Content marketing, also known as ‘inbound marketing’, is all about having a plan and process to give your audience content that they want, and make that content works for your organisation.
What is content marketing about?
Content marketing is about embracing the fact that your audience is in control. The world is no longer about static adverts or messages through limited channels that try and direct sell a service or product. It’s about creating great content across a number of relevant channels for them, that addresses your audience needs, as much as your own goals.
What's great is that when you nail this, your customers come to you. That's why it's often called 'inbound' marketing.
A big part of it is about visibly answering your audience's key questions, ideally before they're even voiced them. Because chances are that if one customer is asking, other customers are thinking the same thing.
"Have a plan and process to give your audience content that they actually want, and make that content work for your business."
Why bother with content marketing?
You'll already be doing bits of content marketing, just without a joined up plan. Having a planned approach to content marketing will save you time and resources, and deliver you better results.
A solid plan will:
- Reflect and address real behaviour
- Add value and build trust
- Be transparent and measurable.
Developing great content will also mean you’re investing in lasting, permanent assets.
Great content earns people's interest, rather than buying it. It costs less than traditional direct marketing, and has a better return on investment.
Three steps to success
There are three areas you need to think about for your content marketing plan.
Step 1 - Plan
- Clearly define your audience
- Understand their interests, needs and challenges
- Map a clear path across channels and content to your goals
Step 2 - Create and publish
- Set a sustainable production schedule and involve subject matter experts
- Create and curate content
- Publish and repurpose on appropriate channels
Step 3 - Learn and refine
- Check and measure
- Learn, experiment and refine
- Repeat, edit and improve
as many leads are generated by content marketing vs traditional approaches for every dollar spent.
How to get started
There are five key steps to getting your content marketing plan up and running.
- Define your audience
- Find out their search patterns and needs
- Create and curate content
- Publish on the right channels
- Measure your success and refine what you’re doing
Define your audience
The first most important step is to know your audience. Who are you trying to attract? Where are they looking? (so, where abouts online will you find them?) What are their key values and attitudes? What are their primary goals or motivations?
Think about key commonalities and differences you could use to start to define personas - check out the persona project to get into this in more detail.
Brainstorm using some Post-it notes under these headings.
WORDS FOR IMAGE: Your set-up might look something like this. (Source: Touchcast presentation)
Check out this demo business 'Angling Aces' as an example
Find out their search patterns and needs
Here are some of the common search patterns and motivators that people use online.
- ‘Best of’ summaries
- How to guides
How could your audience apply these patterns to your business?
Use some more Post-it notes to map out what might they be looking for, and some content ideas, themes or topics that you could you produce to address these patterns.
Create and curate content
How will you create great content? Remember, one person can’t do everything. Who could you access in your organisation to bring your content ideas to life? What can they bring? Students, parents, host parents?
What about outside of your organisation? Who could you approach as a guest contributor? Alumni, agents, sister schools?
There's also the challenge of prioritisation. How do you decide what to do first, and at what level of fidelity?
Publish on the right channels
Now it’s time to think about what channels you could reach your audience on.
Content marketing covers many channels, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
These are the types of channels you may want to consider.
- Case Studies
- Website articles
- In-person events
- Online presentations.
Which of these channels do you currently use? What do you see their role as? What about those you don't use – do you think they have a role?
Again, brainstorm what mix might work for your audience. Check
Measure your success and refine what you’re doing
Clear organisational goals are key to successful Content marketing. It's important that you choose which you're trying to achieve so you can align each piece of content with a clear objective and assess its performance appropriately.
Common goals you might want to consider
- Lead Generation
- Customer loyalty
- Lead Nurturing.
Measuring the performance of Content Marketing can take time. To get a clear picture you need to be clear what you're measuring and how that can be attributed to individual content.
Common measures you might want to consider:
- Website traffic
- Conversion rates
- Time on site
- Customer feedback
- Subscriber growth
- SEO ranking.
Prioritise the goals that suit you - which measures could you track to assess your performance?
Having a simple yearly content calendar mapped out in advance will let you make the most of upcoming opportunities and will save you loads of time and effort.
With a yearly planner, you can even create content ahead of time so it’s all ready to go when you need it.
Create a content calendar to help you map out what content to publish throughout the year. By planning ahead, you will save time and be prepared in advance to make the most of events and other opportunities.
Remember to include your social media plan into your content calendar - go to the Develop a Social Media Plan project to learn more.
- Content marketing is creating content that specifically meets your audience needs
- Go through the three stages - plan, create and publish, learn and refine
- Have a yearly content planner mapped out in advance
- Use content marketing to link your marketing plans together