As the online content marketing trend continues to rise, businesses are spending increasing levels of time and money on it. A third of B2B marketing budgets already are spent on content marketing, and more than half of B2B marketers say they plan to ratchet that up.
Data from the Content Marketing Institute show that certain techniques work almost universally. These include:
- Case studies: 64 percent effective
- Webinars: 61 percent effective
- Blogs: 59 percent effective
- Video: 58 percent effective
- eNewsletters: 58 percent effective
- Whitepapers: 57 percent effective
- eBooks: 55 percent effective
- Articles (on your own website): 53 percent effective
- Articles on other websites (guest posting): 50 percent effective
The problem with just following a list is that not all organizations are alike. They have different needs, talents, and goals.
This brings me to the crucial first step in content marketing: figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you want to generate leads or create buzz? Many content plans fail because businesses are clueless about what they’re trying to achieve. They just want to “do content” because someone went to a seminar and heard that it’s a good idea.
So, what should real content marketing goals look like? Read on!
1. Help & Educate
Marketers have earned a certain amount of distrust over the past few years. They send spammy emails and make cold calls to busy business owners. That’s why people hesitate to give up their contact information when leaving blog comments or by accepting a free gift; they don’t want the non-stop pestering that can come with it.
Marketers can overcome that reluctance by giving customers something they truly want or need. People will gladly trade their email address in exchange for expert advice about solving their problems.
Though they can be expensive to produce, case studies and webinars are excellent ways to provide valuable educational content. Don’t have that type of budget? Write a white paper or eBook and promote it on your site. At AudienceBloom, we did this with my eBook titled “The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online.” Not only has it been immensely popular among visitors, but it’s helped to build a solid and steadily-growing email list of amazing subscribers.
2. Build A Community
Community can be more important when you’re marketing to a business than when you’re trying to reach a consumer. With a business, you’re asking leaders to make a decision that will affect their bottom line. Build that trust, that relationship, by building a community.
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are often the first thing that people think of when they talk about building a community around a product or a brand. But there are other ways to reach out to customers and hear what they’re saying.
Blogs allow you to relax your presentation. Use your blog to announce new products, educate potential customers or address their concerns. Read comments and answer them in a meaningful way that goes beyond, “Hey, thanks for commenting!” Respond to what they say.
This is crucial if the comment is uncomplimentary. For more information on engaging your audience through blog comments, see my article, “What’s the Secret to Getting Blog Comments?”
Video sharing also helps build strong communities. Video appeals to visual learners, and it’s a great way to show off your product line. It literally puts a face and a voice on your company. Whether you create a YouTube channel or incorporate video on your site, you inform, educate and encourage viewers to share on their social media streams.
3. Demonstrate Your Expertise
Anyone can write an article and host it on their own website without any editorial review. But if you write something for another site, it establishes credibility, builds authority in your niche, aligns your brand with that of the publisher, and builds trust in your business. It demonstrates that industry leaders trust what you have to say.
Webinars also can help build your reputation as an expert because real-time question-and-answer sessions allow prospects to test you. If you can answer on the spot, they’ll be convinced that you have the expertise they want and need.
4. Help The Search Engines Help You
Much of the power of social media is in communicating with people you already know. But just as going to a party and talking only to your friends isn’t a good way to network, failing to reach out to new businesses is a lost opportunity.
That’s why you still need the search engines and why you need them to keep coming back to your site. You do that by regularly and consistently giving them something new and awesome to index. Sites that frequently publish new blog posts and/or articles have 434 percent more indexed pages than those with static content.
Fresh content also helps you with people you already know. They’ll keep coming to your site to read the latest, and they’ll stay there longer because your content is outstanding.
5. Keep In Touch With Your Customers
A weekly or monthly newsletter helps bring people back to your website and improves sales because it keeps your business top-of-mind. People are reminded about you every time the email hits their inbox. But, be careful! Don’t just throw a few teasers into an email and send it. People can get that content by visiting your blog.
Instead, give customers something they can’t get anywhere else and supplement that with links to other content you have worked hard to create. Special offers and discounts are popular email content as well, and they keep people subscribed to your list. An eNewsletter also is a fantastic way to announce a new eBook, product, service or other publication.
You can’t jump into content marketing without solid planning. Brainstorm with your team or your partners and establish measurable goals. Determine an acceptable timeframe for reaching those goals. Gather data and evaluate regularly. If something works, keep doing it. If something isn’t working, accept that and move on.
Once you figure out what works, get better at it. Keep these goals in mind, and your content strategy will yield the positive ROI you’re looking for.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.