Content marketing has quickly become the #1 tactic for brand awareness and ad spending in 2017. In an age where most people are connected to the internet every day, businesses are shifting from a company-centric to a consumer-centric marketing approach. This means providing information that interests and educates consumers, while gently leading them down the sales funnel through an effective content marketing process. The customer is now in control and makes the decision to interact with your brand without direct advertising.
Many companies facilitate the entire buying process online, but almost every customer will conduct an online search or engage with your brand in some way to make the final purchase decision. Studies show that 60% of consumers are influenced heavily by custom content from their favorite businesses and influencers. In 2015, a survey was conducted that revealed content marketing helps marketers reduce their budgets by 62%, yet we’re able to generate 3X more leads from their efforts.
No matter what industry or market you’re trying to target, implementing a content marketing strategy is crucial. You can use different methods, including content curation (reposting content from an industry leader), and original content creation. Successful content marketers usually create 60-75% of their own content and use attribute-free reposted content for the rest.
Questions to ask before deciding what types of content to create and curate:
Who is your target audience?
Be very specific. When, and on what platforms are these customers most likely to engage with you? Are you reaching this audience on social media the most, or do they go directly to your site? Are you creating content for an internal audience, such as employees or others in your industry? Each of these questions should help you create in your mind a personality for your audience as if you’re writing to someone specific.
What are your target audience’s opinions and views on current topics of interest?
Once you’ve thought a little more about who your target audience is, you need to consider their common traits and understand what social topics are of most interest to them. You want to align your content with the opinions of your audience, so they revisit your sites and social profiles for more. What unique perspective do you provide on these subjects that they can’t get anywhere else? You need to offer something of true value for them to return to you.
What other sources provide similar opinions or research to back up my content?
You can use others’ content as part of the curation process. Take insights from individual industry leaders, trade publications, research papers, and other reputable sources. You can share this content directly, or use it in your own content creation. Content curation shouldn’t be your main objective, but it can be used to provide outside evidence for your positions on certain topics.
What are the goals of this content strategy?
Is it to entertain, to inform, or to persuade? Depending on your target audience, you may or may not want to provide information for a sale in your content strategy. Many successful businesses create content simply for the reader’s enjoyment or educational benefit, and profit from ad placements or because they’ve developed a high level of trust with their consumers. No matter what strategy you choose, you should stay consistent with your content goals.
What is the purpose of this content for my audience?
What would prompt your audience to engage in your content? Do they use your content to learn more about my company, or are they using it for their own benefit? Most people use social media as an outlet for entertainment. If you’re going to target consumers on these platforms, you want to provide them with something that’s enjoyable to read or watch, not something that’s persuading them to buy.
Who else is publishing content in my category?
Trying to publish content for a market that is oversaturated can be very difficult. Your demographic has to be very specific to create a following that is loyal to you. You can use other content creators for your curated content, but don’t use direct competitor’s material. You can, however, get ideas from competitors and publish your own opinions on topics that are trending in the industry.
Written content is usually at the top of content marketers’ priorities because it is the best way to share information and a brand message to potential customers. Written content helps search engines understand what your company is about (through keywords and phrases), which helps you reach more customers. Written content also keeps customers engaged longer than an image or video. It is the pillar of any strong content creation strategy.
Though written content is the most important type of content to include in your strategy, it is also the most time-consuming. To write quality posts and articles, you need to do some research on your target audience. You need to understand what sort of search terms they are using, and what topics interest them the most. Plus, you need to keep your content fresh, so that repeat visitors don’t run out of things to read.
These are the most popular types of content to use on your website and social media channels:
Sharing your views on a hot topic in your industry or one that is especially important to your target audience can gain fast traction on social media. Use other articles from reputable sources to back up your posts’ credibility.
The pages on your website give specific information about your company and products or services. These should contain most of your targeted keywords. Aside from your main pages, you can add keyword-specific pages to boost your rankings in the search engines.
Blogs can be used to entertain, to give easy solutions to a customer’s problems, or to provide interesting information about your company or industry. Common blog posts provide easily-digestible information and give the reader just enough detail to feel satisfied with their inquiry.
