Posted on October 01, 2018 by anstice communications
Content marketing may be all the buzz these days, but it’s hardly a new concept. One of the most recognized early examples is John Deere’s The Furrow magazine, which was published for customers in 1895! But, despite content marketing’s popularity and long history, it commonly causes confusion among new and seasoned marketing professionals alike.
So, what is content marketing?
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive customer action, which is accomplished through relevant and valuable content creation that is published consistently and addresses a clearly defined need among your target audience.
Simply put, content marketing is a strategy to attract a clearly defined audience through the creation and distribution of content that is informative, relevant and provides real value.
Is content marketing important to your business?
Absolutely! In fact, it should be a pivotal component of your marketing strategy—you can’t craft effective or optimized marketing strategies if you don’t have strong content to support them.
Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
Content marketing is a far deeper topic than one blog post can cover, but we’ve gathered some key tips to get your started:
How is content marketing different?
Before we delve into what makes content marketing effective, it’s important to understand how it different from traditional marketing. Think of it this way: Traditional marketing often inserts itself into our day-to-day lives—think TV commercials, YouTube ads or radio ads—without anyone seeking them out. In contrast, content marketing has an opt-in element—such as blog or email subscriptions—and can form a long-term relationship with the target audience.
A content marketing strategy is required before your team begins creating any type of content. Think of your content marketing strategy as the overarching reason for your content creation; it’s where your team will outline goals your content will achieve, potential obstacles and opportunities to provide strong content to your target audience.
Identifying your target audience requires in-depth research, which will inform the creation of your audience personas and identification of their needs and values. This will also keep your team, and your content marketing, focused and targeted to create tangible results.
Your content strategy should ultimately be able to achieve measurable, profitable results for your business, regardless its size or industry—think lead generation, increased revenue and so on. This will be achieved by identifying audience personas (those within your target audience), your brand story and channel plan, which outlines the platforms you will use, objectives for each and how they all fit together to achieve conversion.
*Remember*: A content marketing strategy is different than a content plan, which is the tactical side of the equation and should only be drafted once the overall strategy is confirmed. A content plan should clearly outline the channels and tactics you will be using to support your content marketing strategy, how it will be shared and promoted to your target audience and who will be responsible for executing each tactic.
Don’t create content just for the sake of publishing something. Content marketing should be educational—and, yes, drive qualitative (ie. Brand awareness) and qualitative (ie. Lead generation) results—but it is not simply about selling a product or service. Your content should provide value to your audience and respond to their needs, rather than trying to sell to them. Create content that tells a compelling story and connects to the values of your audience and their emotions.
Consumers support brands they feel loyal to and they can trust, which means your content must provide information that compels your audience to engage with you on a consistent basis.
Building ongoing engagement from your audience positions your business as a credible leader in your industry that can provide applicable insights and resources to potential clients. With this in mind, it’s also imperative to create two-way conversation online to drive engagement and create relationships with your audience. Consider asking questions when you promote your latest blog entry organically on social media, create polls, launch an Instagram Story Q&A or host a webinar for your audience to tune in to.
Developing valuable content is one thing, but your content marketing strategy will not be successful without ongoing measurement and reporting. This is where you review the goals outlined in your content marketing strategy and determine how each piece of content has performed. Measurement and reporting can be daunting if you haven’t done it before, but it’s important to do on a regular basis (determine if you’re going to report weekly or monthly, for example) and stay accountable to these timelines.
Some of the key metrics to monitor and report on include:
- Organic Social Media Data: Your follower count, shares, reach and impressions
- Email Marketing: The number of subscribers (new subscribers and unsubscribes), open rate, A/B testing
- Website: Use Google Analytics to measure traffic, average time spent on your website—according to HubSpot, more than half of users spend less than 15 minutes on a website at one time.
- Search: Use the Google Search Console or services like SEMRush to monitor search engine rankings—your business should be on the first page of search results
- Clicks: Measure click-through rate for search engine optimization (SEO), social media and email marketing
- Lead Generation: Measure through marketing automation platforms or Google Analytics
- Feedback: Listen to audience feedback (social media and blog comments, email, reviews, etc) to remain agile in your content creation
Overall, remember that content marketing is a valuable tool for your business that has the ability to connect with current and prospective customers in authentic ways—if used effectively. Keep your goals in sight, monitor performance and adjust tactics accordingly to ensure each piece of content you create is valuable and positions your brand for success.
Meaghan Baxter is the Content Manager at Anstice Communications, Canada’s leading boutique agency specializing in meaningful disruption strategies and FX.