At this point you may be looking at your content marketing strategy and wondering how on earth it’s all going to be accomplished. You may have already created a few pieces of content and discovered that you either love it, or it’s just not for you.
Some marketers just don’t like the content creation process. That’s okay. This last lesson is designed to give you a helping hand.
1. Scale back – Sometimes enthusiasm takes over and it’s easy to set goals that are a bit too overwhelming. For example, maybe you decided that you’re going to blog every day and release a free downloadable report once a month. That’s a lot of content. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, cut back your schedule a bit until you get used to it and then gradually add more to your schedule.
2. Find your format – Some people prefer to create videos, others prefer to write and still others are skilled in graphic design. Find the format that you enjoy the most and focus on that. It doesn’t mean you have to eliminate the other formats from your content strategy. You can outsource those other formats to specialists. If you love to create videos, for example, then you might hire a ghost writer to create your blog posts.
3. Get help – There are a number of specialists who can help you with your content marketing. You can hire researchers to generate content ideas. You can hire ghost writers, bloggers, graphic designers, and video specialists to create your content for you. You can even hire a project manager to keep all of your contractors organized.
4. Prioritize – Take a look at your content strategy and identify the most important step or piece of content you need to create. For example, maybe you need an opt-in report before you market your email list. Focus on your priorities. Tackle your content goals and marketing one step at a time. You don’t have to build your business overnight.
Content is the foundation or any business, online or off. Build a solid content marketing plan, have a clear understanding of who you’re marketing to, and take systematic steps to follow through on your plan.
One of the goals for your content may be to earn a profit. There are actually many different approaches that you can take to earn money from articles, blog posts, and downloadable content.
There are networks that allow you to create revenue-generating clicks to content within your blog posts. LinkSmart is one such network. Links are added to your existing content. Each time a reader clicks on a link, you earn a profit. The key to making this type of service work for you is to ensure the network is a reputable company that’s sharing links your audience will appreciate.
Use Your Space Wisely
What happens once someone reads your blog post? Often, unless you have a call to action that they’re interested in, they'll click away. Why not monetize the area beneath your content? You can sell ad space or include a call to action for a product or service.
Identify products or services that are relevant to your niche and become an affiliate for those companies. Include links within the body of your content to arouse curiosity or softly promote the products or services. Product reviews, comparisons, and how to articles are straightforward approaches to affiliate-friendly content.
Affiliate marketing isn’t limited to print content. You can include shortened links throughout your infographics to relevant affiliate products. A product comparison infographic gives you the ideal opportunity to present information that’s readily monetized.
Pay Per Click
You can also participate in a number of different Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. Google’s AdSense is one of the most popular. It allows you to monetize not only your print content, you can also monetize your YouTube videos.
As your blog or website traffic grows, your ability to profit from monetized content will too. Monetized content is often a secondary goal once desired traffic numbers have been reached. You don’t have to wait until you have thousands of visitors. You can start monetizing your content right away. Include your monetization strategy and goals in your content marketing plan so you’re organized and able to track your results.
We’re at the point now where you may be ready to get started with your content marketing without being entirely sure how to pull it all together and make it work. If you haven’t created your content plan yet, now is the time to start working on it.
Next time, I'll wrap up my blog series by taking a look at how to get all of your content marketing needs met without spending tons of time.
So you’ve put in a ton of work to plan, research, and create your content. How do you know if the content is achieving the desired effect? How do you know if your content is successful?
There are a few steps you can take in the beginning that make the tracking and measuring process much easier.
Google Analytics is a free analytics program that tracks and measures just about everything you might need. It’s also quite easy to use. If you have a Google account then it’s merely a matter of visiting the website, http://www.google.com/analytics/, signing in and following the steps to add a website and get your code. You’ll then follow the steps to paste the code into your website and voilà - instant access to essential information.
You can learn what keywords and posts or articles drive the most traffic, what links are clicked on, how people find your site and much more. Google isn’t the only option. There are other analytic service providers.
Review the Information
Once you have analytics installed it’s important to schedule time to review your results. You might review the data before each content marketing planning session. You can determine which pieces of content are generating the best results and strive to provide similar content.
Set Measurable Goals
We’ve discussed the importance of creating goals, both for your content marketing as a whole and for individual pieces of content. Quantifiable goals are much easier to measure. For example, a goal for content marketing might be to increase your email list by 10% in three months.
