Content Marketing Strategy 101: An Overview of Definitions and Tools

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Content marketing strategy has been around for centuries (if you consider word-of-mouth) even though the term was only first used sometimes in the mid-90s. Publications, broadcasts, direct mail pieces and flyers made up the bulk of content before the internet changed the world and how the world does business. Content marketing differs from traditional advertising in that it is largely educational. Advertising is designed to persuade someone to buy a product or service and includes a call-to-action. A quality content marketing strategy educates the reader or viewer about the brand, product or industry and may or may not include a call-to-action.

Companies now have a plethora of ways to market their businesses using content. This includes blogs, podcasts, videos, articles, press releases, white papers, infographics and eBooks. Content can be distributed through websites, social media, and emails.

Over the next several articles in this content marketing strategy blog series, we will discuss the different aspects and delivery methods and tools for content and how you can determine what works best for your brand or company. This week we are going to focus on five frequently asked questions about content marketing.

How do I begin content marketing?

Getting started with your content marketing strategy is the most difficult step. But don’t delay. That’s the first big mistake many companies make. Chances are your competitors have some type of content marketing strategy already.

The second big mistake companies make—trying to market content without a strategy. A marketing strategy will help you develop your mission and goals for your business.

Blogs are great. But if no one is reading them because of your lack of keyword research strategy, they are useless. It’s the same with videos, podcasts and emails. You can’t begin without creating a content marketing strategy to use in order for your content to reach your current and future customers. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who am I trying to reach? Before beginning a content marketing strategy, identify who your customers/clients are. You may want to reach a broad audience. It’s important to know your audience before your start.
  • What is my goal? Do I want to attract new customers, raise brand awareness or become a thought leader? Each company or brand has different goals.  You may just want to reach one goal, or you may aspire to more.
  • What type of content do I want to produce? Should I start a blog? Do I create podcasts? Do I want to start an email campaign or newsletter? The answers to these questions will depend on where your customers/clients go for information. Content marketing is not a “one size fits all” strategy.

How do I create the content?

Large companies may have an in-house marketing team that creates and distributes their content. Some small businesses don’t have the staff for a marketing team. These business owners will outsource their digital marketing to an outside individual or company like ours. Even large companies will outsource some tasks. According to the 2019 Benchmarks, Budget and Trends report from the Content Marketing Institute, about 27 percent of companies surveyed plan to increase their budget for outsourcing their marketing needs.

You often can find content creators through your friends and colleagues. Or you can do a simple Google search. A marketing agency will be able to handle all your content needs, including distribution. You may decide to work with different vendors who specialize in a certain task.

In future articles we will discuss content creation tools like Google Docs, WordPress, GarageBand, Camtasia and more. This will be helpful for people who want to create their own content.

How do I distribute the content?

Once you have created the content, you want to make sure it is seen. It’s time to work the engine of your content marketing strategy. We will focus on the online methods for distribution.

  • Your website. If you don’t have a website, you should. We can help you build one. Today’s consumers expect a business to have a website. A website gives your potential customers 24/7 access to your information. And you oversee the information provided. You can host and/or publish your videos, podcasts, articles and other content from your website hub.

One important note about websites: You need to have a good search engine optimization strategy to get visitors to your site. This involves using keywords that will make people come to you when they need your product or service. You also need great content. We will have more on SEO in this series.

  • A blog. You should add a regularly updated blog to your website. Unlike a magazine or newspaper article, blogs can vary in style and can be written in first person. You want to focus the blogs on one key topic about your business. And above all…regularly add value by helping the reader solve a problem. You also need a good SEO strategy to attract readers to your blog.
  • Social media. This is by far the most popular and effective way to distribute your content. You have a long list of choices. For written content, post links to your articles on Twitter and/or Facebook. Add pictures to an Instagram feed to tell your story visually. Create videos for a YouTube channel. Answer questions on Quora. Don’t limit your distribution to one channel. Your future customers will want to see content from you on different platforms before working with you. Find out which social media channel works best for you. We will go more in detail about social media later in this series.
  • Email campaigns. Create a newsletter that goes out to old, current and potential customers/clients. In some cases, you will want to create unique content for each group. Go beyond the traditional newsletter and create a video. You don’t have to be fancy when creating an email campaign. You can simply send a well-worded message. Humans appreciate being communicated to like humans!

How do I know my content marketing plan is working?

You will have different metrics for each type of marketing. Sign up for Google Analytics to track the visitors on your website or blog. For social media, measure the number of shares, likes, comments and new followers on each platform. Check the open and click rates for email campaigns.

Consider your goals to determine if your content marketing strategy is working. If you wanted an increase in your brand awareness, you may be happy with an increase in social media followers and shares. But the increase in social media followers may be disappointing if you were hoping for more customers. Don’t be afraid to change your content marketing strategy when the results are not what you want.

Does content marketing work?

Yes, it does. But it’s not easy. It will require hard work by you and your marketing agency of choice. For customers to reach your business, create great content. Have a strategy for distributing that content. And use metrics based on your goals to measure and determine if it is a success. This is just a brief overview of content marketing strategy. In future articles in this series, we will have in-depth articles on each of the concepts mentioned. In the meantime, you can contact us with any questions about how a content marketing strategy can help your business grow.

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