If current market predictions by industry experts are to be believed the coming year will be the year when businesses will finally recognize the importance of content marketing as a major marketing tool and focus their efforts on developing user-focused content.
Businesses and the online world are set for a massive growth and shift of information-production as brands move towards becoming fully functional content publishers.
Why is 2016 the Perfect Time to Revitalize Your Content Strategy?
Today’s tech-savvy buyer demands more and more information. This information not just has to be accurate but also up-to-date. The buyers base their buying decision on the information they find online, if this information is accurate and is provided by the organization then their loyalty increases. This also has the added effect of enhancing the organization’s reputation in the industry.
In the current year and beyond, information about the brand can almost be treated as a tangible good that will give the business enormous returns. The availability of information at tap or swipe has made a good content marketing strategy a necessity for brands.
Content Marketing Expertise-Build or Buy?
Most companies have now realized the importance of digital and online marketing, however the main issue they face is that they don’t know where to start since they don’t have in-house experts. In such a situation, a business can either look to hire talent and build their own expertise from scratch or simply engage the services of a consultancy firm like AOK Marketing. Whatever path you choose, be sure to evaluate and clarify your own needs so that you have no difficulty in implementing your strategy. This may sound complicated and time-consuming but with the right knowledge and tools, this can turn out to be an easy and even fun process.
Google’s Advice-Get Expert Writers
The search engine content standards guide released by Google in November 2015 puts a lot of importance on the quality of content that is produced. Google down-ranks pages with low-quality content, and the new guidelines are even more stringent. Good SEO is now about authoritative content not simple tricks. Google uses an Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness (EAT) standard to analyze a page.
We covered different aspects of Expert Writers in one of our previous blog posts. Make sure you read it to understand what being a good writer is all about.
Steps to Creating the Perfect Content Marketing Program
The perfect strategy is multi-faceted, but once you have taken the time to develop it properly, it will only require minor tweaking once new tools roll in or the year ends. Well-planned strategies are often tool-independent, any person telling you to concentrate on specific tools is simply not an expert and will cripple your overall strategy by focusing on content marketing tools rather than your customers.
The perfect content strategy involves four major phases:
– Monitor and Improve
Keep in mind that these are very broad and high-level phases and once you get into the details you will need to narrow down the tools and technologies you want to use.
This involves making a high-level analysis of your business needs. Brainstorm and clarify why your business needs content marketing, what returns you are expecting, and how it will benefit your overall business goals. Get your stakeholders on board for the content efforts. Before you sell the strategy to customers, you have to convince yourself and your stakeholders. You have to make sure that everyone on your content development team has a clear idea about the content principles, intended audience impact, business advantages and the resources. This is important because if numbers are to be believed, around 70% businesses lack a solid content marketing strategy, even though most marketers tend to agree that having a proper content marketing strategy is the second most important thing in digital marketing – only behind measuring ROI. So how does one improve their content marketing strategy? Here are some tips:
- Take a collaborative approach to the strategy design. Know the kind of content you need to use. For example, video marketing is a huge success and will continue to be in demand in 2016 as well. Almost 60% companies already believe it to be the most successful content marketing strategy.
- Look at things from a long-term perspective. Try to have everything documented and be in constant touch with your content marketing team.
- Have an enthusiastic and dedicated content marketing team. You may also outsource to expert writers. For example, AOK Marketing offers content writing services as well.
- Establish a clear idea of the ROI. With 82% of marketers increasing content marketing budget, the need to measure ROI is ever increasing.
- Have a culture of openness and change. Be ready to accept other’s suggestions and devise a strategy with your target audience in mind.
- Have access to subject matter experts. It is very important to have the best do the job for you to be able to enjoy all the benefits.
During this stage you have to document every strategy, narrow down your buyer personas, and map out every step. Having a step-by-step process will go a long way when it comes to refreshing or implementing your strategy.
This phase involves mapping your plans to specific tactics. The how and when is defined in this stage. There is no denying that planning is necessary for a successful content strategy. The following aspects must be mapped out for a proper planning:
– Topics and general ideas for content
– Procedures and guidelines for content production
– The processes for approval and finalization
– Channels you will focus on
Having these details planned out and mapped will ensure that your strategy will produce a powerful content-marketing engine that will produce high quality content consistently. The main aspects you need to focus on during this phase are:
- Build the framework for your content plan
- Identify your customer’s journey step by step
- Align your business goals with your content ideas
- Have long blog posts. It has been reported that longer blog posts generate 9 times more leads.
- Focus on social media, including Facebook, Linkedin etc.
- Do not focus on any one type of content and see what works the best for you.
The next step is to execute your strategy according to the tactics you finalized in the second phase of the process. Create your content and then use the relevant channels to deliver them to your target customer. Making use of an editorial calendar is a great way to keep track of the complex and multi-layered content strategy.