That’s a goal that’s easy to measure. You simply document how many subscribers you have now and at the end of three months you look to see if you’ve increased it by 10%. Hopefully, you’re looking at the data along the way and making adjustments to your content marketing as you go. That’s the power of having information at your fingertips. You can make adjustments to maximize the content that’s working for you.
The next step is to install some type of analytics program on your website – if you don’t already have one. Spend time reviewing the information that you have access to and learn how to use analytics.
Also, if you don’t have goals for your content marketing just yet, start considering what your priorities are and how you can use content to achieve success. For example, if you really want to build a large email list then that may be the primary focus of your content marketing efforts. Next time we’ll take a look at how to monetize your content.
In the beginning, brainstorming content ideas may come more easily. Over time, however, you may begin to feel like you’ve covered every idea possible. You may begin to feel like you’ve run out of ideas. I tackle that dilemma in this blog as well as provide great tips on how to brainstorm content ideas. Ready?
* Set up alerts – Google provides this wonderful feature that lets you create alerts for keywords and keyword phrases. For example, let’s say you have a dog training business. You could establish alerts for key phrases in your industry like “Dog training tips,” or “Dog training tools.”
Once a day or once a week, you decide, you’ll receive a message with all of the content that contains those keywords. You can then read the material, stay abreast of information in your industry, and use it to expand on the topics or generate new ones.
* Read – Stay on top of industry publications and blogs. Subscribe to the feeds so the information comes to you. Once a day or once a week, read through your feed and keep a pen or open document handy. As you’re reading the material, great new content ideas will come to you.
* Engage – Get involved in social media and participate on industry blogs. The comments and feedback you hear from others will help provide you with content ideas. Look for questions, problems, and heated discussions. These are all opportunities for you to provide value and create benefit-driven content.
* Use content brainstorming tools – There are actual brainstorming software programs and applications that you can use. Some of them cost money so it’s important to test drive any system before you invest. You can also use Google’s free keyword tool to help you get an idea about what people are searching for. You can then create content ideas based on the results.
* Look for opportunities – Not every piece of content has to be a complete thought or even a new concept. Consider creating a blog series and break your content idea up into smaller pieces. Update an old blog post with new information and statistics. You can also create checklists, comparison pieces or product reviews too. There are many different opportunities to provide value to your audience.
Start carrying around a notebook or a digital recorder. You can also use a smartphone. Start recording content topic ideas as they come to you. Chances are you’ll have great ideas at the most inconvenient times – like when you’re driving or sitting in the dentist chair. When you need a good content idea in a pinch, you can turn to your list.
Also begin signing up for alerts and subscribing to industry blogs, newsletters, and magazines. It’s not only a good way to generate topic ideas but also a great way to stay involved and informed. In my next blog, we’ll take a look at how to know if your content is achieving results.
Hopefully you aren’t feeling overwhelmed by content yet...
If you are, take a step back and focus on one type of content. For example, begin your content planning and efforts by focusing on blog content. Once you have a comfortable amount of content on your blog, then you can move forward with other types of content.
All of the content planning and strategy in the world won’t matter if your audience isn’t interested in what you’re saying. Over the next two blogs we’re going to focus on how to create content that your audience wants to read and brainstorming good topic ideas. Let’s start by taking a look at what goes into great content.
1. Easy to read – Content needs to be easy to read or understand. That requires a few key elements, including but not limited to:
2. Conversational – As you’re writing or creating your content, consider using your personal voice. Write content as if you’re talking to a customer, peer, or friend. That means using words that your audience understands, no industry jargon, and clearly explaining concepts.
3. Provide value – Before you sit down to create any piece of content, whether it’s audio, video, or written, ask yourself one important question: “What is the benefit to my reader?” Why will they pay attention, read your content, and consider it valuable?
4. Use the word “You” - When you’re creating content, write to your audience. Make them feel like you’re writing just to them. You can accomplish this by being a bit informal and using the word “You” in your writing.
5. Be likeable – Share personal stories and examples and get involved in your content. Show your audience that you care about them and engage in a little authenticity and transparency. You’ll connect with and engage your audience on a different level.
Creating content that your audience wants to read can take time. It’s also important to pay attention to how your audience responds to your content. We’ll talk about analytics later.
