Content Marketing for Beginners
It’s a C word that makes us want to bury our heads in the sand. Content. Content marketing for that matter. We know it’s important for business success, but the reality is most of us can’t afford to commit to this time-consuming task.
If you’re anything like us, you might start off with great intentions but after a couple of months, or let’s be honest, a couple of weeks, more urgent matters seem to get in the way.
Lucky for you we have done our research and discovered some simple techniques you can use to create a content marketing plan that is both effective and sustainable. Perfect if you are starting out and want to build a strong marketing foundation for your business.
What is content marketing?
If you don’t know already, content marketing is not about selling your services, or even talking about yourself. It’s about delivering relevant and valuable information to your audience – information that helps people do their jobs better or live their lives better.
It is based on the belief that if you deliver consistent and valuable information to your target audience, you will be rewarded with their business and loyalty.
In essence, delivering great content consistently will:
• Keep your audience engaged. Quality content can hold attention for hours while traditional advertising disrupts for a few seconds only.
• Educate your audience on the value of your product – conveniently converting them to become customers down the track.
• Increase traffic. Your content becomes an asset generating traffic for years whereas a pay per click campaign costs money to bring people to your site for a short time.
• Improve SEO. Each new blog post you create will be indexed by Google helping you gain search engine traffic and a higher ranking.
So now that we’ve established the benefits of this digital age phenomenon, let’s look at how you can get the most out of the time you put into content marketing.
The first step is to make sure the content you provide is what your audience wants
It can be educational or entertaining or a combination of both. You should mostly write content for your audience’s benefit and only occasionally promote your business. You need to build trust before you pitch.
One way to figure out what your audience wants is to create some simple user personas. Think of your end users and develop little bios for them outlining what they want from you, what they spend their time doing, their age, occupation, likes and dislikes, etc.
For example, Kate, 28 years old, Marketing Manager. Likes coffee and cats, dislikes cricket and scary movies. Would like to learn the latest content marketing strategies so she can apply them to her company’s marketing plan (and to impress her boss).
Creating these personas gives you a better understanding of your target audience which helps you create content that is relevant and useful to them, or at the very least entertaining. (eg. Kate might enjoy a meme of a cat drinking coffee and sharing content marketing tips).
If you want to learn more about creating user personas, The Digital Marketing Institute has written a great article on it here.
You can also visit other sites in your industry to find out what kind of content your target audience enjoys. Check their blogs to see what gets the most comments and shares. Are there any gaps in your competitor’s content that you could write about?
Do as Neil Patel does and set up Google Alerts to stay up to date with the current affairs in your industry. Type in a topic to be emailed whenever there is new content published. Then use this information to inspire your content creations.
The next step is to organise your content
Organising your content into topics makes it easy for your audience to discover it – giving you maximum return on your effort. It’s also a fundamental principle of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
One technique is to use keyword rich topics. Including high-value keywords in your content will show Google and other search engines that your content aligns with your target audiences’ search queries. If you are new to SEO and haven’t defined your keywords yet, you might find this article helpful.
Another technique is to create cornerstone content. Cornerstone articles are the most important articles on your website and should sit relatively high in your site structure. For example, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing’ could be considered cornerstone content.
You could then create a series of articles that individually cover topics within the cornerstone article, for example ‘Content Marketing for Beginners’ or ‘Repurposing Content for Social Media.’
By linking each article back to the cornerstone article, you are helping your audience find your content while also encouraging them to read more of it.
It also provides a clear direction for your content creation strategy. Once you decide on your cornerstone content, you can write a list of all the potential topics to cover.
If you would like to learn more about cornerstone content, Yoast have written a great article here.
Choose your content medium
Content marketing isn’t just about writing articles. Other types of mediums include podcasts, YouTube clips, downloadable guides, infographics, email newsletters, webinars, research reports – in fact, the list is determined only by your imagination.
So what medium should you choose for your content creations?
The simple way to answer this question is to go back to your user personas and ask “What type of content does my audience want?”
The answer might be obvious, for example, Marketing Manager Kate would probably appreciate a downloadable ebook called ‘The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing’ with an illustration of a cat drinking coffee on the cover for comic relief.
However, if you are not sure what medium to choose, go with what you are most comfortable creating. If that is writing, then a blog might be the way to go. If you’re great in front of a camera, think about creating a series of YouTube videos.
Keep in mind you can always repurpose content for other mediums later. For example, blog articles can easily become podcasts with the right voice recording equipment, and snippets of information from your ebook could potentially make great Instagram captions.
Get your content in front of people
After making sure you have a steady stream of great content, you need to promote it to your target audience. As Neil Patel says:
“Creating content is only part of content marketing. The other half is promoting it. Don’t forget the ‘marketing’ in content marketing.”
Sharing your content on social media is not only a great way to get your message out there, but it’s also a great way to get feedback, which in turn is great for SEO.
If a piece of content is successful on social media, it will get likes, comments, and shares, which signals to search engines that your content has value to people.
But how do you get your content seen on social media when you don’t have a large following? One way is to invest in a Pay Per Click campaign (known as PPC).
Thanks to the advanced targeting features on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, you can easily set up a PPC campaign to target a niche audience likely to enjoy and share your content.
A simple way to do this is to make use of the Boost Post feature in Facebook or Promote function in Instagram. Choose a post that has been well received by your existing followers, click on the ‘Boost Post’ or ‘Promote’ button and from there, set the targeting parameters for your desired audience.
Hashtags are a great way to boost your exposure on social media for free. They function as a way of labelling content which then helps make that content discoverable. However, you need to use them strategically.
One rule of thumb is to be STRICT: Specific, Targeted, Relevant, Innovative, Concise and Thoughtful. Your goal is to find a handful of highly targeted hashtags that are likely to capture an engaged audience. Mix them up and measure the results every time you post.
If you want to know more about hashtags, check out this article by the Digital Marketing Institute.
Doing your own content marketing doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a bit of research and planning, you can grow your brand awareness, engage your audience, and eventually, convert them into loyal customers.
However, if you add consistency to the mix, content marketing has the potential to take your business growth to the next level. The best way to encourage consistency is to use an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars help you stay on track to accomplish tasks, achieve goals and develop productivity habits.
There are many types of editorial calendars available – the trick is to find one that works for you. Search Google for a free template or download an app like Trello or CoSchedule. Or if you are a little old school, you can easily create a wall chart or whiteboard editorial calendar.
So now that we’ve armed you with some simple content marketing techniques, we look forward to discovering your content soon! In fact, we love to share great content for startups on this blog so feel free to get in touch or comment below if you have something to share.