Why the uproar about content marketing? Hasn’t content always been on centre-stage? The truth is, before there was anything else, there was content. Content was the basis of what propelled the internet into the most important invention of modern technology.
“Content is the reason search began in the first place,” says Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing. Before the Internet was cluttered with PPC and display ads and businesses embarked upon the SEO wild goose chase, it was just content that used to drive traffic. Ironically, even after the technology boom and the digital marketing big bang, content still has a massive impact in getting you customers and sales. Instead of diminishing in power, content has become more effective than ever before.
Why Market Content?
A great piece of content that you create today will live for eternity on the web, and eternity is a long time! Killer content will keep driving you traffic, leads and sales for years and years. It will keep doing its rounds on social media, generating referrals and back-links. When you create and market awesome content, you are starting a chain reaction. The more informative the content, the stronger the shockwave that it creates. It should play a role in every digital marketing strategy (If you need help, there are various strategy guides available).
Think of content marketing as the shop-floor work force, something that's working away tirelessly regardless of the time of da. When utilised well, it should keep the business growing.
Here are 19 tips that will help you set up the digital marketing production line. After setting up the shop and putting some these strategies to work, it's only a matter of time before you see the fruits of your labour.
A. Write Ballistic Headlines
You should always start at the basics. A good headlines is where it all starts. In search results, your headlines have a massive impact so use them to try to grab the attention of your potential readers. Try the following headline tips:
1. Use Power Words: Use power words in your headlines. These are words that convey feelings and appeal to the senses. Explosive, devastating, ballistic, skyrocket, panic…and also, wondrous, jubilant, mind-blowing, triumph…there are many. Be aware that using too many power words can make the article look spammy so find the right balance. Here's an example of one of my own posts.
2. Don’t be scared of sexy: Don’t go overboard, but making your headlines sexy will help to deliver traffic. Sex sells, and that statement is true of pretty much every industry. But remember the key rule. Don't write anything your mum wouldn't like!
3. Create Intrigue: Don’t give away everything in the headline. Pique your readers' curiosity by exploiting the gap between their problems and the solution that you offer.
4. Shatter Expectations: Bear in mind that very few websites get attention by following the conventional. Break the mould. Be a square peg in a round hole. Say things that your readers least expect but always ensure you can back up your points with data and facts.
5. Learn as You Go: Subscribe to websites such as Huffington Post, Content Marketing Institute, Copy Blogger, and many others, and observe what types of headlines are attracting the most number of tweets and shares. Don’t be afraid to experiment and learn from your mistakes.
B. Make Your Content Prolific
Prolific, plentiful, productive, fertile, creative… these are all synonyms that define great content. People love to engage with content, if (and only if) the content presses the right buttons. Do you know what those buttons are for your audience? If you do, you could see your content spreading like wildfire. Follow these guidelines:
6. Hard-wire Virality: How can you make your content viral by default? The answer is simple – if the content is worth its salt, it should spread by itself. Give your audience a reason to share or engage with your content. Is it fabulous content? Is it a special offer or a discount coupon? Did I mention fabulous content? That's how you growth-hack content. Build virality in its core, so that your viewers are compelled to share it. This is sometimes not easy for an eCommerce store but you must try to ensure that your eCommerce blog is the best in your industry.
7. Gamify Your Content: Interactivity is a term of the past. Its now known as gamification. Advanced video, parallax scrolling and rich media technologies have made it possible to serve content that your viewers can interact with in a multitude of different ways. It can be something as simple as a progression bar or a loyalty badge or as elaborate as a 3-D viewing option or a videogame involving your product.
Scarecrow: Chipotle's take at storytelling and gamification
8. Newsjack Social Trends: In the world of hashtags, trends come and go on a daily basis. Newsjacking essentially means taking advantage of what's trending on social media. For instance, as I write this #NashvsHayes is trending on Twitter right now. Can you think of an idea that ties your business to these two musicians? A vine video contest mimicking their latest video, perhaps? Can you recall how many brands and individuals newsjacked “Gangnam Style” or the “Harlem Shake”? The only rule here is that the trends you pick must resonate with your target market, there’s no point talking #steaks to a #vegan market.
9. Write Longer Copy: The myth about internet users not paying attention to lengthy posts is just that – a myth. Search engines seem to love long-form copy, as proven by Neil Patel. He carried out A/B testing for his homepage with a shorter version that was only about 40% of the original length. Surprisingly, the original version converted 7.6% better and produced better quality leads. He observes the the top 10 pages that Google displays for almost any keyword have at least 2000 words each, on average. As for your readers, they could keep reading your post forever if you write what they want to read.
10. Use Visual Content: Buffer reports that tweets with images receive 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets compared to those without. While you can curate most of the photos that you share, there's no harm in getting creative with your smartphone camera. Who knows, you could start something as explosive as the ice bucket challenge! You can also think about starting a video blog on YouTube—a video can persuade 73% of consumers to buy from you.
