Are you struggling to understand or implement a content marketing strategy within your business?
Maybe you’re still in the beginning stages and you’re limited in both time and budget?
Well, then this article is definitely for you.
I’ll be walking you through what content marketing is and just how powerful it can be in growing your business. Then we’ll be going into all the different types of content that you could create for your ideal customers, but also why you’re better off to focus your time and budget into just the few that are most valuable to your business growth.
Finally, we’ll discuss how important knowing your audience is for creating great content, and how the answers to some powerful questions about your ideal customers will help you to create a killer content marketing strategy for your business.
What is content marketing and why should you care about it?
Simply put, content marketing “is the use of content—any of it—to help meet a marketing goal for your organization. That could be acquisition of potential customers, retention of existing ones, making more people aware of your brand or your products, or really anything else.” – Moz.com
It’s essentially taking people through the purchasing journey. Starting at the awareness stage through to consideration and finally to making a decision – through the power of putting valuable content in front of your potential ideal customers at each of these stages.
We’ll go into more depth about exactly what types of content you should be producing in the next section. But before that, let’s first go into why you should even consider a content marketing strategy for your small business or startup. These are just a couple of the reasons:
- Overall, content marketing has six times the power of traditional marketing for converting strangers into leads and leads into customers.
- On average, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
One of the key benefits of content marketing is that it’s one of the least expensive ways of raising brand awareness, connecting with your ideal customers and growing your business.
And although an effective content marketing strategy doesn’t have to take up a lot of time or a big budget, there is one thing that is absolutely crucial to its success, and that is patience.
This is because content marketing s not a quick fix. It can take a significant number of months to gain momentum, and up to a year or more to reap the benefits for your business to really help propel your business forward.
I know that can sound like quite an investment when you’re just starting out. However, the most compelling advantage of this strategy is that once it begins to gain traction, it is likely to keep growing your business without a great deal of effort or upkeep on your part.
So now that we’ve covered a bit about what content marketing is and why it’s so effective, let’s now move onto what kinds of content can be involved in your strategy.
What kind of content can you create as a part of your strategy?
Notice I said can, not should. This is because I feel it is important to cover all the different areas of content creation before we go into how to select the areas you should be focusing on within your business. Especially when you’re starting out, it is unlikely that you would have the time or budget to focus on producing all the different types of content we’ll discuss in this section – and that’s perfectly fine.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, not having a huge budget or the time to invest into content marketing can actually work in your favour. This is because as a result, you’re more inclined to focus on quality over quantity.
It’s important to dedicate your time, energy and finances to producing the kind of content that delivers the most value for your target customer.
More on what you should be creating in the next section, for now let’s dive into the different types of content you could consider to as a part of your content creation strategy.
The infographic above does a great job of explaining the kind of content you can produce at high volume with minimal effort (at the bottom of the pyramid) all the way through to really targeted content which requires a great deal of effort to produce (top of the pyramid).
This is just scratching the surface. If you’re ever looking for more ideas, these are 101 types of digital content you can create in your business.
For now, we’ll just focus on the main five:
1) Blog content
- Small businesses that blog can get up to 126% more leads than small businesses that do not blog.
- 58% of marketers believe that original written content is the most important type of content, even more so than visuals and videos.
Important factors to consider in creating blog content:
- Write on a consistent basis.
- Whenever possible, include a call to action within each blog post. This could be a prompt to download a freebie, sign up for a webinar or book a free consultation. Always be aiming to get people onto your email list so that you can turn readers into customers.
- Use good, targeted, long tail keywords that each post is created around. Long tail keywords are made up of a phrase which is 3 words or more. For example, you could write a post about how to ‘create better headlines’. Inside this post you would then use the keyword ‘create better headlines’ throughout to allow Google to pick up on the fact that this is what the post is about and send traffic to this post when people are searching for this topic on the search engine.
- Utilise the power of interviews and case studies of people who have had success with your product or service.
