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ooking to improve brand awareness and build stronger relationships with your audience? Consider incorporating content marketing into your marketing strategy. Content marketing allows you to create value for both existing and potential customers, as well as generate buzz around your products or services through written, video, audio, and visual content.
Content marketing has relatively low up-front costs and is an evergreen strategy for your business. In a 2023 global study by SEMRush, 97% of marketers reported generating success through their content marketing efforts. Of the most successful respondents, 77% planned to increase their content budgets through 2023.
There are multiple financial and reputational benefits to content marketing. In this article, we'll look at those benefits and explore how to create an effective content marketing campaign that speaks to your audience.
Defining content marketing
Content marketing is a strategic approach to engaging consumer audiences with relevant and valuable information. It's an accessible marketing tactic for businesses of any size, but it's particularly vital for smaller organizations looking to expand their reach.
Unlike traditional advertising, content marketing doesn't require paying per message. If you have a website, you can create a blog and post as often as you want. Other strategies include making YouTube videos, publishing on LinkedIn or Medium, and writing case studies about your recent successes.
The central component of content marketing is audience value. Wherever you post, you must share information and insights your target customers will appreciate and use. The more valuable your content is, the more likely people will return for more.
Understanding your target audience
Every business has a unique target audience. The more you know about your audience's needs and why you're the best one to meet those needs, the more effective your content will be. Here's how to get that information.
Conducting market research
Market research allows you to identify your target customers. It identifies who they are, what motivates them, and why they need your offering.
Start by looking at what your current customers have in common. Competitor data also offers helpful information and is relatively simple to find – visit a competitor's social media page and look at its followers for insight.
Consider doing some industry research as well. Sites such as IBISWorld gather data from various industries and will show you who's buying in your sector. This information is free to access.
Creating buyer personas
Market research tells you about your audience as a group. To create engaging content, picture each audience sub-group as an individual. When you write with a real person in mind, your content becomes more relatable and vibrant.
Buyer personas help tremendously. A buyer persona is a fictionalized consumer based on actual audience characteristics. Ideally, each persona correlates with a target audience segment—a category of buyers that share needs, pain points, and buying behaviors.
For example, if you're a career coach, one of your audience segments might be midlife career changers. Turn that segment into a fleshed-out persona by identifying that type of client's key demographics and interests.
Then, you're not writing for "someone looking for a new career." You're writing for Melissa, a 42-year-old middle school teacher who wants to pivot to a tech career.
Setting clear content marketing goals
According to the Content Marketing Institute's (CMI's) 2022 reports, approximately three-quarters of business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) content marketers use defined goals to measure content performance. Respondents say their most valuable goals relate to website and email engagement, customer conversions, and site traffic.
As you develop your business's content marketing goals, try to make them as SMART as possible. SMART goals are:
- Specific: Addresses a particular problem or works toward a specific business goal
- Measurable: Is trackable or countable
- Achievable: Attainable given your team's resources and abilities
- Relevant: Related to your business's mission and broad goals
- Time-bound: Has defined start and end dates
Develop your SMART goals by identifying your broader targets and narrowing them down. Think of what aspects of your marketing you want to enhance, then find a measurable way to pursue it. Here are some places to start, inspired by goals common to the most successful content marketers:
- Create brand awareness
- Build credibility and trust with audiences
- Educate audiences about your product or service
- Build loyalty among existing customers
- Generate demand and leads
Pinpoint one of these or another broad marketing goal, then consider how you would measure success. If you were to choose “Build loyalty among existing customers”, for example, your SMART goal might be to increase the number of marketing email opens by 10% over a three-month period.
Developing a content strategy
Before you start writing your first blog post, you need a map of what you plan to publish, where you plan to publish it, and how you'll get the word out. Here's how those three processes work.
To start content marketing for your business, list topics for each audience segment. Ask yourself what pain points and needs you want to address. Then, consider how you could introduce those topics in educational ways.
For example, imagine you offer accounting services to businesses and families. You might decide to cover college savings planning, retirement strategies for entrepreneurs, and tax planning for business owners.
Once you have a list of ideas, put them into a content calendar. Start one in your existing calendar or workflow planning software, or try one of the many content planning tools available.
As you develop your content schedule, choose a format for each piece. According to a recent CMI report, short articles are the most popular format by a significant margin, but videos drive strong results.
Finally, start considering and documenting your brand voice and style. Your voice is how you speak to your audience. For example, some brands are more formal than others. Some use humor, and others are more serious.
Your brand style is your voice plus other elements such as your logo, color scheme, etc. Your ultimate goal is to define these elements in a formal style guide you can reference during content creation.
