Studies, surveys and statistics all over the web have documented the explosive growth of Content Marketing by brands everywhere. What’s more, the data paints an impressive picture of a marketing discipline that didn’t really exist just a few years ago.
For anyone that has followed this rapid rise, no doubt they’ve been bombarded with post after nauseating post about “10 tips for success with content marketing”. If only it was that easy?
Content Marketing guide from A to Z
Like every new thing, Content Marketing has its own lingo. In fact, there’s no shortage of concepts and terms to get familiar with before you’ll understand what it’s all about and how it has become essential for online marketing today.
As an alternative to all of the hype, confusion, and noise, we offer this Content Marketing primer from A to Z.
A | Analytics
Making use of analytics is the only way you’ll have insight into your content marketing efforts and what’s working or not. Your goal should be to have an integrated marketing analytics platform with easy to use automation tools. Your analytics toolkit should help you:
- Document your website traffic and identify all of the visitors that are checking you out
- Provide insight on the content that is getting the most visits, views and actually generating leads
- Understand your SEO efforts by identifying what search terms are bringing visitors to your site
- Know what referring pages are delivering traffic + driving leads
- Use email automation to trigger actions based on visitor behavior to convert leads to sales
- Provide Sales Intelligence + Analytics to know why deals close or why they fall out of the pipeline
That’s not a lot to ask for, right? Just the qualitative data required to make informed decisions on where to invest and support the needs of your prospects and customers.
B | Blog
A blog has become an essential component in any online marketing activity today. In a recent eMarketer study, over 50% of the organizations surveyed viewed a blog as part of the cost of doing business today.
It’s accepted that a blog can serve as the HUB of your content marketing and online publishing. That’s because blogging is a core component of content marketing. It drives site traffic, quality leads, and can establish your position as a thought leader in your category of business.
Your blog should be built on a foundation of topics and keywords that you’ve researched and uncovered. These words and terms should be important to your audience because they help solve the challenges that they face.
C | Call-to-Action
Before you create any content, the most important question to ask is “What exactly are you expecting your website visitors to do?” If you’re not directing them with a Call to Action | CTA, you’re missing an opportunity to capture a lead and further a relationship that you’re looking to start.
Simply put, a Call to Action guides your readers to how they can receive more value from you and your site. It’s one of the fundamentals of traditional direct marketing and it’s more important than ever for online marketing.
If you’re planning on providing your site visitors with giveaways or a deeper dive on content that you’ve already presented, WIIFM (What’s In It For Me—your reader) should be top of mind in creating your CTA. It’s essential that this content component includes a benefit that will motivate your reader to act or convert by giving you their contact information.
D | Dollars
According to Webmarketing123′s annual report, more brands and businesses are investing in content and the resources to create it. In fact, 69% of B2B marketers and 53% of B2C marketers expect to increase spending on content creation and distribution this year.
In this rising environment, it’s reasonable to question who exactly is going to create all of this content? And how will you ensure that it’s aligned with your brand positioning and meets a consistent standard of quality and distribution frequency for your prospects and customers?
Better get that right if you hope to be successful.
E | Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is like a road map for content creation, showing you what kind of content to create, what topics to cover, which personas to target, and how often to publish to best support your inbound marketing strategy.
Maintaining an editorial calendar will keep you more organized and show you any gaps in addressing your prospects pain. It also helps ensure you’re doing the right things for your personas and not going way off-track with the topics you’re covering.
F | Formats
If you’ve committed to content marketing, you’re going to be posting a lot if you want to succeed. So mixing it up and creating posts that are fresh and not repetitive are a requirement if you don’t want to turn away website visitors.
Fueling your blog with great content that your customers and prospects will find relevant, valuable or entertaining, is no walk in the park. But a structured Content Marketing program can build awareness for your brand, generate leads, and position you as an expert in your domain.
A few ways to mix up your post types to keep your content fresh and always improving include:
- | List Posts
- | Interview Posts
- | Review Posts
- | Links Round-up Posts
- | Controversial Viewpoint Posts
- | Process Posts
- | Rewards Posts
G | Google+ Authorship
If you’re publishing a continuous stream of content that your prospects and customers find valuable, it’s now more important than ever to do everything possible to ensure that the original content you create is attributed to you and enhanced to appear high in search results.
And if others are hijacking your stuff without acknowledging you or the source of creation, getting attribution of the investments you’ve made in original content is essential. So tying your content to your Google+ profile is one of the best practices to implement. The advantages of linking to your Google+ profile include:
- | opportunity to improve your search results ranking
- | a central place to share more information about you
- | additional information about your organization
- | additional locations where your content can be found online
H | Hashtag
Hashtags are a way for you and your readers to interact with each other on social media and have conversations about a particular piece of content.
