From social media to eBlasts to SEO – somewhere along the way nearly all digital marketing activity became housed under the “content marketing umbrella”. But what IS content marketing, really?
These days, effective online marketing equates to a steady stream of quality content.
The key is knowing what kind of content your community finds valuable.
Content marketing can be used to describe a variety of digital strategies in 2018. Let’s break it down.
What Is Content Marketing? Start Here.
It’s likely that you are already doing some level of content marketing now. Below is a list of the many efforts that fall into this category:
- Blogging: Shoot for 800 words or more.
- Social Media Posts: Depending on your community, consider Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
- Video: Take advantage of YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook, too.
- eBlasts: Your email list is gold!
- On-Page and Local SEO: Make sure the content on your main hub is on point.
- Landing Pages and Microsites: Amp up your digital real estate.
- Podcasts: Audio in the iTunes store? Yes please.
Now that you can answer the question, “What is content marketing?”, you’re ready to determine what your community most likely wants to consume.
It is possible that your community would enjoy seeing consistent content from everywhere listed above, but unless you’re a celebrity or beloved brand it is unlikely.
Figuring out the where and why when it comes to effort is accomplished through a deep analysis of your current or desired community.
Ask yourself the following questions to get started:
- Who is my target market?
- Where do they consume content most frequently?
- What key words are they searching most often?
- How regularly do they interact with the content?
- What are my competitors doing?
A content marketing strategy is doomed to fail if it isn’t based entirely around your consumers and their interests.
Whether you choose to start with weekly blogging only, or hire an agency and hit everything on the list above, be sure to invest ample time in the analysis stage.
What Is Content Marketing? How-To.
After completing an analysis of your current or desired community, you are armed with a strong foundation on which to build an ongoing marketing strategy.
You have the what, where and why, let’s talk how. I will break it down one by one.
The most effective way to execute a blogging strategy that has actual ROI is to plan ahead and remain consistent.
Here are all of the things you’ll want to do as part of your blogging efforts:
- Research the keywords and LSIs that are attractive to your community.
- Create an editorial calendar to keep your efforts on track. Include things like a publishing schedule, keywords, headlines, and links.
- Write search engine optimized articles based on your keyword research, keeping in mind that 800 words is the absolute minimum.
- Source or create images ensuring they are properly formatted for web and SEO.
- Promote your blogs across social media, social bookmarking sites and SEM.
- Consider email outreach for back links and shares.
If it seems like a lot of effort, it’s because it is!
There is a big difference between blogging for fun and blogging for marketing. Commit to the full effort and watch your traffic, leads and sales increase.
The social media landscape is constantly evolving. Staying on the forefront of trending platforms is easy when you have a content marketing plan.
Be sure to include these efforts when it comes to social media marketing:
- Set up optimized social media profiles including clear contact information.
- Create a monthly editorial calendar featuring daily post content for each platform. Include date, time, copy, graphic and budget.
- Design visually appealing graphics and videos.
- Place and manage advertising on Facebook and Instagram to drive traffic back to your website.
- Include CTAs in every post, focusing on the soft sell.
- Utilize customer service opportunities to grow a loyal community.
- Analyze efforts regularly to drill down on effective content.
The more platforms you decide to use, the more man hours this effort requires.
Some content can be easily re-purposed across platforms, and some cannot. Be aware of what works where and avoid blanketing your audiences with the same message.
Reporting is a huge piece of continuing success on social media. Learn more about what to review here.
2017 solidified the massive appeal of video marketing. With Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all joining the video game alongside big timers YouTube and Vimeo, this is one type of content you definitely want to create.
Make the most of your efforts by accomplishing these tasks:
- Set up optimized video platform profiles including links back to your website in channel descriptions and all video uploads.
- Create a monthly calendar to keep track of video topics, shoot locations/times, and your publishing schedule.
- Plan to post videos at least once a week, utilizing the SEO friendly description opportunities.
- Analyze views and other metrics to to drill down on effective content.
You do not need to be a professional videographer to take advantage of the video boom. For a rundown of video how-tos, check out Amy Schmittauer.
High quality visual and audio + relevant topics + enthusiastic delivery = success!
Community members who take the time to sign up for your email list are the “hottest leads” you have.
Make the most of these loyal members by providing them with insider info and incentives like coupons/giveaways.
Here are all of the things you’ll want to do to see ROI from email marketing:
- Create a content calendar (consider re-purposing your video calendar) to keep track of eBlast topics, subject line, copy ideas, visual ideas, CTA focus, and send dates.
- Spend time designing a visually appealing, concise template.
- Utilize your email software to segment audiences for different purposes.
- Analyze open rates and click-throughs to determine future content.
Aim to provide such value in each eBlast that your community looks forward to the next one in anticipation of a great sale or big insider tip.
When it comes to email marketing, be careful not to overdo it. Our inboxes are already overflowing, right?
On-Page and Local SEO
Some may think this doesn’t exactly fall under the content marketing umbrella. I respectfully disagree, since ongoing SEO is highly valuable and requires content to be successful.
Be deliberate in your efforts here. All of your other digital marketing is pointing people to your website.
Check these deliverables off your list to ensure your ongoing SEO strategy is successful:
- Perform a deep keyword analysis for all positive and negative search terms driving people to your content.
- Update copy to include keywords and optimize content on every page.
- Optimize titles, meta, images, URL structure and 301 redirects.
- Claim local listings and localize web content.
- Build links & citations and remove duplicates.
- Monitor competition and implement regular checkpoints on health and progress
- Report on monthly activity and adapt to evolving search trends
If you aren’t an SEO Expert, a few of these one-time efforts are worth outsourcing. As a non-SEO expert myself, I trust all of my SEO needs to FreshSparks.
Landing Pages and Microsites
If you are struggling to dominate Google Search, landing pages and microsites are hugely successful, proven assets. They can be used as another channel for marketing your product or service.
Not only will they bring additional business, but they create additional URLs to populate search results.
When creating landers and microsites, be sure to complete the following:
- Keep the design on-brand so it is cohesive.
- Write keyword rich copy optimized throughout.
- Include a lead generation form integrated to email software for maximum ROI
- Promote on social media + paid ads
The opportunities are endless! Producing landing pages and microsites requires a certain skill set and may mean you need to outsource, but the ROI can be significant.
Your analysis will uncover if your community is likely to enjoy a weekly or bi-monthly podcast series.
If it’s up your alley, there are a few things you want to do to make the most of your time investment:
- Create an recording calendar to keep your efforts on track. Include things like topics, publishing schedule, headlines, and publishing file location.
- Get the right gear: software, mics, mixers, headphones.
- Record in batches (if you can) to streamline effort.
- Host on your locally owned platform and index for submission to iTunes, Google Music, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.
As you can see, asking the question “What is content marketing?” is really a jumping off point for an entire digital marketing strategy.
The what is only small piece of the puzzle. The why, when, where and how play key roles as well.
In my opinion, there is no such thing as over preparing. Consistency is key, and with the endless flow of day-to-day responsibilities, planning ahead is the only way to get and stay on track.
What is content marketing to you? Have I missed anything you use in your marketing strategy?
Let me know – find me around the interwebs @bellestrategies.
Belle Strategies is a boutique Social Media Marketing company based in South Carolina. Our team mixes innovative strategies with attention to detail for an online presence that produces tangible results. For assistance growing your brand on social media, contact us!
Rachel is a digital marketing strategist, and CEO of Belle Strategies. She spends her time helping clients convert their digital communities into lifelong customers.