Social media and general online usage by both consumers and businesses has skyrocketed in recent years causing a shift in digital marketing techniques.
Subsequently this has amplified the use of the most significant inbound marketing subset: content marketing. Even if you don’t realise you’re using it, you are, and now is definitely the time it takes precedence within your marketing strategy.
So, what is content marketing?
Content marketing focuses on creating valuable, relevant, and consistent content to successfully communicate with an audience, providing engaging graphics that will help to retain and acquire customers.
Three major steps are involved in inbound marketing: attract, engage, and delight. All three stages are equally as important, and the best way to successfully achieve fulfilment in all three is to create, implement and document a strong content marketing strategy.
With at least 77% of marketers focusing their efforts on content marketing it is crucial for businesses to implement a clear and concise content marketing strategy to ensure they are reaching the right audience and expanding their brand.
Research reports by Research Dive anticipate that the content marketing industry will more than triple its revenue from a market size of £42 million in 2018, to an expected £137 million by 2026.
If you needed a push to get going on your content marketing strategy, this is it – content marketing is here to stay.
Why is content marketing so important?
Think about the last blog post you read, or the last marketing video you watched, was it memorable? Did it pull you in? Did you make a purchase or act on it as a result of the interaction? If the answer is no to any of the above then that business is not effectively using content marketing to the best of their ability, thus they are simply setting themselves up for failure.
Take a look at these top five tips to help maximise your content marketing strategy by producing helpful, engaging content that both your prospects and your current customers can enjoy.
1. Planning and monitoring
The number one key to a successful content marketing strategy starts with the foundations it is set in. It is vital that businesses create a thorough and well-thought-out plan.
Initially it may seem simple, and possibly even ineffective, but planning a long-term strategy will provide you and your colleagues with a roadmap for your content. This will allow you and your team to make more confident and tactical decisions, keeping you organised and giving the business the best chance at achieving long-term success.
Inevitably there will be obstacles along the way that you cannot plan for, but that is exactly why we plan in the first place. The plan will allow you and your team to realign your priorities and tasks at hand, putting them into perspective of what’s most important and when things need to be done by.
The next part of planning is documenting. There isn’t much point in having a plan if only you remember it – write it down, clearly map out the plan to know exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Your colleagues need to always have access to the plan to ensure everyone is working in line with the same schedule.
You’re now probably wondering how you can create a content plan for your business. The following steps will guide you to creating a thorough framework for your content marketing goals:
1. Clearly define your business content objectives
A plan will not be successful if you are unclear on what it is you want to achieve either short-term or long-term.
2. Research your audience and competition
Understanding who your audience is will help you to implement a plan that considers all their wants and needs. Exploring top performing competitors through a platform like Semrush will allow you to see what sort of content is ranking already and where there is low-hanging fruit you can take advantage of.
3. Document a written roadmap
The most successful content marketers are more likely than their less successful competitors to have a documented content marketing strategy (65% vs 14%).
4. Realistic timeline
Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much all at once, Rome wasn’t built in a day! You might find it useful to assign tasks and create a visual timeline of your marketing strategy using Monday.com
5. Measure your content strategy regularly
Having a plan doesn’t mean you can’t make changes along the way, if something isn’t working quite how you thought it would, alter your plan to align with your business goals and think of new ways to achieve them.
Digital marketers are constantly battling for the spotlight, and to have their customers' and prospects' full attention. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to stand out based on their services or products alone.
The online world is forward thinking and fast paced, meaning as a content marketer you need to always be ahead of the game.
Business storytelling is a way of communicating to your audience in a stimulating and relatable way that their products and services can be trusted and will be able to fulfil your needs. Be careful when it comes to telling a story through your business though, you need to ensure that you do not appear disingenuous or over the top as you run the risk of losing the audience.
To ensure your voice is heard, tell a story that will make a human connection, not just a business transaction. Resonating with your audience will encourage a sense of genuineness, which in turn will intrigue them and ultimately could encourage a prospective customer to make a purchase decision.
