20 April 2015 - Graham Carroll

Mixing a great Content Marketing Strategy

It’s about knowing your audience and building trust.

For anyone who’s not quite sure about what Content Marketing really is, I like how the Content Marketing Institute put it:

“Content marketing is a 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.”

But it’s not as simple as just creating content for our customers and waiting for the results. Before you start a Content Marketing Strategy you have to ask (and be able to answer) 3 basic questions:

  • Target Audience: who will benefit most from my content?
  • What types of content will be delivered?
  • Goals: what will the outcome be for both my audience, and separately for me / my organisation?

With Content, people often focus on the most obvious part (creating it) and don’t quite realise that there’s a bit more to getting the mix right.

Like baking a cake, a good Content Marketing Strategy is made up of different ingredients. Each one is important in it’s own right but they are all interdependent and all necessary to make your content marketing work right for you.

The four main ingredients are:

  1. Content Ideas
  2. People
  3. Distribution
  4. Analytics

So as Walter White would put it, let’s cook…

Content Ideas: Planning & Research

If you already have a website, there are a few things to consider. Remember that the goal is not just to create awareness, but to also create trust.

  • What are we selling, product or service? Write it down.
  • If we’re selling a range of products or services, pick the ones you want to market and make a list.
  • What type of content will appeal to my target audience – tips, tutorials, video, etc.

Research: Based on your list of key products or services use tools to find information on popular content topics related to your business. Such tools include: Reddit, Twitter trends, Google Keyword Planner, SpyFu and MOZ.

From this research you can find what your potential audience is discussing, sharing and engaging in relevant to your goals. Decide how long you want to plan your content schedule – 12 months is an obvious duration.

Seasons, holidays or any kind of recurring events are an opportunity to plan a content calendar well in advance. For each service or product type or benefit write down titles for different post ideas. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge – sharing brings honesty and builds trust.

Note: Headlines account for up to 85% of engagement rates in written content.

For each content idea, ask the following questions:

  • Is this content relevant to what we do as a business or organisation?
  • Will it be useful to our target audience?
  • Will it help us to achieve our goals?

Stock & Flow

Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s a stream of regular updates that let people know that you exist. Your news, your industry news, regular information that is of value to your audience.

Stock is the stronger content. It’s the type that is as interesting in 6 months as it is right now. It’s what people find through search building trust and your audience. Try to think of content that has a lasting or ‘evergreen’ value – that could bring your website good search traffic over a sustained period.

People

A good content strategy needs people to power it. In our Dublin office, all Friday staff are encouraged to write about their roles and the services around the work they do.

It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer worthy, but everyone submits subject ideas and writes a good post at least once a month. These posts are then edited and optimised for SEO before publishing on our Journal.

Writing content comes easy to some while others (including myself) agonise over it at times. We often hear a good plan or see one written down and think ‘yep, this looks and sounds great… can’t wait to get started!’ Our plan often starts well, and then peters out…

Because writing and publishing content doesn’t have a direct or immediate pay off, the plan too easily falls apart. To avoid this, we need a good content plan, we need to write it down, and we must have people to take ownership of the plan to ensure that it is delivered. This is essential.

Build a combination of stock and flow content in your plan, and assign it to different people in a your content calendar with clear and realistic deadlines.

Distribution

The first rule of content distribution is having enough quality content in the first place. In most situations you will be releasing content as news items or blog posts, video or infographics and very often from your website.

If you publish content on your website that’s a start, you then want to shout about it to drive traffic through. Here are two key channels:

Email

A lot like social media, people often make their newsletters generic – a range of different content types that generally promotes their offering.

Give your newsletter more purpose by defining what stage of the customer buying cycle they should be used for. Up to 60% of email is read on smartphones now and when opened it is skimmed over quickly. Avoid ramming in all of your content into one email and instead elect your best pieces highlighted with engaging titles.

Social Media

Most marketers use their social channels to market their content just by posting it and dusting their hands. But it can more than this.

There has been significant growth of some big feeds which focus on doing one thing really well. History in Pics is a good example of this. For example, depending on your market, you might be able to create a few different accounts which focus on doing one thing well, and slowly release your content at the same time.

Analytics

Website Analytics

What content is building the most traffic and engagement? It’s important to see link and social share data for each content piece and to analyse how it performs over time.

Google Analytics is the best free analytics tool available for website / app analytics. Moz Pro is a great tool for reporting on your everything from your keyword search rank positions, your domain authority to your social media interactions.

Organic Traffic

Which keywords and what content items are driving traffic to your website?

I would usually look back at least 12 months to get a basis for comparison on top level searches to get an idea of which keywords are performing best relevant to your content.

Keyword Research

While I don’t completely trust all of the numbers keyword data results from Google’s Keyword Planner, it is a nice tool for generating new keyword and key phrase ideas. The data does give an indication of where opportunities are, especially for traffic that doesn’t carry high competition.

Google Webmaster Tools will also give some solid data on new keyword ranking or rank position opportunities.

SEO Analysis

Having mapped out your content, you should analyse how strong your competitors are at ranking their content A good way to do this for SEO is to use Moz tools to find out domain authority and inbound links. Competitor analysis is a paid feature for Moz Pro.

For social media, check of how many fans or followers your competitors have and how often they are posting and engaging.


Summing up

As part of a solid Digital Strategy, good content is marketing’s best opportunity to be truly creative. It does this by being valuable and relevant to your target audiences, it creates trust in your brand, and it builds the permission you need to do business.