47% of people on the internet use ad-blocking software. By relying solely on traditional marketing methods, you’re having the number of prospects you can reach. But what alternatives are there? How do you get prospects flocking to your site?
The answer is simpler than you think. Content marketing is three times more efficient than traditional marketing methods. You get to cut marketing costs and receive more organic traffic – it’s a win-win.
What is Content Marketing?
The word marketing here is something of a misnomer. The content we’re talking about has no marketing message at all. The aim instead is to provide a valuable resource for your prospects. You’ll create the content with your target audience’s needs in mind first and foremost.
Why Adopt This Approach?
Considering the overwhelming amount of advertising on the net, it’s refreshing to find content that is aimed at providing value. Think of it this way – if there are two articles out there:
- Content Marketing 101: Getting Started on Your Content
- Content Marketing: Why You Should Choose Our Company to Create Content for You
Which one are you more likely to read? Which would you be more likely to share? Which would you find more valuable?
Most of us would ignore the second article altogether. Unless we’re researching a particular service, we’re not interested in reading an article that’s clearly geared at selling us something. We’re online to find information, not to buy something.
The first article, by contrast, provides the information we need to write our own content. It’s useful stuff we can use or share. It’s made our lives a little easier. And that is the goal of content marketing – making the prospect’s life a little easier.
Is it going to result in a sale? Not necessarily, but it does create a favorable impression of our brand. If the content is good, the prospect is bound to look for more content that we’ve published. We’ve created a positive association with our brand.
When the client is interested in buying something that we’re selling, they’ll seek us out.
What Makes Content Marketing Better than Traditional Advertising?
Traditional advertising tends to be disruptive. If your prospect opens a marketing email, their day is interrupted. Content marketing, on the other hand, is useful. It provides your prospect with the answers they’ve been looking for. They’re likely to come across it while searching for information.
If the content is being emailed to them, it does interrupt their day slightly when they open it. Content marketing, when conducted correctly, provides your prospect with a resource they appreciate.
What’s more, it tends to be useful over a longer period of time. An advertisement runs for a set amount of time. Once the run is over, you’re not receiving any further benefits.
Useful content, on the other hand, is published online and stays fresh indefinitely. The blog post that you publish today can bring in leads tomorrow, next week, or even in a few years’ time.
Getting Content Marketing Right
Before you run off and start writing hundreds of blog posts, it’s essential to work out a strategy. This will form the foundation of your campaign and improve the odds of success. In this section, we’ll look at how to come up with a winning strategy.
Clearly Define Who Your Target Prospects Are and What They Need
As with most marketing exercises, we’re going to create marketing personas so that we can target the content correctly. Once you’ve established who the different marketing personas are, ask yourself:
- Where do they hang out online? You need to put the content in front of your audience, so it’s imperative to find out where they’re most likely to see it. Which social media platforms are they active on? What blogs do they read? This will help you choose the right channel to reach them on.
- What type of content do they consume? Do they prefer videos, text, podcasts, and so on? Stick to the format that your audience is most likely to consume.
- How can you improve their day? Is there a burning question they answered? Can you improve their lives by teaching them something? Can you find a way to teach them something while entertaining them?
Get a head start on this by using the free My Persona Tool from HubSpot
Define Your Goals
Your next step is to clearly define your goals. Are you interested in improving brand awareness or generating more traffic, for example? The more clearly defined your goals are, the better you can align your strategy so that you meet them.
Have You Got the Right Skillset to Produce Content?
Your next step is to determine whether or not your team has the right skillset to produce the type of content you need. For blogging, you’ll need a good writer. If you want to produce video content, you’ll need a good presenter as well as the right lighting and sound equipment.
Before creating any content, it’s essential to be honest about whether or not you have the required skills. This content is going to be online for a long time. It needs to be expertly crafted, or it won’t make a good impression at all.
If you don’t have the requisite skills, consider hiring a freelancer to help you out. Sites such as Upwork give you access to a range of talented freelancers who can be hired on a project by project basis.
Track Your Buyer’s Journey
Your next step is to track the stages in the typical buyer’s journey. This way, you’ll know exactly what content to provide at each step of the way. Providing the right content at the right time will subtly advance the prospect through to the point where they’re ready to make a buying decision.
