You’ve probably heard the buzz “content is king”. Content Marketing is one of the essential parts of the marketing puzzle for the new-age businesses.
This article explains:
- What is content marketing?
- Why is it important for new businesses?
- What steps are involved in creating a content marketing strategy?
Take your business to the next level by referencing this guide whenever you prepare your content marketing strategy.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that involves creating and distributing good quality, valuable content to drive conversions.
The audience has become immune to traditional advertising and marketing methods. Which is why they have the tendency to block out advertising messages that are thrown their way.
- UX testing has proved the phenomenon of “Banner Blindness”. This means, on a web page, the readers are likely to ignore the message presented in the banner because it’s likely to be promotional.
- Ad blockers are popular for a reason.
- YouTube ads are skipped more often than they are viewed.
- There are services that sell premium packages where the main selling point is the absence of ads.
It is more than just ignoring ads. Users are actively disliking ads and going as far as paying money to block them. That says a lot.
So, if traditional advertisements are not getting the message across, then what is the solution? The answer: content marketing; and the Content Marketing Institute has defined this aptly:
“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.”
The key terms in that definition are ‘relevant’ and ‘valuable’. You’re delivering your readers information that adds value to their life, rather than giving them sales pitches. Marketing campaigns that succeed nowadays are based on quality content; that should be the case around everything you do.
For instance, paid ads on Google and Facebook see better results when they share a unique or valuable piece of information–content that the target market wants to read. There is a reason why clickbait works.
Depending on where your customer is in the sales funnel, your content will take different forms. Be it eBooks, blog posts, podcasts, vlogs, infographics–any of these or maybe a combination of these can form part of your content marketing strategy. The right content addresses the problems and provides an actionable solution. It guides your customers to the realization that your business is that solution.
The best thing about content marketing? Any business–small or large–can set up a successful content marketing campaign and it can reap fantastic results for startups that are low on the marketing budget.
Content Marketing for New Businesses
Paid advertising can get really expensive really fast. If you’re not established and still in between fundraising then paid ads isn’t the best idea. Plus, if your competitors are big (with bigger budgets) then, chances are they will outrank you before you know.
Also, it’s important to note that you’re paying that ad money to get people to visit your site. So, while your website traffic increases and your website shows on top of the search results because of the ad money, the visit isn’t guaranteeing any conversion. Pay-per-click delivers what it says on the bottle. It gets clicks, not conversions.
Combating this challenge, content marketing delivers better ROI compared to paid ads. It attracts the people who are interested in the content you are sharing and they are prospective leads that will most likely convert. Who can argue with that now?
Marketing your startup is perfectly synonymous with the old phrase ‘easier said than done’. More often than not, the expenses and efforts attached to getting your name out there and grabbing attention sink the boat even before it sets sail.
Setting Up Your Content Marketing Strategy
By now, you’re already kicked to get started and build your content marketing strategy. So, let’s jump right in.
1. Decide the role of your content
Before you get to penning your strategy on the paper, you need to understand what objective you want your content to achieve. Is it conversions, sign-ups, social shares or better SEO? Setting clear objectives is the only way to measure the success of your strategy down the line.
2. Research your target audience
This applies to marketing in general. Before you start deploying efforts, you need to know who are you talking to. You need to understand their problems and struggles and how your product or service can solve that problem. Without this information, it will be impossible to put together your content marketing strategy.
One of the ways to do this is to conduct surveys. Reach out to your ideal target market and get their feedback to develop in-depth buyer personas. Conducting this exercise will help you identify their common pain points and how your content can solve that.
3. Select your channels
Researching your target audience and identifying their pain points will help you identify what channels you should use to communicate with them. It would be pointless to post tweets and make videos if Pinterest is your audience’s preferred choice of platform.
That said, it can be difficult to lock down channels in the beginning. Startups by nature are a bit more unpredictable than big organizations, just because they’ve got the flexibility to be a bit agiler. If you do end up pivoting and your target market changes, don’t fret. Keep collecting these learning points and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
4. Do a thorough competitor research
The purpose of doing this exercise is to figure out your USP and in what aspects are you different from them. You would also need to understand what kind of content they are producing and, more importantly, what content they’re not producing. This will help you frame your content marketing strategy in a way that addresses the customer problem from a fresh perspective.
5. Map out buyer journey
How do you think your reader will become a customer? Depending on the nature of your startup, you’ll need to map out the journey and create content for each stage–each stronger than before. Broadly, it can be fit into a three-step process:
Step 1: if you’re expecting the customer to come to through social media or Google, then write content that is light. Think a quick fact, light entertainment share through a short post, infographic or a short video.
Step 2: Through step one you want to drive targeted customers to more specific content that addresses specific problems. These problems are what your new business solves. Therefore the content should be detailed and high-quality. Think long-form blog posts or eBooks. You can also take this opportunity to build your mailing list. Ask them to share their email address before they download your eBook.
Step 3: This is where you share decision making content. Explain to the reader how your product/service solves their problem and guide them on how to use it.
The whole idea here is to not shove ads in your audience’s face, and instead take them through a decision-making-journey where the endpoint is them converting.
6. Read up existing content
One way to find out what content is already working is through tools like BuzzSumo. List down topics and articles that are popular in your niche. This can be judged basis social shares and the content popular influencers are talking about.
Now you obviously don’t want to copy what’s already out there. Instead, you can use the existing content to get an idea, a framework. You should then aim to put a different spin to it, show the topic from an alternative angle or target the article to a different niche.
7. Create content
After doing all these exercises, it’s time to finally create the content. If you have done the planning right, then this wouldn’t be daunting. Here are some tips you can keep in mind when you create content:
- Take time creating content. Give уоurѕеlf time to edit it and аѕk ѕоmеоnе else tо take а look and share their perspectives.
- It may be tempting to stick to blog posts, but experimenting with different types of contents like infographic, videos, and podcasts can help you achieve your goals.
- Always follow SEO guidelines when creating content. It is one of the most powerful ways to get your content discovered organically.
- Your headlines need to be the strongest–they’re what attract the readers into reading your content. Spend time crafting your headlines.
- Find out the questions your target audience is asking and address those questions in your content.
- Be accurate and share relevant sources for any data or facts that you share.
- Embed interesting content and break your articles with images and videos so they don’t get too heavy to consume.
Have you at some point in your life thought of starting your own blog? It’s a great idea - not only is it a good pastime, but with a blog, you can express your thoughts, help others with problems you’ve overcome, establish yourself as an expert, and even make money.
8. Measure the rеѕultѕ
It’s important to note here that content marketing is a long-term process. So, don’t expect to see an immediate result. However, you can still track how your content is doing using Google Analytics. Here are some questions you can keep an eye on:
- How much traffic are you getting?
- What content piece is getting most interaction?
- What is the source of your traffic? (This can help you plan your promotional strategy)
- What is the bounce rate? What could possibly be causing it?
- How much time are readers spending on the page? If it’s a video, then until how long are the viewers engaged with it?
Maintain a spreadsheet with this data and over time, it will help you improve your content marketing strategy.
In today’s information overload, your audience is looking for high-quality content that provides value. The right planning can help you chalk out a winning content marketing strategy–one that will establish you as a thought leader in the long run.