“Content is king“: Content is king. Content marketing is the undisputed trend, the technology of the future, the marketing of the 21st century ”. We bet you will hear it more and more often… Wrong?
Believe it or not, you are right.
But let's think logically: we are surrounded by a MIRIAD of contents.
Email, video on YouTube, post, photo on Instagram, professional blogs with guides, long posts and instructions from the most disparate; review portals e articles on new stores; educational sites with books and manuals, etc.
Users consume and absorb tons of content looking for the information they need. Also, whoever says that people are ONLY interested in entertainment materials on the Internet… are actually wrong. We are very far from this statement.
Do not you believe it?
So let's shift the view, for example, from the Internet to the office of a travel agency.
You need a beach holiday: you went to the agency asking for information about Spain or Greece. They have not been able to give you brochures with photos of the area and the hotel, no news on what characterizes those places, no answers to your questions, no references to contact tour operators. In a word: nothing.
You are flying abroad for the first time and you would have liked information, support, staff able to advise you in the best possible way.
How do you proceed?
We believe the answer is obvious.
If you found yourself in this situation too, it means that the agency you approached did not have enough content to offer its customers: stories, advice, brochures, photos of happy tourists, reviews and useful information ...
You must know that the creating marketing content it is vitally important whether you offer a service or sell a product. Therefore, it is reasonable influence the customer offering interesting and useful content: it is a job that must be done to gain trust, increase one's reputation, be professionally recognized and to spread one's assets and services, both indirectly and through sales.
Acting on content marketing in an appropriate and competent manner helps a company achieve its goals and to influence the target audience.
We have written in more detail how, what and why in this article.
Content marketing: we start from the strategy
Talking about content marketing is simple, but putting it into action requires some assumptions and of knowledge essential.
In fact, BEFORE you throw your head down to produce content, you must understand where to hit and how to best direct your energies. In fact, there is no magic pill that allows you to create marketing content: you need to work hard, long and following a specific plan.
In conclusion: no improvisation.
You need one strategy precise, exactly as if you were planning a trip abroad for the first time. You can't think of improvising or find a hotel on the spot, after arriving on site. You need to do this first, otherwise you risk not having a place to spend the night.
Marketing strategy is exactly that: the planning perfect of what you have to do, the content to write and the audience you want to interest. Only in this way will your content be able to offer the reader a REAL VALUE: information, answers, useful advice. Furthermore, a complete marketing strategy gives you a REASON to create content and reach people.
Because if you create content WITHOUT a strategy, what you write can be valid, but it risks being worthless and, therefore, ineffective to help you achieve your goals.
There are no hard rules, a step by step guide or a universal model: you have to create your unique piece, completely individually. The whole strategy depends on the topic of the site, the activities, the specifics of the industry, the target audience and even the amount of time, budget and goals that the entrepreneur and / or owner of the company sets.
First of all, however, let's try to understand what you CANNOT do without to develop a CORRECT strategy content creation.
#1 Define goals and objectives in the content marketing strategy (Content Marketing Strategy Goals)
First step to develop your strategy and score goals with content: understand and define why.
The answers: "Because it is in fashion“, “Competitors are busy, so I have to“, “I want to try“They will NOT work as valid reasons. Your goals must be SPECIFIC, REAL, MEASURABLE. You have to know to 100% the goal you want to achieve and the result you want to achieve by creating content.
But be careful! You have to start with one awareness fundamental: creating content today and putting it online on your blog DOES NOT guarantee sales and customers from the next day, as neither can commission articles from great experts and publish them on well-known portals. You must have these goals in mind, but you must know that reaching them is NOT immediate.
Goals of sale and increase of profits they are legitimate desires: every company dreams of them. However, the road to achieving them requires you to take small and multiple steps, reaching sub-goals that bring you closer to your goal.
To start state your goals in a clear and simple way. How to do it? Answer these questions: What do you want to get out of this job? What do you want to achieve in a month, six months, a year? What do you count on, in general, for this work to be done? But above all: remember that the goals will have to be measurable and real if you want to do successful content marketing. A few examples?
- Increase traffic, the number of new contacts, newsletter subscribers;
- Put the pages of the site in order;
- Gain recognition, brand sympathy and loyalty to work;
- Increase competence;
- Communicate directly or indirectly with the public, etc.
Why, no: not it just depends on the content, a thorough study of the site, SEO, external factors is required.
Why, yes: with an increase in the number of requests promoted, thanks to greater coverage, in total you can get good traffic. It is easier to advance in the low and mid range + accurate results for the affected user, high conversion rates and impact on loyalty and trust. And it can all be achieved with high-quality content.
Think about this: You want to create a blog in which to advertise your products and services.
Competitors have exactly the same GOAL.