It’s a good idea to create a hashtag for every big piece of content you publish online. By promoting your content on social media that includes hashtags, you enhance the opportunity to spark a conversation. It also improves your ability to monitor your social media posts more easily.
I | Inbound Link
When another website picks up your content and links back to it from their site, the result is an inbound link. These links are one of the many SEO criteria that Google takes into account when delivering search results to those searching online.
The better the quality of your inbound links, the higher the authority Google grants to your domain. And more authoritative domains always end up higher in search results ranking. The bummer is that Google is making it harder to get these cherished puppies with their Penguin update.
One of the best ways to get more inbound links is to consistently create great content that your site visitors comment on, share and return to again and again.
K | Keywords
SEO professionals and content marketers research keywords to uncover the words or terms that can be integrated properly in a structured manner to improve the opportunity of achieving better search results rankings. The operative qualifiers here are proper and structured inclusion.
Black hat keyword overstuffing is not recommended to “game” the search engines. In fact, with Google’s recent Penguin and Panda updates, these practices have been virtually obsoleted.
There are many free and paid tools you can use to figure out how competitive a specific keyword is and what might be worth considering for use in your content. Keyword relevance to your business is essential for selection. While some obscure terms might be easy to rank for, their relevance may attract the wrong visitors who aren’t truly interested in what you have to offer.
The goal of your keyword research is to find a balance between relevance and competition for the term or word. Trying out different keywords, and then analyzing their performance over time will help you to continue to refine and improve your search results ranking.
L | Landing Pages
A landing page is a web page that allows you to capture a visitor’s information through a lead form. By definition, the landing page is the page they are presented when they click an offer link. Think of them as the action center of your lead generation efforts.
Landing pages often represent the first impression and the one and only chance a marketer gets to entice a web page visitor to provide their contact information in exchange for something of value to the visitor. The capture opens the path to convert this prospect into a paying customer. Or at a minimum, it opens the opportunity to start a budding relationship.
A good landing page will target a particular audience with a specific offer. Your landing pages should allow visitors “one-click” access to valuable content. Therefore, it’s important to build a unique landing page for every offer that you provide to your site visitors. Tracking your conversions (the number of people who actually give up their contact info for your content) is essential. This data will allow you to keep testing offer options and will uncover the areas that have room for improvement.
N | Newsjacking
— Michele Linn (@michelelinn) February 22, 2016
The practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify the impact of a piece of content is defined as “Newsjacking”.
If a significant change in your business happens as a result of competition, legislation or market influence, you should blog about it—Newsjack it. Timely posting is essential for the best result. The reason is that Google rewards those who cover news items quickly and comprehensively by bumping up their placement in the SERPs | Search Engine Results Position.
So the next time you get exposure to a big news story related to your industry, find a way to post about it with your own helpful and relevant insights on your blog.
O | Offers
Offers are content assets that live behind a form on a landing page. Offers for high-value content should help you generate leads for your business by asking a site visitor to give you something for the content you’re offering—like their email address.
In exchange for the content, you create the opportunity to engage with them again. By reaching them directly with additional educational and relevant offers such as ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, free trials, and product demos, you can nurture them into a qualified lead for your product or service.
P | Pictures
Telling stories with visuals creates a completely different impression than the written word. Because visuals evoke emotion they communicate instantly. And as a result, they’re going to make your story more approachable, more interesting and more likely to be shared with others. Recent research has shown that:
- | Visuals transmit an idea + meaning to the brain 90% faster than text | Source:3M
- | Content with images attracts 94% more total views on average | Source:SEOmoz
- | Posts with videos attract 3X more inbound links than plain text posts | Source:SEOmoz
- | Website visitors spend 100% more time on pages with videos | Source:MarketingSherpa
If you want your content to be memorable, shareable and findable, you’re going to have to leverage the power of visuals, photographs, video and graphics for a successful content marketing program.
Q | Quality
A recent study by the Aberdeen Group, uncovers that the value placed on producing quality content, and generating enough of it, is one of the highest priorities of brands engaged in content marketing.
But the execution is not keeping up with the perceived value. And with increasing interest and demand for content, marketers are struggling to match their enthusiasm with high-quality content that’s produced on a consistent schedule.
Whatever classification your business falls into, decisions, methods, and resources now have to be allocated to become a content creator, curator, and distributor. If not, an organization runs the risk of being eclipsed by competitors.
