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According to Google and most of the top marketers, content marketing is going to be the most important strategy to drive conversions in years to come. If you’re not already at least knee-deep into this, then it’s about time to dive in!
In this article, I will explain step by step how to understand content marketing and how to launch it successfully for your own business.
The goals of content marketing
Content marketing differs a lot from typical marketing – billboards, slogans and TV ads. While traditional methods are quick distractions that are meant to simply create a sense of awareness about a certain product or a business, content marketing is all about providing value. By that, I mean solving the problems your potential customers may have.
Have a look at a blog ran by Buffer, a social media scheduling tool. It’s full of articles containing useful information for social media specialists. They cover new developments, handy tools, tips and tricks, and much much more. They even have a podcast! Buffer’s content marketing campaign is a perfect example of how it’s supposed to be done. They know that their customer base consists of people who dabble in social media and they curate their content so that it fits right into what their customers may need!
Supporting your social media and email marketing campaigns
Content doesn’t only belong on your blog or your website. You can share it in any way you want! Social networks and email marketing are two areas that are great for this purpose.
A lot of your audiences will most likely come from your social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Sharing your content on your social networks is a great way to engage your followers, provide them with value and have them engage you with comments, likes and reshares. What is more, it also increases the number of visitors on your website or blog, which can up your sales!
Similarly to social media, content can be used to support your email marketing. A great and engaging blog article sent to a prospect at the right moment can do wonders and ultimately lead to a sale! To do this effectively you need two things: a sales funnel and a varied content that’s relevant to customers in different stages of the decision-making process.
You should send out different content to leads in different stages of the sales funnel. Someone who only just begun researching companies producing pumps wouldn’t want to get discount codes or newsletters with the latest offers. They would be happy to receive an email with an article explaining all the crucial things to take into account when choosing a pump. That not only provides value to them, but also builds trust between the prospects and your business.
Generating customer loyalty
Business is no longer about simply selling. I mean, it’s still the goal, but it’s being achieved differently. As competition increased drastically, traditional marketing techniques, which were a bit forceful at times, ceased to be effective. Instead, businesses attempt to create meaningful relationships with their customers.
Content marketing is a great way to do this. It gives your customers value for free and, in turn, generates loyalty towards your brand.
Using content for your social media and email marketing campaigns is a perfect example of that. Targeting your audiences and leads with blog articles, videos or newsletters tailored to their needs is a great way to create long-term engagement.
The advantages of content marketing
It will strengthen your brand
What’s a better way to showcase the best features of your business than to channel your expertise and passion? Content allows you to create and promote a positive image of your company, whether as an educator, entertainer or something completely different!
Have a look at Neil Patel’s podcast. He is a renowned marketing specialist and an expert on growth hacking. Apart from informative blog articles, he regularly publishes podcast episodes where he talks about the trends in marketing and techniques that stimulate growth.
If Neil Patel’s goal was to create a brand based on great content that’s informative, engaging and channels his expertise as well as innovative approach, then I think he succeeded!
Content is what gets shares!
If you publish great and useful content, chances are high that people will be enticed to share it on their social networks or simply send to their friends. That gives you free, organic exposure!
With the increasing popularity of videos, there is a lot of content that goes viral. That means a lot of people share and watch it in a very short time. Have a look at the video by Dollar Shave Club titled “Our Blades Are F***ing Great”. It’s witty in a very unpredictable way and garnered 25 million views on YouTube. Quite a lot for an ad, isn’t it?
Content is great for SEO
Content gives you several significant SEO benefits.
Keywords are the very foundation of SEO. They determine, which SERPs your website will be displayed in. Content, and especially, articles are amazing bearers of keywords – make sure to include them in your copy!
Link building works in a similar way to how social media sharing does. If other creators find your content valuable and useful, they will use it as a reference in their own articles. That means exposure and a sense of being an expert in a field!
Is it proven that currently Google seriously takes the User Experience aspect of your website into account when ranking you. Content gives you a great advantage when it comes to UX, because it actually provides value to people who visit your website.
However, if you use the Black Hat SEO tactics in your content marketing, Google may seriously penalize you, even to the point of banning your website. These practices include unnaturally stuffing your articles with keywords or writing a whole paragraph of keywords and making it blend into the background.
