Content marketing is growing in importance as a strategy to develop and sustain your Web presence. The Content Marketing Institute reports 42% of B2B content marketers in North America consider this strategy as effective compared to 36% last year. Furthermore, 93% of companies today do some type of content marketing, with only 16% of marketers that say it is not effective.
So what makes content marketing effective? And how can you improve your content marketing ROI?
There are three big differences between those who find content marketing as effective and those who do not. These differences include having:
- a documented content strategy
- a leader who oversees the content marketing strategy
- over one-third of the marketing budget focused on content marketing
Strategy #1: Create Content for Your Audience
Good content can help you build credibility with your audience, but to attract your audience members and get them to talk about your content, you need to cater to their needs.
The first step is to listen to your target audience. Visit the sites your audience goes to and listen to the conversations that take place. Review the content that is available. See what your audience says about this content. Find what your audience wants to know that these sites are not delivering. Once you identify these things, you can develop your content strategy based on the insights that you gain.
But don’t stop there. Test new ideas and ask your audience for feedback. Continue to create content that your audience responds to and dump the content that gets less response.
The Content Marketing Institute suggests you create a system that allows you to communicate with stakeholders across many social channels to drive conversation and influence customers. Encourage people throughout your organization to contribute content, and reward your audience for sharing your content with others.
Strategy # 2: Build Your Social Media Presence
The way to accelerate the results from strategy one above is to build your social media presence. In fact, as you build your presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others, your results can grow exponentially. That’s because as more people share your site with their networks, the number of people who become aware of it multiplies very quickly.
A report from Social Media Today published in November 2013 suggests social networking can help you gain knowledge and insights about your audience and market. Through social media, you can find out which content topics are hot. You can discover new trends and identify trends that are waning before your competitors do. Plus, you can see what types of content people are sharing and the types they are not sharing.
BuzzSumo is a tool you can use to help you keep track of what’s happening on social media. BuzzSumo is a search and analytics tool that can help you find the information you need. It helps you quickly find what information people are sharing by the type of content and date. Plus, BuzzSumo shows you how many shares a particular article has generated. Going to BuzzSumo can help you decide on a title or type of content to write about that can differentiate you from your competitors.
Strategy #3: Integrate Your Content Strategy with SEO
No matter how good your content is, you need an audience. You can increase your audience by integrating your content strategy with search engine optimization.
Neil Patel, founder of QuickSprout and KISSMetrics, says
“Hands down, my favorite approach to boosting search traffic is to leverage content marketing. Why? Because the data shows that it works!”
Patel suggests a few strategies on how you can increase your Internet search rankings. These strategies include:
- Ask companies who have top rankings on Google to link their sites to your article. Obviously, your article content should in some way tie in with the content of this third party.
- Cross link your content pages so they stimulate the search engine crawlers. The way to do this is to include links in each content page to several other pages with similar or related topics.
- Broadcast your new published content through social media, but do so at select times and remember to include the link to your new content. For Twitter the time to tweet is at 9:00 am, 12:00 noon, 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm. For Facebook, the best time to post is between Thursday and Sunday. Run contests to encourage more people to read and share your content.
- Send out a press release whenever you publish new content. You can also develop relationships with certain journalists. The key is to get the media to talk about you. The more relevant your content is, the more publicity you can generate.
Strategy #4: Tell Stories
People love stories. In fact, stories are often more readable than traditional articles. Heidi Cohen, author of the Actionable Marketing Guide, says,
“You can have the most useful information in the world for your target market but if you don’t package it so your audience can understand, it’s useless...tell a good story. It provides an emotional connection and context that draws your audience in and makes them remember it.”
There are several elements that make up a good story:
- Each story should have a beginning, middle and end. Playwrights, screenwriters and many novelists use this three act structure. So should you.
- Create a strong protagonist, a hero your audience can identify with and cheer along while reading the story. The more your hero relates to your audience, the more engaged your audience can become in reading the story to the end.
