Content Marketing A to Z – What You Need to Know
Our A to Z of content marketing helps you get a handle on one of the most important aspects of digital marketing.
Content marketing is becoming increasingly important (just check out our piece on how content is going to be dominant for 2014). It has such a broad effect, from boosting your SEO rankings to helping generate warm leads for sales to jump on, but the concept of content marketing is still relatively new.
There’s a lot to get to grips with when it comes to content marketing, from SEO best practice to whether you should jump on the viral bandwagon. With all this in mind we’ve created a content marketing A to Z to give you a run through of the terminology and what you should be looking to implement.
A is for
If you don’t know who your content marketing is aimed at, you can’t create an effective strategy. Items like Buyer Personas will give you an insight into this as well, but the key thing to know is what your audience is looking for. Whether it’s an answer to an issue they’ve been having or tips on which product to buy, they won’t come to you for answers if you’re not providing the relevant content.
This is tied in with Audience, just as you have to understand what your customers are looking for, similarly you have to be able to provide the right information. Writing about the intricate details of engine maintenance is tricky when you don’t know where begin, and if the audience suspects that you don’t know what you’re talking about then they won’t trust you. Without that trust your Engagement will be non-existent and all your readers will be exiting at the top of the funnel.
B is for
You’re reading one. Doesn’t that mean something? Content marketing without a blog is like a car without an engine. It just doesn’t function effectively. For most digital natives, the blog combines the text, the mag, the brochure, and the manual in one. It’s the ultimate destination for your programs, makes people want to come back for more and gives you the hook to build a great database of would-be customers. When you’re blogging though, never forget your Brand.
Your brand is your lifeblood. WIthout it, no one knows who you are and can be reminded of that fact when the time comes. You can be as far reaching or specialized in your branding as you like and your approach to branding may be the impetus that makes or breaks your work.
The genuine buyers who take decisions about the products or services you market. Knowing what their primary goals and pain points are will help you create content that’s on the topics and issues that your Audience actually faces, rather than what you think they’re worried about. As well as this you’ll know which content you need to create to drive potential customers further down the Funnel and get them to convert.
[post-quote content="If your content marketing programs are more about you and less about the customer then they're not going to work." position="right"]
Without knowing your buying cycle you don’t know how long your campaigns should be, and you won’t be able to do any predictions on what results you’ll be getting (which means that reporting on how close you are to hitting your targets can be a nightmare). The basic phases of a buying cycle are:
- Awareness – when your product/service comes to the attention of your customers.
- Consideration – when a customer starts considering how your project, or your competitors will affect them.
but once you’ve got more data on your potential customers and how they’re converting you’ll be able to put together a more detailed buying cycle.
C is for
Converting site visitors into paying customers is the challenge for many markets, literally “converting” users into a form of revenue. Without tracking this you won’t be able to know how your content is performing, or which is the most effective.
Your community forms an important part of your Distribution. This encompasses your Social Footprint and your Newsletter, and remember that they’re also great for input on the topics and trends that they’re facing. Your Buyer Personas are meant to be a living document that’s constantly updated, not something that’s just created and left to gather dust. A good content creation process is cyclical, with the feedback on the content you create feeding back into the pieces you’ll make in the future.
Lest we forget why we’re doing this. We want to love the customers we have, and make them love us back, and we want to ensure that we get some new ones along the way. So if you could say one thing about your content marketing programs, it’s that if they’re more about you and less about the customer then they’re not going to work. No further discussion needed.
Finding, sorting, and sharing relevant digital content on a specific topic for a target market. Important when considering how you want to target your consumers. This will come into play when you’re looking at your social channels, where you can show that you not only create the best content around, you’re able to recognize it when others create it as well. This will also play into your Blogger Outreach strategy.
