The Content Marketing Institute provides the following content marketing definition: “… a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
Content should form a part of any digital marketer’s strategy, but many senior managers still ask: why content marketing? The fact that direct ROI can’t be attributed to content marketing like it can for PPC for example, can make it somewhat of an unknown for companies. However, you shouldn’t let that deter you, as content marketing brings so many benefits.
Benefits of Content Marketing
If you think about it, content marketing forms the backbone of your digital strategy:
- SEO: To rank higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages), you need to publish quality, consistent content that targets relevant keywords.
- PR: To gain links back to your website, you need to have content that’s interesting and engaging.
- Social Media: To get followers to interact with you on social, you need to showcase exciting new content.
Whilst an increase in revenue may not be directly attributable to content marketing, it can certainly help in the long term. By building brand awareness and gaining additional links to your site, you’re steadily increasing traffic, which can result in revenue.
So, whether you’re entirely new to content marketing, or you’ve run some campaigns in the past, it’s time to formulate an amazing content marketing piece that your audience won’t be able to resist sharing.
The first step in any great content marketing plan is to have a winning idea. Hold a brainstorming session with various members of your team. Remember that your idea must be engaging and interesting, and that it doesn’t need to be directly focused on your products or services. You only need a very loose link between your offerings, and the basis of your content marketing plan.
Once you’ve got a list of ideas, it’s time to develop these further. Think about how they’d be best presented – there are so many ways to consider, for example:
- Interactive maps
Define Who You’re Creating Content For
Now you’ve come up with an idea, it’s time to determine who you’re creating this content for – and this includes both readers and publications.
For example, let’s say you’re a financial services company, and for your content marketing plan, you want to compare the cost of living today to what it was to 20 years ago; this will include houses, wages and day-to-day living costs.
Who will find this the most interesting? Millennials, most likely – especially with inflated housing costs making home ownership unlikely for many.
What publications will you target? Finance to some extent, but what you really want to go after is lifestyle publications. If you’re breaking down the cost of living into areas of the UK, then including regional media is a good shout. However, if you’ve got a good hook to lead with, then there’s a good chance of being featured in national publications too.
Do Your Research
Once you’ve developed your idea and identified where you want it to be published, it’s time to do your research.
Primary research is great as you can come up with totally new content, but with so many ideas floating around on the internet, it can be near-impossible coming up with something entirely new. However, you can still create a great content marketing strategy even if you have to search for data online – you just need a fresh approach.
Bear in mind that when it comes to outreach, you’ll need a hook, so you should always have this in the back of your mind. For example, for the content marketing idea we’ve outlined, the hook could be that the cost of living has increased by 144% over the last 20 years, and that’s why there’s a 60% increase in millennials still living at home (totally made up figures, but you get the idea!).
Brief Your Designers
Assuming you have all the information you need to produce your great content marketing piece, the next step is to brief your designers (and developers, depending on the type of work that needs carrying out).
For design elements, you may want to be specific in what you want, or leave it open for creative flair. However, you’ll need to ensure that if the design elements incorporate copy (for example, a quiz or interactive map), you include it in your brief.
Publish Your Content
Once your content marketing piece has been created, you’re happy with it, and any stakeholders have signed it off, it’s time to hit the publish button.
Even if your piece is for outreach purposes, you should still publish it on your website, so that the media has somewhere to link to. From a reader’s perspective, having a specific page is much more valuable than a homepage, as they can easily find out more information.
Plus, there are benefits for your business too: posting your content marketing piece (whether it’s a blog article or landing page) will enable you to start ranking for relevant keywords.
Don’t forget to share the link regularly on social media, and encourage your coworkers to share it too!
Outreach… and Outreach Again
The final stage of an effective content marketing strategy is to outreach to your identified publications. If you haven’t used Buzzstream before, then you should do, as it’s an easy way to access journalists’ details, and send out emails.
For effective outreach, it’s crucial that your email is straight to the point. Research has shown that if you include a question in your subject line, your email will have an 11% better response rate. That same research has shown that outreach emails sent in the morning are 172% more likely to receive a reply than emails that are sent in the afternoon.
Include a link to where your content can be found, but don’t add the files as an attachment. Why? Well, mainly because large attachments result in a higher chance of your email heading straight to your recipients’ spam folder, never to see the light of day.
If a journalist is interested, they’ll get back to you, and at that point you can send over the files. As an added bonus, you won’t be a cold emailer anymore!
It’s common for very low response rates when outreaching, so don’t be disheartened. Send a couple of follow ups over the coming weeks – and try outreaching again a few months after, if your content marketing piece isn’t seasonal.
When it comes to content marketing, you have to understand that there’s a huge element of trial and error – especially if you haven’t done it before. For some brands, they may have the most success with whitepapers and reports, whereas for others, interactive content may perform better. You’ll also start to build relationships over time with journalists that you can regularly send content to, with a higher chance of getting featured.