Marketing channels: Content marketing
Content marketing involves creating and publishing content aimed at your target customer in order to grow your business.
Before you start
Before starting any content marketing, it is really important to:
- Set your strategy. Is the content part of a series? What is its focus (e.g., customer showcasing, direct response, education, lead generation)?
- Define the objective (e.g., awareness of your product, direct response)
- Define what value the content will have
- Set CAC goals (e.g., $5/user)
- Use customer discovery data in this process before you dive into writing content. Depending on your objectives above, it may not be content your venture needs.
As a best practice with your content marketing, define an editorial calendar. Use this calendar to catalogue your upcoming, evergreen (i.e., with a long shelf life) and existing content, which should all align to your venture’s goals. Within the calendar, assign responsibility for the piece of content and the related CAC objectives.
Content marketing basics
A common format for content marketing is blogs. Videos and infographics are very popular as well and can be easily shared over social media. You can use longer-form content such as whitepapers or guides to help further establish your thought leadership.
You’ll find there is overlap between expertise in content marketing, SEO and social media . For your content marketing to succeed, you’ll need search engines to be able to find your content and, in many cases, for your distribution methods to attract attention on social media.
If these areas are not your strength, or if you are stretched too thin as it is, consider hiring someone to help you with these aspects of your marketing.
What are some of the pros and the cons with content marketing?
If done well, content marketing can:
- Yield a longer shelf life than many other forms of marketing such as ads or events. A useful blog can still attract customers years after it was written
- Help you build your industry thought leadership
- Provide value to customers
- Delight and entertain customers
- Generate leads
- Drive viral engagement
- For some, writing a regular blog can feel daunting. If it feels too time-consuming or if writing is not your strength, consider hiring a writer.
- It takes time and consistent effort to identify valuable, engaging subject matter and then write about it. (Tip: Rather than coming up with ideas one by one each week or month, you may find it handy to brainstorm and schedule a few months’ worth of topics in advance, with leeway for new developments as they arise. As you go about the day-to-day business of your venture, keep an eye open for fresh conversation pieces. And ask various team members for ideas too.)
- Content can become dated (your editorial calendar can help you oversee what content might need to come down after a certain amount of time)
Can you reach your target customers through this channel?
Think about what you already know about your target customer:
- How and where you are most likely to reach them?
- Where would your customers be likely to see/read/view content you publish?
- Is text or video the better format for them?
- Would they (most likely) be consuming this content via mobile or desk/laptop?
- What demographic are you trying to reach?
- What do they like or dislike? Think about their interests and challenges and how you can appeal to them.
- What real value are you offering your customer in reading/viewing this content? Is it educational? Would it help them do their job?
Key tactics and strategies:
- Make it useful. Create content that is informative, or your audience won’t read or share it. Avoid the temptation to write about your product, as this can come across as navel-gazing. Look outward and write about what you know—discuss issues and developments in your industry, share advice and lessons learned, and remember to always write with your specific market in mind.
- Use keywords: Learn how to optimize your content with keywords or it won’t get found.
- Go multimedia: Use videos, infographics, images, podcasts and other non-print formats. (A freelancer can help you fill any gaps in required skills.)
- Get outside perspectives: Ask happy clients that use your product to guest-write a blog
- Get your name out: Guest-write blogs on industry forums that have a relevant audience (i.e., build your thought leadership)
- Measure and respond: Analyze the traffic to your blogs and videos, etc. Find out which ones do well. Listen and respond to any feedback and customer questions. Use this information to write/create more of what your audience wants.
- Drive traffic to your landing pages: Within your blogs, link to your landing page. Have a different landing page for target customers in different markets to what they are looking for. Keep updating and refreshing these landing pages.
- Medium (a blogging platform/publisher)
- WordPress, Squarespace or another content management system (CMS)
- Asana, or other project management software to help keep you on schedule
- Thinking of hiring a freelancer?
- Professional Writers Association of Canada
- Writers.ca (info on rates, contracts, copyright and more)
- Fiverr / Writing & Translation (a variety of freelance resources)
- 99designs (freelance design resources)
- MaRS video: Storytelling: Four Hot Tips for Startups
- HubSpot blog: Content Marketing Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide for Modern Marketers
- HubSpot collection: Blogging Blog Posts
- HubSpot collection: Content Marketing Blog Posts
- Shopify: A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing (video series)
- 500 Startups blog: 19 content marketing ideas that aren’t blog posts
- Kissmetrics blog: The Marketer’s Guide To Medium
- Nir & Far blog: How to Use Psychology to Make Persuasive Video
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