You’ve decided that you want to use content marketing for your site. It’s a great choice – you’ll increase your traffic, boost customer loyalty and enhance your reputation in the industry. How should you go about developing a content marketing campaign? Where do you start, what are the essentials, and what little extras could give you the edge over the competition?
First of all, let’s distinguish two types of marketing objective:
- Brand building.
- Product promotion.
Brand building is what you do when you have a new company and you want to get it established within the industry. You may take a similar approach at a later stage if you want to rebrand, to reach a new market or sell your business in a different way. Campaigns like this need to focus on name recognition, building up trust in your business and putting across the personality that you want people to associate with what you do.
Product promotion is a campaign focused on a particular item or range of items that you’re selling. You might also be selling a service, of course, but the basic approach is the same. In this situation, the focus is on the product itself and on the context in which people might be thinking about it. For instance, if you are selling sofas, you might run content focused on home décor, and if you are selling a hotel, you might run content focused on the town where it’s located.
When you engage in brand building, you are setting out a stage that will make all your products look better. When you market a product, you will be strengthening your brand. In both cases, the important thing to remember is that it’s the content itself that you’re selling directly. If your site visitors like the content, the rest will follow.
Seven tips for getting your content noticed
Whichever type of campaign you’re developing, there are certain things that you can do to increase the attention that your content gets.
- Grab attention. The average person reads for just eight seconds before deciding whether or not an article is worth their time. This means you have to grab them quickly. Use dynamic headlines and explain what the article is about in the first two or three lines.
- Make it accessible. Some people are put off by complex language. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. Subheaders make it easier for people to skim through to the bits that interest them most. Pictures provide extra emotional appeal.
- Know who you’re talking to. Research your target audience and find out what’s important to them. Invite them to share their thoughts through a comments section, surveys and polls. Use existing market data to discover what they want from you.
- Be specific and direct. Although you’re not directly marketing your product, using direct, active language in your articles will lead readers to perceive you as dynamic and honest. If you’re vague, it sends out the message that you might not be very reliable.
- Back it up. When you make an argument, support it with facts and figures. Don’t go too far with academic-style references – you don’t want your content to be dry – but use the trust that your visitors have for established authorities to support what you have to say.
- Dare to be different. If visitors are going to choose your site over the competition, they’ll do so because you offer something unique. Use original material wherever possible, and don’t be afraid to be opinionated as long as you’re not making readers uncomfortable.
- Offer tasters. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr and LinkedIn are the perfect places to quote a paragraph or two and try to get people interested. If they want to read the rest, they can click through to go to your site.
Connecting your content
When you’re developing a campaign, you need to think about more than just your individual pieces of content. You need to consider how they’ll work together.
A good content marketing campaign will always contribute to the long-term success of your site because it will produce natural SEO and provide more material to keep interested readers on your site. In the short term, however, it needs to do something else – it needs to get readers thinking about what you’re trying to sell. This isn’t as simple as your brand or your product. It’s the lifestyle around that. You can think of your job as creating an atmosphere, a mood that will facilitate conversion.
Content marketing campaigns should consist of posts connected by a subject or theme. They don’t need to follow on from one another, but ideally they should be interlinked, not just linked to other pieces on your site. You will get the best results if people can navigate between them in several ways so that the process feels organic to them rather than directed.
Content marketing is not about the hard sell. You don’t even need to place a call to action at the end of each article. Simply keeping people on your site where they can see images of your products and click through to buy will usually be sufficient to start the conversion process. By taking this low-pressure approach, you avoid scaring people away and get them to develop a positive feeling about your site, which means that if they do buy, they’re likely to do so more than once.
If you can produce the right kind of content, you’ll find that your site visitors share it with their friends, effectively doing your promotion for you. They’ll still feel that they’re getting something for free because of the value of the content itself, so this way, everybody wins.