Content marketing is getting all the attention
Content Marketing tactics are logical: rather than forcing messages about your product at potential customers, attract prospects to you by publishing content related to your prospects’ interests. Search rank, traffic, leads and many other benefits come out of this technique.
In this sense the discussion shouldn’t still be about if or why an organization should use Content Marketing, but “how?”. What does it take for a brand in reality to become a publisher, produce outstanding content, and lure traffic and bring about conversions?
So if you’re contemplating the “How?”, don’t worry. The purpose of this post is to give you instructions for developing and managing a Content Marketing Machine. Though, to avoid misunderstanding, it’s not about taking a little taste by composing some blog posts, or creating an infographic. This is about a continuous endeavor to create content quality in your area. It’s about a mechanism which produces more traffic and leads with less expenses than the total number of other channels all together.
The content marketing machine
To begin with, we can check out the machine with all of its parts to help you understand in general what you will be constructing and operating:
First we can take a look at the machine, piece by piece.
Objectives and Plans
You need to determine the objective, the final product you wish to receive from your Content Marketing Machine. There can be many targets for Content Marketing, such as customer retention, upsell, support and brand recognition. Yet, for a majority of Content Marketers the primary goal is Lead Generation/Customer Acquisition, which can appear as adding an item to a shopping cart, filling out a lead-gen form, or signing up for a trial.
You then develop a strategy to generate a content-driven direction which leads your potential customer from the place they are in now to the final objective. The best approach is to lay out on a chart the client characteristics on one axis and your different phases of the purchasing sequence on the other axis, on something named The Content Grid. Following is a more exact view of this section of the machine:
At this point you should determine for each cell in this grid, what content can entice the persona to that level and assist them in going further. More precisely, the following questions need to be answered by each cell:
• What responses is the Persona looking for at this point in the operation?
• Which subjects and categories would furnish this content and responses to these inquiries?
• What title examples are there for content in each cell?
• What configuration(blog posts, videos, eBooks, etc.) would be used to transmit this content?
Don’t forget, at the beginning of your purchasing process the potential customer isn’t concerned about you or your product. Therefore, the content you use at this stage needs to be somewhere in between your potential client’s interests and the proficiency of your association. You should never endorse your own products and services in the content at the beginning. Instead, while progressing through the Content Grid and recognizing that your potential customer has displayed an attraction to your products and services, your content should present more information about them.
Assembling the team
Now that you have a strategy, you need to determine who will accomplish it. Start by examining your grid to decide who is capable of generating these bits of content. You can choose from internal contributors, external paid freelancers or guest posters.
This understandably is predicated heavily on the money available to you, but for a majority of organizations it is a combination of internal and external contributors. You should make use of your special internal proficiency, but not neglect external abilities in distributing the load, especially when it involves rich media content such as video and infographics.
Although there is diversity in available contributors, one position which is steady and vital is that of the Managing Editor. A lot of suggestions and content will be presented for the Content Machine by those with vested interest, but there should be a particular person who will be
in charge of controlling the machine. That person would have to plan the editorial calendar, supervise content production and distribution, generate traffic and conversions, monitor metrics and be accountable for results. If you are missing that person, you will only have a small appliance instead of a Machine.
For best results the Managing Editor should possess content experience from a journalism, copy writing or PR background, but in addition the Managing Editor needs to be familiar with the web and methods of search, social, analytics and link-building. Finally, the Managing Editor also should be informed about marketing and the final goals of driving traffic and conversions.
Finding the right Ideas
Many marketers frequently have problems with the Ideas component of the Content Marketing Machine. In the Content Marketing Institute’s 2012 Content Marketing Research Report, a majority pointed to steadily producing content as their most difficult test, especially encountering challenges in determining what to generate. In order to really be a publisher routinely generating content 3 to 5 times a week is necessary. Interestingly, marketers complain about needing to compose something each day.
Don’t forget that most of the content you will be generating will be about your clients’ interests, rather than about your products. Therefore to become aware of your clients’ interests maximizes your potential for producing content ideas.
You should consider two optimal procedures for idea production. You can start with online social listening. Get involved in the subjects you are checking on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Discover what subjects are attracting the communities. You can use Q&A sites such as Quora and Yahoo Answers to determine what particular inquiries your potential clients are seeking answers for.
The second optimal approach is to recruit the listeners in your association. You have co-workers in sales, services and support who have discussions with clients each day. Suggest that they listen for bits of client worries and present them to the Content Marketing team. In order to provide motivation for your co-workers to take part, be sure to not let their suggestions get thrown out, but if you need to turn them down, tell them. If you use their suggestion to produce content, let them know about the content and its performance. Top associations in using this go as far as to maintain a leaderboard to display which employees submit the best suggestions to the Content Marketing ideas performance.
