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How to do content marketing: Part One

By Jessica McAndrew and Daniela Young

 

If you want to understand how to do content marketing, you first have to understand what it is when it’s done well. As an example, we’d like to point you in the direction of a record-breaking example of the type – from before the days of digital marketing.

World records will forever be associated with Guinness – and that comes down to an astonishing piece of content marketing.

The brewers came up with the idea of a book to settle pub arguments back in 1954. A thousand copies of the first edition, crammed with thousands of meticulously researched facts, were distributed free to pubs.

The Guinness Book of Records was born. It was an immediate hit. By the following year, Guinness realised they could sell it – and sold out an initial 50,000 copy run of the updated book. In 1960, 500,000 copies sold worldwide.

Delivering a brand message

Even now, in the days when everything can be checked on Google, Guinness is the final arbiter on records. And it sells a helluva lot of stout.

What they did neatly sums up content marketing – it’s finding a way of reaching the customer you want to reach by informing, educating or entertaining them. It’s a way of delivering a brand message by an unexpected means, by providing real value to the person engaging with that content.

Guinness did that, initially, with 1000 books in 1000 pubs. Doubtless, those books prevented more fights than they started. These days, there are so many more ways to reach those potential customers other than the printed word, whether it’s using digital, advertising, video …

But it’s in the digital arena that content marketing is most valuable as that’s where consumers “live” now. The smartphone and the tablet opened doors into people’s lives that digital marketers could only dream of 15 years ago.

Lives revolve around content

Why is it so valuable? Because people are constantly on their devices. All we do as consumers is engage with devices that display content, regardless of whether you’re reading a magazine, on your phone, or looking at your iPad. Somehow, without us realising it’s happened, our lives now revolve around content.

There’s a phrase Google coined: the micro-moment. They define that as the split second when any consumer instinctively glances at one of their digital devices. You might be standing at a train station wondering when your train will come and look at your phone to check the time or look at the timetable. That’s a micro-moment – an opportunity to serve up content.

And because of the way we are tied to our phones, tablets, TVs and laptops, we are always on, always allowing ourselves to be marketed at.

 

Why is it valuable?

Quite simply, content marketing is the No.1 way to engage with consumers online. It gets you in front of people new to your brand or product, while holding the interest of loyal customers.

And it provides sideways entry to your brand to people who may not have known what you had to offer until your blog, video or podcast put it in front of them.

Where content marketing is valuable is that it can be used to move people from knowing your brand, to liking it, trusting it … and then buying it.

You are using content to attract a consumer audience in an alternative fashion.

Audience segmentation

Content marketing allows you to find your customers based on their interests. Perhaps, a client is wanting to target Gen X consumers and, through audience segmentation, we find they are engaging with a lot of foody content on Instagram.

This audience seems to love posts about weird and wacky food from all over the world. Now that we know what they are engaging with, we can tailor the content strategy so that it’s similar to this to make it something worth engaging with. That gives the content the most opportunity to succeed.

The whole objective of a digital content strategy is for users to like, comment and ultimately share my content on social. If they do that, they are acting as ambassadors on behalf of the brand, amplifying the brand message and growing brand awareness.

Tactics such as blogging are useful because they not only generate content that is valuable to prospective customers but they can subtly use SEO keywords to boost Google rankings, which can also be increased by link building. Meanwhile, guest blogging on other sites can help build your authority.

Target search terms

With our client Barracudas Activity Camps, for example, we create blogs on how to keep your kids entertained and that mirrors what the client is trying to sell. That allows us to target search terms in the arena that we would want to be in.

When someone searches about entertaining their kids over the summer holidays, we know right away that person is a parent looking for alternatives to a summer camp. The consumer might not be looking for a camp, but they are made aware of it and we’re reaching the right audience. The trick is to build a relationship that helps the brand convince them a summer camp is what they need to solve their problem.

To begin with, it’s not about trying to sell – it’s about generating the awareness. Someone who finds Barracudas’ blogs once might become a repeat visitor or they might pass on the site because it has useful content for parents – that encourages positive word of mouth that brings more people to the top of the sales funnel.

Offer users value

As more people understand what Barracudas is and what it is offering, they become more likely to purchase. And if the user experience – the UX – is good because you’re offering them something they value for nothing, it builds trust.

There’s an irony in that digital marketing is striving for the results of clickbait but does not want to be clickbait. We want that shareability, we want people to click through, but we don’t want to disappoint in the way that clickbait does. We don’t want that cheapness – we want to add value, always, to the user experience, to sell them on the brand and to earn their loyalty.

What digital marketers care about is getting the right content to the right audience by the right channel, that they share the content and ultimately become customers of that brand.

As a marketer, the question is:  How do I get my client’s content in front of my target audience? That is what you need to ask in order to define a content strategy.

 

CONTENT CREATION AN INVESTMENT

Investing in a content marketing strategy is not a cheap option. It will take money and man hours and a lot of hard work.

If a business doesn’t have the resources or expertise to invest in content marketing, it makes sense to look outside for an agency that does have the abilities. Either way, investment is required both in money and time.

Crucially, you have to make sure your content strategy is delivering against your business objectives and adding to the bottom line. Not to do so is an expensive mistake. Content marketing is not a vanity project – it’s a genuine way to grow your business.

Whatever brand content you are creating will have to be researched, written, and checked before you address the technical side of posting it online.

There should always be a call-to-action, whether that’s a button or a phone number to call – remember to always compel your readers to complete an action.

Time equals money

For added SEO benefit you can link your new blog to content hosted within another section of your site. The link has to be relevant and make sense to the reader. At the time of posting, add your meta-descriptions and title tags. After images have been sourced, resize and optimise (if necessary) them so that they look great on mobiles, tablets, laptops, and desktops, and add alt tags with keywords.

Finally, you’re ready to distribute your blog content. The first opportunity to do that is often across social channels. It’s very important to take your long-form blog content and repurpose it into short, bitesize chunks to distribute across social media.

Remember the key point that social media is the medium – not the message. Each bit of content will need to be customised to each social audience. And if someone follows your links, be sure remarketing is set up to target them with similar pieces of content.

Bang. That’s half a working day gone, from concept to realisation. But if you use it to generate content that hits the mark in marketing terms, then the rewards are there to be reaped.

And we’ll examine how to reap those rewards – and convert content marketing into sales – in Part Two of this series.

To find out how we push the boundaries of PR, marketing, digital and web design to get the best for our clients, call us now on 0800 612 9890. 

 

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