Most of the contents on the blog should be informative: only a small portion can be filled with advertisements for your product.
You need high-quality materials that answer important user questions, demonstrate competence, and provide truly valuable information. If you obsessively offer your products or services on the blog, the result will not meet expectations.
If you focus on competitors instead, know that to copy blindly what they do It makes no sense, because you don't really know how and what works for them or what effect they get with that particular kind of work, if they get it.
You must aim to create a more detailed blog than the existing ones, by placing the maximum attention to materials relating to the topic you are dealing with. All this serves to disseminate your goods and services, to ensure that they are known by the public and that they help you to be recognized as authority sector.
In this way your audience will see you as an expert, will share your materials, trust your opinion and only AFTER your product or service. Think about it: the more help you offer your prospects, the more trust they will have in you. Only in this way will you become an expert in the eyes of customers and competitors, will you get high quality traffic that will be partially converted into sales.
Also, remember that i Loyal customers are your supporters and even PR people for your brand!
Obviously, the objectives (the content marketing strategy goals) are closely related to each other, but be careful, because if you want to develop one content marketing strategy without a clear understanding of the path you will have to take it is impossible.
Set the different goals that you can reach through your content starting from a simple: "Because I want do content marketing?". If you don't have a clear and honest answer to the question, then be prepared because it will be difficult to balance the “expectation-reality” ratio in terms of actual results.
#2 Preliminary analysis while developing a content strategy: what are we looking for?
A common mistake whose start making content amateur marketing is create content to your liking or presumably for the universal taste of all users aged 18 to 90, WITHOUT taking into account the status of their site, customer interests, industry trends, popularity of content distribution channels, etc ...
When developing a content strategy, it is necessary to conduct an analysis in at least three directions: competitors and market; target audience; website and business.
Apparently it doesn't seem that complicated, but often the evaluation comes down to this concept: "Competitors are really bad, everything is really better, we sell and we can satisfy any customer's needs, besides, we just created a website - it's cool and cool, people seem to like it". Unfortunately, all of this information is USELESS and will not help you either in developing one content strategy marketing or content creation.
Let's find out what needs to be analyzed and how to do it so that there is a real advantage for your company.
#3 - Know yourself // Your company // Your product and service
Analyze your content and your business, because, before you know how your competitors are performing in the market, you need to take an inventory of what you currently have.
Also, for the sake of completeness, you need to look at their website, but also get information about the business organization: USPs, strengths, weaknesses and advantages.
Here you have to be as objective as possible, so: don't praise yourself too much.
It is clear that for an entrepreneur his idea is perfect and does not need arguments to justify or explain it. However, potential customers don't think the same way - they don't know the company, so it's important to be as honest with yourself as possible.
Create a file in the "question-answer" format, where you will record all the information: it will serve as a good reminder and will help you understand your peculiarities.
Here are some questions that can help you develop this analysis best:
- What does the company do? How well known is it on the market? Is it known on the Internet? If so: how does it position itself for the public? Do they know your product / service and how well do they know it?
- What is the unique selling proposition?
- How does the company compare favorably with competitors, what are its advantages?
- Why is it really beneficial and convenient for customers to order something from you?
- What are the company's strengths in terms of providing goods or services to customers?
- What are the weaknesses, what is still worth working on, where are the gaps?
Now, for example, let's analyze the good or bad answers:
NEGATIVE: the information is too general, there is no explanation on the individual approach and on prices. Consequently, it's not at all clear how the company differs from many others and how advantageous it is to choose it.
POSITIVE: There are data specific to the company, all the main work points are summarized, a unique sales proposal is highlighted and proven. As a result, they are available information and supporting data on the specific characteristics of the company.
Again, this information is necessary because thebased on the content marketing strategy and any content is represented by the capabilities of the company or the company itself.
Nobody knows them better than the owner or manager.
A marketer or a copywriter it will help to finalize the USP, to formulate some advantages and features in a way that will interest customers, but can only do so on the basis of real data and information.
For example, a "large assortment" and a "dynamically developing company" are rather abstract information. You can think or invent something from scratch, but the beautiful words will remain words and you will deceive simply your users by promising them something that doesn't exist.
As a result, you will lose credibility and authority, which are downright difficult to restore!
But remember: you still have to evaluate the content of the site.
You should examine what materials are available now, if they are enough, if the sections are filled in, if the texts meet the needs of the audience. In addition, select and mark where the content is distributed: if there are social networks, if there have been publications on portals, blogs, etc.
It is important to move away from subjectivity when evaluating the materials themselves. Remember that “Like / Dislike” is NOT a good metric for judging your text!
Indeed, it is important that the content is appreciated by the target audience, that it provides complete and detailed information and solves the assigned tasks.