For now, consider creating a few pieces of content. Write a rough draft and begin getting a feel for your voice, style, and content creation personality. In the next lesson we’ll take a look at how to come up with good content ideas.
With topic ideas, goals and an idea of the different types of formats, you’re ready to begin creating a winning content plan. Your content plan will help you stay organized, focused on your goals, and productive.
As your business grows it can be difficult to manage and track all of your content – it adds up quickly. A content plan will help you stay on top of everything so you not only don’t miss anything, you’re also able to maximize your content for the best results.
What Is a Content Plan?
A content plan is quite simply a detailed outline of what you’re going to publish, the goal for the content, and when you’re going to publish it. Your plan may also include:
* Links to include in the content
* Creation notes – Who is creating the content and what do they need? For example, if you hire a ghost writer to create your blog posts.
* Deadlines – When do you need to have topic research completed? When do you want the content uploaded and scheduled on your blog? When do you need to get the graphics from your designer for your report?
* Analytics and Tracking – How will you measure success?
In short, your content plan includes any and all relevant information about your content. There are a few key questions you’ll want to answer before you create your plan.
Organization – What’s the best format for your content plan? For example, do you work better with pencil and paper? If so, then you can create a written version of your content plan. Prefer digital planning tools? Try an online calendar or content management system.
Length – How far in advance do you want to plan your content? Consider planning at least a month in advance. It’s often better to plan for three months so that you can create a more streamlined approach. However, for some people that can feel like too much.
Schedule – When will you review your content plan? This often depends on how you approach creating content. If you create a month’s worth of content in one or two days then you may only review your plan on a monthly basis. If you create content weekly then you’ll probably want to review your plan more often.
Begin pulling your topic ideas and notes into a content plan. Decide how to best organize your information. Decide how often you want to publish content, what types of content you want to begin with, and how you’re going to create your content. Will you do it yourself or outsource some content creation?
In my next blog, we’ll take a look at how to write content that your audience wants to read.
The content you create and publish has a big job. It needs to build your business. The question is, how will it build your business? What’s the goal for your content? When you’re creating your content strategy, which we’ll talk about in the next lesson, you want to keep several things in mind.
Let’s explore some of the different types of goals you can establish for your content.
To Establish Credibility, Authority, and Trust
Your content can position you as the trusted expert in your industry. By providing value and creating content that benefits your reader and helps them solve a key problem, you earn their trust. They’ll be more likely to return to your site, buy products and services, and recommend you to a friend.
Build Your List
Email marketing is another type of marketing that you may embrace. You can use your content to help build your email list. Create stellar content that motivates readers to want more. Create an opt-in offer that motivates prospects to sign up for your email list.
Build Awareness and Branding
You can create viral content that spreads to a large audience and helps build awareness for you and your business offerings. Content can also enhance your brand personality and voice to help strengthen recognition.
To Generate Sales
Customer conversion is often a focal point of any content marketing strategy. You can use your content to convert prospects to customers, to promote affiliate click-throughs, or to drive traffic to a sales page on your website.
This is just a short list of potential goals. You can use content to promote conversations and engagement with your audience. You can use it to drive organic search engine traffic, and to educate your customer.
Start thinking about what you want to accomplish with your content. You can review your existing topic list to see where the various ideas might support your content marketing goals. Next time we’ll explore how to create your content marketing strategy and plan your content.
By now you may have a long list of content topic ideas and perhaps some ideas about how the pieces will help build your business. Now it starts to get fun, and perhaps a bit overwhelming. Stay focused. Take a deep breath. The next step is to explore the different types of content you can create.
We all know that you social media posts are considered content, but what about other content sources?
The most common type of content that you may be familiar with are blog posts. As a business owner you will probably want to publish at least one blog post a week and possibly more. It will consume the bulk of your content marketing efforts. Blog posts are typically written content; however, you can embed videos and infographics or even audio files into your blog to add variety.
Another type of content to consider publishing is the type that can be downloaded. These include but aren’t limited to ecourses, reports, case studies, white papers, workbooks and eBooks. These take a little more effort to create because they’re larger than a standard blog post. However, they generally have a longer life and can be used to achieve a number of business-building goals including selling products or services, building an email list, and earning affiliate income.
