Content marketing is impossible without great content.
You may have heard it said before but in 2017 it has never been more apt.
In this article we’ll dissect the strategy used by content marketing heroes and show you exactly how you can utilise their findings with our own business, big or small.
First though, you need to understand the fundamental differences between a ‘content marketing strategy’ and a ‘content strategy’.
The latter is about crafting great content that’s useable. As Scott Abel rightly explained, it quantifies content into an asset.
But on the flip side, content marketing is the process of engaging an audience to drive profit via products or services.
In it’s most basic form content strategy would be about creating an instructional guide, perfect for new users. Content marketing would be about how you use that content to drive sales.
Do I really need a content marketing strategy?
Marketing is impossible without great content.
So, yes, you do.
As discovered by the Content Marketing Institute having a proper strategy in place is far more beneficial than you may think.
Those business or individuals with a content marketing strategy:
- Believe they are in a stronger position and more effective.
- Are less challenged with each element of content marketing.
- Consider themselves to be far more effective at in all areas of content and social media.
- Felt that spending more on content marketing was justified.
But, believe it or not only 35% of b2b marketers actually have a documented content marketing strategy in place.
48% have it locked away in a secure part of their brain.
3% were unsure, which is inspiring to us business owners.
Some 2017 data that will convince you to make a strategy
Users spend 26x more time watching video than reading words online.
An amazing stat, but when couple with this…
Live streams get 3x more attention than non-live video.
You can really see how engaging certain types of content could be for ‘talking’ to your audience if presented correctly.
For those of you who don’t know, ‘live streams’ are those videos you’ll see all over Facebook at the moment.
By the end of 2018 79% of all the internets bandwidth will be taken up with video related content.
To put that in to some perspective, in 2014 there were 880 million websites online, this figure is well over 1bn now.
1bn websites out there but 79% of the time spent online is looking at videos.
Another significant event in 2014 has larger repercussions.
In 2014 mobile took over desktop as the way that most people view content online.
So if your content marketing strategy doesn’t include content driven and accessible via mobile devices then it’s time to make it so.
Blogging is responsible for 65% of successful content marketing campaigns by businesses.
Nothing is more useful than a blog at helping a business grow authority online.
Your options: The different types of content marketing
There’s so many options you could include in your strategy.
Some are more useful, productive and suitable than others but that will vary based on the industry you’re in and your skill-set.
Everything from micro-sites to social media content and newsletters could be beneficial to you, your customers and your bottom line but knowing where to start is the biggest barrier to entry.
So next we’re going to look at what types of content marketing are out there and how they may fit with your end goals, work load and knowledge.
We all know the benefits and drawbacks of Facebook, Twitter and others but what we’ve probably missed is how to effectively use them to promote our businesses. Successfully anyway.
There’s a huge overlap with social and content which at one point almost made it interchangeable but that gap is widening as users start to differentiate between mediums.
Two key processes stand out for ensuring you get the most from your social media in your content marketing strategy:
Listen: Find out what your audiences problems are, read between the lines and look into qualms to see if anyone has helped. This is great content that your readers will engage with straight away.
Distribution: Use those people that follow you because of great content to distribute more of your great content. A great approach to this would be Andrew Davis’s 4-1-1 strategy. Which, in short, describes how you have to differentiate between your business and other content.
As the table below shows, b2b marketers in the UK have consistently used Linkedin to target those people they believe would be interested.
This is usually because those people have connected previously and are probably decision makers of customers they’d like to work with.
The key to engaging these people is to feed them information that they want, not just your own and never only sales related content.
Newsletters are one of the most used methods for content marketing teams.
Typically, they are used to target existing customers with business news, events or offers.
But, there are far better ways to utilise a ‘newsletter’ approach.
- Drive subscribers from all points in the buying circle.
- Set up sequencing to target all levels.
- Use a 4/1 strategy to drive trust and open rates.
- 4 information/tips/advice emails per month.
- 1 sales based email per month.
Create a funnel that your subscribers will receive on an automated cycle and this will drive interaction while you sleep.
Leading on from the newsletters: creating content around your niche on your blog gives you something great to drive traffic to.
Create guides, industry information, niche tips and advice to your users in your blog.
Not only will this rank on search engines but it will improve your website stickiness.
Case studies are an incredible way of delivering on your content marketing strategy while also potentially warming up sales.
By showing off USP’s and explaining how you went above and beyond with a specific client, hopefully one that others will recognise, you’ll be softly selling to your visitors.
Use as many specifics as possible and highlight all the results that would appeal to your clientelle.
With the rise and rise of Instagram images, photos and illustrations have become a huge part of any content marketing strategy.
If you’re in an industry that creates or can use imagery to simulate an interaction, then you really should utilise it.
For example, everyone from mechanics to digital agencies could use imagery to engage with users.
Take pictures of each job you do, publish it. It’s that simple.
If you’ve never created an infographic in your time you’d be forgiven for not realising just how easy it is in 2017.
There are sites dedicated to making this simple.
Basically to make one all you need are some good stats, facts or stats to display.
The more original and in-depth the better, especially if you can mix it up with some cool imagery and a story.
Quizzes are an amazing way of achieving three goals:
- Keep people on your website
- Encouraging interaction
- Finding out what your customers think
Devise a quiz that will appeal to your audience and publish it across your website and social media.
There’s a couple of end-goals.
Either use a quiz to gain further insight in to your audience or as a ‘viral’ piece to drive sharing and discussion with people connected to your audience.
Why your strategy has to include video
Apart from the stat we’ve already discussed (users spending 3x more time) video content should be a vital part of any content marketing strategy for a number of other reasons.
- In 2015 videos posted by each user on social media increased by 75%.
- Video posts have 135% greater organic reach than words alone.
- Facebook alone generates 8 billion video views per day.
The massive over-supply of video thanks to evolutions in technology like Facebook live is making video far more accessible.
This in turn is creating a balance of demand as users become more used to interacting with it.
What should be included in a content marketing strategy
The next part is the hardest.
Working out what will be included in your plan and why is a crucial part of your campaign.
To create a content marketing strategy, you need 5 things:
- Your business case – Work out your reasons for creating the content and safe-guard against any possible mistakes.
- Your business plan for content – What are your goals? SWOT analysis.
- Audience personas and maps for content – Who are you targeting? what are their needs?
- Your brand story – How do you differ from the competition? What are the messages you’ll be conveying?
- Your channel plan – What platforms will you use and why? What are the processes behind each?
Don’t forget, marketing is impossible without great content.
Get the content spot on, well researched and suited to your audience and in most cases the rest will come naturally.
Some great examples
To finish up we’ve got some incredible examples of great content marketing in action:
Rolex: Inspiring imagery
Coca-cola: Mass-market personalisation
Nike: Inspiration through great customer services
Whole Foods: Helping customer lose and win