Online content is the Internet’s version of a Bosch power tool!
However, just like any power tool, you’ve got to use it carefully. You would never use a power saw for the first time without reading the directions first, right? Well, the same goes for content marketing. If you don’t want to injure yourself (metaphorically speaking), you need to do a little prep work before you start publishing your brand’s content in every corner of the Web.
Instead of reading an instruction manual, though, all you need to do is follow these six tips:
Look in the mirror.
Who are you? Are you a new small business owner who is trying to build an online reputation? Or possibly you are an established entrepreneur who wants to generate new sales leads? Meanwhile, you may be in need of an SEO overhaul after being mauled by Google Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird? Your answer to these questions will determine where your content marketing strategy needs to start.
For example, if you’re a new industry entrant, starting a company blog is a great way to show off your expertise. Or conduct and giveaway a free report in return for asking people to signup for your email list.
On the other hand, if your brand is fairly-established, you can do things differently to protect market share and spur growth. For example, why not create new content that focuses on industry-wide news to make your company a thought leader? You can also publish guest posts analyzing the latest industry developments. After all, if people already know who you are, they’re going to be more likely to turn to you for updates and insights. With excellent content, you can go from being fairly-established to a full-fledged authority.
Look at the clock.
For a content marketing strategy to succeed, you have to devote time to it. The exact amount of time you have to spend will determine a key part of your strategy — whether to hire a content writer or not.
Many entrepreneurs don’t have time to write articles, blog posts, newsletters, press releases, or video scripts and get smarter about content marketing. So, if this is you, and you want to harness the power of a killer content marketing strategy, you’ll need a killer content writer. Just be sure to do your homework!
Nothing can kill content strategy faster than a bad writer. In fact, bad content is worse than no content at all. As Copyblogger writer Sonia Simone explains, “Your post can have the most irresistible headline in the history of advertising. Your site design can be luscious. Your keywords can be masterfully researched. If the actual content isn’t worth reading, none of this will help you. There’s an important rule of thumb called Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of (nearly) everything sucks.”
You don’t have the luxury of creating content that’s “just okay”. Instead, you need content that compels people to read it, and then click on a link, buy your product, or do whatever else you’ve included in your call-to-action.
Look at the calendar.
Whether you hire a writer or take on content writing duties yourself, you need a consistent content schedule. Readers will get accustomed to reading your blog posts, articles, and newsletters. In fact, your goal is to make people look forward to reading it! So, the last thing you can afford to do is leave them hanging.
While it is important to be consistent, unfortunately, this is where so many content marketing strategies hit the skids. Business owners start publishing content just to adhere to a schedule and nothing is more boring than content that feels forced!
Instead, brainstorm legitimate content ideas ahead of time so you are known for publishing content that’s genuinely helpful and insightful — instead of publishing word vomit that just takes up space.
Look at your target audience.
Never brainstorm content ideas until you know exactly who you’re talking to! Take time to figure out what makes your readers tick. What is important to them? What scares them? What confuses them? What makes them happy? Sad? Frustrated?
Until you know the answers to these questions, your content marketing efforts will fall short. If you cannot speak their language and address issues that are important to them, they won’t be able to relate to you. Luckily, once they relate to what you say, they’ll be much more likely to buy what you’re selling!
Look at the numbers.
It makes absolutely no sense to move full-tilt into a content marketing strategy without knowing if it actually works! Before you publish brand content, think about how you’re going to measure progress along the way. The most obvious clue that your content marketing strategy is working is if sales go up. However, you can’t stop there.
There are several other big clues: a) Web traffic: If your content is compelling readers to take action, you’ll wind up with more people visiting your site. And, if you’re getting more traffic, but it isn’t converting into sales then you’ll know something on your website needs to be tweaked.; b) Social media: An increase in Re-tweets, Likes, +1′s, and Pins is proof that people like your content enough to share it. While increased referral traffic, metrics found in Google Analytics, is also an indication.
Conversely, if no one is sharing your content — despite efforts to promote it — it’s a sign that it’s not compelling.; c) Email inbox: If more people are emailing you, and your network is growing, it’s a sign that you’ve established yourself as an expert. After all, no one’s going to take the time to seek you out if they don’t think you are truly worth the effort.
Look toward the future.
A truly successful content marketing strategy is like a circle — it has no end. If you want to use content to make your mark on the Web, you’re going to need a constant flow of it. Otherwise, competitors who are working hard on their own content marketing and branding strategies will pass you by!
Nicole Beckett spent more than a decade telling stories and digging into issues as a TV news anchor and reporter. Today, she uses those same skills to create powerful content marketing strategies for her clients. As the President of Premier Content Source, Inc., Nicole has helped countless business owners create online success. Connect with @NicoleBeckett on Twitter.