There are only three techniques to make your marketing program super hit in the current environment; they are 1st Content marketing, 2nd Content marketing, and 3rd Content marketing.
You must be listening everywhere that content marketing has changed the way of marketing. Don’t you have an idea?
Ok! No problem patiently read this long article, I assure you it will give clarity on the topic.
So start with the follow up of my second paragraph.
Did content marketing really change the face of marketing?
Yes! It did change the way of marketing practice, but more than that it has empowered the marketers, It empowered the small businesses and It empowered the customers.
Technology has changed the landscape of marketing. Interruption model of marketing is shaking and breaking. The audience becomes more powerful to select, whether to consume the information or skip that.
Some years back marketing was more or less limited to advertisement, now it is more services and less advertisement.
Anyway, let’s start with a basic question.
What is content marketing?
According to Content Marketing Institute
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Look here you have to decode three words from the definition and that are “valuable, relevant and consistent”
The whole idea is if your customer or potential customer invests his/her time to read/listen/watch your content, so you have to think that how your content made him/her a better him/her. Whoa ! Nailed it.
The Evolution of content marketing
Maybe content marketing is a new word but practice of content marketing is not a new. Companies are doing this since a long time. Go through the below-embedded video, it will give you some idea about the evolution of content marketing from the historical examples. 🙂
It sounds great but who are doing content marketing nowadays? Did it really help them to achieve great results?
Here I put together the excerpt of CMI research report
Insight on Content Marketing from B2B Industry
Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year. Effectiveness levels are greater among respondents with documentation, clarity around success, good communication, and experience.
44% of B2B marketers say their organization is clear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like; 55% are unclear or unsure.
44% of B2B marketers meet daily or weekly—either in person or virtually—to discuss the progress of their content marketing program; however, the more effective the organization is at content marketing, the more often they meet (61% of the most effective meet daily or weekly).
B2B marketers allocate 28% of their total marketing budget, on average, to content marketing—the same percentage as last year. The most effective allocate 42%, and the most sophisticated/mature allocate 46%.
Lead generation (85%) and sales (84%) will be the most important goals for B2B content marketers over the next 12 months.
Over the last six years, B2B marketers have consistently cited website traffic as their most often used metric. This year, however, we also asked them to rate metrics by importance. The most important metrics are sales lead quality (87%), sales (84%), and higher conversion rates (82%).
B2B marketers, as in years past, continue to be heavily focused on creating engaging content (72%), citing it as the top priority for their internal content creators over the next year.
Insight on Content Marketing from B2C Industry
More and more B2C marketers are using infographics (62% this year vs. 45% last year), making this the content marketing tactic with the greatest year-over-year increase. The effectiveness rating for infographics increased as well (42% said infographics were effective last year vs. 63% this year).
B2C marketers are getting better results with Facebook, which is the social media platform they use most often. This year, 66% rated it effective (vs. 58% last year).
There’s been a shift in the paid methods that B2C marketers use to promote/distribute content. Over the last year, the use of promoted posts, social ads, and search engine marketing (SEM) overtook print/other offline promotion as the paid method that B2C marketers use most frequently to distribute content.
B2C marketers are putting more budgets toward content marketing. This year, they’re allocating 32% of their total marketing budget, on average, to content marketing (vs. 25% last year).
This research report is good but not encouraging, only 30% marketers (In B2B Industry) agreed that they are getting the best result out of it.
So when 70% marketers are not getting effective results then why even we are bothered to understand this stream?
This question is very valid and the answer is businesses that did well, they got the phenomenon success. They establish themselves as the expert in their area and gained authority. Most important, they saved huge advertising money.
I am quite a fan of Moz and Hubspot content. I became informed and smart by consuming them. They are fantastic in publishing helpful contents. Every piece of their content which I consume, “makes me a better me”. I am not a direct customer of them but I share their content with my network, admire their expertise and advocate having their services.
They gained word of mouth endorsement, just in exchange for some quality content. They did not try to sell anything. This is the content marketing.
