By Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
If marketers were like political parties, the rallying call for 2017 would be ‘Content. Content. Content.’ From blogs, video content and infographics to newsletters, case studies and podcasts, content marketing is not some sort of marketing fad that will soon fade.
Neither is it simply here to stay.
It will – whether you are ready for it or not – come to dominate the marketing mix and unless organisations get on board with it now, ground will almost certainly be lost to the to competition.
According to a survey conducted by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 93% of businesses now use content marketing as part of their overall promotion strategy.
It also found that three-quarters (73%) of business produce more content now than they did two or three years ago, while a separate study by the CMI found that 70% of marketing communicators are planning to increase the amount of content they create over the next 12 months.
Content is what makes your potential customers become just that – customers. If they are able to gain access to information that is relevant to them, their experience of interacting, engaging and doing business with you will be all the greater.
Here are the steps you should follow when planning your site’s online content:
Know whom are you talking to before planning your content, and understand your audience’s goals and interests:
- Who is viewing your website?
- What do they already know about you – nothing, something, they know you better than their own mother?
- Is your audience ready to buy in the here and now, or are they simply looking for some form of distraction from their busy lives?
- What do they need?
Writing content that is aimed at ‘everyone’ will be attractive to no one and demonstrates a lack of understanding on your part about your audience and what they are interested in.
Consider the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) factor of coming to your site in the first place:
- Why should they buy from you?
- What makes you unique over your competitors?
- Why should they care about your business?
Align your content according to your customer’s needs and satisfy their concerns, resolve their objections, and overcome any other potential barriers preventing them from taking the next step in the buying cycle.
Develop your content.
There is no point loading your site with a plethora of white papers that do little to support the overriding aim of the organisation. Rather, decide what the purpose is behind each piece of content. For instance, it may be to:
- Start a conversation
- Prompt action
- Share knowledge and information
Decide how to present your content:
- What resources do you have available, who will produce the content, and how much time to they have to make this happen?
- What budget do you have and what are your time frames?
- What format will work best and do you have the skill set within your agency to deliver these?
Your customers will engage with you in varying ways, such as looking for something worth sharing (blog, infographic) or information that addresses a specific need (report, white paper). By understanding the point at which they interact with you, you can enhance their experience of dealing with your business.
Decide the frequency of your communications:
- How often do you want to produce these deliverables?
- Do you have the resources to react and respond to immediate requests for information?
The delivery of your content marketing plan is just that – it is planned and deliberate both in its content and its timing.
Get it out there:
- How can you promote your new content?
- How can you maximise the return you have made on your content investment?
Once your content is produced, think above and beyond the obvious delivery mechanisms for sharing this information. For instance, if you have produced a new white paper, extract two or three of the most salient points and use these as the foundation for other forms of communication, such as a series of new blog posts, an infographic, a press release or a featured article for the trade press.
Similarly, perhaps you are organising a roundtable discussion – again, thinking laterally, turn this into an opportunity for a new video, a series of thought-leader Q&As, or engage your audience in real-time via a webinar.