A smart business which likes to keep up with the times understands how traditional forms of marketing are being taken over by digital content marketing. And how important it is to cater to the needs of today’s customers.
What is Content Marketing Anyway?
Devising specific strategies to market your content with a key focus on the creation, distribution and publishing of valuable and relevant content to attract specific audiences and ultimately drive the business as a leader in the industry, can be defined as content marketing. When we talk about online content, we mean everything from written content (articles, blogs etc.) to visual content (infographics, videos etc.) and even audios (podcasts etc.).
This guide specifically discusses various content marketing aspects from a digital perspective to give you insights into making sure you’re doing everything right to stay in top form.
Why is it Important?
The general idea behind digital content marketing is to first attract your customers’ attention and then retain it by creating and curating highly relevant content, which plays a vital part in how users react to and interact with the business. You’re more or less defining how they behave in order to meet the business’s goals. This is an ongoing round-the-clock process which should be a part of your overall marketing efforts. It focuses on creating original content and owning that content, rather than just borrowing or renting it. It’s what makes you unique.
So what you’re doing is communicating with users and prospects without actually selling or pushing them to purchase. It can be defined as non-interruptive marketing. When you consistently deliver highly valuable information this way, to let your customers know what’s in it for them, you have sealed their loyalty and trust.
The Difference between Digital Content Marketing and Traditional Marketing
As long as one can remember, marketing has always revolved around telling stories to capture an individual’s imagination and influence them to buy. The more interesting the story is, the higher the chances are of people buying into that message. Traditional marketing accomplishes this through radio, print and TV ads.
Content marketing is more about creating media like blogs, videos, articles, emails and tweets to educate and entertain readers. At its heart, the intent is more or less the same as traditional marketing, which is to drive sales and leads. However, the message behind every kind of content is much more subtle, as it aims to draw people in rather than plainly broadcasting messages.
In the globally connected and social-media fuelled world we live in, people hardly pay any attention to sponsored ads – be it ads in their favourite magazines or the new and hip TV channel on your local cable service. Even online banner ads don’t receive as much attention as the content that’s digitally driven and distributed through social media channels.
Top 6 Common Components of Content Marketing
A Well-rounded Digital Platform
Before creating content, you need a place where it can be hosted, displayed and published. This includes websites, blogs, photo galleries, a repository for podcasts and videos, a source for downloading white papers and eBooks etc.
There are many options available to host and publish all this content, though it has to be generously customized to reflect what the business is, and what it has to offer. It also needs to offer a high level of interactivity to its users and also the option to connect with you directly.
Determine Target Audience
What kind of customers should be the target of your content marketing plan? Do some market research and determine the target audience based on factors such as interests, location, age, income levels along with other demographics. If you’re selling yachts, you’ll be targeting successful entrepreneurs or wealthy business people in their 30s-60s. Ask yourself questions about their everyday concerns – what can you do to offer something extra which improves the quality of their lives?
Detailed User Personas
Once you know your target audience, narrow it down further to a specific group or groups so that your content marketing plan revolves around those ideal user personas. For example, if you’re running a children’s day care center, the following criteria should apply:
- Has children under the age of 14
- Is aged between 28-45
- Lives within a 20-mile radius of the center
- Average income and good health insurance
This way you create a “word picture” of the individuals you’re targeting with your content.
Naturally, you know your business better than anyone else, but do you understand what kind of keywords people may be keying-in to look for you? Keyword research plays a very important role when outlining your content marketing strategy because you need to know what words register the highest monthly searches AND lowest competition.
For instance, “children’s day care” is a very competitive phrase and despite several monthly searches, it just isn’t practical if you want to rank for it. What you can do is use the Google Keyword Planner tool to seek long-tail keywords and/or phrases; more specifically something like “good children’s day care center Ohio”. This is more specific and yields much better traffic for your web pages.
Now you know what kind of individuals your content marketing plan revolves around, where the material should be published and the keywords that must be integrated into your content, so that you get easily discovered. This leaves you with: what should be at the heart of the content?
