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What is successful content marketing?

Ever heard of the expression commonly used by every forward-thinking marketer of today, “content is king?” Well, it goes without saying, that content certainly is playing a vital role in the marketing realm.

In fact, traditional marketing appears to be becoming less popular amongst distinguished brands around the world. Instead, they’ve been seen to adopt a new way of thinking, one which uses content at the core of their marketing and business strategies.

Content marketing is increasingly becoming a powerful and authentic means to sell products, services and essentially brands. Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as being “a strategic marketing approach focussed on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” There are many different types of content marketing such as infographics, webpages, podcasts, videos, books and e-books, articles and blogs, to name a few.

While some traditional marketers may still pitch their products and services to their markets using traditional approaches, content marketers deliver higher quality content to their customers and prospective consumers, offering beneficial and valuable information in one way or another.

Essentially, the ideal goal would be to get your target audience to view or read your content and engage with it – whether it be commenting, liking or sharing it with their friends or colleagues – and ultimately influencing them to take action after seeing that particular piece of content.

But, what good are your efforts in marketing your content really, if you aren’t making any return? According to Content Marketing Institute’s research done on 2016 Content Marketing Trends, it’s estimated that around 76 percent of B2C and 88 percent of B2B businesses use content marketing at the core of their marketing strategies, but only 38 percent of B2C’s and 30 percent of B2B’s admit that their businesses are actually successful in this space.

Before I began my start-up, I had been working in the marketing industry for some time, so I had a good understanding of the approaches to use when building my business in terms of brand identity and awareness. But, considering the other metrics of the marketing and sales funnel with regards to the consumer decision-making and buying process – with no marketing team to share the workload and delivery of each of those metrics – it became a whole new ball game for me.

If you’re a small business owner, like myself, it may help to break down your strategy into segments, making it easier to work on each metric and then connecting the dots as you go. This not only allows you to focus on small chunks at a time, but also helps you gain perspective and consistency throughout your strategy.

To help you figure out what the best approach to the content strategy for your business might be, I’ve collated a list of important points that you might want to consider when creating content to support it, that may help you build the foundation to a more successful business outcome.

1. Know who your audience is

It’s ineffective to develop content for an audience, when the content you’re developing adds no value or benefit, or generate any interest with that group of individuals. It’s essential to focus on creating content that’s tactically targeted at a particular audience with the intent to engage them straight away.

This means that you need to know who your audience actually is: create consumer personas and sub-categorise into demographics, understanding what their interests are, identifying the location you’re wanting to reach, and recognising the behaviours of your consumers.

Join the conversation that people are having online about your brand, your products, your services, as well as topics that can be easily associated with your company. Take the opportunity to actively participate and get ahead of the eight ball.

Tweak your content for each audience segment. The same content will not necessarily engage the same audience segments, so tailor the content for each particular audience – not necessarily the message, but the way in which you present the information rather.

For instance, the content you publish on LinkedIn – which will have a professional, formal tone – will be different from that which you publish on Instagram, which is usually characterised by a more playful and informal manner.

2. Create content that is easily consumed and appealing

Content needs to be remembered by your consumer, so make it emotionally appealing, interesting, meaningful and relatable. Your content should resonate with your audience, so instead of creating content laden with marketing messages, turn it into something that resonates with your audience, evoking an emotional connection.

Remember, the format in which you disseminate your content for each channel will determine how your audience responds to your message. Make use of different formats for each of the communication platforms you use. Spice it up! Not all of your content needs to be serious, dull or educational. Add some playfulness and quirkiness to your content plan. This will ensure your content doesn’t all look the same and adds an interesting and diverse mix for your consumers.

3. Measure results

Test, measure and optimize your content based on metrics to help you make a bigger bang for your buck. You need to be able to determine which sorts of content are making the biggest impact on your audience and effectively more money for your business, and optimize those pieces of content.

If you can adopt the right tools to measure the effectiveness of your content, you will find that after some time, you will be way ahead of the game with your content marketing strategy. It will also help you understand what content does not work well with your audiences and channels and will allow you to tweak accordingly.

4. Don’t be afraid to share

To produce good content, means that you need to tell a story, good or bad. Share insights with your audience, even if it is uncomfortable to share. People naturally relate to the truth, to human voice (human emotions and insight) and authenticity. The more you share and open up to your audience, the more likely they are to start trusting your brand. Also, don’t be afraid to ask them to share your content with their networks, helping you grow your audience base on social media. So, make sure your content is easily shareable.

Encourage user-generated content. Encourage your current customers to engage further in your content by sharing, commenting, reviewing your brand, and products and services. Emotional investment builds stronger trust with your current customers and creates opportunities with prospective customers.

5. Don’t inundate your content with blatant sales messages

As mentioned earlier, you need to serve up compelling, valuable information to your consumers, offering solutions to their problems and needs, without bombarding them with a million calls to action and sales messages only about your products and services. Your content should educate, inspire, motivate and entertain your audience, enough to engage them for as long as possible.

Your business needs to portray a sense of authenticity and genuineness. That means that your audience should gain a real feeling and trust for your brand, and this will be the ultimate deciding factor for whether your consumers become properly interested and invested in your products and services. It’s important for you to make your customers feel as if they’re valued, and everything that you do needs to reflect their importance to your business.

It’s crucial, however, to include links in your content, that drive the consumer back to your brand, increasing social media follows and website traffic. It’s also a nice touch to link content with pre-existing content, for example linking your blogs with one another will only enhance your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) ranking and will encourage your readers to continue to consume more of your content.

6. Review and audit your website, and create a blog

One thing I’ve learned in marketing, is that your website should serve as the first port of call for your customers and prospective consumers. That means that the information needs to be accurate, compelling and reflect a high level of quality. For many people, your website and blog are the first interactions that they have with your brand, so you need to make a good impression from the get-go.

Ensure that the content is always up to date and regularly audit the information, or get another pair of eyes across the copy to help fact-check and proof for any inconsistencies and errors. You might also want to keep developing blog articles for your site, as this helps build on your site’s SEO, optimising the searchability of your brand. The more quality content you have to help connect your business with your audience, the higher the chance of obtaining new customers or clients. But, remember, quality is the secret to effective content marketing. Sometimes, it’s wiser to choose quality over quantity.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this article, as much as I have enjoyed writing it, and that it has given you some insight into a few possible ways you could develop effective content to support your content strategy.

If you are in need of some assistance with writing content for your business, or if you simply require someone to proof and edit your copy, then head to my website, flick me an email, and let me help you reach your objectives.

Good luck! 😊

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