Content Marketing is a popular topic these days in the blogosphere. Content is still a hugely effective tool when it comes to Inbound Marketing. However, large companies are finally starting to wise up to this and spending big portions of their marketing resources on Content Marketing.
So what does this mean for organizations with marketing budgets that aren’t the size of a small country’s GDP? Don’t worry, there is still time. Content marketing is about the long tail. It is about engagement. Huge corporations still struggle with this in a major way.
To be successful with content, you need to know what content to create, how to best to create it and how to use it to your advantage.
Let’s go ahead and assume that we all agree that content is important for successful inbound marketing. Now what? I am going to give you 5 tips for using content to drive traffic, improve conversion, build a presence, and be successful with your online marketing.
Tip One – IDENTITY
Know yourself and what you do. Seems simple right? Sure it is. But, have you taken the time to write this out? Do you know your own story? How does it read?
Before you can start churning out all of this great content for your web site, Blog, or social media outlets, you better know who you are talking to and what you need to say. To figure this out I suggest you start with a little creative writing.
Take 30 minutes with a blank page and start writing. Answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What is your history?
- What do you do today?
- What makes you different from your competition?
- Who cares?
Don’t take too long to write this, just the facts, keep it simple. We are looking for the essence of who you are as a business or organization. Leave the technical or detailed stuff for white papers and Blog posts (a little foreshadowing for you).
Put it down, walk away and do something else. After you’ve had some time apart from your story, come back to it and read it again. Does it still sound like you? No? Make some edits and repeat the last step.
Yes, it does sound like you? Good. Now, share it with a few of your best clients, colleagues, associates, members, etc. and get some of the best feedback on your business you’ve ever read. The feedback you get will help you to determine how these people think about your organization. Make a note of this; you will want to refer back to it often.
Tip Two – INSPIRATION
I don’t care what anyone says, writing is hard. Even if you are writing about something you care deeply about. It still takes time and dedication. It also takes a lot of inspiration.
Ideas beget ideas. Even if you disagree with someone else’s idea, it can still get your creative juices flowing. The process of creation generally starts with some sort of catalyst. So, where do you get good content ideas? From other content.
So, start reading blogs, newsletters, trade journals. Watch YouTube videos from experts in your industry. Devour.
Here are some ways to get great content delivered to you everyday…
- Google alerts – Let’s say you are a bike shop, well set up an alert on “biking”
- Blogs and newsletters – Some of the better blogs out there will have a way to subscribe. This could be an email newsletter or an RSS feed
- Subscribe to YouTube channels – there are some great retreads of seminars, presentations, etc out there.
- Competitors – Seriously, what are they talking about? What aren’t they talking about? Figure out how you can do it better.
Now that you have these channels open and are receiving lots of inspiration, start jotting down ideas. Keep a notepad on your desk or wherever you do your best thinking and fill it with scribbles only you can understand.
When you find the time to write something, you can go back to your list for ideas. Make sure you jot down on this list where those ideas came from, in case you need some reference points.
Tip Three – RECYCLING
Not all content you create for online marketing has to be brand spanking new. Try looking back through all of your past materials for some things you can re-use.
If you are a technical firm you might have a series of white papers you’ve written in the past. Can these possibly be repurposed for your web site or Blog? Or could they inspire a Blog post that references and links back to the white paper, also on your web site?
How about lengthy emails you’ve written answering a client’s question? This is often a great source of inspiration for Blog posts. Think about it, a client has asked you about something specific. You fire back a brilliantly written explanation that the client is thankful to receive. Well, turn this into a Blog post.
If you are writing content for your web site for the first time or you are looking to enhance or refresh your content, you can certainly look to these same places for ideas. You can also look back through your past marketing materials. Which of them were wildly successful? How can you recreate that success online?
You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. You might just need to put some air in the tire.
Tip Four – WRITE
If you are going to go to all this trouble, you want to make sure you are actually able to write. You want to have the tools in place so that you can write and post content yourself.
I know this might sound obvious but so many of our clients come to us talking about content but have no plan for how they will create and manage it from day to day. With blogs and content management systems today you can create content easily and on YOUR SITE.
That is really the key. If you are going to write, make sure you are writing for your own site. Don’t just give all of your good content away by posting it on Facebook or any other site that isn’t yours.
Sure, sharing content and guest blogging are both beneficial but you don’t want to give it all away. Even with all of this transparency and openness today, ownership is still important.
There are various levels of content management systems for various levels of budgets. WordPress, for example, is a scalable content management solution that can be templated or completely customized, depending on your budget.
You want to make sure you have all of the tools in place so that you have no excuse not to write when the time is right to write.
Tip Five – PROMOTE
You cannot create content in a vacuum. This is marketing, you need to share. If you don’t put your content out there then who is going to read it? The more you get this content out there (see our post on SEO) the more traffic your site will get.
If you are blogging, do your own “syndication.” You can easily link your Blog to your Facebook page or tweet your latest Blog posts. In fact, most social media outlets will have a place where you can add the RSS feed directly from your Blog. Just make sure it is on your site first so the links you are building come back to your web site.
To promote the other content on your web site, simply promote your site. Place your web address on everything. Place it in your email signature, on business cards, in your advertising, your social media profiles, etc.
Email newsletters are also a great way to promote your content. You can include summaries of your latest blog posts, information about specific product offerings or updates about what is happening in your company.
Promoting your content will make you a better writer. Promotion and tracking help you see what content works and what content is dead weight. You will see which Blog posts are getting comments or feedback. You can tell which pages of your site are popular by checking your web statistics. You can see what topics in your email newsletters are getting clicked.
The feedback you get will help you to find out more about who you are. And it will inspire you to create more content and seek more inspiration. It is a cycle that is perpetuated by the successes and failures it creates.
All of this leads to more qualified traffic, better conversion rates and a more successful inbound marketing strategy.
Do you have a number 6? Let me know, comment below…
A great content resource is Content Rules by CC Chapman and Anne Handley.