Content Marketing At The Top of Your List? (If Not, Why It Should Be!)
Content marketing, regardless of what marketers call it, is the most popular digital marketing strategy according to Chief Marketer’s March 2012 online survey of US marketers. Closer examination of the Chief Marketer research as reported by eMarketer shows email, social media and search are at the top of the list for mainstream marketers with a third using video. Further, marketers’ focus on content is strongly correlated with supporting sales, optimizing their owned content for search and helping social media.
What’s a marketer to do? Develop a plan to get your content marketing on track. According to hotel consultant Max Starkov of HeBS Digital, courtesy of eMarketer, content marketing is smaller hotels’ secret weapon to compete against big online travel agencies like Expedia that outspend them on search. Show your hotel off and answer customer questions to stand out from the pack. For a 130 US hotels Marriott franchisee, Starkov’s team created effective content that outperformed its peers on Marriott’s site by a third.
Regardless of what type of content marketing you’re using now or plan to add to your mix, here are eleven steps to get you on track.
- Determine your business objectives. What do you want your content marketing to accomplish? Top on most marketers’ list are build your brand, attract new prospects and convert prospects to customers. Underestimated content marketing goals include post sales support, customer retention and advocacy (aka fans).
- Know your audience. These are the people who use your product and the people who influence them. Think in terms of who you’re trying to communicate with and when. What questions are they looking to get answered? Where do they look for information and what devices do they use?
- Understand your competitors. Purchase decisions don’t happen in a vacuum. Take off your blinders and pay attention to what your competitors are doing. Assess are their relative strengths and weaknesses so you can distinguish your products. Remember the firms that your customers view as your competitors may not be your direct competitors.
- Find your organization’s stories. This is critical since people remember stories not a bunch of facts. Think across your organization including your product, sales and customer service staff. Don’t underestimate your customers’ stories related to your product.
- Plan your content. Assess where you need to place content and how to use a story across different media formats and platforms. Also consider who will create it. It’ useful to have an editorial calendar.
- Integrate your brand into your content. Think beyond the logo. Your brand needs to come through even if the content is on different sites. It’s the colors and language used as well as the spokesperson and how they’re dressed.
- Optimize your content for search. Remember that one of the reasons marketers use content is to support their search optimization efforts. This means focusing on a set of keyword terms and linking to other sites as well as to other aspects of your own site or blog. Also, associate text with photographs and videos.
- Distribute your content. Having the best content doesn’t do you any good unless people are exposed to it. Plan how you’ll distribute it across your owned platforms. This includes your website, emailings and your blog.
- Be where your customers are now! Join the social media conversation to engage with your prospects and customers as well as to distribute your content marketing. Allow readers to comment on your content and respond to them to answer their questions.
- Socialize your content. At a minimum, incorporate social sharing buttons so your readers can extend the reach of your content.
- Measure your content marketing results. As with any marketing strategy, it’s important to track your results back to your initial business goals. To help your content marketing to drive sales, it’s useful to integrate a call-to-action and a trackable promotion code.
Content marketing encompasses a variety of formats. Every marketer is challenged creating sufficient information to answer customer questions and to set the business apart from its competitors.
What would you add to this content marketing list and why?
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