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Maybe you’re planning to create a content marketing campaign, but don’t know where, and how to start. I know it’s never easy to start one – it takes too much dedication, time, energy, and loads of ideas to begin with. Like what they always say, beginning is always the crucial part of marketing. This is where all your strategies and actions will depend on.
So, I asked 8 online marketing experts for tips and advice to help you understand more about content marketing, how to start one, and what you should do to have an effective, and lasting content marketing campaign.
1. Make sure your content is really focused on your target audience.
If your content is too broad, you’ll find that you’ll generate visitors who don’t convert into customers.
2. My best advice is to invest in educating yourself about web marketing broadly.
Invest in educating yourself about web marketing broadly. This may seem like a cop-out, but education is the one thing that will stay and remain valuable to you no matter what turns your career takes. It can’t be lost through moving jobs or a bad review or an unsuccessful blog post – it’s a part of you permanently, and it can only grow.
That said, my one “tip” is to check out Buzzsumo and use its search function to see what content has previously been successful in reaching the audience you’re attempting to target. –Rand Fishkin of Moz
3. My advice to any person who is starting a content marketing campaign is to think about your audience first.
Who is your reader? What keeps him or her up at night? What do you know or what stories can you tell to help alleviate any pain or suffering or frustrating they are feeling? When you empathize in this way, you set yourself on the track of creating content that will be meaningful and impactful. And if you don’t understand your audience, you will really struggle to gain traction with the content you put out there.
With that said, you don’t have to know everything right away. Some of this information about your audience will be revealed to you as you put more content out there.
So think about your audience before your start, but know that you will only know so much. Then listen. LISTEN. And your audience will tell you what works and what they crave more of. If you do this over the long haul, you’ll win. –Jerod Morris of Copyblogger
4. Know your goals.
It’s hard to pick one piece of advice, but as with any type of marketing program, I think knowing why you are doing content marketing, and what you want to accomplish, is so, so important. As in – why do you want to produce content? What are your goals? Do you want to increase exposure, brand affinity, gain more customers, improve your search engine rankings, etc? Set some firm goals and create paths to achieve them. It isn’t enough to say “I’m going to write some awesome content and magically rank #1,” it needs to be more like “I want to rank very highly for these specific keywords, and I’m going to do that by creating informative pages on these topics that include information and graphics, and I’ll do it by this date.”
One tip I want to specifically give businesses who are starting content marketing campaigns is this: Do not shy away from asking for feedback. Don’t be afraid of your customers! You want to know when your content isn’t meeting the mark, right? If you do something as simple as add a “let us know what you think” call to action on your content, or even come right out and ask on social “hey, what’d you think of this piece?” you might get some invaluable feedback. –Nicole Kohler of WebpageFX
5. Strive for an understanding of who your audience is.
Before getting started on your content marketing campaigns, strive for an understanding of who your audience is and what their needs are. Create blog posts that are helpful and valuable to them so that your message won’t get lost in the crowd.
Remember that quality matters and so does consistency. Consider building your email list (with MailChimp or Constant Contact) for delivering great content and as a way to engage community members in the future. –Nicole Miller of Buffer
6. Understand what business outcome you want to impact.
There are two things that everyone starting in content marketing needs to do: define their goals and identify their mission statement. It’s never a good idea to create content for the sake of creating content. Rather, you need to understand what business outcome you want to impact. For instance:
- Do you need to raise awareness for your brand?
- Do you need to build your email list?
- Do you need to nurture prospects along their buyer’s journey?
- Do you need to convert your audience to paying customers?
- Do you need to retain customers and/or increase their purchases (up-sell/ cross-sell)?
- Do you need to convert customers to evangelists?
Everyone who is involved in the content marketing process needs to be aware of what the goal(s) are, and you need to constantly assess how your content is helping to impact them.
The second thing you need to do is to define your mission statement, which is WHO you are going to help, WHAT you will deliver to them and HOW your audience will benefit. The more specific you can be, the better.
I always cringe when I hear a marketer tell me that their product/service can help anyone. Figure out who you can help the most and truly figure out what they need. –Michele Linn of Content Marketing Institute
7. Lay down the fundamentals of why you want to do it, and what your purpose is.
Content marketing is now an integral part of an effective digital marketing plan. But for it to work, you have to lay down the fundamentals of why you want to do it and what its purpose is.
- Set a goal for your content marketing campaign.
- Know your audience.
- Use Analytics to guide your content creation.
- Keep an editorial calendar.
- Use one voice.
- Add value.
- SEO-proof your content.
I would also suggest enriching your knowledge by reading The Art of SEO book or following blogs like Moz and Search Engine Journal. –Catherine Quiambao of Search Engine Journal
8. Know your audience and create a content schedule.
For any content marketing campaign I like to start with two things, an intended audience and a schedule – and the more detail/planning that goes into it the better.
Many people make the mistake of generalizing their audience too much or simply guessing who it might be and then churning out content that they hope will resonate with the masses. In my experience this doesn’t work too well. When writing for the masses you appeal to no one person and if the audience feel unspecial they are much less likely to engage with the piece or share on to like-minded friends/colleagues.
To combat this, when working with a new client, I try to get as much information from them about their target audience as well as looking back through their customer engagement channels (Facebook, blog comments, LinkedIn recommendations, reviews etc) and try and build a character or two from these personality types. For instance, for a gym equipment client we might have the 45 year old male, Graham who has been doing weights for years but is now starting to struggle to fit in work outs now he has a family, a demanding job and less inclination than he used to. On the other side of the coin we may have the bubbly and energetic female, Jenny who is just starting out in her career but likes the confidence boost that yoga and mild weight training gives her. She also likes experimenting with healthy eating hacks.
With Graham and Jenny in mind, I can now come up with more effective content ideas, titles and media platforms that appeal to them and ultimately more bang for my content marketing buck.
The second thing is a content schedule. The downside is this means I have to come up with lots of content ideas right at the start which is bad because it is a lot of upfront work but good because I am in the early stages where I am energized, enthusiastic and excited to be working on a new brand.
The upside of this schedule is that it keeps me motivated. I’ll admit that I am very much an “ideas” person and that I can struggle sometimes to bring the ideas to fruition, but having a public content schedule means that everyone knows what should be done and when – including the client. Therefore with more stakeholders in any project I am not just letting myself down if I don’t stick to it but many others too.
For procrastinators like me, a schedule is helpful and super important. –Rick Eliason of Reload Digital
The first step will always be to know and analyze who your readers are. This makes content marketing so special, and so different from link building, because you need to think more about your audience rather than what your rankings will be in search engines.
This selfless act is lasting – just look at the profiles of these folks I interviewed, they believed in the power of content marketing, and never worried about algorithm changes because they know that building content for audience is something that will stay in the world of Internet Marketing forever.
So, what have you learned today? Do you have any advice for our audience who wants to start content marketing? Share your insights here by commenting below.