Content marketing helps companies focus their efforts on developing content that has value and relevance to the intended audience. Another way to say it: It’s a plan for writing content over time that attracts the right viewers. It convinces them to stick around and hopefully do business with you because your content is just so… helpful!
Know your audience’s persona(s) and what information they’re looking for. This is where you’ll do some market research, including topic interest and keywords. You want to answer questions that potential customers are asking.
Who will be best to speak most authoritatively about the subjects? Are they on-staff or do you need to get outside influencers to help? Outside authors with a following can help expand your audience if you give them a byline.
As you plan, keep your content in buckets or groups of thought. This can help with navigation on a website, categories in blogs and for keeping relevancy high for optimization. Too many subjects under one heading makes it harder for search engines to index accurately.
Short posts (300 words or less) have their place, usually in B2C communications where the audience has a shorter attention span. For B2B audiences and a better rank in natural search, get some meat on those bones, and craft some 700+ word articles with reference links. But keep it concise. Don’t include needless content or marketing fluff!
Use content to bring potential customers through the buying thought process. Teach them without hard-selling them.
Write some enticing headlines and sub-headlines on your articles or posts. Don’t use click-bait but make sure you have a keyword or two in them. Base it off your content for better SEO. Did we mention keyword research?
Don’t forget images to go along with your articles! Remember your audience and what they’re interested in when you select images. Unique images are always best, stock photography has already been indexed and linked to someone else. Or better, drive home a point with an original infographic.
Be aware of the needs of your audience. You can’t put out a good article every day, and your audience won’t read that much anyway. It depends on the needs of your audience but once a week is usually a good cadence. Once a month isn’t enough! Rotate between members of your team to keep the effort reasonable.
Cross-post notices on social media that you just came out with a new article. Send out links to the new (or updated) article on email and make sure you have a share mechanism in your blog to make it easy for readers to increase your exposure. Make sure your website has a “latest articles” section that provides a “teaser” somewhere in the normal flow of your site, like the front page.
After a few months your articles are history. Get more life out of them. Refresh them with new comments or data and re-post it, maybe with a different image or graphic, with a reminder campaign on social media.
Many website owners want to write their own content, thinking they’ll save money. Well, maybe. The reality is not everyone is a good writer or good at market research. As a result, we see way too much content that doesn’t attract organic traffic and won’t convert. From the marketing perspective, it may not help build the brand, either.
When you get big enough or busy enough that you want to hire a freelancer or agency to raise your game, they need to understand your brand and messaging. If you don’t have a documented strategy, you’ll need to offload your thought processes, hand them existing content and wait for the learning curve. We’ve even had potential clients point to competitors and say “Like theirs”. Yikes!
These tools can help you get consistency and efficiency from your outside creatives. A Brand Platform, or Messaging Grid, can be one page or many for companies with multiple markets and products, targeted to different audiences. They usually include key corporate messages like a mission statement, and messaging (benefits, or reasons to believe) for specific products, services and markets. They will also include audience personas, buying cycles or triggers, intended actions - the more details the better.
They may also include your “voice”, or the tone you use in content. Are you authoritative, informal, educational, macho, humorous – you get the idea. Is there wordplay you like to use? The company Poo-Pourri in Addison, TX comes to mind. Their community page is “We Give a Crap”. What fun!
Creative Briefs are the short versions covering some of the high points, usually for a specific project. We’ve created and used, all three and they are time-savers for everyone involved. Here’s a link to a sample Creative Brief in Word format that you can use.
Don’t start from scratch on every project! You have your key messages, content samples and requirements in the platform. Just talk about the specific project. It could be “Make our page on DUI offenses more responsive to natural search, and weave in these three example cases.” With a Brand Platform or Messaging Grid, the framework is already there.
Different sales pitches for the same offering can be part of an initial a/b test, but eventually you should zero in on the best message - and, it should sound like you! This even helps people talk about your company and products in phone calls and elevator pitches. Everyone has to be on-board with the platform, even the big-wigs, or you don’t get the benefit and you have to edit consistency back into the project at the end.
We’ll help you get it together. Once your platform or messaging grid is nailed down, not only will everyone know your audience(s) and messaging, but it will be easier to plan your website structure, do keyword research and content development, your social media, Google Ads, even your graphic design. And your outside resources should be able to deliver consistent, on-target creative!
Want to know more? Check out the Content Marketing Institute.