S | SEO
Once you’ve invested all of the effort to create great content, you need to do all that you can to get it found. That’s why you need to optimize all of your content for search engines. SEO | Search Engine Optimization is divided into two primary categories: On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.
On-page SEO refers to how well your website’s content is presented to search engines. This can often be improved by paying attention to the needs of the search engines and following best practices to ensure that your SEO techniques align with what your prospects will be searching for.
Off-page SEO refers to your site’s overall “authority” on the web which is determined by how other websites recognize your site.
If you’ve embraced Content Marketing, or if you’re only experimenting with it to see if it has value for your business, getting comfortable with the granular details and requirements of SEO is no longer optional.
T | Twitter
It’s well known that Twitter is an awesome tool to engage with prospects and followers, improve site traffic, and increase your brand awareness. And if you’re using Twitter as part of your content marketing strategy, you should be measuring and analyzing how many clicks your tweets are actually getting.
Recent research by Hubspot Inbound marketing scientist, Dan Zarrella, provides some real-world data with actionable tips for improving the use of this increasingly popular platform. Dan advises using the CLICK THRU RATE | CTR as the most important metric to pay attention to.
The formula of Number of Twitter Clicks / Number of followers = your CTR. By determining that number, you can use it as a baseline to start improving your performance.
V | Value
In the annual CMO Survey, 66% of heads of marketing said they are feeling pressure to prove value.
This doesn’t pertain just to content, but it’s a chart content marketers would be wise to memorize. Because if you want the top marketer in your organization to notice your team’s efforts, fund them, and reward them, then you need to demonstrate the value of your efforts on producing, nurturing, and qualifying leads.
That means getting beyond web traffic and search rankings and mapping out a strategy for becoming a truly efficient and effective content factory.
W | WordPress
Of the top 10 million sites on the web, nearly 22% now run on the open source WordPress development platform and CMS | Content Management System.
These numbers provide affirmation that this truly remarkable platform has expanded far beyond its modest beginning as an online blogging tool. And thanks to the largest, talented and passionate community of developers around the world, WordPress will continue to improve with new levels of performance and customization not yet imagined.
If you chose to have your site built on WordPress, the result is confidence that this platform will continue to provide a flexible foundation for growth, content marketing, and social engagement.
Y | You (Instead of them)
AAM | All About Me is history. So it’s time to forget the chest pounding. A steady stream of content deployed about your projects, parties, awards, or other self-directed interests is great for you. But what about the prospects and customers you’re trying to reach and influence? How does any of that address their needs, pain or challenge?
As author and principal, Jay Baer, of the Convince and Convert blog, points out in his popular book, YOUTILITY, success with online marketing today requires turning your organization into a continuous provider of education, insights and entertaining content. The result helps your prospects and customers find, choose and use your product or service. A YOUTILITY can then become the trusted online destination that attracts visitors and keeps them coming back again and again.
Without well-defined goals and a structured content marketing strategy, many content marketing novices just end up creating more unnoticed noise that their customers or prospects won’t be satisfied with and certainly won’t comment on or share. A more effective path to success would be to stop the noise and start adding some value.
Z | ZZZZZZ
Content that’s a snore with no story or unique and authentic voice is the fastest way to fail at content marketing.
Originality and great work require action and decisions in the face of risk and loss. To successfully manifest a voice in your head and turn it into reality, you have to have skin in the game with the risk of emotional, reputation or financial loss. Developing an online voice and personality by default creates exposure to judgment because everyone on the Internet can see and hear what you do—anytime, anywhere, instantly. The result is an uncertain outcome with exposure to judgment by others.
Therefore, the voice that you present online should be a direct reflection of who you are and what you offer. It should be authentic, unique and have all the personality that you need to be known for. So having something to say and saying it with conviction and consistency is no longer optional.
Content Marketing success is built on a solid foundation
There’s no denying that a website is the most essential component for marketing any business today. Unfortunately, you’re now competing with millions of other sites and blogs for an online audience that is overwhelmed with choices, has limited attention and way too much to see and absorb.
Like never before, there is an imperative to define and present your value online to prospects and customers. Because if they don’t understand what you offer, how you’re different or why they should use, buy or work with your solution, they won’t convert. Developing a structured brand positioning that summarizes and simplifies the value you’re offering is essential for content marketing success.
If you don’t have this, you’re going to need it to develop it first. Why? Because it will become the strategic guidelines for all of the content that you’ll be presenting online.
Time to get serious about Content Marketing?
If you’re ready to develop a clear strategy and a structured content marketing program with some qualified help, we should talk.