“Content marketing” is a phrase everyone is throwing around, but few are excelling at. There is a lot of content being generated, but the quality, focus, and targeting is lacking. This is good news for you, though! The odds are your competitors are not really effective with content marketing and you can learn to be awesome. I am going to discuss six ways you can be better at content marketing than your competitors.
ALWAYS Start with Research
There is no form of marketing that is good without research. You need to know which audiences you should target and then gather as much information on them that you can (sex, personality, income, location, age, etc.). Next, you need to determine, for each group, what makes them tick, what they need and what will push them away. Segmenting your groups is critical.
Once you have a break down of demographics for each group, you need to figure out how you are going to reach each audience. Are social networks best? Which network per group? What about email marketing? What about real mail? Does your audience prefer content, images, or video? Where and how do they research?
Break down your current customer base into groups as well. What works for them? Ask them questions about why they chose you, how you have best reached them, where they hangout online, what are you missing, etc. Collect as much data as you can from your current customers; what they have to offer is golden.
You will need all of this data to start creating content and to continue generating content (and you can use it later for comparative analysis).
Personas are basically like creating a person based on the data you have collected. Use your current customers to help you create the personas you will be targeting. Needs and wants are important here; what need does your persona “A” need met?
- Where are they located?
- How can you reach them?
- What do they need to hear?
- What does persona “B” want in a service provider?
- What are the final decision making factors for persona B?
- What are the overlaps between persona A, B, and C?
- What message do persona A, B, and C need to hear? How should it differ for each of them, but essentially make the same point?
You know who you are currently reaching, but who are you not reaching? HOW are you going to reach them?
Personas are a great way to break down the groups that you NEED and WANT to reach. You need to understand what you are failing to do and/or what is missing in your current marketing strategies. Research and personas are a good way to begin creating and testing your theories on what will be effective with your audience.
Gather Feedback and Adjust Accordingly
Whatever form(s) of content marketing you choose to use (blogs, video, infographics, and even video infographics) you have to plan ahead of time on how you are going to gather feedback on your marketing efforts. Obviously you will have analytical data to examine (please, please, please use analytics), but you also need human interaction to really get the nitty-gritty on success and failure.
Note: Failure is really a great thing because it allows you to eliminate things that don’t work and failure allows you to fine tune what does work.
Audience feedback via direct communication, social networks, comments, email and/or surveys is really fantastic data. This kind of data will allow you to adjust marketing strategies in the right way and possibly also adjust your personas.
The goal is to begin offering the types of content marketing that lead to conversions, right? Your personas need to be precise and your marketing strategies need to offer what your audience needs, wants, and enjoys.
Being Diverse – Test, Modify, and Retest
Do not limit yourself to one form of content marketing. Blogging alone might not be enough for your audience. The personas you have created should help guide you in the creation of various forms of content. Some personas should prefer video over written content and the reverse might be true for a different persona.
You will need to create, gather feedback, examine conversion data and use it to determine if your marketing strategies are working and/or how they are or are not effective. You will have to test, modify, and retest; this will take time and money, which brings me to my next point.
Expect to Spend Money
You will have to spend money that doesn’t have an immediate return in the beginning of any marketing effort. The reason is that you are essentially testing to determine if your personas are correct and if your marketing messages and mediums are effective. You eliminate what doesn’t work and fine tune what does.
The money you spend to do this is well worth it because you will now have starting points, specific audiences you know to target, and you will have a wealth of information to help you generate content.
Monitor Social Closely
If you are going to use social media you have to understand that there is a true psychology behind being effective at marketing on social. You have to know how to interact with your audiences the right way (each network varies). You have to take the time to engage with your audience in a friendly way and create rapport with a large group of people.
You also need to know how to properly determine how effective your social marketing efforts are. Typically, various forms of content marketing are shared on social, which is why I am pulling social into the equation.
In social, you want to be looking at the conversation rate, amplification rate, and applause rate. Avinash Kaushik breaks down each of these nicely:
- Conversation rate is the number of audience comments and/or replies per social post.
- Applause rate is the number of +1s and likes per post (videos, infographics, images, whitepapers).
- Amplification rate is defined differently for various networks – On Twitter it would be the number of retweets. On Facebook/Google Plus it would be the number of shares per post and on a blog/YouTube it would be the number of share clicks.
You should be collecting data on everything you post on social and you really need to be collecting data on the forms of content marketing you share via social. The amount of conversation, applause and amplification should give you insight into whether or not you are on the right track with your marketing message and strategies.
To Sum Up
If you want to be better than your competitors at content marketing, I highly recommend that you include the six strategies I mentioned above. You can’t jump into content marketing and assume that whatever you do will work well. Anything that is good takes time, planning, money, and effort. The same holds true for content marketing.