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In the modern business world, content marketing is an absolute must if you’re serious about establishing connections, cementing relationships with customers, increasing sales and growing your company.
Traditional marketing is old, and it’s dying. Marketers are making the shift toward content marketing, and they’re finding success. The Content Marketing Institute defines the practice as a “strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Instead of selfishly pitching your products or services, you’re providing relevant, useful information to help solve the issues your clients and prospective customers face on a daily basis.
Here are five ways to make content marketing work for you.
1. Craft quality content that ranks on Google.
Zach Bulygo and Sean Work of KISSmetrics describe an absolute baseline for content marketing: It must be engaging and thought-provoking enough to drive actions.
An engaged audience hangs on your every word and takes in all that you write or say. It starts with you and what you write.
Leave readers with questions. Ask simple questions about how they intend to act on the tips you’ve shared.
Include an important and promising introduction: Pique your readers’ curiosity by hinting at what they’ll gain if they continue reading.
Tell stories: Humans are emotional beings. We’re more likely to remember the story about events leading up to war in 1976 than the year the war began.
If you provide content that sparks a flurry of comments, search-engine bots will realize your post isn’t only important but also is being updated regularly. This is a great way to get Google to come back to your site more frequently.
2. Clearly define your audience.
“Clearly defining your target audience is the No. 1 one thing your content-marketing strategy should take care of, but I’m often amazed by how many businesses skip right past this step,” says Abdullahi Muhammed, Founder and CEO of content-marketing agency Oxygenmat. “Without knowing who you are marketing to, what keeps them awake at night and where they hang out online, you have zero chance of creating content that truly educates, entertains and converts them.”
Business owners often believe they simply “know” their audience. Experienced marketers understand that only careful research will lay an effective foundation for any campaign.
Don’t stop after you define your target audience’s basic demographics. Establish specific personas for different types of people who are likely to want what you’re offering. Describe each persona’s geographic location, occupation, income and other characteristics to get inside their heads and start to understand their motivations.
3. Repurpose your content.
Let me guess: You’re thinking, “Hell no!” You’re not alone. Many people believe content always should be fresh — never warmed-over with a few tweaks and re-served to your audience. It’s understandable to worry that you’re undercutting them or risking their confidence in your brand.
In fact, adapting and repurposing your content for various delivery methods makes good sense. Some people are highly visual and respond best to content that includes infographics or videos. Others desire the in-depth information they can get through webinars. And some members of your target audience are so busy multi-tasking, they can afford to listen to a podcast only while jogging or driving.
If you churn out dozens of different pieces but use a one-size-fits-all approach, you might be disappointed by the small number of shares and likes you earn. Experiment by repurposing your existing content and packaging it in new formats.
4. Promote and distribute your content.
All your high-impact research and other good work will be futile if you fail to get the content in front of your audience. According to 2014 study from Altimeter, 53 percent of business owners know they need a content distribution strategy, but only 26 percent actually invest in one.
Great content doesn’t automatically find an audience. It won’t distribute itself. Create a plan for how, when and where you’ll promote your content pieces.
5. Set specific goals.
Online marketing guru and Due founder John Rampton says businesses often fail to set realistic objectives for content-marketing efforts. “When I ask business owners what they hope to accomplish from their content, nine times out of 10 they say, ‘Increased sales,’ ” he says. “But the reality is that there are few times when a single piece of content can be directly tied to revenue.”
What’s a better way to frame the content marketing issue? “Some of the most common are increased leads, brand awareness (keeping your company top of mind) and customer retention,” Rampton says. “Keep in mind that some business goals can be a little lofty — and difficult to track. For instance, who doesn’t want increased brand awareness? But if you’re going to state this as a goal for your content-marketing efforts, how are you going to know if you’ve achieved it? This is where tracking specific metrics come in.”