D is for
This goes beyond just grabbing their email so that you can send them your Newsletter. If you have an effective data capture tool on your website then you can profile your customers and create information rich Buyer Personas, leading to targeted, effective content. Sign ups are the most popular form of data capture, whether it’s to a newsletter or a Webinar, but you can also ask users to deposit information in exchange for downloads such as eBooks or Whitepapers.
Being visually appealing is incredibly important in a world where users are bombarded with wonderful images and designs every day, through exposure to the web. A great design can make your business or organisation stand out on the web, and that’s critical in today’s world. This should encompass all the aspects of your content, whether it’s your blogs readability, or the layout of your downloads.
The system of making a product or service available to both consumers and business users. The ultimate outcome of your marketing strategy will be determined by the impact you make with your distribution. You can be creating the best content in the world and without an effective distribution channel no-one will read it. This incorporates SEO, Earned Media, Newsletters, Social, plus the many other channels that are available. Research and find the right ones for your company.
E is for
Email marketing may have its ups and downs, but underpinning almost every content strategy is the email address. It’s still an important part of digital advertising today and one that shouldn’t be underestimated. With the right strategy, you can avoid the much-dreaded spam folder. Marketing automation has reached the point where it’s a no-brainer for a company to have a well synchronised email campaign, and of course, your Newsletter is incredibly important.
In this world of social media and event based marketing, earned media is becoming a new source of publicity, being able to fuel the popularity or reach of a brand via promotional events and actions. How can you harness the power of earned media with your brand?
A good Editorial Calendar will means that you can not only plan your content, but that you can see greater synchronicity across your channels. Your employees responsible for social media will be able to see what content is coming up and make the right plans and actions to ensure it gets the best pick up. For example, if you’re going to do a review of a new BMW that’s being launched soon then your team can reach out to BMW on Twitter beforehand, so that when you do tweet the piece of content they’re more likely to retweet it and boost your Distribution. It can be difficult to get so far ahead, but running about a month in advance will give you the foresight and flexibility you need to get the most out of your content.
[post-quote content="If customers are coming to your site and bouncing then you know you've got a problem." position="right"]
If customers are coming to your site and bouncing then you know you’ve got a problem. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no-one is engaging with it. If you have this problem then it’s time to take a look at (or create) your Buyer Personas. If you have these in place properly then you’ll be able to capture potential customers’ interest and move them down the Funnel. Similarly, your Social analytics should track Engagement, as it doesn’t matter how many people “Like” your content if they’re not actually reading it properly.
This ties in to Long Copy but a well produced eBook can be a fantastic marketing asset. It fits into the bottom of the Funnel for those customers who are on the brink of buying. The eBook is something can you can use to drive data collection (essential for your Buyer Personas) by offering to people signing up to your Newsletter in exchange for more info for example. As well as this, someone downloading an eBook represents a real interest in your product, particularly if you’ve chosen a good title, and means that you’ve got a good chance of converting them. If you do lead scoring then you can measure this more effectively and see whether the customer should be passed over to sales for follow up.
F is for
Content Marketing programs are all about putting more in the funnel and making sure the right content gets delivered according to where you are in the funnel. Whether B2B or consumer, the right content to the right person is key. Otherwise you’ll find that everyone loves you at the top of the funnel, but instead of swimming downstream they’re just treading water. It’s also worth noting that the first three letters of Funnel make Fun. Never underestimate the power of an enlivening experience in driving prospects through the sales journey.
G is for
Google is a driving factor behind content marketing, and with their updates to their search algorithm it’s now about quality rather than keyword stuffing. Google Authorship links your G+ profile with the content that you’re producing, so that Google knows that you’re behind it.
The visible outcomes of this are that your G+ picture will show up in search results next to pieces that you’ve written. However, the ramifications of this are far wider, as Google gives you an Author Rank meaning that they can track how people are reacting to your content. The better they do, the higher your pieces will rank for your specialisms.
