In the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, a woman rebelling against a tyrannical ruler races across post-apocalyptic Australia in search of her homeland. If you’ve seen actress Charlize Theron fighting off hordes of attackers while driving a fuel-filled tanker, you’ll have some idea of a day in the life of the average marketer. Dramatic? Yes, but between the competitors nipping at your heels while you navigate a torrent of new channels, and the CEO beats the gong for more leads, it’s not too far off.
Enter content marketing. Is this just one more tactic on your plate or a whole new world? Savvy marketers are embracing content marketing as way through the funnel.
Content marketing is one of the most efficient ways to increase your customer base. It costs 62 percent less than regular outbound marketing, but can create three times the leads for your business. Read on to learn how a thorough content strategy can help you make content expand your overall reach exponentially.
What is Content Marketing?
As the avenues for marketing expand and technology allows consumers to avoid most of the older forms of advertising, marketers must look to current methods of engaging prospective customers. Many experts believe that organizations should develop valuable, long-lasting relationships with their clients. Content marketing is a fundamental part of it. “Deliver a product once a month, but an experience every day.” Lars Silberbauer, the global senior director of social media and video at LEGO, told attendees of the 2016 Content Marketing World conference.
Each of your customers is on a journey, and some of them have yet to begin. Your goal is to deliver content to readers at various stages of the journey. Even with a content marketing plan, people only spend about 37 seconds reading an article. Your ability to hook them in before they leave hinges on the strength of your content marketing strategy. With quality content that is delivered in the right way, you can develop brand awareness and loyalty before you have sold the first product or service. There are many tactics you might use for content marketing, and most organizations use 12-13. The most popular source, year after year, is social media. However, the use of infographics and illustrations in content marketing is also rising dramatically.
Why Do I Need Content Marketing?
If you are one of the 200 million people who use an ad-blocker on their computers, you understand the importance of using new methods to find new readers. Content marketing is an ideal way to reach people who no longer watch commercials or look at advertisements. Businesses’ use of content marketing is increasing every year. In fact, 88 percent of business-to-business (B2B) organizations use content marketing, and 76 percent said they plan to make it a larger part of their marketing strategy next year.
With these statistics, it is surprising that so many companies are behind the times in forming a content marketing strategy. Over half of B2B marketers say that their organization does not have a clear vision of what a solid content marketing strategy should look like. Only 37 percent of marketers in business-to-consumer (B2C) companies say they even have a documented content marketing strategy.
Content marketing requires a careful strategy that is discussed and maintained frequently. “Content marketing comes down to commitment. There’s no halfway. You’re either in or you’re out,” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute. The businesses that have their content marketing strategy down to a science are the ones grabbing 7.8 times the site traffic, compared to sites without a defined content marketing strategy. They make the commitment with more funding, and spend time daily collaborating to create, analyze and refine their strategies.
How Do I Develop a Content Marketing Strategy?
The hard work, time and money you invest at the beginning of your content marketing campaign distinguishes content that drives conversions and content that drags you down. “The things we perceive as creative brilliance are often the product of a system,” says Allen Gannett, the CEO of TrackMaven. The system is your content strategy, in six unique stages:
- Content Planning: In this very comprehensive stage, you explore what your customers want from content you might provide. Content planning involves a thorough analysis of your business, target demographics, SEO, researching keywords, social media, editorial schedule, maps of content categories and the creation of customer personas.
- Content Creation: With your content plan, you can create content that meets your customers’ needs. You explore the topics that are most useful, as well as the tone, style and voice that are more likely to attract your target demographic. This stage also concerns the curation of content that serves as the perfect example, and hiring writers who can deliver content to fit your brand vision.
- Content Optimization: In order for your content to be found by readers, it must be optimized for each channel you intend to use. Content optimization uses page optimization, content testing, link building, topic curation, keyword research and sitemap architecture to improve your SEO strength.
- Content Distribution: To ensure that your content is distributed beyond your basic customer reach, you have to stay abreast of the latest distribution methods and channels. This way, you can target your distribution to the most effective publishing platforms.
- Content Performance: After your content has been published, you can take data based on that content’s performance to improve leads and conversions. Tools measure key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you determine how well your content is engaging readers.
- Content Management: Your content management plan defines your organization’s needs and expectations for your content marketing strategy. Content management involves the creation of a content marketing team, as well as a schedule for regular project management.
Most companies use some kind of content marketing to engage with their customers and increase conversions. The best content marketing campaigns have a carefully developed strategy to ensure their success. With a six-stage content marketing strategy for your business, you improve site traffic and foster long-term customer loyalty. And you don’t have to fend off the post-apocalyptic hordes to do it!
Ginna Hall is the Director of Marketing at WriterAccess. An experienced marketing writer and editor, Ginna has helped corporate, academic and non-profit organizations develop strategic messages and roll-out content that connects with audiences of all types.