Think “blog post” when you hear the term content marketing? Blogging was one of the earliest content forms and can be a significant element of content marketing — but it’s rarely the only one. Potential elements are numerous and can include email campaigns, an active social media presence, downloadable white papers or e-books, even in-person events.
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “the strategic approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Key aspects of the approach are providing information (content) that educates, entertains and engages members of the target audience, establishing the content provider as an accessible authority on the matter at hand, and developing a relationship of trust and loyalty with audience members.
Like more traditional marketing practices, content marketing is most effective in generating a return on investment when there is a strategic plan behind it. Yet, an October 2013 study by Content Marketing Institute found only 44 percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers had a documented plan. The same study indicated that those with a strategy in writing were more likely to consider themselves effective (66 percent vs. 11 percent).
Elements of a Successful Content Marketing Plan
Ready to join the 44 (and very likely growing) percent of businesses with a plan? Online information on how to create one abounds. In fact, there is so much out there it can be overwhelming to a busy business owner. To help you get started, we’ve compiled this list of basic elements for your plan.
- Establish a clear and measurable objective for what you want to accomplish with content.
- Identify and study your target audience. What do they care about? What challenges them? Where do they spend time? What are they listening to, watching or reading?Determine what media/platform(s) at what times of day will best reach your target audience. Create a “channel plan” for where/when you will place your content.
- Identify your brand story/stories. How does your business meet the needs/challenges of your target audience? This is the story you want to tell. Here’s how Doug Kessler of Velocity describes content: “Think about the intersection of two spheres: the issues your prospects care most about; and the areas where your company has a real expertise. Start by generating great content in the overlap zone.”
- Optimize your website for the best reach. According to Mitch Levinson of Marketing Relevance, a website should be upgraded every two years. If it’s time to refresh your look, consider your target audience’s preferences and what features attract and interest them. Blogging is a great tool for frequent updates that help people and search engines find your site. Plan to incorporate a variety of content types into your blog – video, audio, infographics, webcasts, cartoons and more.
- Incorporate clear calls to action. Make it quick and simple for readers/viewers to contact you, find more information, comment or share on social media. Have a plan for responding promptly to inquiries and comments. Interactions such as these are the beginning of those profitable relationships you are seeking.
- Establish a means – and a calendar – for tracking your progress and adjusting your plans according to what you learn.
As more businesses adopt content marketing, more customers are expecting to find valuable information when they search online. Developing a documented plan, then following through with it and providing the content your customers and prospects are looking for can give you an edge over your competitors. Why not get started on it now?
If you have questions about getting started or taking your content to the next level, contact us at Page Progressive. We are here to help with your complete internet marketing needs.
Image courtesy of punsayaporn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net