Trying to tackle the digital world? Looking for the hip and hot new marketing trends du jour?
Although content marketing is nothing new and is a catchall phrase for a plethora of elements, this buzz term is quickly gaining momentum. Everyone is jumping into their digital strategy with content marketing scribbled into their agendas.
This hasty approach to content marketing, however, is why many companies and marketers often miss the mark. Believing it is a quick way to get attention, traffic, and customers, businesses that fail to gain traction will discredit content marketing before digging deeper for the correct diagnosis.
Posting a blog, video and a tweet or two is not content marketing. What people are neglecting is the effort needed to create a strategy that includes some not-so-secret, but important elements. Editorial schedules, SEO and promotion aside, here are seven elements that often go missing in a content marketing strategy:
1. Tapping Into Paid Channels
On Social Triggers, Derek Halpern once said,
Successful content marketing is 20% creation and 80% promotion.
With all the time we spend creating original content, we often neglect the most important part: promotion. Social media and email are the obvious ways to promote your material, but paid channels are often neglected or deemed unreasonable. After all, content marketing should be free, right? Wrong.
There are many cases of brands using only free channels to organically grow their audiences but, in most cases, this is the exception, not the rule. Also, if time and effort were given a monetary value then these brands most definitely did not get their audience for free.
Investing in paid channels, like using Outbrain, can cause a huge jump in the number of traffic, more importantly, eyeballs on your content. Getting attention in the ultra-dense, web forest is becoming increasingly difficult, but budgeting your marketing spend to include ads and sponsorships can make all the difference.
2. Creating Custom Landing Pages
Now that you’ve considered investing in traffic gains, it’s important to remember, traffic numbers are only made better with conversion rate. Getting people to read your blog or visit your shop is great, but having them complete a desired action (like signing up for your newsletter or making a purchase) is ideal.
Landing pages are an essential complement to any content marketing strategy. These unique pages allow for custom art and copy that directly relate to the previous destination such as an add or a sponsored blog post. They are succinct and uncluttered with a clear call to action (CTA) to increase conversions.
Lewis Howes, online marketing entrepreneur and author, uses a clean and simple, landing page to promote his popular webinars and consulting packages.
In this case, Howes is selling a workshop but landing pages can also be a lead generator and amazing for gathering emails to grow your database. With every blog and guest blog you write, consider making your call to action an invite to a landing page, especially when promoting a webinar, an Ebook or a current campaign you are running.
Bryan Eisenberg uses a landing page to capture emails and offers a free copy of his guide. There are no other actions required on this page channeling the audience to easy-to-read copy and a simple form.
Landing pages work much like an online billboard providing only the sexy information you need to hopefully turn you from a passerby to a loyal subscriber and customer.
3. Consistently Using Social Media
As already mentioned, a YouTube video, Facebook photo and a tweet does not a content marketing strategy make. Many people forget to consistently (and tastefully) block off an entire section of the strategy for social media.
With social integrated everywhere on the web, it would be a mistake to exclude these important platforms. If time or budget is an issue, start with one channel, like Facebook and make a plan to knock it out of the park. This focus can help you grow an audience here that will naturally migrate to other channels once you’re ready to build them up.
Your social media strategy should consist of two approaches:
A. Use social media to establish relationships with the right people.
Establishing who the “right” people is a topic all of it’s own but for the most part, social media is a great tool to build relationship with brand ambassadors, influencers, journalists and guest blogging partnerships. It’s also great for direct customer service. Publicly showcasing your customer service responses is great content for those vetting you for your company’s reliability and authenticity (click the tweet to see the entire Twitter thread).
@themikebal Hope you find a pair you love! Let us know if you need help picking the perfect pair!
— Warby Parker Help (@WarbyParkerHelp) July 17, 2013
@themikebal Unfortunately not – the lenses need to be custom made for each frame. So sorry to disappoint!
— Warby Parker Help (@WarbyParkerHelp) July 18, 2013
@themikebal Absolutely! Our prices include a prescription lens as well. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help!
— Warby Parker Help (@WarbyParkerHelp) July 18, 2013
@WarbyParkerHelp I didn't know they included lenses that's SUPER awesome. I have my 5 pairs ordered to try on. You earned my money ;)
— Mike Bal (@TheMikeBal) July 18, 2013
After all, you can’t use social without being social. And being friendly and helpful, well, that’s a no-brainer.