People don’t want to see an advertisement while making purchasing decisions; they want valuable information/ content.
Content is the best way to achieve what advertising is supposed to achieve but doesn’t do so well online — to get people to know, like, and trust your brand.
Why is content marketing important for your business?
#1. It helps to create a community: You are adding value to the life of your content consumers. This leads to the creation of highly engaged community. Where people wait for your content. You act as a problem solver in their life and they invest time and money in your brand.
#2. You get insight about customers: Content gets shared on social media starts a conversation, audience give their feedback. It enables you to understand demographic in a better way. Well, planned content inspires discussion and provoke thought and get everyone talking.
#3. Establish you as an expert in your field: You are delivering quality content on a regular basis makes you an expert on the subject and help you to win the trust of the audience. You already know people only purchase from those whom they trust.
#4. Give authority to your brand: Once you establish yourself or organization as an expert on the subject, this gives you authority to your brand.
#5. Improve SEO: SEO is still alive and play a major role in your day to day business. All knows that Google picks quality content to show in search engine result page. All black hat techniques for SEO is long gone. Now only way left to get organic traffic is a relevant, problem solving and easy to consume quality content. This kind of content can improve your ranking on search engine.
#6. Contents add Value: As I wrote earlier also that now marketing is a service. Customers only follow your social platform or website if you give some insight, solve their problems or entertain them. People want to see your website and social media because they get something worthwhile back from the experience. Using video for short films, posting amusing pictures, delivering handy and helpful guides will make your website worth returning to as a routine.
People want to see your website and social media because they get something worthwhile back from the experience. Using video for short films, posting amusing pictures, delivering handy and helpful guides will make your website worth returning to as a routine.
How to start a content marketing program for your company?
Content Marketing Institute suggests that if you are going to invest in content marketing then you should have documented content marketing strategy first.
They say, ” What is one of the biggest differences between a content marketer who is effective and one who fails? A documented content marketing strategy.”
According to content marketing institute, you should make your documented content marketing strategy by answering 36 questions first.
You can download CMI guide here Download.
Mapping content to various buying stages
Many people say that content marketing only works on top of the funnel (Awareness Stage). This is a complete myth. Well planned and documented content strategy works from top to bottom of the funnel.
Actually, still, our world is dominated by CROs (Conversion rate optimizers). Generally, conversion rate optimizers are considered as an anti-content (I don’t think so). They believe in copywriting. Many times they succeed to convince the management because results of their marketing activities are instant.
But CROs just squeeze the bottom-line, Investing too much marketing budget in squeezing bottom-line is a just ailment of greed marketing syndrome. Performance marketing is important but sustainable performance marketing is more important.
I am not against the conversion rate optimizers but just want to make you clarity that conversion rate optimization just processes to squeeze bottom line. For winning the game you require downward flow from the top of the funnel. Here you need content to influence the top line.
Conversion rate optimization is sprint where content marketing is the marathon.
Ok! Now we come back to the topic.
Your problem is how to plan your content marketing in the context of various buying stages of your prospect?
The buyer’s journey is the active research process a potential buyer goes through leading up to their purchase.
So you have to tap the buyer on various journey stages, Just draw the persona of your buyers and characterize their buying journey in three stages.
- Awareness Stage 2. Consideration Stage 3. Decision Stage
Pic Source: Hubspot
The psychologies of customers are different on various buying stages. Let’s see it in details.
#1 Awareness Stage
In this stage, your buyer experiences the symptoms of the problem and seeks greater understanding of that problem.
Here your focus is to reach those people who are unaware of your company. In this stage, You have an opportunity to create a relationship with those who are not ready to buy right now. Hence the whole idea is to gain mindshare.
You “reach” your target audience with topics that get attention or generate buzz. Concepts include thought leadership pieces, influencer endorsements, public relations activities, display campaigns.
Recent surveys have indicated that 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. This means that you must have the content in place to meet customers where they are online.
Hubspot buyer journey content image is quite clear about content type in awareness stage. Here I will give you an idea about hacks.