Create an editorial calendar to keep track of what should be going where. Sit with your marketing team and jot down ideas. Decide what kind of blogs you want published and where to publish them. Shoot videos and make podcasts. Write a good eBook, in this case, it could be about “10 Signs to See if Your Child is Socially Introverted”. Plan everything ahead on a time-table so there’s no last-minute confusion so as to what kind of content is going where.
You can also hire a professional digital marketing firm to effectively manage this. Just call us on 1.888.566.2577 for a FREE consultation and get valuable insights and unrivalled content marketing services.
Inbound marketing lets you track and measure progress so that you know what’s working, and build your content marketing strategies around it for the best results. Set up an analytics account to keep a close check on your content’s performance. If you don’t, you may not be able to effectively reach the desired audience.
How a Business Can Put Content Marketing to Good Use
Let’s say you’re working as a Lead Marketing Executive for a firm that specializes in software sales solutions for small businesses. You’re not having the easiest time bagging customers though, as availing the luxury of keeping an agency for specific purposes, is not something every small business can handle. So you think it best to create a few DIY tools to help them make better use of their resources.
You do a little keyword research and find out that close to 3,000 people are looking for a good content curation tool. So you decide to create one that people are free to use at no cost, and if they really find it useful, they can have more content curated using your tool in exchange for their name and email address.
You create a few videos and blogs on how the content curation tool can help businesses manage resources better and share it left and right on social media. The traffic from organic searches starts to come in gradually and a couple of hundred people start using it every month. A few of them really like it, so much so that they are willing to provide their contact details to continue using it. You are now in a position to identify a couple of potential customers and keep in touch with them in order to convert them into lifelong customers.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of how you can harness the power of visual content marketing:
Millennials love GIFs, that’s a fact. Take a look at BuzzFeed or Reddit and you’ll find GIFs swimming around everywhere. Animated GIFs can boost chances of your content going viral on Reddit and Tumblr, two highly popular platforms for sharing content. From there on, content is often seen and picked up by major blogs and publications.
Certain tools like MakeaGif can make this process easy
On-Hover Sharing Buttons
Readers love sharing images but sometimes don’t know how or forget to share. A subtle ‘mouseover call-to-action’ encourages sharing and prompts other users to share as well. This plugin is great for doing just that.
Emotions are Powerful Sellers
Connect with your users emotionally and leave a long-lasting impression. When your audience’s emotions are sparked, they are more than happy to share, comment on and remember your content. Emotionally charged visuals serve the purpose well and people generally respond very positively to this kind of stimulation.
In terms of share provocation two common emotions are anticipation, joy, interest, trust and surprise. Use these to your advantage. Click here to learn more.
Interactive Guides and How-tos
Care to show users how to get the most out of your products and services? Offer visual guides that can also be used as a highly engaging brand asset. Whatfix lets you make interactive guides in just minutes as it’s highly customizable and very easy to use.
Audience-specific Visual Content
Identify what kind of content sits best with your audience. Create different kinds of content and unleash it on various social media platforms. Design infographics, videos, slide shows or anything that’s visual.
When you start distributing your visual assets, accumulate data on what social channels and what kind of visuals are getting the highest engagement. Determine what visual types get traffic boosts and the most clickthroughs as well as conversions. See where exactly your visual content is being shared.
Fanplayr is one analytics tool that can help you see emerging patterns. Use that info to tailor your content accordingly.
YouTube has a staggering 1 billion+ users today and happens to be the largest search engine globally after Google. If you’re creating highly engaging content on YouTube, you can get connected with a huge audience.
You need to know the ways which marketers are using YouTube to market online content. How have most people, including yourself, been using YouTube over the years? Every time we need a how-to or instructional video, we go to YouTube, don’t we? Similarly, audiences can find answers to many questions or concerns revolving around your business on YouTube.
Here’s a brief guide that explains how to get your content visible on YouTube.
E-newsletters are a great way to get regular engagement from your users. They are highly shareable as well.
Before anything else, always remember to add opt-out links in your newsletter as you don’t want people treating them as spam or getting turned off due to getting too many emails from you. Newsletters can act as a medium for marketing the rest of your content such as whitepapers, blogs, eBooks or webinars.
A roundup of your weekly blog can also be presented in newsletter.
