A Crash Course in Content Marketing

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action (Content Marketing Institute).

 

 

 

 

Content can mean:

  • Blog articles
  • Web pages
  • Landing pages
  • Books
  • Photos
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Social media posts
  • Ads
  • Flyers and other print material

Content in any of the above formats can provide value to an audience. And if it is both relevant and consistent enough, it will drive profitable action from your audience.

 

Content Marketing Actually Offers Something Your Customers Want

Traditional marketing is becoming far less effective while content marketing is on the rise. Why?

Because content marketing provides what traditional marketing doesn’t: value and relevance.

When you understand how the buying cycle works, you can start to see where content marketing succeeds and traditional marketing falls short:

 

  • Awareness: The customer becomes aware there is a solution to a need they may have
  • Research: Upon becoming aware of a solution, the customer will educate themselves on offerings of solution
  • Consideration: After deciding they have obtained enough information about the solution, the customer will compare and evaluate the tangible solution offered by different vendors
  • Purchase: Once the customer has selected a vendor to fulfill their need, they will move forward with the transaction

Traditional marketing is good for the last two steps— offering an option, a sales pitch, and a call to action for how to buy the product or service.

Traditional marketing is also known as push marketing which is all about pushing the ad message out in front of anybody.

Push Marketing vs. Pull Marketing

In push marketing, there’s no room for the first two steps of the buying cycle.

But with content marketing, the first two steps are the most important. The aim is to raise awareness and then educate an audience on a solution they may not have previously considered.

By tapping into the first two steps of the buying cycle, content marketing does a great service to consumers by offering them honest, valuable, and relevant information. There are no strings attached. There is no luring and no shady sales tactics in content marketing. It is honest and upfront.

This is why this type of marketing is otherwise known as pull marketing. Because it is designed to attract customers through search engine optimization, which allows the consumer to find brands through relevant searches.

The consumer is pulling marketing to themselves that they find relevant and of value.

When the first two steps of the buying cycle are accomplished by you, the marketer, you have established ethos with the consumer. With that trust, you can establish customer loyalty far more effectively than any form of traditional marketing can.

So How Do You Get Started?

First, you need a plan. Like with any marketing, it’s not wise to just throw money at something and trust that it will work simply because someone told you it would.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I trying to achieve with content marketing?
  • What media make the most sense for my target audience?
  • Which social platforms do my target audience spend the most time on?
  • What kind of content schedule can I commit to?
  • What kind of content should I create?

When you have answers to these questions, you have the skeleton of a marketing plan in place, which is all you really need. You shouldn’t wait and dither around until the cows come home. Having some content out there is better than having none.

So then, it comes down to execution.

You have a few options when it comes to executing your content marketing.

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Assign the role to someone in-house
  3. Hire a professional content marketer to do it for you

Pros & Cons of DIY

Pros:

  • Saves you money
  • You have full control of your brand voice
  • You have full control over your content distribution

Cons:

  • Huge time commitment
  • Takes a lot of energy away from your business
  • You have to stay up to date on the best content marketing practice like SEO and the best times to post

Pros & Cons of Doing it In-House

Pros:

  • Might save you money
  • Takes the job off your plate so you can focus on building your business
  • Might be more reliable than doing it yourself

Cons:

  • Takes away some control of your brand voice
  • Your in-house staff person may or may not be a good writer, and they may or may not have the aforementioned skills required to be a good content marketer

Pros & Cons of Hiring a Professional

Pros:

  • You get high-quality professional work
  • You get someone who’s highly considerate of your brand voice and your target audience
  • You work with someone who understands the context of a larger content strategy with your goals in mind

Cons:

  • You relinquish a lot of control of your brand voice
  • A good writer might not quite fit your budget if you’re not fully invested in content marketing

Some freelancers will charge you per hour, some will charge you per word,

  • but many professionals with marketing experience will charge per project

Interested in learning more? Email us at LauraD@CommCoreMarketing.com or call 314.308.0799.

10 Tips for Creating Great Content

We all struggle from time to time with keeping an audience engaged, particularly when it comes to the Internet. There is such a vast amount of content on the Internet that you really have to produce something uniquely enticing in order to cut through the clutter. This can be very challenging. And because your relevance depends on regular activity on your social media sites, it’s even more imperative that you learn how to consistently create quality content. Here are some tips:

  1. Create Original Content

    One of the best ways to distinguish yourself in your industry is by creating something original. This means offering a new and fresh perspective and not dishing up the same ideas that have already been written.

    Originality is not only important in terms of branding but also Google searches. The Google algorithm will lower the ranking for pages with content that’s simply copied. So be creative!

  2. Pull Them in with a Good Headline

    Journalism 101 will teach you that the headline is more important than the content itself. According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read your headline but only 20% will actually go on to read your content!

    On the Internet where there is endless content to access, you only have a few seconds to pull a reader in as they are scrolling down an endless stack of content. People will only read something that sparks their interest. So you have to make that headline a grabber! Phrases that make the content sound like need-to-know information are best.

    Ask yourself: What sort of title would make you want to read a piece?

  3. Cut out the fluff

    No one really wants to read the extra embellishments that add body to a story– especially when there is already so much out there to capture their attention. People want to get right into the good stuff that drew them in the first place. So cut to the chase, keep it brief and to the point.

  4. Keep it Accurate, Keep it Credible

    Nothing ruins a blog faster than discovering inaccuracies. So when you cite facts, be sure to include credible sources. Consider where you’re getting your information and, after you determine it’s a credible source, you can include the link directly in your writing. This not only provides an opportunity to boost your authority on the subject matter but it also helps Google figure out how to better categorize your content in searches.

  5. Make Your Readers Think

    After reading your headline and deciding to read your content, the reader will decide within the first few sentences whether or not they want to continue reading. You must explain in your introduction why they should care and what the reader should expect to read in your piece. Be up front and be creative.

    Telling stories is a great way to tie your content together and keep your readers engaged. If a reader finishes your piece with new thoughts or questions in mind, you have done a fantastic job.

  6. Make it Practical

    While reading an article by an expert is an engaging act in itself, it’s difficult to take advice unless you understand how to use it. After you have introduced an idea, be sure to provide examples so that the reader has a better idea of how they can apply your advice. After all, your goal in writing is to help others accomplish something.

  7. Deliver Answers… and Quickly!

    The reason someone clicks on your article is generally not to just hear your musings. You’ve sold them with your headline and now they want to know what else you’re selling. Don’t beat around the bush or they will be gone in the click of a button. Be direct. Provide answers. Give your reader a reason to believe you know what you’re talking about.

  8. Add Imagery and Videos

    Supplementing text with a visual is an excellent way to better illustrate your point. Plus, many people are more stimulated by visuals. The social media app Instagram surpassed 50 million users in one year (the fastest growing media platform in history) due to its unique nature of an all-visual type of social media. People are simply drawn to photos and videos. So why not use that to your advantage?

  9. Ask Your Readers

    Sometimes the best way to find out what will interest your readers is just to ask them. Getting their feedback will not only help you generate ideas but you will also build rapport with your readers giving them the impression that you are easily accessible and helpful.

  10. Examine Your Stats

    The great thing about social media is that most platforms come with built-in metrics that help you gain insight into your viewership. Looking at page views, clicks, comments and shares can help you reflect on what your readers enjoyed the most and the least. By looking at your landing page and outgoing traffic, you can see what kind of topics and searches people used to get to and from your page. All of this information can help to define your future content.

Remember, a lot of content writing is about trial and error. It is important to try many different things and see what works and what doesn’t — and when and why. The more regularly you post, the more you will learn.