Content is king and it has been leaving its mark on the web for quite some time now. It is still going strong without showing any signs of slowing down. Content marketing works as magic and that’s precisely the reason why all companies right from Fortune500 to small mom-and-pop shops keep uploading creative, fun and engaging content. They know that content helps to get warm leads.
With more and more people loving online access, content marketing is fast becoming the new traditional marketing. These new age consumers skip television advertising, ignore magazine advertising, don’t give a damn to flyers and are more inclined to take in online information.
Smart marketers know that things are changing fast and they need to go with the change. To capture more market and keep their consumers happy, they need to switch to content marketing.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is an art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is a strategic marketing approach where you deliver information on a continuous basis to the targeted audience rather than pitching for your product or service. The principle behind content strategy is that if a business delivers consistent valuable information to a selected set of audience that finds it engaging and interesting then they are bound to reward the business by buying the product. It is sort of non-interrupting marketing.
The common mistake that most people make is that their content marketing puts more emphasis on the content rather than marketing. If you really want to emphasise on the marketing aspect, you need to venture beyond the safe and comfortable walls of the blog.
With 61% of the most effective business-to-business (B2B) marketers meeting at least weekly with their content marketing teams and 37% of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers having a documented content marketing strategy, let us see how to take content marketing beyond blog posts.
Use Single Content to Open Up a World of Myriad Possibilities
Use your most successful blog post to open up a host of opportunities. When you study your blog analytics, you will know which post of yours was a hit with your audience. Now use this post to maximise the effect moving beyond the blog. Use multi-tiered content marketing approach by leveraging this post into other pieces of content, which can be:
An e-book, which can discuss the points given in the blog post in detail.
You can get a video series made with short and fun videos. You can keep posting these videos at a regular frequency to keep your audience engaged.
You can use the same post as an interview blog post where an expert can give his or her views on it. The audience will like to know what an expert in the field feels about it.
You can turn it into an infographic.
You can use it as a social media campaign taking one point at a time.
Using all these ways, you can expand your reach and that too across various platforms. A simple blog post will provide enough fodder that will last for days.
Tone Your Marketing Skills Keeping in Mind Your Audience Preference
People are different and so are their capabilities and preferences when it comes to learning. Some prefer to learn by going through the content published, whereas few would like podcasts or watch videos soaking up knowledge. Study your audience behaviour closely and then try to provide the medium that they prefer the most. If you are not able to find a set pattern then diversification should be the key for you. Instead of publishing the same kind of content, keep coming up with different one each time so that you can know in due course of time what is hit with your consumers. Follow this link to learn how to devise an audience-first content marketing strategy.
Create a Content Calendar
If you create a schedule for different types of content that you will post all through the week, the consumers will be better equipped with what to expect on a particular day. It will help to manage expectations with the content better. Suppose you have blocked Monday for a blog post, then on Tuesday the audience can expect to get a video tip, the third day of the week is reserved for the infographic and so on. If you establish this cadence, people will know what to expect from you on a particular day of the week.
Keep Track of Result
Content marketing is all about strategy, but you need to see which tool in your content marketing script is getting you a better result. Like any kind of marketing, here also you need to keep track of results. The data for all your content marketing activities whether content downloads, shares, or views gives you an insight into what people like and what they want you to change. Answers to questions like the following are important to charter the road for further strategies.
How many people subscribed to your email list and downloaded the e-book that you provided them?
Did the video you posted have many views?
Are people interested in sharing your infographic?
Which videos are driving the most engagement on social platforms like Twitter?
Depending upon what specific metrics you want to track, you need to check on them throughout a given campaign. It will make you better equipped to optimise your future efforts.
Turning Content into Sales Opportunities
You have great content, but the basic aim of having content marketing was to make money. What content marketing basically does is establish you as an expert in the field. What you say through your content makes your audience engage and develop trust in your capabilities.
Most of the time, when a user goes through the content in any form, it makes him curious enough to visit the website of the business. When he visits the website (which is because the content made him curious enough), he finds that he actually needs the service. Either he can right away go for it or he may defer the decision in sometime future as he may think he should look for some alternate sites too. Now, while on his social platform, he again comes across one of your videos or gets your infographic somewhere else. If your content keeps crossing his path, his trust factor will keep building up and he will purchase the product or service from you.
Content marketing is all hitting the right chord with the right people at the right time. Expanding your content beyond blog helps you to develop more opportunities to connect with buyers at various stages of the buying process. This, in turn, results in turning content into sales.
Reap the Benefits of Micro-Content
As you know, the attention span of a user on any page is less than 3 seconds. So, to grab the attention of the user, micro-content is a powerful way. You can distribute this bite-size content through a variety of platforms and spur interest among the new audience. As the content’s reach is extended and that too in an efficient way, the traffic to the website is bound to increase and with more traffic you have better chances of converting leads to sales. If you are new to micro-content, this SmartInsights article gives a comprehensive insight into what it is all about.
