The Quick Guide to Smart Content Marketing

The Quick Guide to Smart Content Marketing

Content marketing can be a paradox for many small business owners.
It’s fun and simple enough to start, yet to be effective content marketing requires planning, consistency, testing, and analytics. Your company’s content can be long or short, serious or funny, but should always be well-written and provide value. It requires patience, but just might be the most powerful tool you have to grow your customer base and strengthen customer relationships.
What are the basics of content marketing? How can you get started? What are the benefits? Get started with this Quick Guide to Smart Content Marketing:
  1. What’s the difference between earned, owned, and paid content?

    Is one better than the other? Not all content is created equal. Or should we say, not all content attracts the same viewers, is driven by the same ideas, or utilizes the same mediums.
    While every organization should place a high value on earned content that is derived from publicity gained through promotional efforts, we don’t believe one is better than the other. Owned content is high quality, original material and it’s generally well-received by search engines and readers alike.
    When you begin to build an audience, paid content can be particularly useful to get the right eyes on your material; earned and owned content is what keeps viewers coming back. All forms of content have their purpose, and ideally you should utilize each to meet specific goals.
  2. How should I integrate content marketing?

    Should I outsource content marketing or create content in-house? Integrating content marketing into your overall marketing strategy requires everyone’s participation—not just marketing. On your own or with the help of a partner, determine your goals and direction, your audience, and the channels you want to test.
    In all likelihood, you already have a lot of content on your hands—it might just need some fine-tuning, or that storytelling angle, before being distributed. Focus your efforts on content that will drive more web traffic, or help you meet other quantifiable goals. If you don’t have the resources or skills in-house, consider outsourcing, or consulting with a content marketing specialist.
  3. How much content should I be creating?

    A lot. Create quality content on a regular basis in order to establish a good rapport—trust—with your audience. The type of content created will be different for every brand, but it pays to test content in the beginning, then review metrics like shares, return visits, and engagement to see what content is most compelling to your audience.
  4. What should we write about?

    Fast Company published an article a while back entitled, “Why Customer Pain is Your Most Important Resource.” It sounds dramatic, but it’s the truth: as a brand or a marketer, your ability to understand what troubles your customer most will be your key to reaching them in a way that resonates. “Look for the pain,” as the article notes. “Focus on healing.” The best content provides inspiration, motivation, relief, promotes passion, and offers a solution.
  5. Who should our content marketing target?

    Who desires your product, program, or service? Who shares your values? Your product is the answer to something. What’s the question, and who’s asking it? Understanding your target audience is one of the first steps you should take before you dive into content marketing. Building a community and an audience is another matter, and sometimes requires help.
  1. Now that we know our audience, how do we help them to find our content?

    Make sure you’re creating valuable, high quality content. Understand content marketing’s role in search engine optimization (SEO). Then give your content away—to anyone who has the audience you’re looking to connect with: magazines, agencies, organizations, bloggers.
    Do your research. In many situations, it’s also worthwhile to invest in paid content, whether that’s utilizing content distribution platforms like sponsored Facebook posts or Disqus, or partnering with publications on content sponsorship campaigns designed to reach your target audience.
  2. Is there a way to calculate the ROI of content marketing?

    The value and benefits of content is undeniable: it’s permanent, informative and authoritative, caters to search engines, presents a brand personality, builds relationships, and fosters trust. The problem? This doesn’t always translate to numbers.
    As Hubspot’s Rand Fishkin explains in his excellent Slideshare presentation, “Why Content Marketing Fails,” content marketing is about earning familiarity, trust, and relationship—which converts to sales over time with repeated messaging.
    In fact, Edelman research noted that up to 64% of consumers need to hear information from a company 3-5 times before they believe the message!
    The smart content marketer isn’t driven by ROI but by the potential for new relationships, fans, followers, and better rapport with customers. That being said, we invest in content, lead generation, sharing, and sales metrics to offer brands a clearer picture of who’s checking out your content, for how long, if they’re sharing it, and what its value is in terms of sales.
  3. Does design matter?

    Yes! Whether your site isn’t optimized for mobile, your company blog is hard to navigate, your e-newsletter is written in Comic Sans, or your brilliant article has no “share” buttons available, design flaws matter. Your content must be top quality, but your design must be responsive, consistent, clean, attractive, easy to read and navigate, and even easier to share.
  4. Should I start an email newsletter?

    Yes again. Email newsletters are a consistent, cost-effective way to promote upcoming events and opportunities, distribute useful news and information, share your successes, recognize your partners, and maintain a relationship with customers.  In fact, we encourage you to sign up for ours!
  5. What trends are content marketers—and businesses—ignoring but shouldn’t?

    Some content marketers are missing out on the opportunity to combine great content with responsive web design—or, optimizing for mobile. According to Search Engine Land, 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action. More than half lead to sales. Hubspot reports that it takes a consumer six seconds to determine whether your site is mobile-friendly enough to use.
What would a customer’s knee-jerk reaction be about your content marketing?
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