So HERE is what you need to observe:
- Which pages have content and what is it about: is it informational or sales, to what extent and for what purpose does it serve?
- Are the texts on the site optimized? Was the optimization done correctly?
- How clear and accessible is the information presented to the target audience? Are the answers to all questions given to the target audience?
- How useful, interesting and unique in meaning are the texts? Is the content duplicated on many other sites?
- Are the texts relevant to the pages? And in the blog, if there is one, do you write about your products and services or about everything?
- If there is a blog or news section: how often is the most recent content published?
- Do you distribute content on third-party sites and which channels do you use: social networks, YouTube, user portals, third-party blogs, partner sites?
- What is the response of the materials? Evaluate the traffic, see PF, what are they?
What kind of content do you have in general: articles, infographics, video reviews, interviews, case studies?
Enter all the answers in a single table. In this way you will understand what is missing, which channels are already involved, how the materials are processed, in what tone you write, how useful the content is for the target audience ...
As a rule, it often starts with the finalization of the content of the site itself.
Indeed, sometimes, somewhere the texts are absent, somewhere they do not correspond to the content of the page and are not written for people, somewhere they just copy and paste information so that the page is not empty. Well, all these shortcomings must be eliminated.
We often hear from users: "I already know all the shortcomings, because I have to finalize the contents? " Because this work will directly affect both the promotion and your ultimate goal: sales.
So… the fact that YOU like it or dislike it is NOT an indicator, we repeat it tirelessly.
#4 - Who is really our ideal customer? Let's analyze the Buyer Persona
The golden rule of content development is create them for a specific target audience: your customers, taking into account their needs and requirements. However, very often the owner of a website or a company does not fully know his target or wants to sell his product to everyone.
This idea is not entirely correct: a man will probably not buy a stylish and luxurious hairdryer, a grandmother will not order a bandana with skulls. Yes, there may be rare exceptions, but these are atypical buyers.
So beware: you need to take a closer look at those groups of people who most often buy your goods or services.
Don't hesitate to interact with your customer and ask him questions ...
- Who are your customers, what are their interests and needs?
- What problem do customers usually want to solve by purchasing your product or service?
- How do they make a purchase decision, who do they trust?
- What motivates customers to buy, what can be the deciding factor?
- What scares and repels users most often?
- What information are customers looking for on social networks and forums? What are they complaining about, what questions do they ask?
- If there are repeat customers, what exactly attracted them? Why are we ready to contact you again and again?
- How convenient is it for customers to shop or order services from you? What do people notice, what do they praise, what are they dissatisfied with?
- Why did you like / dislike the site, what materials were interesting, what was asked in the comments in the log, what questions were asked in the letters?
What information is searched for on the website and on the Internet, what texts, articles are read and why? Also, remember that sometimes different categories of customers make purchases and order services, so there may be different portraits of typical customers.
Draw a portrait of each person - they can have several reasons for purchase, several problems that they want to solve with the help of your company or store.
Understanding the needs, problems and wishes of your potential customers it is easier to influence users, create effective and necessary content.
#5 - Know your enemy: analyze the competition
Do you want to beat everyone else on the market? A great goal, but rather superficial.
You need to know clearly what and with whom you will have to deal in order to get the TOP, the trust, the customers and the sales.
Competitor analysis it will help you understand how the forces are distributed in your niche, what is popular, what is the least you need, who customers trust, what advantages and disadvantages competitors have, what content they use and where they distribute, and finally , because they attract customers.
Remember: you never have to copy from one or more ideas of your competitors.
You have to stand out from them and not be a 2.0 clone.
How would customers choose who is the best if we offer them more or less similar sites and companies?
Consider 5-6 of your main competitors (more is possible, but it takes a lot more work and time). For evaluation, you can use the same questions we considered above to analyze site activity and content. What do you need to evaluate about your competitors?
- What content is presented on the site? Volume, information content, optimization, style, focus, content, relevance, etc .;
- What is the USP? What are the advantages, what are the strengths and weaknesses, what is convenient for customers?
- Is there a blog? What materials are published? How often and what kind of answer find with the public?
- Are there social networks? What kind of content is there? What kind of business? What do users write and how loyal are they?
- What others channels they are involved? Where is the published content? Is there a newsletter?
As well as:
- Which types of content are involved: articles, infographics, video reviews, interviews, case studies? What causes more customer response, where there are more discussions and questions?
- What non-standard elements, techniques and chips are used?
- What is interesting, convenient and useful for users both in the contents of the site and in external publications?
- How famous are the competitors among users, do they trust them, what reputation do they have?
- What topics and titles are engaging and hotly debated?
As a result, we draw conclusions about what we will have to deal with, what to do to outperform competitors, what materials to post, and which channels exactly should be used.
