goals of your business, or at least take them into consideration.
You need to figure out what your hoping to get out of your blog…more customers, more page views, more e-mails for your list? Figuring out what you’re trying to accomplish can help you format your blog articles and better determine what you’re going to write about. Pick something you can measure, like new blog subscribers or new leads from the blog.
Make Sure People See Your Topic
One way to make sure that you’re choosing a topic that is going to be seen (especially on search engines like google) is to use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. This can help you determine other terms and sub-topics related to your topic. You can look at what people are searching and choose the titles for your topic accordingly.
Helping the Reader
The most successful blogs are those that help the reader by solving a problem, answering a question or entertaining them. Depending on your topic, it is pretty easy to come up with a number of ideas that can help the reader by teaching them or helping them solve a problem.
Back to our flooring company; a great topic could be “How to Make the Best Floor Cleaner Ever”. You’re teaching the reader how to create something that they’ve never used to better take care of their floors. There are tons of ideas like this that can help you help your reader in some way.
Entertaining content is also good here and there. Your content marketing should focus more on helping or teaching your readers. This is where you will get the most bang for your buck.
Planning Your Posts
Great writers plan. They brainstorm, they research, and then they bring these two elements together to create something worth reading. Many people assume that writing just comes to people that are talented at it. But, the fact is that most of us have to work pretty hard at formulating ideas, researching them, outlining the article and then putting words to it in a way that makes sense.
It’s going to take some time to plan, outline, research and develop your posts. Content marketing takes time. Creating an outline can help you save time and will make it easier to connect the dots when you’re doing the actual writing.
Make It Personal
Using real-life situations and stories are a great way to make a blog post personal. It makes it more entertaining and interesting for the reader while still being educational and informative.
It can sometimes be pretty tough to find stories in your own life that will apply to your topic. Once you get yourself rolling you will find it a bit easier to find things that have happened to you and how you can apply them to what you’re writing about. If you’re still struggling, you can research experiences that other people have had and use those as a way to create a more personal experience for your readers to relate to.
The Format and the Meat
The format of your post makes a big difference in how it’s read by the reader. Whether it’s a list post, essay style or a how-to guide, the format matters. Choose a format the flows best with the topic and is easy for you to outline and write.
Once you’ve got your format figured out, your outline and research, you can get started pumping out the most important part of your article; the content! The content is the meat of your article and is obviously the most important part because it is what your readers are looking for.
Don’t aim for perfection on your first post. Just get the words out on paper. Give yourself sometime between writing and editing. This will help to clear your thoughts and you can look at the article with a fresh set of eyes. When editing keep an eye out for the obvious things; poor grammar, overused words, wrong use of tense, etc.
Have friends or co-workers read through your posts to give you feed back. Having another view is always helpful to make sure what your writing is easily understood by someone else.
The first few posts will be the most challenging. Once you get these out of the way, and get yourself up on a writing schedule (a few hours a day or more depending on how much you plan to do) you will find the writing itself to become easier.
Dazzle it Up
Use a great layout, font and pictures to further accentuate your awesome content. This will help draw attention to it.
You must, must, must CHOOSE A GREAT HEADLINE! Your title makes a BIG difference. Be thoughtful and creative in choosing a headline. Brainstorming a laundry list of headlines can help you identify the one that is most likely to stick out for your readers to click on.
Getting Your Content Out
Publishing your content on your website is not where the content marketing stops. You’ve got to get that content out there on every outlet you can think of. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. Send it out via an e-mail using a site like MailChimp.com. Encourage your friends to read and share your post.
You can have the most amazing article, but if no one reads it, it’s worth nothing. Shamelessly promote your articles. Don’t hesitate to share several times on social media or by e-mail. Send it to your contacts. Get your awesome content out in the world to be read!
Don’t Give Up
It will likely take some time to see a return on your content marketing. But, the most important key to successful content marketing is not giving up. Keep at it, be consistent, and always remember why you’re doing this. You’re putting out content that will help your readers. If you keep this in mind, you’re content marketing will actually help your readers, and that will in turn help you! It’s a win-win!