Grow your audience
You should feel successful now that you have started publishing content and have gotten your machine operating, but you are only midway through the process. The next part involves attracting visitors to the content. That is the Audience Development piece in the Content Marketing Machine. There are four main sections to Audience Development:
• Influencers. The most crucial part of Audience Development is influencers. Start with determining the influencers in your area: the individuals and associations in your subject who attract many visitors to their sites, followers to their Twitter accounts, etc. That is to say, the potential clients who you wish to begin reading your content hang out in these areas.
Your goal is to attract links from these influencers to your content. Begin by developing relationships with these influencers. Retweet their tweets. Comment on their blogs. Dialog with them.
After you’ve managed to attract the attention of the influencer, you should design content keeping in mind the final goal of the Influencer link. Consider what content this influencer would be interested in enough to want to give it to their audience. Also, you could attempt to involve the Influencer in the operation from the beginning by sharing with them that you are developing an item of content and would be thankful for their observation or a quote.
• Search. The crucial point to attracting referral traffic to your content is obtaining these Influencer links. In addition, it is the strongest means for bettering the second category in Audience Development: search traffic. After you attract links from valid influencers, the Search Engines will boost your rank, gaining more traffic. Naturally, you have to be serious with this procedure: determine which search keywords your personas will seek, aim for and optimize your content for those keywords, and follow how your content efforts, checking each keyword, are influencing your search ranking.
• Paid. Although Content Marketing emphasizes inbound, organic decency, there is also a place for Paid traffic. Employing paid strategies to boost the content section of the Content Marketing Machine mechanism is useful, no matter if it is SEM, or Facebook ads, or sponsored Tweets, or paid Email newsletter distribution. It’s also amusing to observe how Content Marketers are employing paid to boost traffic to their content pages, which are about the prospect’s interests, rather than to their product pages, which are about the marketer’s products. Since the activity of building a relationship with a prospect based on informative content is so strong, marketers are using the more enduring, but more productive means of purchasing traffic to their content.
• Syndication. In the end, the content you generate doesn’t have to be restricted to your own properties, whether it be your site, YouTube account, Slideshare account, etc. The most direct approach to gaining a link from a site often visited by your prospects is to share quality content with that site. Syndicating your content will gain at least one link to your site through your author biography, but at the same time it starts to build a good relationship between you and your prospects before they visit your site. Especially at the start, most other sites have developed much more traffic than yours has, so syndicating content there is a super means of getting your traffic moving.
Conversion rate and how to measure it
Alright, you have the Machine functioning completely now. Content is being generated, with visitors arriving for that content. While the Machine continues to run, you have to check a set of gauges for each piece of the machine to learn what keeps it running and to carry on with tuning it and optimizing its performance.
Ideas and Production. Be aware of the type of content you are sending. Have you found the best distribution across the personas from your Content Grid? Are you reaching the pertinent subjects?
Audience Development. Determine which influencers are delivering the most traffic to you. It’s important to thank these influencers and link back to them. Check for which kinds of content are successfully attracting the most valuable links. You should emphasize that content. Evaluate which keywords are attracting high search volumes, but are not bringing you a lot of traffic. You have to better your generation of content relating to these keywords to improve your rank. Determine which paid channels are providing the greatest amount of cost effective traffic.
Traffic and Conversion. As it reaches our final target of the conversion, this becomes the primary goal. All of your content must be evaluated for its performance in attracting first time visitors to your site, returning previous visitors, and sending them down the purchasing cycle, especially to the conversion event(e.g. form submission, add to cart, start a trial) which you desire to follow. Evaluate all of your content using these intentions, so you can find tendencies. For example, you could discover which authors are attracting the most first time visitors, which content categories, blog post, eBook, video, are causing my personas to return, or which subjects of content are generating the most conversion events.
You are really just trying your best attempt for all beginning content tactics. You have to manage your Machine and evaluate your metrics to determine what is effective and what isn’t in order to better your performance in the long run.
Get your machine going
Certainly, you must realize that the outcomes of Content Marketing build up in time. Customary marketing strategies, for example advertising, necessitate the Marketer leasing the attention of another’s audience: the marketer compensates the media for the right to display the marketer’s message for the media’s audience. Although there are problems with advertising, this leasing brings instant results, since the media has developed an audience already.
Content Marketing involves more time, especially since, at the beginning, you don’t have an audience, but don’t let that stop you. Similar to the variation in buying and renting a house, with Content Marketing, you are increasing equity while you develop your audience. After awhile, your audience becomes an awesome asset: a continual source of leads, trials and new clients at exceptionally low expense considering the cost of traditional marketing like advertising. There are now many brands who have successfully built and now operate such a Content Marketing Machine(here are 50 examples).
When your Content Marketing Machine becomes self-perpetuating, you will reach the ultimate level of Content Marketing bliss. Normally, the machine operates with content as the input and audience/leads as the output, but after you become an impressive authority on your subject, your output, the audience, will start to provide the inputs, the content, as illustrated in the previous section on Syndication.
SEOmoz has, and rightfully so, achieved this ultimate level of Content Marketing bliss. We have become the audience members supplying the inputs!