Online marketing is all about making sure you have a sensible plan for linking your activities together. There are lots of techniques and thousands of pages of advice out there to help you build traffic to your website and grow your business. But it all comes down to a single, simple strategy...give your online marketing activities a focal point - you can think of this as your marketing 'hub'....
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is any form of marketing that involves the creation, publishing and sharing of media. It can take many forms but most commonly includes:
- Web pages (and blogs) – one of the most popular forms of content, simple web pages can provide a valuable resource for your target marketing. Some of the most popular web pages have been viewed tens of millions of times over a period of years and individuals have built their reputation around a small selection of well-written, popular articles.
- Infographics – more recently, visual content is being used to make your content stand out from the crowd. Data including statistics, charts, graphs and other facts have become a very popular form of content marketing.
- Podcasts – audio content in the form of podcasts provide a different method of distributing your content (via your website or via iTunes).
- Videos – video content has increased hugely over the last few years and it is now possible for even the smallest of companies to put together a decent video. Good video content can really make a difference.
- Books – e-books and kindle books are now very simple to ‘self-publish' and even if you don't sell many copies, it adds ‘authority' and ‘social proof' to your marketing as you can introduce yourself as a published author.
These are just the most popular methods of publishing content although there are many more you might consider such as PDF downloads, presentations (shared through popular services such as Slideshare), software and mobile apps to name just a few.
Getting started with your content
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are one of the quickest and simplest ways of generating content and have a lot of benefits:
- They answer customers' questions and they will appreciate you doing so
- It allows you to demonstrate your expertise and skill in your field
- In the long run, they save you time (answer the same questions over and over)
- They are helpful to customers but can also work in your favour by influencing the buying / decision-making criteria
Use content you have already developed – nearly every company that I have worked with has more content that can be re-used or recycled than they realise.
If you sit down and think about all of the documents, presentations, spreadsheets or other materials you have produced over the last few years, you are very likely to come up with at least a few bits of content that can be re-used.
Have you produced any of the following before that might be useful?
- Training materials
- Discussion papers
- Guides or advice for clients
- Case studies
- Useful spreadsheets
Useful content can take many forms (written, graphical, audio or video) and can often be simply modified and re-published either in different formats or on different platforms.
Everyone has loads of tips for choosing or using your product or service so why not take the top five and make them into a top tips article? This approach works for everything from hairdressing to high tech engineering.
Numbered lists are very popular online and they are easy to create as they have a simple structure and format.
Just put each tip as a heading then write a few sentences for each one giving a bit more detail (just like this article!).
It really is that straightforward…
Start now and you could have an article completed within less than an hour!
Writing a quick start guide can really help your prospects, potential customers and existing customers.
Depending on your product or service, a quick start guide provides a good structure and format for your content.
This can be a guide to a:
- Physical product you sell
- Virtual product such as software or download
- Service you provide
- A process (such as ‘Your Quick Start Guide To Choosing A Mortgage' or ‘Guide to setting up a blog')
The benefit of writing a quick start guide is that it can be simply structured with headings such as:
Introduction – what is the purpose of the product or service, what problem does it solve, what are the benefits (and features).
Requirements – what requirements are there to use the product or service (eg batteries, knowledge, safety information etc)
Considerations – what do you need to think about when doing this or consuming this?
Getting started – what is the basic, minimum amount of information the person needs to get started (for example, how do you charge it, how do you connect it to your computer, how do you switch it on)
Usage / Tips – more detailed instructions on how to get the most out of the product or service, details on the finer points and benefits, what you have found out from other customers as being important, care instructions)
Further Information – pointers to detailed guides and sources of further information and reference materials.
There is a lot of great content out there and you can learn from what others are doing. 90% if Business to Business marketers will be producing much more content this year so you need to aim for the highest quality to make your content stands out.
Visit half a dozen competitor websites to see what content they have. Visit sites that are in your own sector but also look at other websites outside of your own sector to see if what they are doing could work for you.
Please do not copy their content – they have spent a great deal of time writing it and copying and pasting their text is a big no no. However, you can learn from what others are doing and make yours better. The old saying is ‘Copying from one is plagiarism but copying from many is research' and this is very true.
Spend some time online reading articles, see what others are doing, add your own ideas and your own spin on the subject to make it your own (and better!).
So, what's stopping you?
The trick with content marketing (as with most other forms of marketing) is to just do it and see what works…
Great content is at the heart of any social media or modern marketing strategy and if you are not producing the content for people to read, listen or view, then people are not going to engage with you online.
Once you have produced your content, just make sure you distribute it, discuss and review it online via social media and forums.
Producing content and engaging with others online will give you more ideas and lead to new opportunities.
Mark Woodroof is a qualified marketing coach who was awarded a BA(Hons) in Business and a Diploma in Marketing (from the Chartered Institute of Marketing) in the early 1990's and has spent the last 20 years working with private and public sector organisations.
During that time, Mark has worked with hundreds of business owners helping them to grow their businesses, launch new products and services, set up and manage their own marketing plans, websites and digital marketing strategies.
Today, he specialises in Digital Marketing, Social Media, WordPress Development and marketing automation systems such as ActiveCampaign & Infusionsoft.
Mark's areas of expertise include:
- Marketing Strategy & Planning
- Software Development Project Management (Microsoft.Net & Laravel)
- Customer Relationship Management Systems (Infusionsoft, Zoho & Insightly)
- Web Design & Development
- Digital Marketing Campaign Development
- Mailing List Services (eg AWeber, Mailchimp)
- Traffic Generation Strategies & Tactics
- Sales Funnels, Squeeze Pages & Online Conversion
- Customer Value Optimization
- BA(Hons) Business Studies (University of Portsmouth)
- Diploma in Marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing)
- Level 5 in Coaching and Mentoring (Chartered Management Institute)
- DigitalMarketer Certifications:
- Certified Content Marketing Specialist
- Certified Customer Acquisition Specialist
- Certified Customer Value Optimization Specialists