You’ve probably heard that “content is king,” and maybe you’ve even started a blog in the hopes of grabbing a piece of the content marketing pie. As consumers become more immune to traditional sales pitches and advertising methods, companies must provide original content that is valuable to their target audience on its own merit – not just as a sales tool.
Creating content that is useful or entertaining to your target audience draws organic traffic and social media shares, increasing leads and conversions. Establishing and implementing a content marketing strategy takes time and thought, but there are ways to reap the benefits even with limited resources. This post will go through some key elements of content marketing and provide tools and resources for getting started on your content marketing journey.
Here are some basic content marketing guides that are great reference points for general content marketing:
Who Are You Creating Content For?
Before creating content, think about who you hope will view the content. A tried-and-true way of developing and exploring a target audience is by creating buyer personas, which are detailed profiles of the ideal buyers within your audience. Knowing demographics such as age, occupation, and income will shape what topics your content covers as well as the medium it is delivered in. For example, if your ideal customer uses social media to gather most of their information, all content you create will need to be easily adapted and shared to the appropriate social channels.
Types of Content
Blogs are often heralded as the cornerstone of content marketing, and in many ways this is true: blogs can provide everything from brief insights on newsworthy topics to in-depth examinations of foundational industry practices, and it is easy to host visual content on a blog in an organized manner.
Diversifying content formats will expand the reach of your content, but don’t spend time on a content type that no one will read. Infographics and other charts that present data in an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-understand format are always popular, and video content is increasing in popularity and influence on conversion rates.
The resources below list tons of different content types to peruse to spark ideas:
Some content marketers fall into the trap of thinking their business or industry is too boring to create engaging content – they feel as though they have to stick only to industry-related topics or very straightforward ways of presenting material. If that describes you, check out these examples of outstanding or out-of-the-box content from a variety of industries.
- Example 1: Flowchart infographic for landlords
- Example 2: “Page Fights” video series from a software company
- Example 3: Cancer awareness resource page from a t-shirt company
Brainstorming Topic Ideas
Brainstorming is a crucial part of content creation and it’s ideally an on-going process. Regularly scheduled brainstorming meetings help consistently generate many new ideas and topics. Make sure that they are brief and focused to keep your team engaged and excited about coming up with new content. On an ongoing basis, have a place to write down any idea as it comes to you, and try to plan your focused brainstorming sessions during the time of day when you are most alert and productive.
Most people are at least somewhat familiar with brainstorming tactics, but here are some best tips for invigorating your brainstorming sessions:
- Top Brainstorming Techniques for Every Situation from Envato Tuts+
- How to Brainstorm Like a Googler from Fast Company
Of course, it’s important to create well-organized that looks attractive on your website. At first, clear and specific tags and categories for type and topic of the content will suffice. As your content archives grow, consider reorganizing them into a resource center, learn page, or other more robust way of presenting content. Here are some further resources on accomplishing this:
- 5 Tips to Make Your Website Attractive from The Next Web
- 101 Content Ideas for Your Website or Blog from Audience Bloom
Creating an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is essential to ensuring every aspect of a content marketing strategy is up-to-date, published at the right time, and consistent with the overall brand and strategy. Editorial calendars should include a regular posting schedule, all necessary resources and images to accompany the pieces, and any directives to share the content on different platforms.
The best editorial calendars are flexible to allow for interruptions based on trending news or industry topics, and work with other marketing strategies, like social media, to elevate the results across the company.
There are countless tools and tips to help create and maintain an editorial calendar, and here are some good places to start:
- 10 Reasons Your Editorial Calendar Sucks (and How to Make it the Best) from Convince and Convert
- The Best 2018 Content Calendar Template from CoscheduleTop
- 16 Life-Changing Editorial Calendar Tools from Writtent
Promotion and Interaction
After creating high-quality content, it is imperative to promote it and interact with the followers that engage with it. Respond to comments on blog posts and social media, retweet or share reader insights, and follow your readers back on these platforms. These small interactions can build a better, long-lasting relationships with customers and leads alike, and may just reveal new opportunities for content creation.
Maintaining an active presence on all your content can be a challenge, especially for small companies, but dedicating a couple of hours a week to this can pay off greatly in the long run. For some best practices on accomplishing this, check out these resources:
- How to Promote Your Blog Posts Using Social Media from Social Media Examiner
- The Art of the Response on Social Media from Entrepreneur
- How to Reply to Comments on Social Media from Falcon.io
Content marketing is a vital strategy for smaller businesses to adopt. Although competitive and at times challenging, the results from strong and unique content are well worth the time and resources poured into its creation. While small businesses won’t immediately outshine major national brands, it is within reach to develop content for a specific niche that develops a loyal following and regularly attracts new visitors.
Sophia Conti is a contributing editor at 365 Business Tips, a new blog that curates the best ideas and information for small business owners. She specializes in helping businesses streamline their processes and procedures.