Let’s simplify it with example:
Assume a customer started to feel that he should have a home refrigerator. Now he/she will start researching about refrigerator through various medium.
Here what should be your awareness stage content?
Think you want to reach that customer when he/she is researching about refrigerator on Google.
You can catch his/her attention through this kind of contents.
Eg; 11 common mistakes people do when they purchase refrigerator
20 must-have features when you planning to choose home refrigerator
Best refrigerators are not best if they miss these key features
Why your home refrigerator should have XYZ features?
This kind of content can bring attention when the buyer is in awareness stage. Although these are hacks and it works.
Blogs are a great way to attract attention to your website, create a personal engagement side of marketing that helps businesses qualify prospects and nurture relationships. This kind of engagement is necessary, especially for people who are at the top of the funnel.
You can also create the whole spectrum of content for this stage like a research report, educational content, expert reports, ebooks etc.
The complete idea is to create educational content for this stage. Avoid putting sales pitch in your content, on this stage, your audience is not ready to buy. So they will not give attention on your content if you will try to sell anything.
In this stage just try to address audience pain point without any greed of selling. This will build trust and people purchase from those only, whom they trust.
#2 Consideration Stage
Here your buyer considers potential solutions to solve his problem. Your potential buyer is now aware of his/her problem and potential solutions of that problem.
So he/she will back to research stage again to narrow down the potential solutions and shortlist some of the vendors. 70% of buyers return to Google at least 2-3 times during the course of their research.(Source: Pardot)
Here you should capture the mindset of through comparative data sheet, product demo video, case study, influencer content etc.
The content type may vary according to your product and industry but the consideration stage of the funnel is typically a point of extended engagement where you nurture a lead, building a relationship, and establishing trust between the audience and your brand.
#3 Decision Stage
Here your buyer chooses specific product and solution to solve his problem. In this stage, the actual transaction happens. Although your audience decided to buy but it is not necessary that he/she will buy from you.
You require doing final push through well-planned content like the offer, free trial, full transparency on guaranty/warranty cover, services etc.
Your contents should have well design call to action, you should be accessible for chat, voice call or call back from your side.
Actually, I avoided the jargon Top of the funnel – TOFU (Awareness Stage), Middle of the funnel – MOFU (Consideration Stage) and Bottom of the funnel – BOFU (Decision Stage ).
Generally, marketing agencies use these terms a lot.
Pic Source: denamico.com
Content Types for solid content marketing program
#1. Infographic : Infographic content is still the most effective way to generate awareness online.
We are wired to understand visual presentation easily, so our brains crave for an infographic.
Infographic generate more share and backlinks, which help you to get discovered.
#2. Video: Videos stand out on social media, giving customers a quick overview of a product without overwhelming them with text. In less than sixty seconds, a customer can get the information he needs about a business through a short, visually appealing video.
The video is becoming a prime source of information. We have seen tremendous growth in video consumption pattern.
I have written some posts on video marketing, you can see the detail here.
Read for more details: Video is New God of content marketing
On the importance of video content, I take a stand that your content marketing program won’t get success without the mix of Video content.
#3. Meme: Nowadays Meme is a new form of communication, It increase engagement on social. If you embed it in between your text post, it gives life to your text content.
There are many free tools available, just type Meme maker in Google.
#4. GIF: GIF is new language of the web. Widely it is an expression but the level of engagement is very high if you use GIF in your content or in social media posts.
You can spot a GIF a mile away. These short, looping, soundless animations easily convey more information and emotion than a static image ever could. Whether you’re telling a story, showing off a product, or even just saying thanks, GIFs are the perfect medium to drive home the message.
In this blog, I used GIF in first time in this post, will share you result, if any data driven result I monitor.
You can simply rock on twitter if you use the power of GIF properly.
#5. Guides: Guides are detailed content which solves execution problems. You can produce many types of the guide. You can think out of a box and stretch your feet to produce guides which are not limited to your product or services.
“How-To” guides use to get best SEO results and people love to use how-to guides. Think all possible “how-to” scenario and generate content around.
