8 Steps for Creating an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
As a small business owner, freelancer, artist or entrepreneur, you can now (more than ever!) reach and influence your audience directly through content, just by updating a simple blog, uploading some photos or shooting some video (even just with a smart phone). The opportunity to connect and spread your message directly to your audience is huge and can help you drive traffic and sales (even on a small business budget), often much more effectively than an expensive newspaper advert or direct mail campaign. Thinking about getting started, but not sure where to begin? Go as in-depth as you like, or keep it simple. Follow these 8 steps for best results:
1) Define your Goals
Is your overall marketing goal to…
• Increase sales? (online vs. physical location?)
• Increase brand awareness?
• Educate prospects on what you do?
• Attract new customers?
2) Define your Audience
…and get to know them.
• Do they actually read blogs? Watch online video? Do they prefer visuals and eye-candy? Or spreadsheets and pie charts?
• If you already have an active blog: check Google Analytics, which of your current blog posts perform best?
• If you have a Facebook page: look at your Facebook Insights, which posts get the most likes and comments? What is the gender balance of your audience? Geographical location? Age range?
• If you have an active Twitter account: which posts get the most mentions, retweets, and the most interactivity?
3) Choose your Medium(s)
(Video, Articles, Photos, Graphs, eBooks, etc.)
• Assess your available resources: who will be in charge of creating and updating the content? Internal staff? or will you outsource? Are there budget or time constraints?
• Assess your natural abilities and what comes easily: Are you comfortable in front of a camera? Do you or your staff have the basic equipment and know-how to maintain a video blog? Are you or your staff members confident with writing? Is there a photographer or talented artist on staff? Get creative and think outside the box!
4) Create a Content Calendar
Decide how frequently you plan to update your blog and stick to it. Daily or weekly is ideal, but don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Brainstorm topics and assign them to a calendar date ahead of time. This is a vital step that will make it significantly easier when the time comes to fit writing a blog post into your busy schedule. Don’t forget to consider upcoming seasons, holidays, industry events and trends when planning out your blog post topics.
5) Create Quality Content
Ask these questions when creating your content:
• What need does your content fill, or what question does it answer? How can you best provide value to your audience?
• Define your content’s purpose: is your content meant to entertain? to educate? to inform or spark discussion?
• Can you provide an insightful, well-researched opinion? Do you have a unique point of view on an industry issue or hot topic? Are you a natural joker or comedian?
• What tone or mood will your audience relate to? Formal? Informal? How can you best use your natural and authentic “voice”?
• Did you check for grammar, spelling and factual errors?
6) Search Engine Optimization
Make sure you optimize your content (whether written, video, or image) for search engines. Do your keyword research (see our slideshow presentation on Effective Keyword Research Strategies), optimize your titles and meta descriptions (in WordPress, install the Yoast SEO plugin for great results), and encourage links and sharing via Social Media share buttons. *Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your web developer for this step.
7) Publish on your Channels
(YouTube, e-Newsletter, RSS, Social Media, or all of the above)
Make sure your audience can easily access and share your content. Find ways to automate or simplify the process of publishing your content, post it on your blog, on your various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.), content aggregation sites (like Digg and Reddit), Vimeo or YouTube, Flickr, etc.
8. Analyse your Results and Correct your Course
Once you have started posting content regularly, you will need to check your Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitter statistics on a regular basis to see how your content is performing. Correct your course if certain topics are more popular than others, if certain posts fall flat and others take off.
Keep in mind, the longer you keep at it and the more consistent you are with your efforts, the more your content strategy will pay off! Your website visits will increase, as well as your brand awareness, visibility, brand authority and most significantly, your sales!
Need help getting started? Feel free to get in touch for a free consultation and content marketing assessment.