As a tool for content marketing, you can consider micro-content to be a tiny appetiser. It is like a group of smaller, micro-graphics that are socially-optimized and taken from a single infographic or image or small items extracted from larger content to entice viewers. Micro-content can be mini graphics, single images, factoids, mini data visualisations, tips, illustrations, etc. which can be shared across all owned properties. These properties are social media accounts like Twitter or Facebook, blogs, newsletter etc.
There are many new formats that the marketers are trying and testing and Micro-content is one of them. They are getting success in increasing the viewership as this method is keeping viewers engaged. Through this visual content, the marketers are able to convey stories in different innovative ways.
Visual content is permeating all rudiments of content marketing right from pitching materials to the presentations and internal reporting on the campaign success. Slide decks are another brilliant format for sharing information online and that too in a crisp and compact manner. The upside of using slides is that it is skimmable as it is short and summarised. It covers the whole topic in few words and lines and thus easy to flick through. As the topic is broke down to smaller chunks, it is easy for readers to grasp and digest it. If the content on the slide is useful, then it is bound to generate massive audience online. While making a slide, the following tips should be kept in mind.
#1 There should be one key message per slide.
#2 Don’t go for bullet points. Instead, depict what you want to convey visually.
#3 Keep it short. If you have too many slides, viewers will lose interest and will not go through later slides, which will defeat the purpose.
#4 Slides are a fun way of sharing your expertise, which keeps the user engaged if done rightly.
#5 You can give an overview of a new product or service in a simple slide.
Drip Email Campaigns
While people have to go to blogs and read the content, creating emails and sending them is a better way to communicate. Through emails, the content directly goes to the inbox, which the person looks at multiple times in a day and is more likely to read. Sometimes, a person feels lazy to open a blog, but when the content is there in the inbox, there is a high probability of going through it, especially if it’s through the same source that maintains the blog.
But creating an email that has quality content that a person would want to receive and go through is really an art. On an average, a person spends just two seconds in deciding whether to read or not a particular mail. So, you need to give a captivating visual that teases them into engaging. This is a mail, and if a person opens it, it should not have the entire essay written there. The right way is to keep it simple and engaging and if the person wants to know more it should have a link through to the relevant content. That way, he can simply click on it and get access to the entire content. Email campaigns in content marketing should be considered as a gentle push to take the user to the desired website. Here’s a complete guide to drip email campaigns.
Whitepapers and Case Studies
To build trust with the audience, which is often the basic step before they turn into buyers, whitepapers and case studies are a great option. They provide the best platform to showcase your knowledge and establish your authority on a particular subject. If a business can put across a message to the audience that they are capable of handling the customer’s problems and back it up with proof in the form of case studies, they develop trust. The customer feels that he is in safe hands and does not shy away from making a purchase of the product or the service. You can have a single paper case study, which reflects how you were able to solve the problem of a real client or you can have extended whitepaper, which reflects the impact of using your product or service.
To make the whitepaper interesting and inviting, do add some logos, illustrations or photos. Again, the content on it should be crisp and skimmable. Try to provide a good overall structure to the content by grouping it under headings and sections so that it is easy to grasp. It should be so well written that a brief look should be enough to tell the reader what it is all about. This method works beautifully in establishing credibility within a field. This HubSpot blog post briefs about how to write a compelling white paper that can capture leads.
Engage Users through Friendly Competition
A great way to involve and engage the users is to organise friendly competitions and encourage them to interact. When people play these games, they talk about it with their friends and this way they propagate your brand. This works in your interest as then those who have never gone through your blog or any other content marketing strategy may also look up for your website in order to play that game and in turn get a taste of what your brand is all about. This content marketing strategy may help you in winning an audience in those circles, which were out of reach till now.
Few years ago, Coca-Cola organised its own variation during the Winter Olympics, which it referred to as Coke Games. For this, it encouraged users to play games like Coke Curling, Speed Sipping, and Bottle Cap Hockey. All users had to do was to film and upload his or her video participating in a particular game. When the participants shared these videos on the Facebook wall of Coke, they were entitled to win prizes. This increased both the sales of Coca-Cola and their Facebook visits. You can do something similar depending upon your product or service.
When we talk about content marketing, it is something more than just advertising. Through content marketing, you show your targeted audience who you are rather than just telling them. Showing is always more impactful than telling. Since the rise of internet penetration, the ways in which businesses interacted with their customers has transformed totally. Today, the businesses are closer to their customers, which happened because they can be more communicative to them through various methods of interacting online.
If you are included in the social circle of a customer or the target audience, it is your duty to keep them engaged by adopting the above-discussed strategies of content marketing. You need to provide them content which is entertaining, informative, relevant and helpful. Following the right content marketing strategies will help you get warm leads in your target audience groups, which you can then convert into sales.
Effective content marketing helps in creating affirmative associations to the brand, which does not include the stress of product marketing. Content marketing has incredibly enduring effect as great quality content motivates users to keep clicking, reading and exploring, which are all vital steps to increase sales. Any website that follows the strategies of content marketing is bound to generate traffic that keeps pouring in for months or even years. Of course, you need to tweak up your strategies as and when required.