H is for
“High tech” or “cutting edge” could easily be another term for the front line of marketing. With the rise of marketing automation there’s an incredible amount of marketing tools available, some amazing (Google Analytics springs to mind), and some less so. Which are useful to you depends on many factors, the size of your audience, the amount of content that you publish, your content marketing strategy, to name just a few. So make sure you take the time to find the technology that you need to support you.
High quality is vital, whether it’s in your choice of language or topic, the images you use or the strength of your copywriting. Accept no substitutes – if you produce poor quality work then it will reflect badly on you. Google is supporting this with their Hummingbird update, meaning that they’re looking to promote those who are real experts in the search results over those who are just including the relevant keywords.
[post-quote content="The rise of online games and interactive infographics herald a greater push for a more interactive digital environment, and will help your Engagement." position="right"]
How To’s are a powerful tool in communicating information, whether you’re hoping to learn more about marketing strategies or planning to communicate the use of your services to your consumers or website users. People are always looking for advice, and the How To is a perfect top of the Funnel piece that can be used to quickly hook a potential customer. Just make sure to stay on the side of advice and support, as a bossy tone will mean that they’ll just leave.
I is for
Interactivity has been the big word with marketers for a while – the ability to allow users to be an active “doer” rather than a passive listener. The rise of online games and interactive infographics herald a greater push for a more interactive digital environment, and will help your Engagement.
Everyone loves infographics! If you can make data more digestible via imagery and graphics, then you can communicate on a more specialist level with your consumers, without making their brain melt. That’s a powerful marketing tool in itself. Just make sure that you focus on topics that are interesting and popular whilst supporting your business goals.
Behind every action, there is a motive, an incentive. What’s in it for your customers or users, when they sign up to your service or click on your website? Make sure that for every step your user has to take, they’ve got a good enough reason to do so.
J is for
This is one to file in the do not use folder, Jargon prevents you from getting your point across. The aim of every content marketing plan should be to provide the relevant information as simply as possible. Your potential customer’s attention spans aren’t great and if they come through to a piece that isn’t clear then they won’t bother to decipher it, they’ll just leave; and that won’t just affect your conversions, it’ll also damage your SEO.
K is for
Keywords are the breadcrumbs between your customers and you, the road signs on the information highway. How you use keywords to direct traffic to your site is an art in itself, especially since Google’s Hummingbird update has changed the relevancy of keywords. The focus is now on well written content, but without the right keywords in that content Google won’t know where to point your potential customers.
L is for
Marketing is intrinsically about education. It’s a process of educating your readers, audience and users about the strengths and advantages of your product or organisation, often against the power of a rival competitor. Approach your customers and demographics as the uninitiated, what’s the best way to make what you’re teaching them stick?
Today, we’re often told that long is bad and that immediate and brief is the norm. Of course it’s obvious from the length of this post that we don’t agree, long copy has its benefits. It fits in particularly well lower down the B2B Funnel, where it takes the form of Whitepapers and eBooks. You can use it to move potential customers to leads, and get greater data capture. A good piece of long copy can perform well for years (with the necessary updates) and is a good investment for any company.
M is for
Metrics are vital if you want to see which of your campaigns and content are making the most impact. Tools such as Google Analytics are vital in being able to look at the statistics for pageviews, interaction, and traffic to your website. Marketers these days should be making their decisions based off hard data, and without the proper analytics tools you can risk putting all your spend in areas that aren’t functioning.
At the end of the day, the stone cold truth is that you’re in this marketing game to make money. Ultimately, how can you convert the interest and traffic you’re receiving into cash? What kind of strategies will turn your users and readers into customers and consumers? This is where you look at your Funnel and how you’ll move potential customers along it to conversion or transacting. Look at key areas of weakness such as the Data Capture elements on your site. If they’re not working then your content marketing campaigns will be a lot less effective.
N is for
[post-quote content="Your newsletter is an important part of maintaining consist engagement with your readers." position="right"]
Native content is what will drive your content marketing campaigns. Curated content is all well and good, but it doesn’t present you or your company as an expert to your target demographic. Producing your own content is key to gaining the trust of your audience, and gaining authority with Google Authorship.