Audiences just love interactive content whether it’s a webinar, GIF or slideshare. You’re getting the best of everything really – text, images, effects and animation. These stats should interest you:
- 54% webinars are a very effective visual content marketing strategy
- Videos increase purchase likelihood by 64%
- 65% audiences watch almost the entire video
Real-world Example: Exceptional Online Content Marketing
GoPro gives its user mind-blowing visual content, there’s no question about it.
Visual content works every time, for everyone, and you don’t have to be a camera manufacturer to do that. Visual elements including infographics are huge drivers of organic traffic. Are you using visual content in your online content marketing strategies the way GoPro does?
Let’s think about this for a moment: GoPro’s entire online content marketing approach revolves around visuals. Its website has an insane collection of videos. With little else to do, you may be hooked onto that stuff for almost the entire day. It’s ludicrously addictive and appealing. Their YouTube channel boasts 4.5 million subscribers. On Instagram they’re followed by 9.5 million people where you’ll find equally jaw-dropping videos and images.
GoPro is a brand that likes to say everything in a very visual way. And it doesn’t have to try very hard to showcase its offerings. Products are not the focus, but the users are. They focus on “all about being a hero”. Their cameras turn customers into heroes. The content you see in their videos is created by very passionate users who other people see as public heroes.
Bottom line: visual content is very potent and super-shareable. It is the ideal solution to spark an otherwise boring content marketing strategy.
Tell your brand’s story through visuals. You can do this kind of visual appeal even if you make children’s toys or mobile apps.
Getting Successful with Content Marketing – 3 Traits of a Great Campaign
What are some of the best ways of crafting great content that drives results? Let’s discuss:
Make Yourself Heard
Just imagine pitching wheelchairs to high-school going kids. Or pushing how important it is to get the right kind of cat good to dog lovers. Mismatched messages that go out to everyone is the wrong way to go about it. It’s too generic and diluted. It simply doesn’t have the desired effect.
Focus on a specific persona (as mentioned earlier in the article) and direct your content in that direction. This way, you’re pursuing a meaningful exchange through content that addresses your audience’s aspirations, challenges or pain points.
Fits Like a Glove
Be it returning customers or prospects, there are several steps they go through in the purchase funnel. Understand these steps and align your content accordingly. This is a very important aspect of effective content marketing because early in the loop, you need to satisfy concerns, ease objections, answer questions and retain their confidence at every stage.
What we’re getting at is the buying cycle, which to describe plainly is discovery-interest-consideration-purchase and finally, reconversion. You can see it however you want and add or eliminate steps as needed; the key thing to remember is to have a well thought out buying cycle for every customer persona. This helps you create content which appeals to them at every stage of the cycle.
Why do businesses have major content marketing campaigns? To elicit responses and actions whether it’s a form completion, a phone call, a download or purchase. Your content is the ultimate driver when it comes to converting prospects into buyers.
Therefore, you must let your readers know what it is they have to do in order to “get to the next step”. For example, instead of simply saying contact us at the footer of your content, calls-to-action must match with where your readers are in the buying cycle.
Be highly specific about what they must do next, and guide them along to the next logical step. For example, if you’re a business that deals in yard tools, and your target audience for the time being are people looking for affordable lawnmowers, your CTA will not guide them to the entire line up of yard equipment or your contact page. It would specifically send them to the landing page that has the best (and most economical) offers on lawnmowers and all things related.
Content Marketing the Future
Content marketing done right makes a user stop, think, read and behave according to what the business desires.
Thought leaders and digital marketing experts from around the globe conclude that content marketing is not only future but the present. Businesses who capitalize on all the wonderful content marketing tools at their disposal and focus on their strategy will emerge on top.
The AOK Advantage
Unless you’re flipping all the right content marketing switches, you’re not effectively reaching your audiences while your competitors continue to outpace you.
Talk to an AOK digital marketing expert today to see how great content marketing can position you as a niche leader.
What it Comes Down to
Content marketing remains a powerful channel for reaching your ideal audiences and continues to gain traction among businesses of all sizes and scope. According to a 2012 eConsultancy survey, 91% of over 1,300 firms were using digital content to market their offerings, while 54% saw increased engagement as a direct result of value-driven content.
Don’t close doors on yourself by sticking to traditional marketing only and harness the power content marketing offers in this age of digital and social.