Have you ever created content that sucks? Or worked really hard on something, dedicating a ton of resources, only to have it under-perform or not earn the reach and impact you wanted? You’re not alone.
Despite the fact that content marketing has becoming increasingly popular among B2B companies this year, only 44% of them have a documented content strategy. This creates marketing silos that limit the benefits of creative and shareable content, which basically results in crappy content.
A diverse, creative, and strategic content plan can break down silos and help create content that resonates with your target audience while increasing social shares, network size and engagement.
During today’s SES Chicago conference, TopRank’s Brian Larson and Walmart’s Alok Jain shared several tips & tools to help marketers take their content marketing strategies to the next level. Lucky attendee Andrew Webb even tweeted his way to win a copy of Optimize, authored by TopRank Online Marketing CEO, Lee Odden.
1. Know What to Create & When to Post:
Regardless of why you’re doing it, there’s something you hope to achieve with your content marketing efforts. To be successful, align your overall sales strategy with understanding the objective of your content marketing. What you’re hoping to help your prospective customers do will impact what and when you post:
- Awareness: If you want to help increase awareness of your brand, product or sale posts should be daily and in short form. things like blogs, banner ads, and social media posts are best.
- Research: Let’s face it–a lot of people do research online prior to purchasing. To help cater to those users post weekly content in long-form. Things like buyers guides and white papers will provide all the information these searchers are looking for.
- Compare: When there are hundreds of other companies that do what you do, customers will naturally begin to compare you to your compeition. Try to appeal to these searchers by publishing “top 10″ or “best of” lists. Be sure to always interact so
cially so they know you’re listening (your competition might not be)
2. Collect Lots & Lots of Data:
It is important to integrate your keywords into your entire content marketing effort. Start researching keywords that fit well with your brand and that your customers are using. Make sure the words you choose are being used in search and are things you can (and plan to) generate content for. Grouping those keywords together can help make it easier to integrate them throughout your marketing mix.
3. Keep Your Content Fresh with an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar can house your keywords, your content plans, and your social messaging while helping you plan when to post it all. However, constantly producing brand new content can be expensive–especially when technology updates faster than we can keep up with. Include a content refreshment plan in your editorial calendar to make sure you stay up-to-date with technology while reducing the burden on your content creators.
4. Leverage the Information Around You
There is so much data available that it is impossible to wrap your mind around all of it. But there are a few things that you can, and should, leverage in your content strategy to help take it to the next level:
- Customers: Crowdsourcing ideas are great ways to find out what your audience wants and then giving it to them. Don’t be afraid to ask!
- Web Analytics & Keyword Research: Search volumes, page views, website navigation, and keyword derivatives are just a few of the ways web analytics can be baked into your content planning to make sure your content is relevant and found in search
- Social Data: See who your customers are following, what they’re talking about. Doing so can help provide insight into opportunities for content and interaction.
5. Find Your Engaged Influencers
An engaged influencer is someone who your content resonates with, so much so that they’re motivated to share. A few traits of engaged influencers (aka how to find them) are link backs, social shares and comments. Now, that being said, you can break influencers down into several categories: thought leaders, colleagues/coworkers, family, celebrities and even more. Regardless of what category they fall into, those influencers have the ability to help your brand reach it’s audience.
6. Amplify with Influencers, The Right Away
Influence marketing is not an afterthought it is an ongoing effort and requires a few steps.
- You’ll have to start softly and giving value to them, asking nothing in return. Citing or promoting them in social is a good way to signal to your influencer that you care, and that you’re willing to share their content.
- Connect with them on social
- Consistently engage with them on social. Don’t interact until you get what you want, and give up. Continue to send them signals so they know it wasn’t just a one-off connection that provides no value
- Then you can pitch. Lead with a value proposition for them.
- Restart with Step 1 to maintain the relationship you just built!
7. Use Tools for Research & Measurement
Everything from the old school industry publications to social media tools can help you find what people are talking about, see what’s resonating, and find the influencers that will be friends to your brand. Here are a few tools to help get you started
- Topsy: Free tool that’s great for finding influencers on particular topics
- Tweet Binder: Free tool (if you analyze less than 2,000 tweets) that lets you see the impacts, reach, contributors and follower averages for the people talking about a certain topic
- Content Marketing Institute: Great resource for finding tools that can achieve the research you need to launch & measure your content efforts
- ShareTally.co: Can offer insight into the number of social shares your content generated
Remember: Content marketing strategies should take into account everything from keywords, search volume and customer relevancy to posting timelines, linking (internally and externally) and integration with social networks.
Thanks to attendee, Andrew Webb, who proved to be the most active Twitter user. He was rewarded with his very own copy of Optimize and a little photo love to the right.
Stay tuned for more from SES Chicago! We’ll be live-blogging sessions throughout the next three days.