How to get started with content marketing
Getting started with content marketing is not that hard! Most platforms where you can upload are free or cost a little. In this section, I will talk about how to launch your blog, podcast and video blog!
Generally, to begin any successful content marketing campaign, you need a great theme or a topic that you can create about. For example, a podcast on independent music is a great idea. However, a blog about some obscure band from the 1990s that almost no one knows about is not really a way to go. Remember that you want to gain exposure with your content marketing and for that, you need topics that will be attractive to your audiences.
Once you determine what you want to write about, it’s time to find a platform to publish on.
WordPress is the most popular CMS. It not only allows you to publish articles, but also to create an entire website. It’s a great option if you want a more professional look and is willing to spend time designing all the functionalities.
WordPress is free for its most basic plan – a huge drawback though might be the addition of ‘wordpress.com’ to your domain. There’s also a Personal Plan that costs €4 pm along with a Premium – €8 pm and Business – €24.92 pm.
LinkedIn is a social network dedicated to professionals. It has a relatively small number of users – 500 million, compared to Facebook’s two billion and Instagram’s 800 million. Yet, LinkedIn has a clearly stated purpose – to generate valuable B2B leads!
What is more, LinkedIn has a publishing platform, which can be used by every user. The articles you upload will become a part of your profile, which is a great way to increase your credibility.
Despite a limited audience, posting on LinkedIn can have massive benefits, because of a high concentration of influential people.
Intuitive, simple and free – the three words that perfectly describe Medium. It’s a publishing platform dedicated to anyone who wishes to get their content out there. Its mission statement is: “A platform built for: people, quality, original ideas, clean reading experience, engagement & depth and viewpoints”. In 2017, Medium had been visited by 60 million people and in 2016, 7.5 million posts had been published. The platform is used by people of all occupations, from scientists to artists. Businesses use Medium as well. For example, Bergen, creators of Darkroom, an app that’s considered to be the best mobile photo editor!
A podcast is a great way to connect with your audience in a more personal way than writing articles. This medium is currently extremely popular. And for a good reason! Contrary to videos and blogs, podcasts don’t require constant attention. You can simply put an episode on your headphones during your morning commute and zone out.
The benefits of running a podcast are similar to that of a blog – increasing exposure and setting yourself as an expert in your field. Keep in mind though that, like with anything, you need to be regular and on schedule with your podcast!
So, how to get started?
Find your niche
Similarly to a blog, your podcast needs a strong topic. It needs to be specific enough to give you an edge and make you stand out. However, you also need to be able to come up with enough ideas for episodes within your topic. In short – set up podcasts on stuff you are passionate about and know a lot about.
To start a podcast, the first thing you need is a good recording device or a microphone. You want a clear sound. Check your phone or computer microphone – the quality of sound is often satisfactory enough. However, if you have a budget, consider investing in a good quality microphone. It won’t cost a lot, but it can make a lot of difference!
Download Audacity. It’s a free audio editing and recording program. It has a very intuitive and simple user interface so basic things like recording the sound and editing it will not take you a lot of time to learn.
Where to host your podcast
Once you’ve got your podcast episode ready, it’s time to publish it!
SoundCloud is a great platform for that. It’s a free streaming service created for independent musicians and anyone who wishes to upload their audio works.
You can also have a look at Libsyn – a service dedicated to hosting podcasts. Their basic plan starts from $5 per month and covers publishing, hosting, statistics and provides a great platform.
Videos require the biggest amount of work and a lot of equipment. Cameras, microphones and editing tools don’t come cheap and the shooting process may also be hard.
It’s worth taking a shot though! Currently, video is considered the next big thing in content marketing and there are countless people on YouTube who make quite a good living out of uploading clips.
Video content is proven to be extremely beneficial towards your SEO as well as social media exposure. It’s an extremely engaging and entertaining medium, perfect for today’s
How to use videos for content marketing
Videos don’t have to be the only type of content you focus on. They are great at supplementing your blog or your Landing Pages – it is proven that a video within a page can increase conversions by 80% or more!
