Content marketing accounts for roughly one out of every three marketing dollars spent based on research from Junta42. This should come as no surprise. Content is currency for social media, raw material for SEO (define), and support for sales.
Add to this that 60 percent of consumers must see something three to five times before they believe it's credible according to Edelman's 2010 Trust report. Further, in an era of tight budgets, content is inexpensive compared to many other alternative marketing approaches.
Depending on your business and the channels in which you operate, implementing an integrated content marketing strategy can be challenging. For example, some traditional catalog marketing clients find it difficult to move their focus from their print catalog to a broader online-driven content offering. This has significant implications for related digital strategies such as SEO, communications, e-mail, and social media.
Improve and Expand Your Content Marketing
With content marketing, your goal is to create information that appeals to a variety of needs and will attract prospects and support customers. Here are 12 ways to incorporate content into your marketing.
Assess what content is needed and where. This requires more than just copying offline information online. Among the factors to look at are:
Content depth and presentation. Should it remain the same across platforms?
Information type. How does it have to be presented?
Physical location. Where is the prospect when they need your content?
Device type. What devices are prospects using to get your materials? This can have an impact on content formatting.
Establish an editorial function. Develop an editorial calendar as well as a promotional schedule. Write a mix of regular columns, special features, and breaking news, as well other more "evergreen" information that relates to your business, products, and prospects.
Consolidate content creation efforts. Consolidate across marketing, PR, communications, advertising, creative, and investor relations to reduce redundancies. Share best practices and resources across your firm.
Use a variety of different content formats. This includes text, photos, video, audio, presentations, Webinars, and PR. Make sure that non-text content is properly tagged, optimized for search, and can be read on a variety of appropriate devices.
Do keyword research. Think in terms of how the customer perceives their needs, not your internal company lingo. This is where some traditional marketers have difficulty because their creative doesn't always use the same concrete terms as search engines. Also, where prospects are in the purchase cycle may have an impact on the terms they use for search.
Develop attention-getting headlines. This will help spread your content and make it more shareable. Write headlines like a front-page tabloid editor. Ask prospects and customers what topics are of interest to them.
Make information easily scannable. This is needed to be in-sync with the way people read online content. Use bullet points and bolding to guide readers. Encourage deeper reading while aiding search optimization by linking to related content. Remember to incorporate product information and link to your shopping process where appropriate.
Make content shareable. It should be shareable across a wide range of communications formats (such as social media, e-mail, and text) as well as different devices, not just computers and mobile phones. If your information is location specific, include details like address, city, ZIP code, phone number, e-mail, and URL.
Leverage other media to promote content. Cross-pollinate your efforts. Incorporate material from across the enterprise. Don't forget about your product and its packaging, advertising, media mentions, customer communications, and the retail environment. Use keyword-rich, easy-to-remember URLs.
Invite prospects, consumers, and the public to contribute to your content efforts. They can contribute across different platforms.
Ask what type of information they are looking for and want from you.
Allow them to create content across a range of different formats.
Invite them to comment on your own and consumer-generated content.
Acknowledge consumer contributions and comments.
Have personnel dedicated to developing content. Consider using journalists and/or editors to perform these functions, especially with so many traditional media companies being consolidated or going out of business.
Measure results from content creation and distribution. Among the factors to monitor are:
Which content is most popular? Which content is most shared? Which venues (Web site, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, blog, video, etc.) are most effective at each point in the purchase cycle?
How many prospects and customers engage with your firm? Track the number of shares, comments, amount of consumer content developed, and steps taken towards purchase.
What is the customer feedback from these initiatives?
How has your profit and loss changed? Have sales improved? How have costs behaved? Consider improvements/savings in relation to the cost of producing new content, Web site development, content promotional efforts, and search optimization. What is the profitability associated with these efforts?
In a period where trust in established media sources is eroding, marketers must find new alternatives to promote and disseminate information about their businesses. Developing marketing-related content is important as the market evolves. Remember, content drives social media, search optimization, and sales.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.