Remember, the key word is "overcome" competition: you will have to do better and better.
And here we are: the first and very important phase of developing a content marketing strategy has been completed. You have an excellent base at your fingertips from which to organize your work because now you know:
- What has been done now and what are your strengths / weaknesses;
- Who is your target audience, what they need and how to work with them;
- What is happening in the market - who you will have to compete with, how to get around them, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the opponents.
You have the key idea to get started: your content marketing strategy has already been outlined.
B) The core of a content marketing strategy: preparation and use of marketing content
The preliminary work has been done and you have information on how to work and set up your content.
Now you can combine all ideas and results of your research, set goals and create an action plan global.
In essence, this is the core of your content marketing strategy.
In it, we outline two stages:
1. What and how to write
We can understand this by analyzing the information accumulated by answering: what is missing, what the target audience expects, what content finds an answer, where it is distributed among competitors and where your presence is also required.
We define, therefore: types, formats of materials and general ideas for different directions:
– Site content
Without high-quality, competent, unique in meaning and optimized content on the site itself, it makes no sense to start working through other channels.
Therefore, after an objective and sober evaluation (we hope), you have seen all the problems and, accordingly, you need to outline how to solve them.
In a content marketing strategy, you need to think about:
- Which pages, sections of the site need to be reworked;
- How will you position yourself, your goods / services;
- What language will you communicate with your target audience;
- What target audience problems will the content solve;
- What kind of information should be on the pages and what their message is;
- How to work with optimization and distribute keywords across pages, etc.
Blog posts are also site content, but working on them is very different from preparing typical pages for services and goods.
Here you have to decide:
- What topics and materials are really necessary and interesting for users;
- How to position yourself and submit information, what types and formats of submissions to use and in what proportion: expert articles or information for beginners, educational or entertaining content, long or short concise articles, detailed instructions or checklists, video reviews, infographics , etc.;
- How often it is necessary to publish this or that content;
- How to expand semantics at the expense of a blog and which queries to work with, etc.
Warning: a blog, if used as tool for content marketing, it is NOT a dump for articles found on other pages, much less a place for meaningless PR and bombastic advertising.
For a blog to be read and useful, it must provide truly valuable, interesting and relevant materials for your target audience.
Advertising is not useful… This is the main difference!
– External publications and mailings
All channels have their own characteristics and ideally they should have their own unique content everywhere.
In the strategy it is necessary to mark the characteristics for each channel: what, how you will publish, in what style to write and what ideas to convey through this content.
- Some platforms may be advertising: for example, articles or reviews to be published in large cities or known portals;
- In some cases you need educational content: for example, a series of videos on YouTube, showing you to the public as a professional;
- Other times you can publish interviews both in magazines and on thematic sites of the sector to which your company belongs;
- Again on partner sites, where you can attend conferences and conduct webinar, for example.
In general, it is necessary formulate general ideas on the arguments, but place different types of content. The need for this action serves to determine the points of influence on the target audience and the best communication methods to adopt.
2. Where to distribute
At this point, draw a line: which channels do you specifically use and why?
This will help you not to be distracted - there won't be enough strength, time or opportunity to be present everywhere at the same time, so it's wise to focus on the most basic things. Here are distribution channels you may prefer:
- Your website or / and blog;
- Your mailing list;
- Social networks - Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, etc .;
- Thematic blogs, forums, portals;
- Partner sites;
- Online and offline media;
- The offline editions.
In fact, you can and should use whatever channel your target audience lives on, which needs information, content. Based on the overall strategy, you can elaborate detailed monthly content plans, in which the information for each specific publication will be scheduled.
C) Methods for evaluating the work done
As part of content marketing, work is always an unplowed field. So, in order not to work in vain, it is important to set control points that define how and what you will evaluate.
We have common goals set in the very early stage and we have a detailed development plan - you can easily set up metrics and tools to monitor the effectiveness of each channel. The important thing is not to get carried away by enthusiasm and not to use all the metrics at the same time.
The main data to be evaluated come from:
If the channels, publications, and materials aren't as effective as you would like, you must change your strategy: Eliminate problems and errors and try new approaches. This is why the evaluation of each channel is necessary.
Developing a content strategy isn't a matter of 5 minutes or an hour. The work will be meticulous and painstaking.
If you omit all of these searches and act improvised, at best you will end up with good or beautiful content.
But… they will be effective and will solve your problems?
There is a huge risk of wasting your budget: you will spend time and money on those channels or materials that give you absolutely no return and which, as a result, will lead you to simply be disappointed in content marketing.
However, if you prepare everything thoughtfully and thoroughly or entrust this work to us then you will have a trend tool, but also a mechanism capable of influencing the perception of your customers!