Where to host your videos
YouTube is the first and most obvious place that comes to mind. This service became the synonym of video content.
Facebook recently launched their own video sharing platform. This is where a lot of content goes viral getting millions of views in a matter of days. Yet, make sure that you familiarise yourself with the recent algorithm updates. Posts from friends and family are given priority over content from brands now. That means unless your videos get a lot of engagement (comments and shares), they may get a decrease in views.
Vimeo is another place where you can upload your videos. It’s a bit more niche and not as big as YouTube, but it’s perfect if quality is your biggest focal point!
Streaming is relatively easy. You can do it from your phone or computer and upload straight onto Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram (with the new Stories feature). YouTube is another live video-friendly platform.
Live streaming has two main benefits for your business. First of all, it can seriously increase the engagement you get from customers. According to Facebook, live video was found to be extremely effective in gathering huge numbers of comments, shares and reacts.
Second of all, live video attracts revenue. 45% of audiences claim they’d be willing to pay for watching exclusive live content. Streaming has also seen a 113% increase in ad revenue in 2016.
Content marketing hacks
How to make sure that your content marketing is successful? Read on!
Consistency is key!
You need to post regularly. Whether it’s articles, podcast episodes or videos, your audiences expect a steady stream of new content for them to engage with.
Set up a posting schedule. For example, start releasing an article every Thursday. Or Tuesday and Friday. Whatever it might be, stick to it. Slip-ups might happen, but take the effort to stay on track!
Make sure you provide value to your customers
People don’t visit your blog to read about what your business does. They visit it because they want to gain some knowledge on topics that interest them or get some entertainment.
Create problem-solving content. That’s the kind of content that truly provides value.
If you run a blog about plumbing, your audience will expect you to write about different techniques of repairing pipes or do rankings of tools (you know, plumbing stuff).
If you run a YouTube channel devoted to celebrity gossip, your audience would want to watch the latest news on Kardashians.
In the first case, you solve your audience’s problems by providing informative content on plumbing issues. In the second one, your audience’s problem is lack of information on the Kardashians – you solve it by providing the info!
Choose topics that resonate with your target audience
Who is your audience? What sort of content would they be interested in from you?
To find out, start by creating a comprehensive customer profile. Think of how old are the people who do business with you, what is their education, job, where do they live, how do they commute, what are their hobbies, etc. Go into a ridiculous amount of detail!
Creating a customer profile will help you tailor the themes and topics of your content marketing to your audience.
Examples of great content marketing campaigns
The content on Ben & Jerry’s website reflects their brand identity. As producers of ice cream, probably the best sweet comfort food there is, their blog is almost as cozy as huddling under a blanket with a pint of “Cookie Dough”. “10 recipes to ruin your New Year’s Resolutions” or “How to give ice cream as a gift” are as wholesome as it gets.
At the same time, Ben & Jerry’s like to showcase their more conscious side. With articles such as “How much do you know about the refugee crisis” or “8 things you should care about if you care about racial justice” shows brand’s involvement in issues that are very current today. The articles are very informative and backed by data, yet they avoid being preachy – something that’s pretty hard to achieve!
LEGO is a toy legend. Targeted at kids, they need to produce content that’s fun and engaging. Their website is filled with videos introducing characters from different sets full of goofy sketches as well as set trailers. There’s also a LEGO magazine, a LEGO Life social network designed for kids, an animated TV series “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” and countless LEGO video games. That’s a lot of great content to keep people busy and constantly interested in the brand!
Moz’s mission is to “simplify SEO for everyone through our software, education, and community”. Their blog perfectly reflects that. It is filled with informative pieces that cover detailed topics in a very accessible and approachable way. The articles are usually just text, but sometimes Moz merges a podcast, a post and a video into a single content page – truly engaging!
Content marketing is crucial towards your company’s success. As business is increasingly heading towards satisfying your customers’ need for being engaged with quality and not flooded with quantity, content will play a key role in marketing in years to come. This is applicable to businesses of any size!
In this article, we covered the basics of content marketing. That’s enough to get you started and give your strategy shape and vision. So, go out there, set up a blog, a YouTube channel or a podcast and start spreading your passion and knowledge!