What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a tactic many talk about but hardly use to their advantage, especially during the holidays.
A content marketing strategy is used to stimulate interest in products and services instead of just explicitly promoting a brand. This technique drives sales by giving customers what they’re looking for while they’re actively searching for it.
Content Marketing bridges the knowledge gap between your product or service and your customer’s awareness. It allows you to connect with and educate customers at various points in the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness – customer realizes they have a problem
- Consideration – customer researches and tries to better understand their problem
- Decision – customer purchases a product or service to best solve their problem
Being aware of the buyer’s journey allows you to shorten the purchase decision process by providing custom content at the correct time in order to close the sale.
The Case for Content Marketing
A content marketing plan is useful all year round, but it is essential for your business to thrive during the holidays, especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2018, Black Friday brought in over $6.2 billion in online sales and more than 165 million American’s shopped throughout the weekend.
Most, if not all, retailers open their doors by midnight on Black Friday, so how can you compete with every retailer in your area? You guessed it, content marketing! No matter if you already have a content marketing plan in place for the rest of the year, plan to spend some extra time on theses four items before the holiday season.
1. Create Dedicated Landing Pages
Before Black Friday, most people research which retailers have the best deals and they shop online throughout Thanksgiving weekend. Creating and using dedicated landing pages for sales fliers, coupons, announcements, and top products gives consumers all the information they need to make the decision to shop at your store in person or online. For the best results, the content on your landing page(s) should target significant keywords, and all calls to action (CTAs) in emails and social media should lead directly to the landing page. Most importantly, make sure all pages are optimized for mobile, as most people search for and/or purchase from their mobile device.
2. Publish Gift Guides and How-Tos
Many shoppers use Black Friday and Cyber Monday to find gifts for their family and friends. Producing customer gift guides or how-to guides gives your customers high-value content and a reason to stay on your landing page(s) while you recommend your products to them. Guides that recommend products for dads, gifts under $25, or a guide on how to use one of your products would be invaluable!
3. Feature Reviews and Testimonials
While optimizing your marketing plan for the holidays, consider promoting customer reviews and testimonials prominently on your website. These elements of social proof continue to be crucial factors in the buyer’s decision. Reviews and testimonials can put you ahead of your competitors as people tend to copy the actions of others to ensure a positive buying experience.
4. Short Form Videos
When creating any content, consider utilizing video to engage the largest possible audience. At the beginning of 2019, we said short and long-form video content is a digital marketing trend to watch, and boy were we right! Utilizing short-form videos to display ads, guides, and testimonials on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube will increase ad recall and brand awareness like never before.
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is an event you can’t afford to ignore if you have a B2C business. Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain two of the biggest shopping days of the year. Use content marketing to your advantage and differentiate yourself against competitors.
Why should you invest in content marketing?
- To amplify your brand awareness
- To increase the credibility of your brand
- To develop brand loyalty
- To drive leads and demand for your products/service
- To control the conversation and educate your audience about your products and services
- To increase your social media following
- To achieve a compounding ROI
Simply put, there’s no better long-term marketing investment than content marketing.
According to the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute, 63% of businesses do not have a documented content marketing strategy.
So…how do you get started?
Step 1. Establish Your Mission and Goals
When creating a content marketing strategy, first establish a content marketing mission statement. This will help you focus on what’s important and make sure your content marketing strategy stays on track to meet your goals. Your mission statement should outline your target audience, the content you’ll use to reach them, and the benefit they’ll get. Try this formula to create your own mission statement:
“We provide [target audience] with [type of content] to help them [business goals].”
For example, here at 9miles Media, our mission is “to develop passionate brand ambassadors through innovative and results-driven digital marketing campaigns.” Our mission complements our goals also known as our vision for 9miles media. Our vision is “to be a world-class digital agency that helps forward-thinking brands lead the revolution in building engaging customer relationships.”