Content distribution gets your content in front of its target audiences. Job number one is choosing the right platform, so you have the best chance of reaching people who will engage with what you publish.
Most distribution platforms fall into one of three categories:
- Owned media: Channels such as your website, email newsletter, and blog, which your brand has control over
- Shared media: Social media and similar platforms that let you post for free but have algorithms that control who your content reaches
- Paid media: Platforms and opportunities, such as influencer marketing or branded content with publishing partners, that let you pay for exposure
Look for channels that match your content's tone and style to attract your target audience. Also, when publishing on shared and paid media channels, present your content in ways that encourage engagement in the form of comments or shares.
To maximize the number of viewers who engage with your content, highlight its helpfulness and relevance to every audience who sees it.
For example, suppose you use your email newsletter to link to your newest blog post. You want your subscribers to click on the link instead of scrolling past, so include an introduction that connects the content to a common audience pain point.
Paid promotional channels, such as social media and search ads, are also helpful. According to the CMI report mentioned earlier, 78% of B2C marketers and 81% of B2B marketers use these channels to promote their content. Paid promotions are especially beneficial when your content strategy is new and you're still building a follower base.
Creating engaging and valuable content
Multimedia content strategies engage more people and help you tell your story in different ways. Here are three accessible formats to get you started.
Blogging is one of the simplest and most accessible ways to distribute valuable, helpful content to your target audiences. All you need to start is a dedicated website page and a few weeks of post ideas.
You can create your blog internally or outsource the process to a freelancer or content service. Outsourcing is a cost-effective option for many business owners that don't have time to create content from scratch.
Successful content is informative, authoritative, and engaging. It touches on topics that a brand's target audience needs to know about, and that content comes from people with authority on the subject matter.
This kind of content resonates with audiences and appeals to Google's "helpful content" algorithm, which rewards websites that meet visitors' needs by placing them higher in search results.
Engagement is priority number one in content marketing, and visual elements are a great way to promote engagement.
In a 2022 Venngage survey, most content marketers reported adding visuals to between 91% and 100% of their content. The most popular types of visuals are infographics and illustrations, which are unique and add value to the piece. Other options include but aren't limited to original or stock photography, memes, GIFs, screenshots, and charts.
Videos and infographics are particularly popular among the CMI survey respondents. Both types of content are engaging, helpful, and highly shareable on social media.
Once people are aware of your brand and interested in what you offer, you can provide more in-depth educational content. This kind of content offers detailed insights into issues your audience faces.
Examples of educational content resources include:
- How-to guides
- Case studies
The latter two options may be less familiar to some readers. Case studies explain a specific client project, including the pain point, solution, and results. Whitepapers are authoritative research-based reports on an important topic in your industry. The typical whitepaper reader is a knowledgeable professional.
These educational resources provide additional reader value and establish your brand as an industry thought leader. Because they're more in-depth, it's essential to gear such resources to readers who have already expressed an interest in your brand.
Measuring and analyzing content performance
You should review your content strategy regularly to understand how your content is performing and whether it’s contributing to your business goals. If you wanted to generate 50 new email subscribers by the end of a quarter, monitor your subscriber count at least once a week. Keeping a pulse on the numbers will help you understand what’s working well, what’s not working, and whether tweaks need to be made.
If you fall short of a goal, identify what you might do better next time. Make those adjustments in your next campaign, then repeat the goal-setting process and review. Each tweak gets you closer to optimal results.
Incorporating SEO best practices
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process of optimizing your content and website so that it ranks highly in search engine results. Keeping SEO in mind as you implement your content marketing strategy increases your chances of your target audience being able to find you via Google.
Here are some SEO best practices:
- Make your website easy to navigate
- Add links to other relevant content on your site
- Break up text with headers and images
- Use short, readable sentences and paragraphs
- Incorporate relevant keywords (the terms your audience uses to search for a specific topic) into your content – but don’t overdo it!
For easier keyword selection, use tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMRush.
Repurposing and recycling content
A blog post is more than just a blog post. With a few adjustments, you can repurpose any content piece for multiple formats. That blog post can become a video script, podcast, checklist, or infographic.
The key is to gear each "edited" content piece to its format. For example, you wouldn't add an entire blog post to Twitter, but you can pull a takeaway or excerpt.
You can also repurpose older content by updating and refreshing it. Add new content, fact-check any old material, and include any particularly timely insights.
Content marketing is an effective and engaging way to build brand awareness and cultivate audience relationships. It's essential to know who you're writing for and how they typically consume content.
Content is cost-effective, but it's still an investment. Identify your goals and track each campaign to ensure it's working for you.
Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.
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