To get your content marketing efforts off the ground, here are a few key questions to ask…
What is content marketing?
This is the first point to understand, of course. People today search for information and peer opinion to qualify their interest in products and services.
This means that, in order to sell to them, we need to provide useful content rather than nakedly promotional messaging. Content marketing is simply marketing that takes such an editorial approach.
Once you have positioned yourself as a provider of expert content, you will have gained your audience’s trust. That means they are more likely to perceive you as someone they want to do business with.
What information do I have to engage customers?
If information is what sells and engages, especially online, the next question to ask is: What content can I create for my users and prospects? This is the tricky part. You need good ideas for content that will be both useful but also subtly argue the need for what you have to offer.
Content could be interesting or entreating or both. So a canoe shop might provide a ‘Beginner’s guide to using a kayak’ – perhaps as a video. And a network service provider might write a white paper called, ’How to manage your organisation’s migration to the cloud’.
Who are my audiences?
Before you start writing, or engage any copywriting services, thinking about who you’re trying to reach will help you generate ideas for relevant content.
What are my business goals?
There’s no point spending lots of time and effort producing great content that isn’t aligned with your business strategy. Make sure that your content ideas help you to achieve your goals too.
What formats and platform will we use?
Think about where your audiences are most likely to reach you and interact with you. depending on your business, this could be email, slideshare, Facebook, web, LinkedIn… or any combination of these and many others.
Understanding where you have the best chances of reaching people will also help you decide what formats to create your content in – print, video, slideshows, html, and many more. Whatever formats you use, make your content as easy to share and point to as possible, to make it easy for people to tell their peers.
Who will create the content and how?
This is often the biggest stumbling block for businesses new to content marketing. Creating strong content is hard skilful work, especially as you need to keep up a good flow of content on an ongoing basis.
This is where you need to start thinking more like a publisher. Set aside resource for regular content creation. Make sure there is time in people’s workload to do it properly. Hold regular brainstorms for new ideas. Develop templates and formats for types of idea to streamline the content creation process. And put an editorial calendar in place so you can schedule the creation of ideas and plan to deliver content in a joined-up way across all your channels.
How will you measure the effectiveness of your content?
At the planning stage, you need to think about what you want the content to achieve, and what metrics you can put in place to see how it’s doing.
Are you hoping to create more interest in your brand? Would white paper downloads or video views are a good measure? Is your strategy about raising brand awareness? Then web traffic could be an important metric. Think about what numbers from your analytics could be insightful. And if you want more qualitative feedback, consider using a customer survey.
Measuring the effectiveness of your content in this way will also help you fine-tune your efforts over time, once you start to see how your content is performing.
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