B. Use social media to promote content.
Beyond being present and conversational, social media is a great way to share links to your content and other relevant content. But, it’s not just about tweeting a link once, or posting something to Google +, it’s about creating meaning to others and providing access to relevant information: your content!
A great example of using social media to promote content is Innocent Drinks, a natural and healthy foods brand.
140 tweet-sized tips for any parents on lunchbox duty out there http://t.co/E4drnNEVdf
— innocent drinks (@innocent) September 24, 2013
Mixed in their diverse and varied content of fun and health-related content are content pushes. This particular tweet leads to a great PDF full of fun recipes and tips.
4. Diversifying Content Types
As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks. Many people believe content marketing means posting blogs until they are blue in the face. Of course this is a great start, but to build up the strength of your content offering, businesses need to diversify.
So what else is there beyond the written word? Well in a digital world, the options are plenty. If you have a theory, service or app that is better demonstrated/illustrated than explained, video is a great option. Not only is it visual but it tends to be easier to understand and consume and reports have shown that it leads to higher click-throughs to other actions and engagement on your website. Video, along with photos and infographics tend to be shared on social media as well, giving your content a better position on the virtual shelves.
When mapping out your content calendar, make sure the types are diverse and ensure everything you put out is highly visual and illustrative.
5. Building Personas
Most people can’t be bothered to take the time to plan for content and, more importantly, create buyer/visitor personas. This exercise not only helps you better identify your target audience but as we mentioned, it better shapes your brand voice and allows you to focus your content to what would appeal to these “personas”
What does a persona look like?
You don’t have to be an artist to create these personas. In this example, the marketer has given potential users identities and slotted them into categories. Taking the time to understand your customers, even the imaginary ones is an essential step to better target and shape your content to entice them to your business.
Writtent.com explains this process in more detail. Building buyer/blog personas is an extensive process, and one that shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you want to be successful in this cluttered space.
6. Integrating Strategies
So you just launched a knitting podcast. Good work! Little did you know the guy up in the advertising department just put the finishing touches on an amazing PPC campaign promoting this year’s must-have pattern. Whatever the case: You two should talk! The ad campaign should click through to your podcast and your podcast should promote that pattern. Your content, wherever it may live, cannot exist in a vacuum — what would be the point of that?
A company that integrates their marketing strategy most seamlessly is IKEA. With the goal of showcasing how you can put an entire room together with various styles available at IKEA, they made sure all public facing media tied into this promotion.
- TV ads
- Online display ads
- Public Relations using magazine editorial integrations
- Sponsored reality TV show “Fix This Kitchen”
- Ran “Life Improvement Seminars” in 53 IKEA stores with media partners
- Online destination Share Space where users can upload their design ideas and learn from ideas posted by others: tagline “Designed by ____, Made by IKEA”
- Design By IKEA Blog
- Social: Facebook page, Youtube Channel & Twitter
So when you’re creating your strategy, make sure offline and online channels are all boosting each other up to drive everyone towards the goals you have set for your business.
7. Measuring the Right Numbers
Last, but definitely not least, everything above is great but without measuring, the effectiveness of your strategy is just a hypothesis. This cannot be emphasized enough, analyzing the numbers behind-the-scenes is what will help you best set the stage and better serve your audience.
Avoid vanity metrics that do not tell you anything. Example of vanity metrics are the number of registered users or raw pageviews. These can fool you or the people you brag to, as these numbers may represent inactive users or traffic that has come and gone with just the click of the back button.
Instead you’ll want to measure the number of active users per week/month, time spent on each page, blog subscribers, where people came from (direct, referral etc) and where people go next. Not only do you want your social media following numbers to increase but you’ll want to know click-through rates as well as likes and shares to roughly measure engagement.
To make sure you are measuring correctly, ask yourself if your targets actually affect your business goals in a tangible way. Having solid goals will better guide your data analysis — it’s not necessarily fun, but it’s better than shooting in the dark.
Ready to tackle a comprehensive content marketing strategy? Maybe you can’t include all seven elements right away, but dismissing the full scope can lead to a dead end.
Do you know of any companies who have an amazing content marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments below.