This article by AJ Ghergich is part of our Blogtober event, which features blog posts written by industry influencers in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Everyone is on the content marketing bandwagon. How many companies, though, are producing positive results from their efforts? Unfortunately, very few. The main issue is not a lack of effort, but rather a lack of understanding of the fundamentals behind content marketing. In this article, we’re going to discuss the basics of content marketing and how to make it work for your company.
Many content marketing campaigns are doomed from the start simply because they are measured by the wrong outcomes. One of the most common misconceptions goes something like this: “We’ll create an infographic, people will love it, and sales will go up like magic!”
Any infographic, or any piece of content, no matter how well-researched and beautifully designed it is, will likely do a very poor job at directly driving conversions. If you approach content marketing with no definable and measurable goals, the only magic that will happen is your money going up in flames.
An infographic was never designed to instantly convert in the first place; in fact, the reality of how you get conversions through content marketing is much more complicated. Creating quality content is only the first step in a long process to convince a potential customer to make a purchase decision. If you measure your success off instant gratification—and skip the steps in between “make content” and “customer converts”—your content marketing will appear to fail.
If you want to be truly successful, your content marketing needs to be the start of a long relationship with your consumer. Content marketing allows you to flip the usual marketing script: Instead of interrupting people with ads, you provide valuable insights and information. Instead of pushing your message with ads, you ask for permission first. Instead of thinking of your audience as nameless leads, you think of the relationship you can build with them.
If you’re not already taking this approach with your content marketing, you can fix it.
I call this approach Consumer First Marketing. This method thinks about the people consuming your content first and your brand second. Keep in mind that this isn’t a replacement for content marketing, but a motto to guide your content creation.
Once you fully understand the process behind using content marketing to improve conversions, and create content your audience finds valuable, you need to be able to measure your success.
Use Facebook to unlock consumer persona data: You can find amazing insights into your consumer and your competitor’s audience for free with Facebook.
Search for things like:
Facebook Audience Insights is also perfect for uncovering the content your consumer already enjoys and insights into their demographics. Use this valuable data to focus your topics around your consumer’s interests.
This step doesn’t have to be difficult! Use a site like BuzzSumo to identify the most successful posts on sites your audience is already on.
Your goal is to make a few amazing pieces of content—not 100 “acceptable” ones—per month. Consumers are already drowning in a sea of content and anything less than amazing just doesn’t cut it anymore.
There’s no need to try and reinvent the wheel. Identify successful, great content, then create something similar but of higher quality. Brian Dean calls this the Skyscraper Technique and goes into great detail about it in his article.
Visual assets, or graphics, are the key to editorial success. And, I’m sorry to say it, but stock images are not visual assets.
Use eBooks, slide decks, videos, charts, graphs, infographics, micrographics, and other well-designed graphics. They’ll help you get editorial placement.
What I mean by editorial placement is that if you ask an editor to read and share your amazing new blog post, you will likely fail at gaining editorial traction. They probably won’t care. However, if you ask an editor if they want access to exclusive charts/graphs you created to accompany your posts, you’re more likely to succeed.
Here’s the key: If you don’t think your content is worth heavy promotion, it wasn’t worth creating in the first place.
Your content must be worth the time and effort it takes to perform outreach that actually works. During your content creation phase you should create an extensive outreach list. Then ensure you’ll get the best results by segmenting your outreach lists into top-tier influencers, social media influencers, blogs and media, paid social outreach, custom Facebook ads, and StumbleUpon ads. Find the segments that work best for your content and company and branch out from there.
For your top-tier influencers, do not send template or copy/paste emails. You will be ignored. Treat them like the influencer they are with a customized pitch.
From an SEO perspective, the external links you gain from high-quality editorial placements increase your site’s domain authority.
Your infographic may appear to be a poor direct conversion vehicle. However, with proper outreach it can be an excellent driver of earned editorial placements. This is important because links from external sites allow domain authority to flow throughout your entire site. Google’s trust in your site and brand will increase, and you’ll likely see an increase in your organic search traffic.
When you improve your organic search traffic you tend to convert more sales. Content marketing often has a huge impact on sales because it has a huge impact on your site’s SEO.
Even successful blogs have a high bounce rate, which is why this metric is a poor indicator for content marketing success. No matter how loyal they are to your company, people who love your content will likely leave your site as soon as they finish reading.
A simple but necessary solution is to set up a retargeting campaign with sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google Adwords. Target readers who had a high dwell time on your content. If they stuck around for a while to consume your content, they are highly likely to engage with your future content. Sharing your best content with them on their Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as on other sites, is an effective way to continue a relationship with your best prospects at a low cost.
Adopt a consumer-first marketing approach. This will change how you approach and measure content marketing and dramatically improve your results.
AJ Ghergich is a leader in the inbound marketing industry who specializes in SEO and content marketing. He founded Ghergich & Co., an SEO-driven content marketing agency. You can find him on Twitter at @SEO.
This article is based off of AJ’s presentation at Dreamforce 2015. You can find his full presentation on SlideShare.
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