Tips for the underdog: Starting content marketing from scratch
So, you’re looking to start content marketing from scratch. This makes you the underdog in a world where 87.2 million blog posts are published a month on WordPress, 65 million businesses have a Facebook page, and 85 per cent of organisations in Australia alone use content marketing.
Thankfully you won’t need an epic training montage like Rocky to win against all these competitors (although that wouldn’t hurt), you just need the right content marketing plan.
Let’s break that plan down into its components and discuss key tips for each one.
Content marketing strategy
Even the best ragtag group of heroes needs a strategy to come out on top. Content strategy will define everything you do moving forwards, so this is not a step to skip. These are four things marketers need to think about before starting on content:
1. Defining your goals and objectives
What do you want to achieve? You need to have goals, understand how to achieve those goals, and have a plan to measure their success. Answer the following questions and your inbound marketing will be moving in the right direction:
- Setting a goal: What do you want visitors to do when they interact with your website or social media pages? Click somewhere? Download something?
- Setting an objective: What is your overall goal for content marketing? Brand awareness? Trust? Increasing web traffic?
- Setting the metrics: How are the above goals and objectives measured? Increase in site traffic? Number of downloads?
While it was once difficult to calculate content marketing ROI, there are now heaps of metrics and web analytics tools to help marketers gauge their performance. Here's how to find the perfect metrics for your goals. https://t.co/9otggRleQH pic.twitter.com/dBIcEA37Jb— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) March 19, 2018
2. Defining your target audience
Who are you talking to? Having a clearly defined audience allows you to stay on target … stay on target, until you achieve success. So how do we define these potential customers?
- Figure out the who: Who are they? Identify the perfect demographic, including age range, occupation, habits, likes/dislikes and anything else that might impact what someone searches for online, and why they enjoy that content.
- Figure out the what: What do these people need or want? What are their pain points? What do they like to read or watch? What resonates with them? These are all things you can address with content.
- Figure out the where: Where do they like to hang out online? Where do they read content?
Now collect all of this information into a single document. This will act as your personas guide.
3. Defining your competitors
What are other people doing? Other businesses are the Hawks to your Mighty Ducks. Many of them will already have a content marketing plan in place, and will have been polishing it for years. But can you still take them on? You betcha.
It’s time to ask yourself more questions.
- Who are the biggest competitors in your market?
- What do you like about their website and content?
- What do you dislike about their website and content?
- What do you think you could do better?
You can adapt the bits you like and improve the bits you don’t in order to create something unique and valuable for your target audience.
4. Define your internal capabilities
How will you achieve all of this? Finally, who is actually going to make all the content for your company? If you want to appear as a trustworthy, professional brand, you need trustworthy, professional content – that means it must be well-written, well-edited and well-presented.
After reading the rest of our article below to gauge how much work will be required, carefully consider who has the time and skill to put it into action. Will it be you, a peer, or will you outsource to a freelancer or content marketing agency? Consider time versus cost versus quality to get a balance that suits your organisation.
At this stage, you should have your who, what, where and why figured out – now we will discuss when and how in these two steps.
1. Set everything up
Aside from your website, you’re going to need two more things:
- A blog: Businesses, even small businesses, get 126 per cent more leads with a blog than without, according to Hubspot research. You need one, stat. Blogging platforms like WordPress are easy to install and even easier to use – just remember the golden rule: set up your blog in a sub-folder on your website. As in, your website URL should look like this: “www.website.com/blog/blog-title” rather than this “www.website.com/blog-title”.
- Social media: Social media is widespread and very powerful – and according to We Are Social, there are 2.7 billion social users around the world. You should know by now where your audience likes to hang out, so create profiles on their preferred platforms and fill out all the bio details in full.
Now assign a marketer to champion your blog and social media. If you chose a third-party agency, make sure they have login permission.
2. Create a content calendar or plan
Now we need content. Below we’ve listed what different content types and social media platforms are good for:
- Blog posts: Good for addressing needs/wants/pain points. Think FAQ content, list articles, how-to tutorials.
- Whitepapers/e-books: Better for deeper, longer topics, such as detailed guides, industry updates, research papers.
- Slideshares: These can break down big topics into digestible chunks for reading or presenting.
- Infographics: A bit like slideshares, but even more digestible. Very good social content.
- Podcasts or webinars: Discussions, Q&As and similar can be hosted as podcasts, a bit like if you were hosting a talk on a stage somewhere.
- Videos: Videos can tackle almost any of the above, but are even more visual and get great engagement results. The catch? They are generally more expensive to produce.
- User-generated content: This is any type of content created by unpaid contributors (fans). It could be home-made videos, tweets, blog posts and so forth. UGC is an excellent, low-cost way of building engagement, but it does require a following and an incentive to contribute.
Social media platforms
- Facebook: Starting discussions with content and building relationships through two-way communication.
- LinkedIn: Discussing content and big ideas, especially for B2B businesses.
- Twitter: Posting news, updates and easy-to-read content. Think ‘immediacy’.
- Instagram: All about videos and images – keep it visual.
- Snapchat: Telling short stories with image compilations and videos.
- Pinterest: Promote the ‘lifestyle’ of your products with visual content.
- Google+: Post here to help content rank in search.
- YouTube: YouTube is the largest video hub online and has a massive community.
Gear content to different parts of the sales funnel. For example, create widely appealing advice and guides to encourage customers from the top of the funnel into the middle. Then case studies and webinars can build trust and awareness to keep people moving down.
Learn more about the sales funnel in our article “How to repurpose content for different stages of the sales funnel.”
Content marketing can be effective at every stage of the sales funnel. This is how to repurpose your content for each stage to maximise the return you get for each blog post, download and social media campaign. https://t.co/cCojB7XjSf pic.twitter.com/5bFjtR8R5c— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) April 27, 2018
Paid promotion is your way of getting more users to your content, fast. Indeed, 89 per cent of the traffic generated by Google AdWords ads is not replaced by organic traffic when those ads are paused, according to Google’s research. In short – ads are awesome.
Where should I be promoting content?
You’ll know this information from your personas we created a few steps ago. Every social platform mentioned so far in this article has a paid ads component, so choose the platforms most relevant to your audience and whip up a campaign.
The key to remember is that you can change anything that doesn’t work. Not getting clicks? Try new ad copy, or a different image to attract attention. Not getting results after people click? Consider pointing users to somewhere else, like a dedicated landing page for a certain promotion.
Learn more about creating social media ads in our guide, “Adnatomy 101: What makes the perfect social media ad?”
Everything must be measured.
Let us repeat that: Everything must be measured. This is why you identified metrics in your marketing strategy.
When you’ve launched your content marketing efforts and some time has passed, go into each social media analytics platform and also Google Analytics to see the results. Use benchmarks to compare your traffic with that of your wider industry, and see if you are driving the metrics you planned to in order to achieve your goals and objectives.
Now you can do the following:
- Figure out what worked best: Did that whitepaper perform really well when paired with a social media campaign? Did your colourful video outperform a blog article on the same topic? Identify what is working and see what you can repeat.
- Figure out what didn’t work: In the same vein, content that didn’t work may not be worth repeating. Certain audience types interact better with certain content types on certain platforms (and at certain times of day, month, year…). Play with the data, test different strategies, and throw out anything you can objectively say didn’t work. You can always try again in the future.
Now with all this data, go back to your strategy and repeat this entire article. Learn from your mistakes, build on your successes and keep trying – content marketing isn’t instant, but it does work. Even for the underdog.