Social media marketing tools and trends may come and go, but content marketing
remains one of the most important components of any digital marketing strategy, regardless of your industry or subject matter.
Continually creating compelling, informative content is a key way to spark interest in a specific product or service and not only help serve your audience the information for which they're searching, but also create valuable sales leads that can help improve your company's bottom line.
Yet a complete content marketing strategy often proves difficult to implement. After all, there's a lot more to the process than writing a piece of content and hitting "publish"—in fact, that's typically the easy part. It's what comes after that step that's just as crucial in actually putting that content to work for you and your website.
Considering a content marketing campaign, or interested in refining one that's already in progress? Here's a beginner's checklist that will carry you through the entire process and help ensure no key steps are omitted.
Write timely and fresh content
You could write all your campaign's content before the launch date, but that's not always the best move. Create pieces like blog posts, white papers or e-books based around evergreen topics that are helpful any time. Throughout the duration of your campaign, stay tuned in to your industry or subject matter and write about the news and updates that will be most relevant to your particular audience. That way, they'll soon realize they can turn to you for useful, up-to-date information, solidifying your reputation as a must-read source.
An editorial calendar can help you stay organized and plan content around holidays, selling cycles and other pertinent events, so if you don't already have a calendar in place for your own strategy, put this at the top of your to-do list.
Optimize your content
As you write your content, add relevant keywords to key areas like your headline, meta description, and opening paragraph. Think about what your target audience might search for and insert some of those keywords into your article-but don't overdo it. The article should still read naturally; remember, you're writing for people, not for search engines.
Make social media work for you
After publishing your content, it's important to get as many people to read it as possible, and social media channels are a key way to accomplish widespread distribution. Maintain an active presence on the social media channels most often used by your target audience. Consider incorporating tools like Dlvr.it to help automate part of the distribution process, which will help you share your content with as large an audience as possible.
Once you publish your content, make sure you've included social sharing buttons so that readers can easily distribute the information to their own networks. We already know that Google uses social media signals in its search results, so an article that has been shared many times will have the additional benefit of increasing your search engine rankings.
Create useful content
Web surfers have no shortage of choices nowadays when it comes to selecting a piece of content to read—and, as a result, a poorly researched or written piece of content is likely to get scanned and tossed aside. To avoid this, serve your audience content that they need or want. Determine what kind of things your target audience likes to read about and what kind of questions they want answered; then tailor your content to meet those needs.
Part of a successful content marketing strategy involves entertaining your audience, but you also want to inform them and easily serve them the information they need to answer questions, solve problems, or identify key resources that will help them in the future.
Find out what works and what doesn't
An important part of a successful strategy is creating content that will maximize the chances of creating sales leads—and a key way to do this is to examine previously published content and determine which types had the most successful conversion rates. Make use of tools such as web analytics and visitor-level call tracking software to help you gather data that you can then analyze to determine which types of content were most effective not only from a Web traffic and sharing standpoint, but also in terms of generating effective sales leads.
Avoid too much sales jargon
Sure, the end goal of content marketing is to increase sales, but making your posts into blatant sales pitches with over-the-top sales jargon will probably deter customers not only from making a purchase, but also from visiting your website or blog. People are more likely to make a purchase when they feel they've made the decision themselves, rather than having the benefits of a product foisted onto them.
It's important that your content naturally leads to a point that allows you to indirectly mention the benefits of your product or service. Keep in mind that not all content will give you this opportunity—and there's nothing wrong with that. Maintaining a focus on keeping your audience informed (and, when possible, entertained) will be more beneficial to your sales in the long run.
Contribute to relevant communities
Publishing on your own blog is important—and it's equally important to further distribute your information and attract more readers (and prospective buyers) by guest posting on other relevant blogs. After all, when it comes to your content readership, the more eyes, the better—not just from a brand-building standpoint, but also in terms of creating a larger audience with a potential for new leads.
Keeping these steps in mind will guide you through the content marketing process. See what we meant about there being a lot to the process after hitting "publish"?
Here's another tip: Remember that your content marketing strategy is a work in progress. Continually examine your data to find out how you can tweak the type of content you publish and how you distribute it to make your strategy even more effective—and offer more benefits to your readership. You'll probably find some tried and true tactics that work, but that doesn't mean you can't experiment with some new techniques.
These online content marketing tips have been provided on behalf of Response Tap, the U.K. leader in voice-centric marketing technology specializing in visitor level call tracking software since 2008.
Shelly Kramer is the CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A version of this article originally appeared on the V3 Integrated Marketing blog.