- Content curation is necessary to get right, focus on positive and helpful content. According to numbers, over 80% marketers already curate content, and half of them believe that content curation has greatly helped them increase brand awareness.
- Make sure your headlines are compelling and attention-grabbing. Do not just stuff keywords, but have headlines that are relevant and also informative.
- Most important of all, listen to the reactions of your audience and alter your strategy to suit your needs.
Monitor and Improve
Monitor your efforts and promote your content where needed. There is almost no strategy which will function without any hitches in the real world, it is always necessary to tweak some aspects in order to maximize reach and engagement. You also have to optimize your content for search engine rankings. SEO often seems like a game of trial and error but remember the golden rule: good and informative content will draw in customers better than any temporary SEO trick.
Track and monitor your content and you will learn the behavior pattern of your current and potential customers. This will give you data from which you can gain valuable insights and then utilize these insights when improving your strategy and marketing tactics.
Content Marketing Tips for 2016
In order to maximize your content marketing success it is crucial that your team stays up to date and be well aware of industry trends. A few things that you should definitely keep in mind are:
Give out Information for Free
This allows you to position yourself as an industry expert, people will recognize the efforts and research you have put into gathering and consolidating the information and will expect value from your brand. Blogs are helpful in this regard and can be used to promote ‘paid’ items as well. Plus, you can offer other items as well, such as an eBook on the benefits of your product. However, make sure you do such promotion in a subtle manner.
Move Beyond Blogs
Blogs are great but you need to think beyond simple textual content. Utilize rich multimedia options such as podcasts, webinars, slides, infographics, etc. to get better exposure and connect to your customers better. Focus on videos, they are easy to share and a powerful tool for storytelling. According to stats, over 65% marketers are already using videos to promote their business. Around 52% use infographics and over 70% utilize webinars.
Know your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
KPIs are the barometer which will enable you to gauge the success rate of your content marketing campaign. There are some standard KPIs related to content marketing that will have to be monitored, such as:
The total number of visitors to your website in a particular time period
The number of people visiting your website per hour/day/month is a good indicator of how effective your marketing efforts have been.
The number of downloads generated by each content referral source
This will help you track which source generated more visitors and help you build better estimates of traffic to your website. The referral sources which send more traffic to your site can be enhanced and fine-tuned further. The sources which are not generating sources can be dropped or remedied. In any case, tracking this metric will prove useful.
Number of shares on major social media platforms
Social platforms can help you reach millions of potential customers from all over the world. This indicates how user-friendly and sharable your content is. It will also let you determine what type of content works for which kind of user groups. If your target users are not responding then it’s time to change things a little.
Number of inbound links
The number of sites linking to your content will help your search engine ranking. If users find your content interesting and useful they will link or quote it on their websites or mention the links. This automatically creates a level of authority for your content and improves your visibility on search engine rankings.
Bounce rate of website visitors
A high bounce rate will mean that your website attracts users but does not retain them. Visitors leaving right away means either there is some technical issues with your website or your content is not compelling enough. A bounce rate higher than 40% is considered a bad sign, however this greatly depends on the nature of the website.
Time on page
This is a clear measure of how engaging your content is. If a detailed and lengthy blog post page shows that users stayed only a couple of seconds, this means the content definitely needs some work.
Generated leads and source
Tracking leads is important, it will tell you how effective every piece of content is. Visitors are good to have but ultimately the goal is to generate leads that convert to sales.
Amount of revenue generated
The cost of marketing online and through content has to be less than the return. Revenue generated through your content marketing efforts needs to be tracked and monitored.
Social Media and Content Marketing
Social media is probably one of the most important aspects to consider when designing a content marketing strategy. Marketers need to see social media as a part of their sales funnel. Having a highly engaged user base on social media platforms is great, but these connections need to turn into sales in order to derive revenue from content marketing efforts. There are some major aspects that companies need to consider in 2016:
Social platforms such as Facebook will move towards in-platform buying options such as those provided by Heyo Cart. Users will not have to leave the platform in order to make a purchase.
Live streams are set to become popular because they give the consumers a chance to observe and interact instantly. The audience gets a real feel about the company and its vision. Live streams foster trust and loyalty among customers.
The direct video uploading capability provided by Facebook needs to be incorporated by marketers.
Focus on influencer marketing. Building relationships with influencers is a great way to connect to a large following quickly. Understanding and building a channel from scratch takes lots of effort, influencer marketing is a handy short cut. The important voices within industry are easy to reach out to and will help you reach your target customer easily.
Content marketing is not a buzzword, it has evolved into a complex and multi-platform component of brand marketing strategy. In the year 2016 ignoring the importance of this digital marketing sphere will lead to lagging behind as your competitors soar ahead. If utilized correctly content marketing can produce amazing results.