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Get started with content marketing

 
 



The cover of our Loop e-book how-to guide on how to get started with content marketingContent marketing might seem like a new concept, and one that’s hard to grasp, but it has been around a long time. In its most basic form it is selling through storytelling.

 

A brief history

In 1900 the Michelin brothers wanted to sell more tyres so they invented the Michelin guide. It contained everything a budding early-adopter motorist might want to know, from how to repair tyres to where to find hotels and petrol stations.

 

The guide was given away free and when the car took off a lot of people felt more inclined to buy Michelin tyres over other brands. Fast forward over a hundred years and marketers are still driving in the tyre treads of the Michelin brothers.

 

While patching a tyre puncture might not be the best story, but it’s information that was highly useful before mechanics became commonplace.

 

How content marketing works 

With content marketing brands build the story around their products and services, encouraging people to purchase by sharing useful, insightful and solution-focused content.

 

The content being offered should always have value for the reader, while communicating the values of your brand and demonstrating how
your products and services can solve your buyers’ challenges. Not by drilling sales messages into your audience’s heads.

 

Content can take on many forms, including:

  • Guides and e-books
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Photos
  • White papers

Here's a rundown of what you need to do

The following five areas provide the foundation for successful content marketing:

 

1. Research

Find out who your audiences are. Importantly, find out what they want to know. By determining your buyer’s needs you’ll be able to decide how you can fulfil that need through content – focusing on the information they need, the challenges they face and the solutions they want to find, as well as how they like to consume content.

 

The more useful the information is to your audience the more likely they will be to engage with your brand.

 

To help you to think about your buyers, try creating ‘personas’ through the use of our easy to use buyer persona template.

 

2. Planning

Content marketing takes time and to be successful it needs a focussed approach. Define your strategy and what you want to achieve, and then produce an editorial calendar that will keep you on track to deliver consistently high quality content.

 

At this point it is always useful to map your content against your buyers’ sales cycle, so you’re confident you have the right content targeted at the right people at each stage. A useful way to do this is through content mapping – and you can use our free e-book ‘The Loyalty Loop’ to help you.

 

You also need to think about how the content you’re producing can support the search engine optimisation (SEO) keywords you’re targeting. Keywords should be based on sound research into search volumes per keyword phrase, as well as insight into the type of words your buyer personas will use to find businesses such as yours.

 

Remember: a clear strategy is essential, without it you might make a few fair weather friends but you’ll not fully engage your buyers and turn them into loyal customers.

 

3. Creation

Decide what the best way to tell the story of your products and services. If you’re marketing dental care to tired parents and their hyperactive children, a white paper on the best way to brush teeth isn’t going to be the most effective way to reach either. However, a short video with a colourful, animated toothbrush and some fun useful tips might.

 

Content can also be repurposed if you think different formats might suit different segments of your audience. For example, a series of blog posts on a particular topic could be condensed into one e-book for those who might be more inclined to read things offline.

 

4. Promotion

Share what you’ve created and make it as easy as possible for others to spread the word. Whether it’s through social media, a newsletter or your website, it is vitally important to let people know what you’re putting out there.

 

The great benefit of content marketing compared to traditional advertising is that people share content; they don’t share adverts.

 

Think about who the influencers are in your space. Perhaps forward some of your content to them if you think they might be interested and want to share it with their networks. Before you do this, however, show some interest in what they have to offer too, by liking, sharing and commenting on some of their content.

 

5. Measurement

Always monitor and measure your content marketing activities at each stage:

  • Research – if you’ve taken the time to scope your buyers, how many such people is your content delivering as new customers and, ultimately, how much revenue are these people bringing in. Always consider any tweaks to your personas if you feel that is necessary.
  • Planning – monitor against clearly defined objectives which should involve measuring growth metrics (such as lead-to-customer percentage and cost-per-lead).
  • Creation – keep tabs on many outputs have you have produced and whether you’re on track with your editorial calendar.
  • Promotion – here you will want to focus on engagement metrics, such as social shares, click throughs from your calls to action and visits to target pages on your website. In terms of the broader picture you ultimately want to feel confident that your content marketing is turning leads into customers, saving you money and helping to retain existing customers.

In summary:

Content marketing has a rich history.

 

Building a solid foundation for your content activities will help you to stand out against your rivals, create content that is aligned with your brand’s objectives, and ultimately turn your audience into loyal customers. Follow the basic of research, planning, creation, promotion and measurement to achieve content marketing success for your business.

 

Download this how-to guide as a PDF

 

Simply fill in the form opposite. You'll be able to access lots more resources, too.

 

Even more info, just for you

 

What is content marketing? - a great intro from the The Content Marketing Institute

 

The Content Marketing Blueprint - a comprehensive content planning approach via Hubspot

 

Read more of our how-to guides

 

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