Content is not just a collection of blog posts, tweets and landing pages. There’s much more to content marketing than spraying the web with your branded & salesy messaging. Providing useful, high-quality information to your audience at the right time is not at all easy or simple. It requires organizational buy-in right from the top.
In fact, the latest research by Content Marketing Institute shows that a steadfast commitment to content marketing has a strong correlation with the overall success of the organization in meeting its business goals.
Successful content marketing, however, has no one-size-fits-all approach or formula that you can replicate. It takes a strong commitment to your strategy, dedicated execution, and resistance to the temptation to give up and quit. No wonder the average marketer soon tires out trying to stay on top of the newest digital marketing strategies that can help connect a business or a brand to its ideal audience.
That brings us to a quest for the factors that will help you connect to your audience better, serve their needs and solve their pain points with contextual and relevant content. Here are some of these factors and how you can use them to create a successful, long-term content strategy.
Know Your Audience Inside Out
In order to keep your audience happy, you need to know what strategy is going to elicit the best reactions across the board. As your customer bases grow more diverse, this answer is not always going to be black and white. Their preferences and responses will vary from group to group.
Prior to creating any piece of content, you should have a firm answer to these questions:
- Who exactly is this material for?
- What problems does this content solve?
- What action do you want the audience to take?
Unfortunately, the tactic of throwing out a giant net with the hopes of attracting as many people as possible is not a viable option. Not only will you miss the mark in regards to your sales cycle, but your messaging will also be too diluted to make any sort of meaningful impact. In other words, trying to hit too many targets at once will cause you to miss them all.
Fortunately, there are a lot of tools that can monitor what your audience is saying about your brand or business on a variety of digital platforms, including the web and social media. SEMrush’s Brand Monitoring tool lets you set up a PR campaign, determine your competitors’ branding tactics, join relevant conversations, identify content influencers and even track industry trends that could affect you.
Once you understand what your audience wants, you’re not limited to a single platform or channel in order to connect with them. You could use insights gleaned from social media or the web to create an app that customers don’t mind downloading or an advertisement that enhances brand recall.
For example, a few years ago the ad agency BBDO came up with an exceptional plan to promote the Jose Rizal app in a bid to get the younger, mobile generation to appreciate the history of Philippines and their struggle against imperial Spain.
José Rizal is not only a celebrated author but a national hero in the Philippines. Almost a century ago, he wrote a book called Noli Me Tángere on the abuse of Philippine natives at the hands of Spanish friars. Noli Me Tángere is a Latin phrase picked from the bible which means “Touch me not.” It was not only instrumental in establishing a sense of national identity in Filipinos but also bringing about a revolution.
Since BBDO matched the channel (app) perfectly to the audience (millennials), the campaign was a resounding success. The official Twitter account received 3.5 million impressions on the very first day and 7% of the people who visited the museums and bookstores downloaded the app.
Nurture Your Leads Carefully
These days, it is imperative for branded content to keep educating customers and solve problems for them even if they’re searching for a solution with purchase intent. Think about it – when you are considering a purchase, how often do you consult Google, and how many different ways do you search?
This brings us to the concept of the sales funnel. A lead is a potential customer, who will go on to buy your product or service if you convince them that you’re their best bet to solving their problem and potentially stand to benefit them the most.
Lead metrics are all about understanding how your content fits into the customer journey. What was the intended action for a particular piece of content?
- Was it to educate and get sign ups?
- Was it to answer burning questions and get the reader to request a demo?
- Was it to get people to buy your product or service?
Keeping up with this information is crucial in finding the weak spots in your content strategy.
- Are leads dropping off a certain point?
- What type of content is not getting any meaningful interactions?
The sale is, of course, the final result of content marketing, or any marketing, for that matter. Uncovering this data may require a little digging. The new SEMrush Traffic Analytics tool enables you to determine the spread of the channels from where your competitors receive their web traffic, as well as analyze user behaviour on their sites with metrics such as pages per visit, bounce rate and average visit duration.
Lead attribution can be thought of as the next step to take after identifying web traffic sources.
Determining traffic sources is simple. Lead sources, on the other hand, is a different ballgame. As you probably don’t have a crystal ball that can read minds, knowing exactly what sparked a person’s interest is no easy task. Learning how people discovered you, what influenced their decision to join your community, and what made them buy from you gives you a goldmine of data on customer retention.
Keep It Simple
Have you ever started reading a blog post or watching an instructional video, and found that the content was way over your head? (Yeah, I remember my school days.) Chances are, this alone turned you off the content – or perhaps, the brand itself!
This is why it’s so important to be writing for the average user. You can’t assume every reader understands all of the acronyms and buzzwords your industry spews out every week. One of the most common reasons I see content marketing strategies fail is because the creators are writing for themselves, not the consumer.
Apple is one of the greatest examples of a brand making their content easy to digest. As you know, Apple is a brand that appeals to literally everyone living above the poverty line. Take a look at the product page for the iPhone. It starts out with a simple message that proclaims “Brilliant. In every way.”
Only then does it go on highlight every new feature, that its die-hard, tech-savvy early adopters are keen to devour. However, for the not-so-techy folks like you and me, the page is littered with “Learn more” buttons that go on to explain in detail what every feature means for us, and how it matters when we whip out our phones to make a call or take a picture.
This level of user-friendliness should be reflected in every aspect of your content marketing model, from videos to blog posts to sales copy on landing pages. For each piece of content you produce, take a step back and assess how easy it is for the reader or viewer to understand.
Again, a tool like the SEMrush SEO Writing Assistant can help improve the readability of your posts (by putting it through the Flesch-Kincaid readability test) as well as keep them “SEO-friendly” by recommending the ideal keywords and content length to aim for, based on your competitors’ best-performing posts.
Over to You
Online content is where you really get to let your uniqueness shine through. There is no cookie-cutter approach to spreading your brand messaging. Getting results that you want will likely require a bit of trial and error. Keep a critical eye out for each piece of branded content you create and focus on the elements that make it compelling. Then do your best improve them!
You can also build a growing audience for your business and get more leads & conversions, with this Advanced Content Marketing Guide!
Lastly, understand what tactics and strategies have made the difference between success and failure in your content marketing efforts. How do you track the performance of your content in terms of the brand value it adds? Let’s discuss in the comments!