The last decade or so has been marked by the rise of content marketing. Content production platforms have become more accessible, traditional marketing and advertising strategies have become comparably more expensive, and algorithmic pressure for better-quality content — like Google’s Panda algorithm update — have all motivated more marketers to use content as a primary marketing strategy.
But if you haven’t been a part of the movement, content marketing may seem foreign. Even worse, it may seem intimidatingly inaccessible; after all, your contemporaries may have been practicing for years, so how can you possibly catch up?
Fortunately, the basics of content marketing are pretty easy to understand, and if you’re willing to make the time investment, you, too, can utilize the strategy for massive audience gains.
First, I want to cover the basic idea behind content marketing in case you aren’t familiar. Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable pieces of content, whether they’re for information or entertainment value, for the purposes of growing an audience. Over time, your website will rank higher in search engines, you’ll build a better reputation with readers, you’ll retain traffic for longer periods of time, and you’ll even see higher conversion rates and sales.
Rather than reaching out to new people and trying to sell them on a product or service, content marketing means attracting them with content that provides value in some way.
Advantages Over Traditional Marketing Methods
Content marketing is advantageous for three main reasons:
· Cost efficiency. Overall, content marketing is generally much less expensive to manage than a comparable traditional advertising strategy. You won’t have to pay for ad space via media buys, and there are many distribution methods that are completely free. The only costs you’ll incur are those associated with content development and promotion, which are still relatively low.
· Permanence and scale. All the content you create, assuming it’s evergreen, will last forever, and can continue yielding value for your site. Content marketing is also highly scalable, meaning you can rapidly grow your strategy from entry-level to market-dominating by increasing your budget and time spent.
· Multi-use functionality. Content marketing is also useful because it ties in to multiple other strategies. For example, it complements and improves your social media strategy, supports SEO, can be used for email marketing, and can even improve your conversion rates.
Setting the Stage
Content marketing is a big field, however, so before you get started, you should know what you’re getting into — and how you’re going to succeed:
· Audience. Start by identifying your audience. Who are the people you want to sell to? What are your key demographics, and how do they think and act? The better you know your audience, the more relevant your content will be, and the more followers you’ll earn.
· Niche. Next, you’ll need to consider what niche you want to occupy. The more specific you are here, the better; having a specific focus will increase your relevance with audiences and differentiate you from the competition. This is especially important, considering how saturated the content market is already.
· Goal. Finally, make sure you have a clear goal, since content can be used in many different ways. For example, are you trying to attract more recurring traffic, or would you rather achieve a higher conversion rate? You can do both, but you’ll need to define your goal concretely no matter what.
So what do you need to be successful in content marketing?
This is a short list of some of the most important ingredients:
· On-site blog posts. First, you’ll need a strong core blog to anchor your campaign, acting as the hub of your efforts. Shoot for long, original, well-written pieces, as well as multimedia content like images and videos. There’s much to learn here, so don’t rush in blindly.
· Personal brands. You should also work to develop content using personal brands; audiences connect to personal brands more easily than corporate brands, and you can use them to create guest posts on external sites.
· Guest posts. Guest posting is one of the best ways to achieve visibility for your personal brands and content. Make sure you’re featured on at least a handful of external sites.
· Social media support. If you want to maximize your exposure and reach new audiences, you should share and promote your work on social media. It’s free, and the fastest way to build a loyal audience.
· Ongoing promotion. Good content doesn’t get discovered by itself, unfortunately. You’ll also need to have some ongoing promotion strategy in place, whether that’s cultivating an email list, nurturing your offsite publications, or even using paid advertising to generate more views as a short-term boost.
· Ongoing support. Finally, you’ll want to engage your audience regularly to keep them interested. Start discussions on social media, encourage comments, and ask your readers what else they’d like to see from you.
There are a few other things you’ll need to consider before proceeding:
· Complementary strategies. What other complementary strategies are you going to use in conjunction with content marketing? For example, will you be pursuing SEO?
· Personnel and budget. Who are you going to hire to help you with these efforts, and how much are you willing to spend? Getting cheap here can compromise the quality of your campaign, but you also don’t want to go overboard.
· Results development. How are you going to measure your results, and what will you do if you aren’t achieving your goals? Content marketing demands a constant cycle of analysis, tweaks, and development.
It’s going to take time to develop your content marketing strategy — first to learn more about the intricacies of the approach, then to choose a provider or team to work with, and finally to execute the strategy.
But when all’s said and done, content marketing is still the most cost-effective and long-term reliable marketing strategy we have access to. Hopefully, you’ll walk away from this article with a better understanding, and a greater desire to make content marketing a part of your brand’s suite of tactics.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!