You know that content marketing is important. You realize the benefits it holds for your search ranking, your brand’s reputation, your user retention, your propensity for conversion, and your overall online visibility, but you’ve been intimidated to get started with the strategy. It could be because of a lack of resources or a lack of knowledge, but whatever the case, it’s prevented you from pursuing one of the most cost-effective and results-driven online marketing strategies around.
This guide is written especially for you. By the end of this article, you’ll have everything you need to get started with an initial content marketing campaign.
Before you even write your first post, there are a few objectives you’ll have to accomplish. These are designed to help you find the right focus for your content and start writing in a way that your audience will appreciate.
Choosing Your Goals
Content marketing has many purposes, and you’ll have to choose which ones are most important to you. Are you interested in increasing your rank in search engines? If so, your content will need to attract more external links. Is it a brand reputation move? Quality and original research become much more important. Are you just interested in getting more conversions? You’ll have to make sure there’s a call-to-action in every post.
First, decide who you are writing for. Many new content marketers make the mistake of trying to write for everybody—this approach tends to yield very general, universal content that is neither interesting nor unique. Instead, figure out who your core demographic is, and learn what’s important to them. Create buyer personas, and really get to know your customers.
Next, take a look at your competition. What type of content marketing do your competitors engage in? How successful have they been with it? With this research, you can learn what types of content and what topics are and are not effective for your audience or your industry. Never copy a competitor’s strategy directly, but do make an effort to learn from it.
Building a Voice
Next, you’ll need to start developing your brand voice. Consistency is vital if you want to build a successful campaign, and that means writing in a voice that’s in line with your brand. If your brand were a person, what qualities would he/she possess? What type of tone do your audiences want to read? Are you formal or informal? Authoritative or casual? These are important questions to answer before you start writing.
Finding a Niche
The most successful content strategies are ones that are highly specific. The more specific your niche is, the more initial visibility you’ll be able to build. Broad topics are too competitive, and you won’t be able to stand out. Based on all the research you’ve done, select a range of topics you want to control as your unique area of expertise.
Once all that background work is out of the way, you’re free to create a schedule and start writing.
Determining Your Content Types
First, decide which types of content you’ll want for your campaign. If you’re just starting out, blog articles should be your main priority. But you’ll also want to dabble in different mediums, including using infographics, videos, and alternative content types like interviews or whitepapers. Think of your audience—what do they want to read?
Determining Your Level of Effort
The more effort you put into your content strategy, the more it will pay off, but when you’re first starting out, you might have a tight budget or limited resources. Carefully balance your effort with your capabilities, and create a schedule that works for you—if you don’t have much time or money, one post a week may be ideal for your first few months. You can always scale up in the future.
Checks and Balances
It’s a good idea to set up a consistent process for your content development. Depending on how many people you have on your team, the research, drafting, editing, publishing, and syndication phases should all be segmented and have opportunities for others to catch mistakes. Your content should be flawless by the time it’s live online.
Once your content is published online, you’ll have to take one more step to ensure it’s seen by the greatest number of people. This is the syndication and promotion phase, and it’s how you will build your initial audience.
Social Media Syndication
Take advantage of social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They’re incredibly popular, and free to use. Publish links to your latest posts, and follow people who might be interested in such content. Get involved with LinkedIn Groups, and use Twitter lists to get to know your audience better.
Social bookmarking tools like Reddit and StumbleUpon are also useful in getting extra visibility for your new posts. If your post takes off, you could get thousands of new visitors, and even if you don’t, you’ll earn residual SEO benefits from using them.
Email Marketing and Word-of-Mouth
It’s also worth spreading the word about your new content strategy in more traditional ways. Let your existing customers know what you’re doing with an email marketing campaign, or simply mention it in conversation on your next sales call.
Finally, if you want a significant extra boost of traffic to your content, you can try using paid advertising. Set up a landing page that showcases your best material, and use a pay-per-click style campaign through Google AdWords, Facebook, or a similar competitor to drive traffic to it. If you do this, it’s a good idea to couple your content with a call-to-action that leads to some kind of revenue generation for your business directly. Otherwise, the extra investment may not be worth it.
There you have it. You now have no excuse not to get started with a content marketing initiative. It will be weeks, or even months, before you start to see results, but the sooner you start building that momentum, the sooner you’ll be able to reap the benefits.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.