- Interlink your other content within each blog post if it’s relevant. This applies to linking to other blog posts, videos, embedding infographics, etc.
2) eBooks and checklists
- Content upgrades such as eBooks and checklists are absolutely key when it comes to getting people onto your email list and turning them into customers.
Important factors to consider in creating eBooks and checklists:
- Less is more – although no one can deny the value of a 200 page eBook, it’s also way too long for anyone to get the value out of it that you put into it. The most effective eBooks are less than 10 pages.
- Visual appeal and legibility is incredibly important. If the information within your eBook or checklist is valuable but is presented in a messy or complicated way this will definitely put people off.
- Know when to outsource. Content upgrades are so incredibly powerful but can take a great deal of time and energy to put together. So think about how much your time is worth and consider outsourcing this task.
- This is perhaps the most underrated and yet incredibly effective content marketing strategy there is. People like Neil Patel have been using this for years. In fact, he grew KISSmetrics from 0 to 350,000 readers a month using the power of infographics. He did this by researching his competitors’ popular blog posts, making them into infographics which linked to his own site and then getting people who linked to the original, popular posts to also include his new infographic within their articles.
Important factors to consider in creating infographics:
- Not all information is suitable to be presented in an infographic.
- Keep it simple, the point is to simplify the initial text source so don’t feel like you have to include every piece of information.
- Use powerful images that are related to the topic of the infographic. Consider the difference in impact created by the following two images. Both of these are presenting the same information but the first is using simple text, whilst the second is engaging its readers visually.
4) Social media posts
- The most common content marketing delivery mechanism is social media, used by 87% of marketers.
- 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
Important factors to consider in creating social media posts:
- Make sure you’re creating content with the specific network in mind. For example, hashtags work well on Instagram and Pinterest but are not useful on Facebook and YouTube.
- Make sure your profile look and feel is consistent across all of your social media networks.
- Save time by scheduling your content using free tools like Buffer well ahead of time.
- While you should always focus on quality over quantity, it’s important to note that the downside of social media content is that most networks such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram have a very limited life span per post. However, networks like Pinterest and YouTube will often see engagement, views and traffic from posts and videos published several years prior.
- Read more about how to dominate with your social media presence here.
- 51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.
- Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
Important factors to consider in creating videos:
- Whenever possible, try to leverage using live video as a part of your content marketing strategy as it will outperform other types of video and allow your audience to connect with you in real-time.
- If you’re not confident on camera, or you just hate filming yourself, then try doing recorded voice over presentations or animated videos.
Now that we’ve covered what types of content are out there for you to utilise, let’s now go into how you can determine which of these are right for your business and audience.
Why knowing your audience is crucial to creating your content marketing strategy.
What separates good content from bad content isn’t the length of a post, or the audio quality of a video, it comes down to just one simple question:
If the answer to this question is yes then it’s a good piece of content for your particular audience. Of course not everyone will share it but it’s a good place to start to determine whether an idea you have for a piece of content is good or not before you go through the trouble of creating it.
So why is it so important to know your audience?
Firstly, knowing your audience will actually save you a lot of time and money. You do this by avoiding wasting your time and resources on creating content for the wrong platforms where your audience is most certainly not hanging out.
If your brand is a youth-focused clothing brand in Australia, you’ll likely be all over Instagram and Facebook but you would likely avoid creating content for LinkedIn, or even YouTube. Whereas if your business is aimed at expecting mums looking for help throughout their pregnancy, your focus is likely to be on creating valuable blog content, workbooks and checklists that you then also share through social media with the aim of getting them onto your email list and in for a free appointment at your clinic.
Knowing who your audience is, what they need and how they like to consume content is crucial to your content marketing success.
To demonstrate just how important this is, I’d like to use the example of startup success, Canva.
Titled “Australia’s latest tech unicorn”, Canva has built a billion dollar business around catering quality content to the needs of their audience. Canva is a free online design tool which people can use to create eBooks, flyers, business cards and just about everything in between.
