By Damien Edmonds & Emma Foster.
Last week, we wrote on the first step towards creating a successful content marketing plan (ie. Background Check: aligning your goals, revisiting your audience and getting a grid).
This week’s blog contains step #2 Develop, then step #3 Measure, refine and grow.
As mentioned last week, unlike ‘push’ marketing and the use of mass-media advertising, content marketing is a long-term engagement strategy (ie. pull-marketing). And with any strategy comes planning.
STEP TWO: DEVELOP
1. Create a content calendar
Calendars aren’t sexy, but neither is a discordant marketing campaign. A content calendar involves much more than assigning topics to a date. It can help visualise progression in your content, identify content gaps or opportunities to repurpose existing pieces, and track SEO (search engine optimisation) key phrases. It creates consistency and helps you deliver relevant content to the right customer, at the right time. We find Microsoft Excel works very well for this.
2. Distribution tools
Content distribution can be broken down into three main types – paid, owned and earned media.
- Paid media includes mass mediums such as tv, radio and online that distribute your content or ad to your target audience.
- Owned media includes your own website, blog, social media channels, ebooks, whitepapers, events – or even a combination of these. Usually your prospects will review a few such channels before making their mind up to progress further.
- Earned media is content and conversation around your brand from someone else – it includes a virtual ‘word of mouth’ such as mentions, reviews, recommendations and reposts. Earned media is most likely to generate traffic back to your website as well as cultivate brand loyalty.
- A balance of all three types is typically at the crux of a successful digital strategy.
3. Pick your topics
This is your opportunity to establish credibility and build brand trust, so work within what you know. You want to position yourself as an expert in your field, which will build trust between your company and potential consumers. Your content grid should already provide you with the topics that customers will find useful, but it’s also important to consider the topics that will complement your organisation’s positioning as well as list of key phrases for SEO, which will support cross-hyperlinking.
4. Content creation
From ebooks to events, there’s a stockpile of mediums to choose from when it comes to creating your message. While informative articles may be the most efficient medium for communicating information, videos and infographics are typically more engaging and more likely to be shared.
We recommend a balanced media mix that’s informative, engaging and will work to reinforce your brand, in line with your strategic objectives. If content strikes the right chords, it can always be repurposed (ie. atomisation).
For example – did you know that if you tweet on Twitter with an image, you are likely to generate (on average) 18% more clicks than tweeting without an image?
STEP THREE: MEASURE, REFINE & GROW
Once you’ve unleashed your powerful content, monitoring various analytic tools will provide real-time feedback on your pull-marketing strategy as to WHAT’S WORKING AND WHAT ISN’T. This will help you to continuously refine your strategy and maximise your return on investment.
Consider one or two of these content marketing monitoring tools:
- Facebook analytics
- Google Analytics
- LinkedIn analytics
- MailChimp analytics
These sites listed will tell you WHERE your visitors are coming from, HOW they found your site (ie. landing pages), WHICH web browsers your visitors are using, and WHAT keywords they’re typing into search engines.
To summarise, #ContentMarketing is not a short-term investment with quick returns, but a long-term commitment providing valuable results. Think of it like a relationship – quality takes time, resources and effort. A content marketing engagement strategy will reward you with a cheaper way to convert prospects and retain current customers, whilst adding value to your brand for years to come.