Practical Steps to Improve Your Content Marketing Efforts
Content Marketing is a form of marketing that attracts a particular audience by creating and sharing free, high-quality content. The aim of content marketing is to produce something of value that is educational, entertaining, or informative, to gain the attention and trust of people within a certain demographic.
In 2018, consumers are bombarded with more messages than ever before, not only from brands, but also from their friends, family and colleagues. With the supply of online content outweighing the demand (or rather, the number of tweets, statuses, Instagram posts, YouTube videos, blog articles and podcasts far outweighing the attention-span of any given person), it’s more important than ever for your business to produce high-quality, relevant and value-driven content that captures attention.
Content marketing is about more than just publishing a couple of blog posts each month. It’s about truly understanding your customers and those who may do business with you in the future, before producing content that speaks to their wants and needs. Beyond this, effective content marketing is about then delivering your content through the correct channels in such a way that aligns with how your audience behaves.
In short, content marketing is understanding your audience, producing content that speaks directly to that audience, and then seeding your content on the platforms that your audience use most frequently.
There are two key aims of content marketing. The first is to introduce new customers to your business for the first time, through reaching them with content that addresses a problem or fulfills a self-identified need they may have. The second is to keep engaged and current customers ‘warm’, through content that continues to communicate on their level, helping to establish your brand as one that is familiar, trustworthy and in alignment with their values and beliefs.
The good news is that content marketing can (and does) work for businesses of all kinds. No matter how large or niche your potential customer base, how big or small your business or how old or young your target customer, the consumption of content is something that all consumers do, whether they realise it or not.
In this article, we will outline five practical tips your business can make use of to help improve the quality and effectiveness of the content you produce.
1. Understand Your Audience
In order to know what content you should be producing, it’s vital to understand your audience.
The most direct and effective way to find what content your audience wants to see is by speaking to them. A good way of doing this – if you already have a base of customers – is through a the use of a survey or request for feedback. Ask questions about what first attracted your customers to your business, or what other websites they visit within your market.
For example, John Lewis asking their customers ‘What other department stores have recently visited online?’ gives them the opportunity to see what competitors are doing well, to use as a basis of the type of content that performs strongly with their mutual target audience.
Another way to gauge the interests of your audience is to monitor forums and online communities used by your customers. Listening to conversations in these forums will not only give you more insight into how your customers think, communicate and behave, but it will also give you an idea of the kinds of topics which are discussed. Producing content around these topics – to either further discussion or help answer common questions – will give you a ready-made audience to seed your content to.
2. Always Work to a Goal
When creating your content, always keep in mind what you want it to achieve. This will keep you focused and gives your content a purpose, which will help to ensure it delivers value to your customers. The goal of a piece of content should be to answer a question, create a conversation or convey a certain piece of information.
Setting one specific goal for each piece of content you create is a good way of ensuring that you’re always providing value. What will your customer learn by reading this post? How will it make them see your business in a different light? What action will this piece of content make them take?
Creating a measurable goal will help you understand the effectiveness of each piece of content you produce. For example, if you publish a piece of content with the aim of helping customers understand just how quick and easy it is for them to make use of your service, you can expect to see an uplift in inbound leads in the days after your content goes live.
3. It’s Not All About You
Your audience doesn’t care what you’ve achieved, who sits on your board of directors, or what award you’re nominated for – at least, not straight away. Content marketing often aims to reach new customers who have one simple question in mind – “what can you do for me?”
Even if selling a product is the end-goal of a piece of content, you don’t want to make that obvious. Content marketing is all about providing upfront value, with no expectation of something in return. Target your audience’s gain and pain points; these are things that they do or don’t want.
For example, for an audience of mums with young children, “Ways To Keep Your Little Ones Entertained On Rainy Days” would be a perfect value-led piece of content. This title touches on something mothers ‘want’ by giving them a list of ways to entertain their energetic children indoors, whilst touching on the dreaded ‘rain day’ scenario.
4. Create A Profile
If you know who your main audience is, visualise them and keep them in the forefront of your mind when writing. Create a list of words and phrases that come to mind when you think of your target audience, and keep this list handy when writing your content.
Speaking in a tone and dialect that your target audience is familiar with will help build rapport, further helping to establish your business and one they feel they know and can trust.
Creating a profile of your ideal customer also helps to ensure that you are producing content that is relevant to them and speaks to their interest, wants and needs. For example, if your niche audience is builders, you wouldn’t create content with the title “How To Knit A Scarf”, even though builders get cold.
5. Include Photos, Videos and Infographics
Although the copy of any content you produce is central to communicating effective messages with your customers, the use of images, videos, graphics and other forms of media can be the difference between good content and great content.
Imagine you were creating a blog post about “Kate Middleton’s Most Fashionable Moments’. A post such as this needs photographs to accommodate each of the outfit description, not least because some readings will scroll through the piece looking only at the photographs and captions.
In summary your content needs to be valuable, relevant and consistent.
- Do your research and visualise your market.
- Set a measurable goal.
- Stay focused on what your audience want to know and see.
- Use photos and videos as well as text.