What is Content Marketing?
There are so many myths about content marketing, so I’m going to spell it out in the simplest possible terms right here and now: write the best possible content you can. That’s it.
Spend as much of your marketing budget on the best possible content and you will attract the best kind of prospects.
The kind of prospects who want and need whatever it is you do, and who are hungry to buy right now.
Content marketing means publishing everything you can think of using every medium you can afford on every possible relevant topic in your industry on a consistent and persistent basis.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
The problem for 99% of all publishers (and you can count yourself as a publisher if you have a website) is they do everything on a spur of the moment basis.
It all tends to be ad-hoc and done in bursts when the fancy takes them.
And that produces inconsistent and sporadic output. Which tells both Google AND your audience that you’re not really that into it.
This affects your reputation, which slowly declines the longer you leave it.
So what is a strategy anyway?
A strategy is a clear label to hang all your content generation tactics on.
A strategy lets you make instant decisions about what is a good thing to do and what is bad.
If you were to choose “The Mass Exposure Strategy”, then it means you need to leverage every piece of content you create so it finds the largest possible audience.
If it were a strategy of “Education”, then it points to only creating content that educates people about what you do – which means if someone were to suggest you write lots of thought leadership style content or opinion based content, then that won’t work at all because it does not fit with the strategy.
This is why it’s vital you start with a strategy before creating any content.
Of course, if you decide on a new strategy, there’s nothing wrong with re-positioning your old content to make it fit.
All content generation is part of inbound marketing.
You publish articles, the public sees them, the public react – seemingly of their own accord.
The reality is that you’re the cause of their reactions, but in the mind of someone reading your article, they believe they chose to read your content, and so they believe they are the cause of any actions they take.
This all sounds rather manipulative, and that is because it is.
It’s the same for advertising. People choose to watch the adverts, and so they also choose whether to respond or not.
But whichever way you look at it, publishing without pushing means the public needs to react on their own volition, and so it creates inbound contact (which is always the best sort).
Organic Content vs Paid Content
The best businesses do it all.
Publishing free educational content for their readers, prospects and customers to consume is the first step (if you haven’t got educational material on your site before you pay to get people there, they will have nothing to consume when they do).
Paid content is the holy grail of any content marketing plan provided it at least breaks even.
It’s the proof that the business is profitable. Plus it allows the business to control its content, measure its performance, and create a better return on investment for the future through experimentation.
Content Generation – Manual vs Machine
Right now there are no commercially available content generation machines that can produce articles good enough to pass any human intelligence tests.
In other words, if you do use computer generated content on your site, you have a great chance of having those pages de-indexed by Google.
Google’s own machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms are now more than a match for any human, and can detect content that is not up to scratch.
Which leaves you no choice but to create your content the traditional way.
And that means finding the best researchers, writers and editors who really understand what you’re doing and can create articles that your audience wants to read.
No article is ever finished.
That’s nothing to do with perfection, it just means that the world is constantly moving on, and the effort and expense taken to produce great content should not be left to depreciate in value over time.
The solution to this very common problem (blog ideology being the number 1 culprit) is to update your articles on a regular basis.
This is done by extending, editing and updating older articles.
Video and Visual Content
One way to extend any article is to create a video using powerpoint or keynote to display the content paragraph by paragraph and adding a spoken soundtrack of the article over the top.
If that is placed on a public channel such as YouTube with a link back to the article, you are giving your audience multiple ways to consume your content.
You should also add as many visuals as you can to your articles (if it makes sense to do so) to further help your audience and keep them engaged (it makes no sense to do this for this article, which is why there is only a single graphic).
The first distribution channel you should always use is your website.
This is the hub of most businesses with the exception of major retail outlets – but even that is changing rapidly.
However, it doesn’t stop there.
You can take a copy of the audio of the video of each article you’ve published and create a pod cast from it.
You can also create a PDF version of each article and place that behind a paywall of some kind (even if it’s just a lead generation optin to get a visitors contact details).
Videos can also be distributed on many other platforms, and articles can be re-purposed and used to place guest posts on other sites.
The point is, the more outlets you use, the less you will be restrained and the more chances you have to be found.
Global vs Local
Even if you have a global product, dominating your local market by writing articles aimed directly at your local market will be a big win.
You may well get local media coverage for your business as well as being a local entrepreneur.
This can also be helped by partnering with a local charity – who may well invite you to guest blog on their site too.
One tactic to use for global distribution is to go local for towns you are not local to.
This was HSBC’s strategy of course (before the fateful banking collapse of 2008 followed by Covid 19 in 2020 meant that most institutions had to reign in their spending).
Content Generation Goals
Creating a marketing plan to implement your strategy and tactics is vital.
Sytemising everything is the best thing any business can do, and that includes your content generation schedule.
Write down a specific KPI’s for this.
Eg. 1 article per week based on something topical, celebrational, educational or campaignable.
Content Generation Alternatives
You have a straight choice. Write your content in-house or outsource it to a content generation agency.
The only problem with outsourcing is your complete lack of control over their knowledge of your industry.
Choosing a specialist is better, but you run the risk of them also being responsible for your competitors output.
Hiring a freelancer may be your best bet if you cannot write your content in-house. They are likely to be more loyal to you since business will be done on a more personal level compared to an agency.
Content Marketing Technology
Using Google as your guide and core research tool is the best thing you could ever do, since we want Google to recognise our completed article as something worthy of sending traffic too and experimenting with, and if there’s one way of knowing what Google wants, it’s to look at what Google delivers in the way of search results.
Content Generation Tactics
Once you’ve decided on a strategy, you can start thinking about all the tactics you can use to help you generate content.
For example, a great tactic is to use content curation.
This means exploring other relevant articles and documents and extracting snippets of them that help illustrate and expand your own article.
Another prime source for citations is from news sites.
As long as you cite all the quotes and only quote a very small percentage of content from other articles, you will still pass the Copyscape.com test for originality.
Segmenting your content by category is good for you reader as it allows you to group certain articles together.
This has very little impact (if any) from a search engine optimisation point of view, so only do it if it makes sense to do so (and that will certainly be the case where you are creating a site that you want to be an authority in its niche or industry).
Buyer Intent and Insight
Buyer intent is vital if your site is an ecommerce site or you’re selling a service or just a few high value products.
Buyer intent and insight follows the journey pattern in that each person you come into contact with may be in one of 3 stated according to where they are on the buyer’s journey.
- Research phase. They are only interested in information at this early stage in the process. Educational articles work best here.
- Choice phase. Now they know what they want, but they still need to pick a particular product or brand. Comparison content works best here.
- Buyer phase. They know what they want, but now they want to find the best price. Comparison content also works here, as well as well crafted sales copy.
Where To Go From Here…
The next step is to not just make your content relevant to people, it’s to learn to craft better content, and there’s one class of people who do this better than anyone else – Copywriters.
Their whole remit is to persuade people to do things. The only way to do that successfully is to write copy that is so intriguing, interesting, or downright useful, that trust is won.
To find out more about that, visit the International Copywriters Association.