Niche content, or niche blogging, is a relatively new concept, but tapping into specific user areas and demographics, rather than spreading your net wide and thin, could be a winning strategy. However, when working with niche content be aware that you will see lower site traffic and difficulties in targeting without proper research, but the potential gains are much higher when you get it right.
Your newsletter is one of the main points of contact with your Audience, along with your Social Footprint, it’s an important part of maintaining consist engagement with your readers. Sending it out on a regular basis means that people know when to expect (and can look forward to it). If you’re using a marketing automation system that gives you the ability to allow users to set how often they receive a newsletter, then so much the better.
O is for
Not the name of an airport security procedure, but actually a term for search results that are relevant and natural to the searched terms. People find organic search comfortable because it means that they feel in control. Keywords are not as important as they once were, but you’ll need to include the relevant ones to make sure that Google (and others) know what you’re talking about.
P is for
Pay Per Click
Make sure you have a strategy in place to make sure that you’re getting the best value out of your traffic, tailor your PPC to your business and users. If you don’t have a good enough PPC structure in place, you could be losing unknown numbers of customers. If you have a high performing piece of content then you can use PPC to point potential customers directly to it, an easy way to drive potential customers to a piece that will help them and help you get them into the Funnel.
Q is for
Qualified Search Traffic
Make sure that the audiences you are targeting are qualified for your product, or your organisation’s business. This doesn’t mean that you should be narrow in your content topics, indirect conversions could be the difference that helps you break smash your targets, but rather that you go after those who are in your target demographic. You’ll need to work closely with your SEO team to make sure that both channels are working efficiently.
R is for
Rather depressingly we read that 2013 was a total failure for marketers looking for Return on Investment. Don’t let this happen to you. Smart content marketing programs have clearly defined goals and targets. In the digital age it’s now possible to measure ROI incredibly effectively using Metrics. Prove the value that your content brings to the company.
A generic term, which always conjures up images of giant ominous hands reaching towards your customers. The reach of your business determines how far you can influence potential customers. Increase it with a Blogger Outreach campaign, if you get a couple of influencers involved then you can see dramatic results in just a few days (not counting the time that it takes to develop a relationship with those influencers).
You can really get the most out of great content through repurposing – altering it in further instalments, building upon it, looking at it from a different angle. How can you make your best content go a little bit further for your users/customers? This is a question that you should be applying to all your content to ensure that you’re getting the most value out of it, but it’s on the bigger ticket items like questionnaire responses and whitepapers where you can really get the maximum value.
S is for
As Rap Genius found out when they tried to game the back-links they had, falling foul of Google’s spam detector can be incredibly damaging. You ability to rank in the results for the relevant search terms will have a huge effect on your page-views, and without them you won’t be able to get people into your Funnel. Though Google isn’t the only search engine out there, it’s by far and away the most popular, so make sure you keep up to date with any changes that they’ve brought in that could affect you.
One of the benefits of content marketing is that you can target the long tail of search, which is where people are looking for very specific results. If you get the right piece of content in the right place then you’ll have a much higher chance of converting.
Social media – Tweeting, Facebooking, Snapchatting, Instagramming, Tumblring – the list goes on. Social media is now a major source of advertisement and marketing, allowing brands to be communicated via a range of digital platforms. Perception is important here, content is not something that’s put out via social media, your social media is content in itself. Social Media is the top part of the Funnel, the trick is deciding which content should be put in a Tweet, which should be put in a Blog, and so on.
[post-quote content="By attacking new subjects, or old subjects in a new way, you'll be able to demonstrate your Authority, meaning that you'll rank higher in the search results, and potential users will find more value in your content." position="right"]
A social footprint is a combined mark left by your use of various social networks. While your use of these sites may fulfil different purposes (LinkedIn being more for business, Facebook for pleasure etc.), maintaining a social footprint is achieved by a cohesive look and feel. Make sure you have effective guidelines for Social Media use so that everyone in company can present a cohesive front whether they’re Tweeting or Pinning.