Step 2. Establish Your KPIs
In order to make your goals attainable, they should be specific and measurable. Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in order to know when you have achieved your goals by providing milestones for you to checkoff. KPIs include revenue, sales, and SEO metrics.
Ever heard of a SMART goal?
Step 3. Know Your Audience
In order to identify your audience for your goals and create the right content for your audience, you should collect demographic data, get customer feedback, and create buyer personas.
Step 4. Assess Your Current Position
If you’re starting from ground zero with no established content in place, skip to step number 5.
If you already have content out there, you will need to execute a content audit to figure out whether or not your content is helping you meet your goals. To carry out a content audit:
- Log all pieces of content, such as blog posts, social media content, podcasts, videos, etc.
- Assess their usefulness and success by analyzing view time, shareability, volume of engagement, etc.
- Identify the gaps
It is also wise to research your competitors and compare your content to see how any new content will fit in the market. Creating a competitor matrix is a great method!
Step 5. Determine the Best Content Channels
While working through this process, pay attention to where your audience is located online, and where you already have a successful online presence. Focus on what is working before trying to be on every platform at once. Look at web analytics to ensure you are focusing on the right channels.
Step 6. Decide on Content Types
Next, think about the types of content you need to create to engage and grow your audience. The most successful content marketing strategies have a central hub (your website) for all published content, which can then be shared for other purposes.
Content such as blogs are an essential part of your marketing mix as they are educational and shareable.
Do your research to find other successful content examples that you can use as inspiration.
Step 7. Identify and Allocate Resources
Do you have everything you need to deliver on your marketing strategy? You now know what you’re posting, who you’re posting for, and where it will be posted, but how do you implement this strategy?
- Who’s in charge of producing and maintaining content?
- What resources or capabilities do you need to create the content?
- What will your workflow look like?
- Do you have enough bandwidth to carry out this process in its entirety?
Content marketing falls flat if you create it but don’t distribute it correctly. Essentially none of this will work unless you are constantly maintaining and monitoring the success of your content assets. Here at 9miles Media, we consistently monitor the success rate of all content we create for our clients to ensure they reach the correct audience.
Step 8. Create a Content Calendar
In order to successfully establish and maintain your content strategy, you will need to know exactly when you’re going to post and on which platforms. Avoid the mistake of failing to plan by using a content calendar to schedule content in advance. Staying organized will help you maintain your content plan and help you identify what your audience responds best to.
Step 9. Create Content
Now it is finally time to create content! With the research you have done, you should have a very good sense of the type of post to create on each specific platform. Pick a topic in the content calendar and start working on it. When creating your content be sure to:
- Explore your competitors’ content relating to your chosen topic
- Identify how your new content will add value to your audience
- Reflect your brand’s personality through the content
Do a google search to find the top content for your topic and then find ways to improve it when creating your content, this is known as the skyscraper technique.
Step 10. Distribute and Market
Now that you have created your content, it needs to be distributed effectively if you want to achieve optimal results (who doesn’t?!). A few techniques to ensure proper distribution and marketing include:
- Create a schedule to share your content immediately on social media, and through a drip campaign
- Set up an email marketing campaign to distribute your content to subscribers
- Reach out to any influencers who are mentioned in your content and have them spread the word further
- Take advantage of paid advertising and boosting posts to reach larger audiences.
Step 11. Measure Results
Finally, it is time to gauge the success of your content marketing strategy. Revisit your KPI’s to see whether you’re hitting your targets or if things have shifted in the marketplace. In order to measure success, check Google Analytics to see how your content is performing. You can also use tools such as Google Alerts and Mention to track content marketing success.
Content marketing is an essential marketing strategy in order to provide valuable content to your audience. No matter what time of year, content marketing can be a key differentiator between you and your biggest competitors. Now is the time to get ahead of your competition and implement a strong content marketing strategy. Use these methods to build stronger relationships with your customers, capture attention, increase engagement, and improve brand recall.
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