Let’s look at an example of this in action. If you were selling water filters, for example, a content strategy might look something like this:
- Article one: An article about the water quality in the area and whether or not it’s safe to drink tap water. This gets the client thinking – we haven’t mentioned water filters yet.
- Article two: How you can make your drinking water safe. This would be a general article detailing the different types of purification processes used.
- Article three: An article that deals with the levels of chemicals put into water to purify it and the potential side effects.
- Article four: The ecological effects of bottled water and how you’re not always getting what you think you are.
- Article five: Different types of water filtration systems and how each one works.
- Article six: Focus on the type of filtration system that you sell. Why is this model better than others on the market?
As you can see, we’ve really only spoken about the specific filtration system in the last article. In the first, we’re introducing the idea that tap water isn’t safe. This will make your prospect want to look for an alternative.
In the second, we’re talking about different ways to make the water safe to drink. You’ll include a complete list of the different ways here. This introduces the idea that there is something that the prospect can do.
In the third article, we’re raising the concern about the use of chemicals like chlorine in drinking water. Here we’re taking things a step further again. We’re introducing the idea that the common methods of purifying water are not as healthy as we think.
In the fourth article, we’re talking about why bottled water is not a solution either.
In the fifth article, we’re suggesting ways to purify the water without chemicals. Once again, we’re highlighting the fact that the prospect has options. We’re also introducing water filtration as the ideal solution.
When article six rolls around, the prospect has decided they want a water filtration system. Now you can tell them why they should use your product.
Out of the six articles, only the last one can be termed sales-related. What we’ve done is work out what objections our prospects might have to our product and dealt with each one in turn. We’ve given them the information they need at each stage and are leading them to draw the conclusion that water filtration is the best solution.
This approach works well because the client believes they have worked out the solution on their own. They’ll come and seek you out because they’ve decided that this is the right solution for them. You don’t have to convince them that your solution is the right one because they already believe that.
Coming Up with Ideas for Content
Six articles are a good start, but you’re going to need more content as time goes by. You ideally want to post content at least once a week or so to keep your business fresh in the minds of prospects. The first few articles practically write themselves, but it gets harder to find fresh ideas later on.
A trick that works well is to create a mind map using your product’s primary purpose as the central idea. You’ll see an example of an empty mind map below. Use it as a tool to work out how many ideas you can come up with related to water filtration.
You might, for example, come up with:
- Using gray water.
- What classifies a water source as potable?
- Ways to conserve water.
- Fun ways to flavor your drinking water.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of topics that you can cover in future articles.
If that doesn’t bring up enough ideas for you, check Google. Enter the search term and see what articles come up. Ideally, you want something that hasn’t been covered a million times before.
A hack that’s very helpful is to scroll down to the bottom of the page to the section titled “Searches related to.” As you can see with our water filtration keyword, there are a few other angles you could cover.
Also, consider what kind of questions your client might ask about the process or product. Use these as a start to create articles. You can get other ideas from your competitors, forums, and thought leaders. There is never a reason to be short of ideas for content.
And, if you really can’t think of anything new, take the content you already have and repurpose it. Consider creating a:
- Stats page
- Post that develops one small idea covered in a previous article.
Create a Content Calendar
Now put everything together and create a content calendar. It doesn’t have to be fancy; a quick spreadsheet is perfect. The idea here is to create a cohesive strategy for posting. This allows you to develop your content ideas over a series of articles.
Here’s what you want to list:
- The content idea.
- The content type.
- Who will create the content?
- When the content is to be published.
- What platform it is to be published on.
You’re essentially making a roadmap for your content strategy. This allows you to have the content created well in advance.
You need to choose what type of content you’re going to create. Whatever type you use, remember:
- It must be relevant.
- It must be timely.
- You have to add value.
- You must focus on quality over quantity.
- You should include evergreen content that won’t date quickly.
Well, that’s about it from us. As you’ll notice in this post, we focused on adding value by not only giving strategies but also directing you to useful sites. When creating your own content, ask yourself:
“How can I add value to this piece?”
If you focus on creating value, you’re more than halfway there already.
Andriana Moskovska is a tech blogger and contributor at Review42.com. With a passion for tech and marketing and a degree in English Language and Literature, she always manages to deliver well-researched and impeccably written content. When she’s not writing her next piece, you can find her immersed in some of the classics, or planning her next trip.