They focus on beautiful simplicity by providing their audience with drag-and-drop templates made by professional graphic designers. They also focus on continued learning through their content with free design courses and blog posts about how the tool can be used, and inspiration for what people can use it for. Canva’s #MyDesignStory campaign tells the stories of businesses and individuals who have used the tool to make their dreams a reality.
The goal of helping their audience succeed is at the forefront of all the content they produce and campaigns like the #MyDesignStory help to build a community of users. This is great for making audience members feel special, while also getting them to share their experience with others.
Getting your customers to share their story of how your product or service has changed their life is by far the most impact you can make on a small budget.
In fact, according to the Content Marketing in Australia: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends 2018 report, 85% of content marketers surveyed said they have become more focused on building an audience compared to 69% of those surveyed the previous year.
So in selecting which types of content you should be creating for your audience, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are my ideal customers?
- Not only their age, gender, income, marital status or other demographic factors, but also their needs and motivations.
- Where do they hang out online?
- What kind of content are my competitors producing for them?
- How do they like to be talked to?
- What drives them to make purchasing decisions?
- Why are they interested in my product or service?
- What are their pains and struggles and how can I best help them solve these?
There are many more questions you could ask yourself here in order to get really clear on who makes up your ideal audience and what kind of content you could produce for them, but these will give you a good starting point.
You can also utilise a free tool like Google Forms to survey your existing audience to get some answers to these questions.
Now that we’ve covered how you can narrow down what kinds of content you can begin creating and knowing who you’re creating it for, let’s now discuss why you need to have a solid content marketing strategy in place before you begin.
Why does your business need a content marketing strategy?
Creating excellent content is only half the battle. The reason why so many businesses fail to grow through content marketing is simply due to a lack of strategy or plan for execution. Based on an Australian study done by the Content Marketing Institute and the ADMA, out of the respondents they surveyed, 85% said they use content marketing but only a small percentage said it’s been very successful (18%) or extremely successful (4%) in growing their business.
That means a large proportion are producing content but seeing little to no success with it, but it’s not for the reasons you might think.
Let me refer to the chart below taken from the same report:
You can see that of the businesses for whom content marketing was effective, the success factors largely came down to producing high quality content, having a strategy in place, having established KPIs and communicating with their team about their progress.
To get real, tangible results with your content marketing efforts you need to get really clear on your strategy and what’s achievable for your business with regards to time and budget
Not everyone has the luxury of a large team to resource their strategy. For small teams I recommend creating an editorial calendar through Google Sheets like the one below:
This sample calendar has a list of audience questions in the first column and then each type of content that follows is catered to answering that one question. This is a good way of getting an overview of that’s happening with your content creation process over the following quarter.
I would then also use another free tool like Asana which allows you to schedule the specific dates and times of tasks that need to be completed around each piece of content. It will also allow you to assign different tasks to different team members and receive email reminders about incomplete tasks and also once tasks have been completed.
This helps you to stay on top of your content creation strategy and know exactly what’s going out, when it’s going out and where is it being published.
Try and plan at least a month ahead and create your content in bulk to save time.
To summarise, in order to get results with your killer content marketing strategy it’s important to take the following points into account:
- How much time you can realistically dedicate to producing content on a monthly, weekly or daily basis.
- What kind of content you actually enjoy creating and are good at creating, then consider outsourcing the rest.
- If you have a limited budget, content marketing can be a really effective way of raising your brand awareness and building relationships with your audience through producing valuable, free content.
- There are so many different types of content you could produce for your audience but that doesn’t mean you should. Instead you’re better off to focus your efforts on quality over quantity.
- Getting really clear on who your ideal customers are and what they want will help to shape your content marketing strategy.
- Consistency is everything. Don’t begin creating content until you have a clear strategy in place about what you will be creating, who you’re creating it for, when it will be created, who will be responsible for creating it, and when and where it will be published.
Finally, if you liked this post and think content marketing will help to grow your business but you’d like some help, make sure to get in touch with us here – we’d be happy to help!