- Conflict is perhaps the most important element. Conflict is what makes any story dramatic. The audience wants to see how the hero can overcome the conflict so he or she can fulfill his or her goal.
The more you can include stories in your content, the more likely you are to have your audience share this with others in their network.
Success stories are one of the best types of content to grow your business, especially if you are a B2B company. Show how your customer went about finding a solution to their problem. These customers are real people in who your audience will believe. Plus, your audience may have similar problems. Your success story may help you sell your solution and compel your audience to contact you about a purchase.
Strategy #5: Promote Your Content
The success of your content is largely dependent upon effective promotion. SEO and social media are both inbound marketing strategies that can help you develop qualified leads and customers. However, you also need to build your business through outbound marketing such as direct mail and email.
It takes a great amount of time to create great content, but you need to spend at least the same amount of time to actively promote it, according to a report in Forbes in August, 2013.
Send all the contacts you have in your database an email with a link to the content. Include a compelling subject line and lead in your copy that will make your audience curious about the content you wrote and published.
You can also include a link to this content from your eNewsletter. Plus, reward whoever completes your article and shares it with a free report or a discount toward their next purchase. This strategy will help you enhance the relationship you have with your audience and improve your content marketing results.
Strategy # 6: Use Responsive Design for Your Website
It would be a shame and loss of money to create great content that people in your audience cannot access or read. That’s why it is so vital for you to publish your content on sites that your audience can view across platforms. The best way to achieve optimum readability is through responsive design, according to a report by CIO in July, 2013.
Responsive design enables your website to adapt to the screen size of the computer or mobile device your audience is using to view your content. It’s not only because more and more people are using their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to access the Internet, but also because search engines like Google may rank your site higher because it is mobile friendly.
Strategy #7: Make it Easy and Fast for Your Audience to Find the Content
Value your audience members’ time. Make it easy and fast for them to find the content they are seeking. One way to do this is to enable them to access the content with as few clicks as necessary. Use a horizontal navigation bar on the top of every page, including landing pages, with subcategories underneath.
Strategy #8: Have Reliable and Factual Content
Content marketing is a long term investment to help you build an audience that finds you credible and comes back for more information that can help them. So you need to make sure that whatever content you publish is factual and correct. One small piece of information that is false and misleading can ruin your reputation.
The best way to assure that your content is correct is to have a proofreader on your team. Ask him or her to review each publication you create before you publish it. A proofreader can verify that all the content is not only grammatically correct, but also factually correct.
Including data that can back up your points can enhance the quality of your content, according to a report by HubSpot in January 2013. You can present the data in both text and visuals. Make sure you cite the source of the data, and use data that is most current whenever possible.
Strategy #9: Content Curation
It’s usually best to create original content; however, you may not be able to continuously create high quality original content. That’s because it is time consuming and you may not have the right staff to produce enough of it. Plus, your audience may want to see content they can trust from another source. The solution here is to supplement the original content you publish with curated content, according to a report by SalesForce.com.
Curated content is information from other websites and writers. Basically, you share information already posted on the Internet and add your ideas, insight and comments. Helping your audience members discover information that is important to them that they may otherwise not find can enhance their respect and loyalty for your company. Also, by linking your site to content on other websites, you are able to foster a mutually beneficial relationship so they send you traffic as well. When they link their websites to your website, your search engine rankings can go up.
Strategy #10 Produce as Much Content as You Can
When it comes to content, more is better. The caveat here is that the content always needs to be of high quality.
Why more content?
The reason why more content is good is because your audience members are continuously searching for information. If you are the source they find that has the most and best answers, then they will more likely buy from you.
As stated earlier, more companies are producing and publishing content, and more marketers are increasing their content marketing budgets. If for no other reason, you need to create and publish more content to sustain your competitive advantage.
If you haven’t already done so, start your content marketing strategy today. Find out what your audience wants to know and deliver it to them. Content marketing is a fast-growing trend. It’s not slowing down anytime soon, so commit to a budget and a plan, and get a writer(s) to help you create the content you need to grow your business.