To survive in this modern overcrowded marketplace, it is important that you stand out. Storytelling is a fantastic way of doing so and can be used in all formats of content e.g blogs, email, videos, guides. Retelling your business background and history is not a story, but telling of the why, how and what you’re doing in a way that appeals to your audience is.
Some of the most effective global companies have powerful storytelling to thank for their success, take Apple or Google for example. Their marketing works with an ‘inside-out’ type of thinking; starting with the why – why are you doing what you’re doing, then moving on to talk about the how – how will this benefit your audience, and finally the what – what are you offering.
If you’re wondering how to execute the perfect story for your content marketing strategy, ensure you have included all three of the following elements:
- Characters: these will be your audience, including them in the story will make them feel valued and understood
- Conflict: a story lacking conflict is not a story at all. You don’t want it to sound like you’re telling a pitch or a selling point as this will not resonate with your audience. The conflict is the dilemma or problem the character is facing, ensure that this fits your prospects' problems or needs
- Resolution: this part of the story wraps it up, but also provides a clear call to action, fulfilling the purpose behind the story. Providing a resolution shouldn’t be forcing your businesses products and services, it should show how your business can provide a solution to the challenges they face
3. Keep up with the ever-evolving digital marketing trends
The digital age has caused a substantial shift in marketing, with instant access to more people than ever before the competition is irrefutably fiercer than ever. Marketers are constantly looking for new ways to be noticed which has resulted in several digital marketing trends arising over the last few years, all of which can and should be integrated into your content marketing strategy.
It does exactly what it says on the tin – the use of influencers, essentially content creators who are popular amongst a certain demographic and industry, to advocate and engage with your brand’s message by sharing it to their own following.
If you're not sure where to start with finding influencers, you can use tools like Buzzumo to research topics and discover 'top sharers' on platforms like Twitter. You can also dig into their profiles and decide if the type of content they share and the level of engagement they get is worth you reaching out to.
The last decade has seen this content marketing trend expand and evolve into a whole marketing strategy itself, going from the use of celebrities and a blogger or two, into a saturated market of social media influencers with the only requirement being they have at least a 5-10k following.
Influencer marketing is a great tactic to get creative with your content strategy, using other people’s platforms to promote your business adds an element of human touch and shows the diversity of the brand.
It is most definitely a trend here to stay, providing that your audience fits with the influencers outreach then now is the time to implement it into your content marketing strategy.
Social media channels
Content marketing has been forced to grow at the same rate as social media channels have expanded, which is tremendous.
Statista reported that social media usage is one of, if not the most popular online activity, in 2020 over 3.6 billion people worldwide reported having an account on at least one social media platform.
It is important to understand that there is a difference between social media marketing and content marketing. It is not to say that within content marketing you cannot use social media channels to research the current competition and to promote your content. In fact, social media channels such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube provide the perfect platforms for creative content to be published, using imagery, infographics, gifs, videos, shorts and more.
It is imperative that your business is not simply just an account holder on all social media platforms but is actively engaging with their following by promoting content that is relevant for each channel.
A method that has become increasingly popular in recent years is podcasting, AKA a content goldmine.
Podcasts tend to be episodic series of conversations on various topics by various people on a digital audio file that consumers subscribe to. The file can be saved, streamed, and downloaded to a device available for listening at any time.
Podcasts are ideal for driving high levels of engagement and building a loyal audience as it allows the brand to speak in a more human manner, offering a personal touch, rather than through a written format lacking emotion.
What's more, many podcasters have turned their hand to using video files as well as audio, building a YouTube presence as well as a podcast following on platforms like Spotify.
Tracking your content performance
Tracking the performance of your content helps you understand what works and what doesn’t so that you can continuously refine your efforts to get the best results.
To accurately track the performance of your content, it’s important to set up clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) with realistic targets, measure each piece of content against these goals, analyse how different elements of the content affect its performance, and adjust your future strategies accordingly based on the insights you gain.
By tracking content performance regularly, you can ensure that your content is achieving its desired outcomes and helping move your overall business objectives forward.
You can measure how different elements of the content affect its performance by using analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Hotjar. Once you have collected and analysed your data, you can adjust your future strategies accordingly based on the insights you gain from tracking performance.