#6. Reviews: Reviews are users and experts generated content and influence the bottom line up to great extent.
Delight your customers with your extraordinary product or services and encourage them to write reviews.
#7. Lists: People love to see organized contents. They find easy to consume and retain list contents. Buzzfeed is a great example of utilizing list content to drive traffic.
#9. Newsletter: Newsletter is not a new form of content. It is very old and If there is any changed happened that is distribution techniques.
Largely Newsletter has been sent through the mail, but you have many other options to reach to people with your newsletter. Eg: using social channels, publishing it on the blog and even sending hardcopy through conventional techniques.
#10. E-book: E-book is generally long-form content which gets published in various formats, but generally people produce it in PDF form. Durability of E-book is a bit more than other contents, people keep it for reference.
It is a great tool to get mail id in exchange. E-book downloads enable marketers 20 times higher growth in mailing list comparatively than a blog post.
#11. Podcast: Podcast is hot cake in the market. It is easy to produce and easy to consume. You can check out Apple’s guide.
People consume it while traveling or exercising.
You have a great opportunity to reach farther through this medium.
#12. Case Study: The Case study is conventional way who got new distribution opportunity. In the case study, you show what your product and service is and how it helped your particular customer.
#13. Research Reports: Human loves data. We all want data backup to take informed decisions. Here your research report can create a reference point and help people to take a decision based on that. It will establish you as an expert in the field.
#14. Interviews: Interviews are documented or recorded the human interaction. Every field has its leader, you simply synergies the power of leader with your brand through getting information for your audience.
#15. Live Broadcast: It is totally new and the apex of transparent content. Today many platforms are available which gives you the opportunity to broadcast yourself live.
Particularly Facebook live and periscope is great platform to use. You get better reach and engagement if you go live.
Popular Content Distribution Channels for Effective Content Marketing
Producing a great content is not enough. Your content is valueless till it is not reaching to right users.
So, distribution planning and execution of content has a major role to play in making your content marketing successful.
Here is my favorite list of 13 channels through which you can distribute content to your target audience.
#1. Blog: Blog site is the base of your content marketing program. You host all your Video, audio and text content here.
This is the place where your traffic lands from various other platforms. Make sure your blog is designed with the full-funnel approach.
#2. Facebook: Facebook is sitting on top of the Internet. It has 1.7 billion monthly users (Data Source: Statista.com). Gradually Facebook is transforming itself into the content recommendation engine.
Although Facebook organic reach is coming down day by day but still you cannot ignore the power of Facebook. You can find out a way to enhance your reach. Investing some money in facebook can give you good ROI.
Read for more info: Why investing in Facebook Ads is a clever idea?
#3. Twitter: Twitter is a microblogging site which has 312 million monthly active users. This platform is highly conversation and good content scales very fast.
Twitter also offers paid reach, you can explore the possibilities.
#4. Google+: Google+ is not a much exciting place to hang on but it is google’s platform and has an impact on SEO. For getting a positive impact on SEO, you should use Google+ for your content distribution.
#5. Linkedin: Linkedin is world’s biggest professional network, which has 450 million users. This site is a gold mine for B2B players.
You can publish your content directly on this platform also.
#6. Snapchat: This is emerging photo/video app, which is growing very fast. Daily active users on Snapchat are 150 million.
Daily video views on Snapchat is almost equal to Facebook. You will have to produce Snapchat specific content on this platform.
#7. Instagram: The growth of this photo/video sharing app is phenomenon since Facebook acquire this. Right now Instagram has 500 million users.
Investing in Instagram is worth. Try it.
Read for more info: 266 Amazing Hashtags, Which can Make You Rockstar of Instagram [ Infographic ]
#8. Pinterest: Pinterest has 170 million users and a very interesting fact is 75% users are female.
This platform is amazing for sharing Infographic content.
#9. Youtube: Youtube is Google’s video platform which has 1 billion users, who generate 4 Billion video views every day.
Youtube is more than a video hosting platform, actually, it is second biggest search engine after Google.