C. Organize Content Marketing
Although lots of eCommerce businesses are now aware of the need for content marketing, very few of them have laid down the infrastructure to streamline the flow of content through the overwhelming variety of digital marketing channels now available. The truth is that the digital revolution should be turning every company into a media company. Regardless of what business you are in, you need to possess the capability to curate, create, spread, and monitor content.
11. Create a Calendar: A content marketing strategy is the first thing you need. Draft a document detailing the topics, segmentation and targeting data, strategic and short-term goals, and the short and medium-term plans for achieving those goals. An editorial calendar is just a small component of your overall strategy, but it's a good place to start for small businesses. Plan your activities for the next year, quarter and/or month. Your calendar should include the topics that you'll blog about, the social media updates that you'll post, and the days and times for publishing. As you get to know your audience, prepare to adapt your strategy to suit. Ensure you provide enough content (but always ensure the highest of quality – don't just churn out content for the sake of it). Here is a great example of an eCommerce store producing good quality content regularly. The content has propelled them into near-market leaders in their field.
12. Use Content Marketing Tools: Content marketing can be scary. The sprawling cyberspace is daunting to navigate unless you use some of the various aids that are available in abundance. Tools are available for doing everything starting from strategy formulation to content creation and curation, and from content distribution and monitoring to online project management. Most of these tools come with a free trial period, so you should check some of these and see which ones work best for your business.
13. Outsource: Currently, more companies outsource their content marketing. However, most of these companies use a combination of in-house and external resources for content creation. Outsourcing execution activities (such as graphic designing, video production, blog writing, etc) saves your time, allowing you to concentrate more on the operations of the business. Outsourcing can also be more economical and productive, because working with a dedicated digital media agency delivers economies of scale. Just like other organizations, agencies are also more skilled at what they do for a living, and are better organized for content marketing.
14. Build a Team: You can hire a digital marketing agency for the implementation, but you still need in-house talent for creating your content strategy, monitoring and supervising your agency, and carrying out other activities (replying to social media comments, assigning topics for blog posts, capturing and following leads, etc). In order to be great at content marketing, your company should involve everybody in the content marketing process -that includes everyone from the boss to the warehouse. Look for people with digital marketing skills and interest inside your organization and readjust their roles to include content marketing responsibilities. A balance of having your own team and outsourcing certain elements of your strategy is a must but in order to find the right balance, you have to test (and then test some more!).
15. Make a Workflow Plan: The content marketing process includes content creation, management, optimization, aggregation, curation, monitoring or conversation, measurement, and learning. Your workflow process must deliver on all these stages. Keep these phases of value addition in mind while defining roles and assigning responsibilities to your content marketing team.
D. Bonus Tips
16. Repurpose Content: ‘kill two birds with one stone'. In the back of your mind you should try this philosophy with the content that you produce – don’t just aim for two birds though, aim for lots! Its easy to forget about an amazing piece of content soon after it has been published. Ensure you create some spare time to come back to articles you are proud of. Share it more than once on the same channel in order to reach people in different time zones and with different online behaviours and habits. Then, repurpose it for distribution through other avenues. For instance, if you developed an infographic a couple of months back and are producing a video this month, see if the infographic can become a part of your video. Content isn’t exclusive to words!
17. Guest Blog: Guest blogging fell out of favor with many digital marketers when Matt Cutts made it public that you should not be using low quality guest blogging as a means for building links. However, guest blogging is still very effective if you ensure the quality of your posts is second-to-none and don’t use it just as an opportunity for a link. Focus your efforts on reaching out to your potential customers or a community instead of building links. Make a list of highly read blogs in your industry and have a strategy to publish a certain number of guest posts every month or quarter. Guest blogging can really expand the reach of your content and help improve your brand.
18. Build Influencer Relationships: Today's digital marketing environment is characterized by influential individuals in every niche, people who have a sizeable following on social media and on blogs. They may be journalists, bloggers, your customers, employees, or even your competitors. A section of your content marketing strategy should be concerned with tracking down these high-power individuals (or entities) in your industry and nurturing your relationship with them. If you can get an influential blogger or journalist to mention your brand or share your content, the effects can be fantastic.
19. Create Evergreen Content: Content based on news, trends and fads can stretch your reach in the short term, but content like this has a short shelf life. You should increase the life of your content by including some evergreen elements that keep driving you traffic year after year. For instance, if you are writing a post about iPhone 6 (which was just released), you can talk about its new features, and include a section about the best places to buy an iPhone from or how iPhone has evolved over the years. These parts will still be relevant even after the initial traffic frenzy caused by the launch mellows down. Tutorials, how-to guides, FAQs, reviews, and testimonials are a few examples of evergreen content.
Hopefully these tips help in your drive towards competing with the market leaders in your niche.