Possibly the most vital part of any marketing campaign is content. By that, we mean, what is it that you have to say about your business, your people, your products, your services and your customers?
As you can see from our Lead Generation Model, Content – in its widest sense, is used not only on your website, but in all the various marketing disciplines designed to drive traffic (potential customers) to your website.
Content could be something as simple as a 140 character tweet, or as complex as an Infographic designed to be shared across the web. Some content will be hosted on your website, and some will be designed to be posted out on the web, acting like road signs, pointing back to your key digital presence, your website.
To help get you started, here is what we believe are the 6 key things to consider when developing your content strategy.
1. Know your audience
It sounds obvious, but how well do you know who you are writing for? Are you going to write for the masses and hope that someone, somewhere picks up on your well crafted piece of content? Or, are you going to create a specific piece for a market sector that you know you can reach?
By segmenting your audience into different groups, you can start to plan and publish content that is relevant to them, at a time that is right, and on a platform that works best for them.
2. How well do they know you?
It’s important to create a buyer persona for each of your target markets, and it is quite possible that you will have a number of different persona to create. Once you have these persona in place, it becomes a lot easier to create content that relates to their specific circumstances.
But what is often overlooked is the consideration of where a person is in the buyer journey. That is to say, have they just started an information gathering exercise and therefore a white paper that helps to educate them about the wider issues surrounding their specific needs is going to be highly relevant. Or, perhaps they are now in a position to start talking to suppliers, and therefore a couple of case studies would be great to demonstrate that you know your stuff, and perhaps more importantly, you have happy customers who have been down this path with you already.
3. Set your targets
It almost goes without saying, the whole purpose of creating and publishing content is to illicit a response from your audiences. But what sort of response do you want, and how much of a response do you need to make it all worthwhile?
If you can answer these two questions before you even get started in creating your content then you are well on the way to having a successful content marketing strategy.
Many people will focus on the vanity numbers: “we have this many followers on Twitter” or “this many people opened our email” but they don’t really count. Because those numbers can’t be converted into sales leads.
What is important is to measure the true level of engagement. Data such as:
XX people shared our post with their networks – a great measure of your standing within your marketplace
XX people clicked on a link and visited our landing page – this article is a marketing landing page and we can track who visited it after reading on of our emails!
XX forms completed – this is the equivalent of a pre-qualified sales lead
Deciding and agreeing on what you want people to do as a result of reading your content is absolutely vital to the success of your marketing. Measurement of audience activity, lead scoring and conversion tracking will ensure that your marketing campaigns are as effective as they can be.
4. Finding things to say
Now you know who you want to talk to, where they are in the buying cycle, and what reaction you want to get. It’s now time to find something worth saying. But what are you going to say?
Your content is going to fall in to one of three key groups:
Original content – this could be about your business, such as new customer wins, or new developments to your products and services. Don’t just write about the product, tell your audience about an upgrade, why it was important to delver it, and what benefits it brings.
Opinion pieces – you are an expert in your chosen subject, so it is acceptable to have an opinion on what goes on in and around your industry. So, why not share this views with your customers and prospects – this is what is known as thought leadership.
Curated content – take a look at the type of content being published by others, not your competitors, but other interested parties within your industry. Share their content with your audience, but add your perspective to it.
5. Where to publish
You have a wide range of options as to where you publish your content. Some of it will go on your website, and some of your content will be placed elsewhere, on social media and content sharing platforms such as Slideshare and Pinterest. The decision as to what piece of content goes where will very much depend on the nature of the piece that you have created. Some platforms, such as Google+ are aligned towards to text based content, whereas others are geared towards image based posts.
6. When is the right time to publish?
It’s always difficult to know when is the best time to publish a new piece of content. Your own analytics will give you a good indication of what works for your audiences, but if you are just getting started, here is our viewpoint based on our experiences.
Blog post – It doesn’t really matter. Your audience is sat at their computers desperate to read your latest missive.
Twitter – use the right hashtags and it becomes less important, especially as you will probably publish the same link in different tweets over a few days.
Facebook – use the analytics attached to your page to tell you what is the best time based on the engagement levels of previous postings.
Email – Perceived wisdom for B2B email marketing is 11Am on a Tuesday morning, but surprising as it may seem, we have found the best time is between 7.30 and 9.00 in the morning.