Status Update – A status update is a personal message from your brand to your followers. It gives your brand a more personal representation and can give followers insight into your company.
A how-to is a guide to help your customers solve problems that relate to the topic you cover on your blog. Giving away this free information will incline readers to learn more about you as a company, and perhaps opt for an even easier solution to their question – becoming one of your customers.
User-Generated Content (Product/Service Reviews) – User-generated content helps with online customer acquisitions. Prospective consumers are more likely to buy a product (especially if it is in a medium too high price range) if prior customers have had good experiences.
A resource page differs from a blog in that it provides extensive coverage on one specific topic, and is usually research-based rather than opinion-based. These are essential for B2B services and high-dollar products. They also stand a better chance of ranking well in search engines.
Images are some of the most popular and easily curated content online. Different types of images are used for different channels. You can inform, entertain or simply capture a customer’s attention with a high-quality image. Though creating your own custom images is preferable, you can also find thousands of free stock photos online.
Research from BuzzSumo says that “having at least one image in your post leads to double the number of shares on Facebook and Twitter.” Simply adding a featured image will make your content more appealing to online consumers, especially if you plan to use social media as a primary content-sharing strategy. Below are some of the most common types of images to use in content creation strategies:
Graphics are most commonly used for blog post headers and social media ads. And surprisingly, they aren’t that difficult to create. Using Adobe Illustrator or a web-based image editor, you can create custom graphics that fit your brand. The only downside to using custom graphics is that they take more time to develop than using a stock photo.
A meme is a captioned photo that gains internet fame for its humor and relatability to a particular audience. Memes can be about social cliches, TV or pop culture references, arts and culture, and commonalities of different demographic or interest groups. Memes are very popular on social media. If used appropriately for your target audience, memes are a great way to gain brand trust and more followers.
Infographics are visual representations of data or information that consumers use to learn more about a topic. They are most commonly used for B2B marketing, as these consumers often want to be more educated before buying a product or service. However, infographics are used to create visual “How-To” guides for B2C content marketing. These types of images are more likely to direct consumers to your product offers.
Quotes are some of the most liked and shared photos on social media. They are very easy to create and work well for platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. You can use famous quotes or quotes from executives within your company.
Lastly, audio and video content needs to be an integral part of your content creation strategy. While you present most of your information in written content, video and audio forms of that information are more likely to receive attention and gain traction on social platforms. A well-made video speaks volumes for your company. It can also be used on almost any media channel.
These are some of the most common audio and video types to include in your content marketing strategy:
A GIF is an image that moves like video animation and can be used for many different content purposes. Some GIFs are used to showcase products, while others are captioned and used as animated memes.
Videos are a great way to showcase your product and how it works. Video tutorials are useful for all markets, from beauty products to computer software. End each video with a call-to-action that leads the viewer to a product offer.
How-Tos are a great way to help customers and engage them with your content series. Creating a how-to video as a blog post will draw a lot of attention to your site, especially when you share it on social media.
You can record and share events live, now very easily with tools such as Facebook Live. You can also use Livestream video to share information with followers and allow them to ask questions as you’re recording.
Interviews with company executives or members of your organization again make it easier for your customers to relate to you. It also gives you a chance to interact with them “face-to-face” and answer their questions in a more personal way.
A podcast is a series of live or recorded audio “shows” that are broadcast and shared online. Most podcasts are either free to the public or subscription-based. These are very useful marketing tools because your audience can listen to your podcast when they’re at work, driving, or just about anywhere else.
By answering the questions in this guide, and using a mix of the content options, you’ll be able to create an optimized content marketing campaign that’s sure to bring in online leads for your business. Remember, there’s no one formula or strategy that works for every company – your content strategy has to be customized to your audience. Don’t wait to start creating and publishing content now. The sooner you start, the easier it is to gain a following.
Have questions about how to implement these strategies? Royal Reputation is here to help. Send us a message below, or check out our other guides on SEO and Digital Marketing Strategies.