Content marketing is a promotional strategy that leverages a business’s products, services or brand to create newsletters, brochures, magazines, instructional guides, videos, podcasts, digital content and other materials designed to showcase that business’s offerings to customers.
Content marketing has proven to be such an effective strategy for generating sales and leads that many businesses are cutting back on paid media and outbound marketing in favor of spreading their own branded content across the social Internet.
Here are a few tips to help you craft an effective content marketing strategy:
• Plan your content ahead of time
Take a look at your website analytics to see which pages are the most popular. Check the websites that are generating the majority of your referrals. These two metrics ought to give you a sense of what types of content your prospective customers are looking for. Sit down with members of your team and brainstorm titles and keywords that fit that content. Keywords are an essential part of content marketing, critical for your SEO efforts.
• Look at relevant content that is trending on the Internet
Another way to figure out the type of content your customers are looking for is to search the topical questions and answers on popular question sites like Ask.com and LinkedIn Answers. Blogs, newsletters and trending tweets are also a great way to keep up on what’s happening in your industry sector. You can use Google Reader to aggregate relevant news, and search Twitter for pertinent hashtags.
• Create content nuggets consumers can digest quickly
According to marketing research giant Nielsen, few consumers spend longer than one minute on any given site unless they see something that snags their attention. If you want your content to be noticed, it’s best to display a few well-crafted morsels that consumers can read quickly, before drilling down to cover a subject in greater depth.
• Break prose content into sections with headers and bullets
Half the game is getting prospective customers to read the content your team has written, but the other half of the game is ensuring the content gets ranked high by the search engines. This is part of a strategy called search engine optimization.
Use headers to break your content up into short sections. Search engines are far more likely to pick up keywords that are incorporated into headers, and customers will find the content easier to read. Bolding, bullets and italics are also great for content marketing because they make keywords and concepts stand out.
• Measure the return on your investment
Inevitably there will be a certain amount of hit and miss situations when you’re first setting up a content marketing strategy. Over time, however, your content marketing choices should become more deliberate as you evaluate what works and what doesn’t.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy. It may take months before you begin seeing conversions. In the meantime you can monitor the momentum your content is generating by looking at metrics like Facebook likes, retweets and reblogs, @mentions, followers, comments and links back from other Internet bloggers and commenters.
You should also be reviewing your website statistics on at least a weekly basis. Metrics like the average amount of time visitors spend on your pages as well as the average page views per visitor and bounce rates can also give you valuable feedback about your content marketing’s effectiveness.
Author: Zac Grace works as senior SEO consultant at Dejan SEO, the most capable SEO company in Australia. His expertise ranges from content marketing and creative link building to technical website reviews.