T is for
This ties in with High Quality and Google Authorship, by attacking new subjects, or old subjects in a new way, you’ll be able to demonstrate your Authority, meaning that Google will rank you higher in the search results, and potential users will find more value in your content. You can tie this in with your Blogger Outreach by getting those who are already recognized as thought leaders in your industry to guest blog for you.
Traffic is what a lot of content marketing campaigns are measured by, but there’s a flaw in this. There’s no point getting people onto your site if they don’t have a chance of converting. Make sure that you can hit all your targets by implement a content strategy that takes potential consumers through to Conversion.
If you want to succeed when it comes to responsive marketing, you need to make sure you know what’s hip, hop and happening in the world of the internet. Tools such Google Trends can help you know what’s buzzing in the online sphere. Be careful that the topics that you jump on are relevant though, as there can be a lot of backlash if people perceive a brand as jumping in on a topic that they don’t have a relevance to.
Twitter has been really growing in strength and popularity as a marketing tool in recent years, becoming a service to rival that of social networking giant Facebook. Make sure you know your hashtags from your @ tags, so you can make the very most of it as a marketing tool.
U is for
How does your product stand out from the competition, and how can your marketing campaign communicate that? If your cereal stays crunchy, even in milk, while the others go soft – shout it from the rooftops! A USP is the make-or-break aspect of your brand. Make sure that it’s clearly defined and easily understandable.
V is for
Video is big business, as more and more people flock to YouTube to watch the latest content that pours in everyday. Yet video is still something that a number of marketers never manage to take off the to do list. Consider how the moving image could really make a difference to your campaign or brand.
For B2B marketers, the value proposition has often been the holy grail, more so than the USP above. It’s getting a bit of criticism these days – perhaps because we all recognize the techniques of getting you to admit the cost of not buying that product. But if you don’t get over the ultimate value to a buyer, ie. the real way their lives/jobs will change, your content may miss its point or miss out on someone else doing it for them.
W is for
Whitepapers are key to success of B2B content marketing, they are the added value that you bring to the topic that turns a potential customer into a warm lead. They fit into your Funnel between educate and nurture, and a good whitepaper will make it easy to get potential customers closer to the finish line.
Webinars perform a similar function to Whitepapers, the difference being that with the amount of tools that are out there to create webinars at the moment you have a lot of options. For example, you could set up a webinar that has the functionality for viewers to ask questions in real time, which can then be answered by the present or (if they’re not suitable for covering in the webinar) you can pass them over to a sales contact who’ll answer their query immediately. This immediacy is what can make the difference between hitting your warm leads targets.
X is for
Love the world, embrace cultural differences and consider the bigger picture. Having an international outreach and focus is always important, especially if you’re eyeing international expansion in the future. Just make sure to keep your targeting focused.
[post-quote content="How will your campaign change their life or their job?" position="right"]
Unless you really are responsible for a more risque content destination, you may find that the old adage of sex selling actually doesn’t sell at all. It’s far more likely to end up in a spam filter, no matter how subtle or amusing you think you’re being.
Y is for
You. Not actually ‘You”, but “he” or “she.” The individual – the very person whom your marketing strategy is dependent on appealing to. How will your campaign change their life or their job? This should be the focus of all your marketing efforts, so make sure that whether you’re creating Buyer Personas or Whitepapers, you’re putting the customer at the heart of your efforts.
Z is for
What are the people in your demographic talking about right now? What are the issues and challenges that they’re concerned about at the moment? Answering their need when they have it means that you can form a relationship with them, it’s the beginning of the journey towards conversion. If you’re not answering their needs then they won’t find you relevant or engage with you. How can you use it to further your marketing strategy? Real time marketing is a potential solution, reflexively reacting to what’s happening right now.