10 Ways To Become a Great Content Marketer
By Simon Brooks, 20 May 2015
You need to attract and engage potential customers in order to convert them into sales.
So what better way to do it than sharing content that educates, informs or entertains them and at the same time showcases your knowledge and expertise, building a profile for you as an expert authority in your field?
This use of content to build visibility, trust and authority is known as “Content Marketing”. Content can take many different forms: written, designed, video, audio – a blog post, infographic, explainer video or webinar recording.
It’s still a new thing to many marketers, even in large businesses. In fact, most businesses we speak to say they either lack the staff, skills, ideas or time to create content that will resonate and engage.
In other cases, companies that ‘get’ the principles and have the resources, don’t have the patience. After all, Content Marketing can be a long burn – but reputations aren’t built overnight.
The question we most often hear is “where do I start?” So let’s take a look at 10 ways you can become a great content marketer.
1. Understand Your Audience’s Information (Content) Needs
I haven’t yet met the person that gets up in a morning and says: “Hey I’m so looking forward to my cold calls and the 120 spam emails I’m going to get today!”
So first and foremost, understand that with this form of marketing, your audience isn’t looking to be “sold to”. They’re not even looking to be marketed to.
They are looking for information that is useful, interesting and relevant to them, that will help them to do their job. And of course if they’re looking to make a purchase, they’ll be more likely to buy from an expert authority.
With Content Marketing, your blog article, infographic or video content is going to “sell” your expertise by showing how much you know. It’s a different, subliminal sort of selling that shows ‘what you know’, not ‘what you are selling’, implying your expert authority by showing, guiding, helping, informing and educating.
2. Know where your profiled target communities hang out
You’re a marketer or business decision maker, so we’re assuming you know the profile of your target buyer decision makers. If not, develop ‘personas’ for your ideal buyers.
Print. Digital. Exhibitions. Networking. Mix it up! Put your content out there in all the channels where your audience actively obtain their content.
Online is the most popular because it’s cost effective, easy to manage and most immediate. An infographic can be shared as a JPEG, an article as a blog, a video via Vimeo, a presentation via SlideShare.
A book can be shared in print and as a download in exchange for a sign up or a “like”. But content is also physical – so as a vehicle for driving visitor traffic to an exhibition stand, a book or other content-based giveaway can make an excellent incentive.
3. Think like a publisher
Terms such as ‘editorial team’ or ‘editorial plan’ might not sit completely naturally in your business, but they are both extremely important elements of your Content Marketing plan.
Your editorial team will help you arrive at the tone of voice for your content, setting the direction, researching industry news and opinion trends, company news, events, product and service updates and identifying other interesting topics that should form part of the ‘editorial plan’.
Your editorial content plan should be planned on a rotating 3-6 month basis with different topics and distribution media being included in the mix.
As always, if your business is too small to warrant your own editorial team and production engine, consider outsourcing – it’s simply another line on the marketing budget!
4. Get to grips with the sharing and distribution process
Getting a Content Marketing programme rolling involves bringing together the tools and media for idea generation, planning, content creation, website management, email marketing, social media and analytics and measurement.
Know which bits you can do, want to do, don’t want to do and don’t have the time to do. Don’t hesitate to outsource the elements you’re not equipped to do yourself. There are plenty of blog writers, infographics designers and social media managers out there – all you need is a brief to get them going.
5. Set website goals
Your website occupies a central role in your Content Marketing strategy because it’s where you’ll host much of your content. Through your promotional work you’ll be driving traffic to your website in order to obtain the piece of content you’ve promised them.
Assuming you have a website that you can manage quickly and dynamically, you need to decide which content you can ‘give away’ for free, which content will be ‘gatewayed’ i.e. made available for in exchange for a newsletter sign-up or even, in some cases of premium content such as market research analysis, sold.
Choose how to host this content on your website, via regular pages, dedicated landing pages and password protected areas – then measure visits to these pages to see what works.
6. Use a dedicated email platform
Because of the ‘slow burn’ of Content Marketing, you need an email platform with built in automation elements to capture email contacts and use them to grow your database of CRM contacts.
Try platforms such as MailChimp or Constant Contact – or if you have the budget a marketing automation platform such as Marketo, Pardot or InfusionSoft.
The great thing about these platforms is that you can see how many times your emails are opened and which types of content receive the most clicks. The richer the functions, the more ‘automation’ you get, including the ability to automate multiple campaign stages.
7. Build Social Media into your marketing
Once you’ve established your social media presence you can use your content to gain popularity in your communities by sharing it alongside relevant posts of other experts in your field.
Social media “share” posts pointing to useful, interesting and relevant content, as well as personal and professional updates, can drive traffic to your website as well as acting as vehicles for onward sharing.
Popular content that hits the sweet spot of your target audience will be shared many times and can go ‘viral’ as more and more people view it and share it.
8. Share ownership and responsibility
Not all businesses have someone on the team with ‘marketing’ in their job title. So who’s going to be responsible for content creation?
If it falls to you to drive your Content Marketing initiative forward, home in on the people in the business that have the specialist knowledge and find a way to tap into it for the benefit of business development.
Often, they’ll be switched on to the latest developments, issues and advances, so set aside some time for a meeting to brainstorm ideas. The brief is to create content in different forms that are relevant to as wide an audience as possible.
As an extra benefit, encouraging staff to create and submit their own content can also be a morale booster – but remember to issue guidelines on content type, tone and purpose.
9. Understand measurement and metrics
Your metrics will depend on your goals. Some experts say it’s all about sales. So long as it generates sales, just do it.
Yet tracking a sale back to a Content Marketing activity and attributing it solely to that activity can be hard. It can also be difficult to pin a cost to it to generate an ROI number.
So our advice is to monitor four sets of metrics. By ‘monitor’ we mean measuring the following metrics on a weekly or monthly basis:
- Activity: make sure you keep a record of all the content activity and promotional work
- Response: measure response both at the micro level (how did that article do?) and the macro level (what happened to our KPIs?)
- KPIs: set and measure:
o Visibility: overall visits to your website, follows on your social media channels
o Engagement: visits to your blog pages, views of your YouTube videos, downloads of articles and graphics, newsletter subscriptions/sign-ups, social media retweets, likes, favourites
o Conversions: leads in the form of sales meetings, requests for information, proposals and quote opportunities
- Sales: the bottom line. Wherever possible, attribute sales back to leads, back to marketing activity and, if possible, back to your content and social activity
10. Be patient
Content Marketing is an organic process. It’s a longer term thing, and takes time to get right. Creating and posting a couple of wonderful articles and infographics today will not always translate into new sales tomorrow.
That said, the great benefit of Content Marketing is that is measurable.
Start your Content Marketing programme now, measure the key metrics discussed above and then let the data build. Review it. Analyse it. Draw conclusions from it.
Take a minimum of 6 months to try things out and decide what works best for you – longer if your typical sales cycle dictates it.
Ultimately, your Content Marketing will pay dividends as you and your business gain visibility, attract attention from potential customers, grow in stature and assume a position as a trust expert in your field.
And that’s when the sales will start to roll in.
In summary, Content Marketing breaks down into Audience – Content – Sharing and Measuring.
You’re looking to attract, engage and convert potential customers by showing them what you know, not by overtly selling.
It takes time, experimentation and effort. It can be daunting when you’re starting out but as time passes, you’ll develop a model that works efficiently and pays dividends.
Of course if you need a helping hand, a bit of knowhow, or some expertise in any of the areas described above, contact us on 01763 877110. We’ll get you started, help you with the elements you need support with, or take on your entire Content Marketing programme.