Infographics and Slide Shows
Visual continent has taken over the internet. It’s shared more readily and can really help brand a business. Slideshare.net is owned by Google and is pegged to be one of the fastest growing social sites. It’s like YouTube for slide shows.
YouTube and Vine are two popular video sharing sites. There are others. Video can be a great way to demonstrate a product. You can educate with video, entertain, and help brand your business by personalizing it. Audio content and podcasts are another viable format to consider. Overwhelmed yet? Take time to reflect on all this before moving on.
The next step is to look at your list and contemplate how each piece of content might best be communicated. Keep your audience in mind. If your audience is older, for example, they may not spend much time viewing videos on YouTube. Also keep in mind the types of content you feel most comfortable creating.
In my next post, ’ll take a look at how to identify a goal for your content and why it’s such a critical step.
Before you begin actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and creating the content, it’s important to understand how content marketing builds your business.
You can then use the information to create several important documents, including your content marketing strategy and an editorial calendar. Let’s step back for a minute and talk about how content marketing builds your business.
Content Helps Your Prospects Find You
You’ve probably heard the term “search engine optimization.” When someone enters keywords into a search engine, they get results that match their chosen words or phrase. If someone is looking for information on planting beans, for example, then they might search for “how to plant beans.” The results that they get should ideally be packed with information on the topic. If you’re a gardening business owner or a bean seed seller then your content will likely show up on the results.
Search engines look at the quality of the information, the relevance, and the credibility of the source. The more content you publish on your topic, the more you’ll boost your credibility. More prospects will find your website.
Great Content Is Shared and Builds a Community
Another way that content builds a business is by being shared. People love to email, print, and share great content on social media. The more valuable and helpful your content is to your audience, the more likely it will be shared. Again, this builds awareness for your business and drives traffic to your website. Once prospects are on your site, your content will motivate them to subscribe to your site or newsletter, to comment, and to become part of your community.
Opportunity to Profit
While not all content should be promotional content, you can use your content marketing strategy to promote products and services. You can monetize the content and earn money when people click.
Good content also helps your prospects make buying decisions. It converts prospects into customers. In fact, according to surveys, 60% of people are inspired to seek out a product after they’ve read about it. And if that information comes from a peer or is viewed on social media, the percentage is higher.
Take a look at your list of topic ideas. Start thinking about how the ideas might benefit your business. For example, can a “how to” article promote a product or service? Also continue to build on your list. Next time well explore the many content marketing formats available to you. You’ll begin deciding what type of content you want to create and how you can provide the most value to your audience.
If you have a business or are considering starting a business then you’ll need content... and lots of it! Content is anything that you use to communicate with your prospects and customers. Content is what your company puts out into the world to market, advertise, and share. It builds your authority, recognition, and following.
Blog posts are content. Email messages are content. The Pinterest pins and Twitter tweets you share and post are also content. Put simply, content is ultimately the foundation of your business.
It’s how your prospects will find you. It’s how you will convert those prospects into subscribers and customers. It’s how you will build a strong and loyal customer base and how you provide value to the world.
So What Is Content Marketing?
You know that content is the message and medium you use to communicate with prospects and customers. Content marketing therefore is using content to market to your audience. It’s the practice of creating and distributing or publishing content to attract, engage, and convert your target audience.
The ultimate goal is to build your sales and profits through content. Every business, whether it’s a one person operation or a global conglomerate, uses content marketing. It can be argued that it’s more important for a small business to embrace content marketing. The small business owner has to carve out a unique niche to be profitable and competitive.
Getting Started with Content Marketing
This course covers everything a new marketer and business owner needs to know about getting started with content marketing. Before we dive into the next lesson, there’s a little homework.
Start compiling a list of ideas. Make a list of the problems that your audience faces and the various questions they may have. The key to good content is to provide value.
Start brainstorming how you might provide value through content. What topics can you address? If you don’t have a solid understanding of who your audience is, it’s time to take that step too.
Next time we’ll explore how content marketing can build your business and we’ll start making use of that list of ideas you’re going to pull together. Keep in mind that you’re just thinking about topics right now. Consider exploring your competition’s websites and reading industry magazines to get the creative juices flowing.
You don’t have to decide how you’re going to deliver the information; I’ll cover that in a later post. For now, simply start gathering ideas and write them down.