Read for more info: All of YouTube’s Video Ad Targeting Options ( in One Infographic)
#10. E-mailers: Content distribution through e-mail marketing is the activity where you have more control on your distribution.
You earn the audiences through your problem-solving content and make them own by just getting their email ids.
This enables you the liberty to contact them anytime.
Read for more info: The Power Of Email Marketing is Still Here
#11. Reddit: Reddit has 215 million unique users. I accept, I fail to crack this platform till now. The rules are very strict, your content can be marked as spam. If you are trying to just promote that without adding any value.
I have seen people who succeeded on Reddit. They received tons of traffic. Finding right subreddit, participating in the discussion and sharing your content in an interesting manner is the only way to succeed on Reddit.
#12. Quora: Quora is a powerhouse of knowledge through user generated content. Success formula on Quora is simple. Ask the questions, start the discussion and participate in the discussion.
#13. Influencers: Every platform has many numbers of Influencers, collaborate with them and get your content shared to their followers.
An influencer can make your content super-hit.
Content Marketing Best Practices for rock solid result
#1. Think like your customer: You are producing the content to solve certain problems of your customers. So you have to think like them to understand them.
Many marketers have a problem (Including me too), we invest too much time analyzing, discussing and debating about platforms. In actually we should talk about our customers and what they do on various platforms. This will enable us to go into the skin of our customers and produce content which they will like to consume.
We can use many insight tools to understand them. I have mentioned all tools in last part of this post.
#2. Be useful and reliable source of Information: If you are not confident about the info, then please avoid publishing them. If you are using third party information then must mention data source.
If your information will be able to solve the pain points of your customers then they will share it with their network.
#3. Go visual: Just Google it, many studies are available which suggests visual content gets more engagement and share.
Embed Image, GIF, or Video wherever possible use visuals.
#4. Be error free: Do proper proof reading before posting your content. Spelling and grammatical errors look unprofessional.
Although becoming 100% error free is not possible in this fast paced environment but try your best.
#5. Have editorial calendar: You can find much distraction, which can interrupt you from consistent posting. There is many variables (eg: holidays, important meeting, unplanned leave etc.) influence the work.
So it is very important that you should have a content calendar which can help you to make advance planning. You should remember that consistency is very important in content marketing.
#6. Do regular content audit: Don’t just publish your content, keep eyes on performance also.
A proper and regular audit will give an insight that what work for you?
You will be able to know what type of content your audience really like.
#7. Keep revising your content distribution plan: Internet world is hyper unstable. Platform or content type which working for you today, tomorrow it cannot. So keep eyes on development and latest updates of the Internet world.
Eg: Couple of years back Desktop site was working fine for you, today you need a responsive site to keep yourself in business.
The formula is simple, keep eyes on the attention of your customers and keep customizing your distribution plan accordingly, Eg: If your customer was spending time on twitter and now he starts scrolling Facebook feed more, so your distribution plan needs to move from twitter focused to Facebook focused.
#8. Don’t flood your readers with posts: Your readers have limited time, so supply the content on a regular interval that they enjoy consuming.
If you flood them with content then they will either get irritated or start to skip your content.
Tools which can help you to run effective content marketing program
There are many tools available which can help you to do your content marketing campaigns like a pro.
Pic Source: Linkedin Content Marketing Guide
Content marketing is the very noble idea of liberation from interruption. The buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions that must be answered.
Instead of interrupting, it attracts traffic and converts them into customers. Further, it helps you to convert a customer into a repeat customer.
Content marketing is being used by 86% of businesses today. But effective content marketing? Not so easy to find. (Data Source: Copyblogger)
Seth Goding says Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left. This is a very powerful statement, Seth Godin is predicting or declaring the death of interruption model of advertising.
In simple language when a customer has control on what to consume and what to skip then marketer like us don’t have the choice, except to attract them to consume our content which can solve their problems.
SO SAY NO TO INTTRUPTION, JUST CREATE THE ATTRACTION 🙂