It's time for your content to grow up
Written by Binh An Nguyen
Most business owners know about content marketing, and why it’s a critical component of an inbound marketing strategy. But knowing you need it, and knowing how to do it are two very different things.
Let’s face it: anyone can generate reams of content if they really want to. Anyone can set up a Facebook page and convince people to ‘like’ it. Anyone can build an email list, particularly if they give away lots of cool stuff as an incentive to join.
But there are some ways that smart marketers set themselves apart when it comes to content marketing. And all of these strategies come down to paying attention to what your customers want.
It’s time for your content to grow up and address the needs of your community! Here’s how.
1. Address the pain points of your community
Do you know what problems, issues or challenges your target market faces? Do you know what gaps exist in your industry? Do you know what type of information would make life easier for your clients?
If these questions leave you somewhat stumped, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate why you’re investing in a content marketing strategy. Is it simply to drive traffic to your website? Is it to establish yourself as an expert in your field?
Please understand, neither of these motivations are bad. However, they’re unlikely to be enough in the long term. Losing sight of the pain points and needs of your community will undoubtedly result in generic, ‘neither here nor there’ content. Writing simply for the sake of adding pages to your site will end up with one benefit: extra pages on your site.
If you truly want to build a mature content marketing strategy, it’s time to carefully consider why you’re doing it, and how you can best address the needs of your unique community.
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2. Create new content consistently, but know the expectations of your audience.
In short, more isn’t always better. Promoting a new blog post every day is going to cost you a ton of time and money, and to be frank, your community may not even want them. So how do you find out the expectations of your community? How do you know how often they want to hear from you?
Here are a few tips:
Look at your blog analytics
Chances are,there is some variation in how often you’ve posted in the past. Evaluate data like number of comments and social engagement (likes, shares, tweets, etc.). If you’ve been promoting your blog posts consistently via social media, it’s important to also look at how many social media referrals you’ve had for your posts.
Now, compare and correlate this information with how often you’ve posted. Do you notice more engagement when you’ve posted once a week, as compared to three times? Do you see more referral traffic from Facebook when you’ve promoted five posts per week, or when you’ve only promoted one?You may be surprised by what you find.
Look at your social media analytics
What are your social media analytics telling you? Do you receive more engagement when you post once daily, or three times per day? Does your community seem to like it when you respond to each and every comment, or does engagement tend to increase when you simply ‘like’ each comment?
How many mentions and re-tweets are getting when you tweet every hour? How about when you tweet only a few times a day? Listen to what your audience is saying on social media, or risk inundating them with unwanted content
Look at your email analytics
How often you should email your list will vary depending on your business and your industry. But even without them directly telling you, it’s possible to tell how often your community likes to hear from you.
Take a look at past email campaigns: On a week when you sent three emails, what were your open rates like? Did your unsubscribes go up? Or did click-throughs increase? Read between the lines and hear what your customers are really telling you.
3. Find out what types of content your community prefers
Just because research tells us that ‘more people like x than y’ doesn’t mean that holds true for your community. For instance, even though research tells us that an increasing number of website visitors prefer content in the form of videos, that doesn’t mean your audience prefers it.
When looking at the types of content you offer, ask yourself: What formats are best for my audience? Are they looking for quick, short ‘how to’ posts, or longer, more detailed and explanatory videos? Do they want to interact with you on Facebook, on Twitter, or somewhere else entirely?
The point is, don’t assume you have to stick with conventional wisdom. Just because the research tells you one thing, doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial to figure out if that’s what your community actually wants.
4. Use stories and examples to bridge the gap
What can take a dull, generic blog post and turn it into something wonderful? Stories, of course! If you feel like something is missing from your blog post, it could be that all that’s needed is the addition of a story, example, quote or case study.
Stories have a way of evoking emotions, shedding light on complicated ideas, and making content feel more relevant and useful to its readers. They take what could have been a dry, boring post and turn it into something people want to share.
Examples, case studies and quotes help your readers connect what you’re saying with the ‘real world’. They have the unique ability to drive a point home without coming across as preachy or overbearing. When used properly, they can help transform your content from boring or overly technical to clever, actionable and engaging.
5. Remember that content marketing isn’t a competition
Understanding that your content isn’t part of some kind of ‘competition’ can actually be quite a freeing realisation. The role of your content marketing strategy is to answer the question: how can I meet the needs of my community, nothow can I beat my competitors. It’s primarily about addressing the pain points of your community (see #1), not about going head-to-head with other content marketers.
Here’s what I mean: If your business sells high-end running shoes, your question shouldn’t be, “how can my content sell more shoes?” Rather your primary question should be, “what issues can I address in my content that will meet the needs of my customers?”
Ultimately, by focusing on what your customers want and need, you’ll just naturally produce great, relevant content that addresses their pain points. And this is the type of content that builds trust, and helps build long-term, profitable relationships.
Anyone can have a content marketing strategy, but having a mature content marketing strategy requires a careful evaluation of your motivations and goals. By realising that your audience is unique, you can create content that specifically meets the needs of your target market, resulting in a mature content strategy that benefits both you and your customers.
About the author
Binh An Nguyen is the founder and CEO of Market Ease Business Promotions, a digital marketing agency dedicated to helping companies in Australia grow by leveraging the power of the internet. In the past 6+ years, Binh has helped several multi-million dollar companies in Australia establish themselves as the market leaders in their fields, and sell millions of dollars worth of products and services online. You can find out more about Binh and his company at http://www.marketease.com.au
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