Here's a six-stage plan to maximise your content marketing strategy, courtesy of PR Newswire, a press release distribution service.
Monitor and Listen
"Before creating a single piece of content, listen. Learn what interests your audiences, how your brand currently resonates with them, what your competitors are saying and what conversations are happening in your industry," say the authors of the report.
Listen well and you may be able to come up with content that achieves your business objectives and is useful for your audience without being too salesy. If you're listening to your customers and responding to what they want, and your content follows suit, they will like your content.
A survey of business executives, The Content Preferences Survey from DemandGen Reports, found that 75% of respondents want content writers and creators to "curb the sales messaging".
Create and Optimise
Think about your audience's preferred content type and format. It is possible to align these with your marketing objectives in one of three ways:
Thought leadership: infographics, articles, blog posts and short white papers offered directly to interested audiences. Basically anything that goes to show the depth and breadth of an organisation.
Acquisition: white papers, video demos,eBooks or webinars. These ought to be gated so that you can collect leads.
Nurture/cross-sell: this is content used to bring a lead from marketing through sales. Content types include original articles, infographics, blog posts, guide books, comparison grids, demos and more. Calls to action – to request more information or view a demo – are essential in these content types.
One straightforward option is through news feeds. "Staying on top of the latest news also provides opportunities for you to actively participate in the breaking news cycle by adding your own relevant commentary to the resulting discussion – even incorporating the keywords noted in the news coverage within your messages and landing pages," says PR Newswire.
News feeds are one of the oldest and most tried-and-tested forms of content marketing. Regularly updating your site with topical features and analysis, and the right keywords, will always drive traffic.
Identify and Target
"There are big influencers and small influencers, and you need the right mix of both to generate a viral effect around your content," says the study. It's all about creating conversations, shares and social media buzz. Think about who you want to reach first with your content – targeted content at core influencers – bloggers for instance – can get the ball rolling a lot faster than taking a scattergun approach.
Engage and Interact
"Content can only make an impact in the social sphere if it is easily found, triggered for audience interaction and readily shareable," according to the report. Remember that once you get content out there, you will need to respond and react. Social media posts will attract comments – how do you plan to respond if they are anything but positive, for example.
Distribute and Reach
Think about how you plan to get your content in front of as many people as possible. If your website is generating thousands of page views every day, people will pick up on it regardless. If you're a smaller player in the market, think about how your content will be read.
Measure and Report
Metrics, as we've said before, are crucial to content marketing success. Decide before how you plan to measure activity – page views, sales or social media followers, for example.