What is Content Marketing?
It’s the art of crafting amazing content that aligns your business with your core customer base.
In turn this content can be shared with the intent that you can turn free visitors into valuable & long term customers. The type of content that you choose to market should align with the type of content that your ideal customer would like to consume. The end game is that you build enough trust with your readers that they end up becoming a customer & doing business with you.
Who Does it Well?
Writing great content isn’t easy, it takes time & practice to find your sweet spot. You can learn a lot from some of these companies:
- Buffer – Read their process on how they scaled their business to 1M users with content marketing.
- McDonalds Canada – They have crowdsourced all the questions that users have about their products, aggegrated them onto one site & provided answers. A fantastic example of leveraging user generated content.
- HubSpot – HubSpot has a dedicated team of writers posting anywhere up to 5 posts a day related to inbound marketing. They have created a industry leading blog that drives an incredible amount of leads to their business.
- KissMetrics – The kings of content marketing & growth hacking, their entire business is built upon it.
What Are Your Objectives?
Setting the right objectives will help you better target your content, I recommend creating specific categories for each objective (which can feed into your planning spreadsheet later on).
For example, we have a number of objectives here at Gleam with our content. We want to spread the word about our product & drive more signups (Objective #1), we want to show people how to use our product to run better contests, we want to provide valuable information about inbound & social marketing so that people get value from us & we also want to provide support to users wanting to use Gleam to achieve a specific business outcome.
We still have a long way to go on our own content marketing journey but to date we’ve tested things like:
- Static landing pages for things like increasing Twitter & Facebook followers.
- How to use Gleam to drive more email signups.
- An in-depth documentation area.
- Step by step guides on setting up an online sweepstakes.
- Or even more useful guides on navigating the Australian competition laws.
I plan to personally write more blog posts & guides around social marketing in general. Along with network specific guides on how to drive more activity on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram. It’s all still a work in progress for us 🙂
Are you using your blog purely to generate leads for a sales team? Then you might consider content that actively drives an email signup or perhaps downloadable content (PDF’s, webinars, email newsletter).
Try experimenting with your content behind subsciber walls, there’s an awesome plugin for WordPress on Codecanyon that allows you to ask users to join your mailing list to read the rest of the content.
If your objective is to increase sales then you might create content designed to show off how well your product achieves specific outcomes. One great way to get instant validation with prospective customers is to show off your integrations, plus also get listed as an integration partner on their website. This instantly opens up your product to another subset of customers.
Your content efforts don’t need to just be written content, you can consider things like contests. Marin partnered up with SMX to build a SEM specific contest for SMX West 2013. The great thing about this particular content marketing piece is that not only does it drive awareness, but the actual contest aligns directly with Marin’s product – SEM.
You would be surprised how many people use Google to find out answers to support questions about your product. You should be trying to capture this traffic yourself by having comprehensive product guides. A great place to get started is to look at Google’s autocomplete queries for your product (or by using a tool like UberSuggest).
Good content with the right message will attract press, it will also make it easier to get press should you do outreach. Think about things like:
- Using data from your industry to drive insights – i.e. What time of the day is best for social posts?
- Opinion pieces
- Giving products to bloggers for testing
- Running giveaways with bloggers for PR
Craft meaningful content around positive customer experiences, give prospective users insights into the results people get with your product. Use case studies & testimonials to improve your perceived trust with prospects.
Truly great content can turn you into a hub, businesses like Moz were completely built on community & great content around the topic of SEO. There’s no reason you can’t do it too.
Building a Strategy of Your Own
Planning is key, it is very easy just to write posts as they come into your head. You will thank yourself for planning out a proper strategy for a few reasons:
- It helps you align your content to your business objectives.
- You have a steady stream of post ideas.
- You always know what your next post will be.
- It allows you to segment your content ideas into specific areas to build more value with more than just 1 post.
- You can get validation & input from your team.
Know What Your Ideal Customer is Looking For
Build a profile of who your ideal customer is, what types of content they read & what other products/services that they use. Think about how you can reach more of this type of customer through your content.
What Works For Competitiors?
Pay close attention to what competitors are doing, use tools like Ahrefs to see which content drives the most inbound linking activity & social metrics.
Plan Your Posts With Excel
You have no idea how much this one tip helped me. Plan 15-20 posts before you start doing any writing at all, not only will you get more high quality posts out that actually align with what you want to achieve, but there’s less room to just write “what you feel like.”
Tell a Story
People love to hear stories, it helps them connect with you on a more personal level:
- How you scale your business
- How you’ve pivoted or turned a bad situation into an opportunity
- Secrets that help you win more customers
- How you started & got to where you are today (remember there’s no such thing as an overnight success)
- Tips & tricks that you’ve learned about your industry
Prioritise Evergreen Content
Think about how you can build content to stand the test of time, content that can constantly be updated & always relevant. Content that people in your industry or target persona will always be searching for.
Transparency Goes a Long Way
Companies like Moz post their yearly financials & updates on the blog. Such transparency really builds a sense of trust within the community, a bold move that most businesses wouldn’t consider – but it certainly has paid off for Rand & his team.