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The Ultimate Guide to Being a Content Marketer That Wins

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It’s probably safe to assume that when it comes to content marketing, you aren’t satisfied with “making it work,” “earning a profit,” “getting a good return on investment,” or any other milquetoast achievements. You want to ease into the content marketing party fashionably late and better dressed than anyone else, with industry-leading content earning the numbers it deserves. You want to be the content authority that people use for glowing comparisons and aspiration. But the question becomes: how? Take a look at our ultimate guide to winning the content marketing game for your business.

Create a Branding Strategy

Content is meant to serve a critical purpose for its audience — but think of the reason behind that. Why are you serving your audience this great content? On a pragmatic level, that content will draw your ideal customers in, and inform them about your business. Content is a way for businesses to present themselves as useful or knowledgeable about a relevant topic. This is why it’s important to have a brand established already, as well as a plan for adapting your brand’s voice for a high-converting content marketing campaign.

For example, a bank might ordinarily present itself in a very serious, supportive, heartfelt tone, in order to draw in more professional and high-income customers. For social media and online content marketing, however, it’s important to think about who you want to not only like your content but also share it with others. This hypothetical bank may propose a lighter, more colorful and entertaining persona in its content in order to attract a different demographic, mothers, who their research has shown are likely to share such content.

This sort of strategy, based on who you want to engage with your content and how your brand should present itself to those people, is an important early step that many businesses don’t consider. Don’t just copy your brand’s advertising style and tone over from your other advertising formats without any consideration to the internet medium.

Nothing is wrong with re-prioritizing your business’s image for online content marketing and the specific social media websites you intend to use. Think about the brands you know, and then compare their ordinary commercials on TV to their social media feeds.

Understand the Fundamentals

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A successful content marketing campaign is composed of three pillars, which we will discuss in detail next. More than anything else, you should first conceptualize your campaign by focusing on these three basic elements:

  1.  Content: You need a supply of in-demand content regularly produced on a schedule. Your ideas need to be based around researching your audience, competition, and hopefully an SEO strategy. Most of all, the content needs to not be self-serving. What can you provide — such as information, motivation, entertainment, etc. — that your audience will appreciate?
  2.  Promotion: You need a method of reaching large amounts of people who are likely to appreciate your content. This can come from a list of subscribers or followers on social media sites or email marketing platforms. Paid advertising, particularly through pay-per-click or pay-per-impression social media platforms, is also a viable option. Perhaps the best option, especially for those starting out, is influencer marketing.
  3.  Lead Generation: You need a means of forming connections with those who view and enjoy the content. This will feed back into your promotion strategy, allowing you to instantly promote new content pieces to your list of fans or followers and give them a bigger splash each time.

Winning With Content

It may feel redundant, but the quality of your content cannot be overstated. If a competitor is doing the same thing as you, or something similar, you need to take what’s working for them into consideration. Before you come up with your initial content ideas, wipe everything you think will work and focus entirely on research. It’s all too common to start with a flop blog post series or videos that get barely a hundred views, all because the marketer thought he knew what his audience wanted.

Great content serves a purpose and is specialized for that purpose. Instead of trying to go all-out with some sort of grand guide to a topic, make smaller content pieces that are suited to a smaller but more focused audience. Instead of, for instance, starting with a long post on every major literary influence in the English language, you could make a detailed article for each individual influence, searchable by their name. This specific approach is better at drawing in targeted, interested viewers, who are more important when your campaign is still young and looking for ways to improve.

If you want a reliable means of coming up with great content ideas, SEO keyword research is the best fount of creativity available, and learning how to study what your audience types into Google is a perfect way to understand what they care about. A business that sells vintage-style maps of different locations, for example, might find that basing keywords around interesting historical events, such as battles, that occurred within some of their maps may be an excellent way of attracting historians interested in their products.

Winning With Promotion

It happens all too often: someone does the research and comes up with, say, awesome blog content. They start releasing pieces, and it’s nothing but crickets, with each piece barely making a splash, because they forgot to promote.

Many social media sites now offer affordable small-scale advertising based on targeting groups within a certain demographic or who express a certain interest. Each one requires split testing and dedication to get working, but they’re well worth the time. For a no-cost option, consider connecting with influencers in your niche and finding ways to promote each other. You could also form collaborative content to reach one other’s audiences. If you ever think of an idea that would be better for an influencer’s audience than your own, offer it to them!

As long as you approach your promotion with a sense of legitimacy, honesty, and humility, you should see ways to improve and develop the ideal way of getting eyeballs on your content. Also, remember to ensure that your content is search optimized in every way possible. Although it’s the most passive form of promotion, SEO sets your content up to succeed by making it easier to find if anyone recommends you by word of mouth.

Winning With Lead Generation

Lead generation is like setting up a snowball effect on your content pieces. The most common lead generation method is through email lists: a business makes search-optimized content, people click to see it, and then — in a sidebar, drop-down box, banner, or something similar — they see an opportunity to get something of even better value than that content, by signing up to a list. You don’t necessarily have to offer something as a reward for joining a list, but it will most likely help.

Email list building is a great choice, but you could also focus on building a social media following. Build a private Facebook group for people to discuss the content you are offering to those who join it, and you’ll get an exciting community of folks talking about what you’re doing and getting interested in your new content and products.

In general, find a way to form a connection with someone, typically by having them sign up for or join something, using your content as the reward. If that’s too on-the-nose for you, just be generous with other content, no questions asked. If you sell e-books, you could give one book away in all stores, all the time, and offer the next one free as well, simply for signing up to a list or group. In either case, lead generation is what makes your promotion — i.e. traffic sources —actually convert into something valuable.

On a pragmatic level, getting a substantial collection of leads might matter even more than making regular content at first. Getting an initial list of at least 1,000 people who care about your business and what you do should be a top priority before you get too serious or ambitious with your content. After all, it helps to know if a substantial group of people actually like the idea when you pitch it to them.

Once you have content ready for this group of leads, you can start marketing every new piece to them for an initial burst of attention. Make sure that you engage them honestly and treat them like people, not a resource. For those who share, comment, and otherwise engage the most, try to funnel them into a special “street team” of awesome people entrusted to get the word out when you release something new — and offer plenty of thanks and rewards to them for being a part of it.

The road to becoming an expert content marketer and authority in your niche is filled with profitable opportunities, but there will be competition for the attention. Take the guidelines above as the foundation of your new campaign, or as the basis for turning your old campaign around. However you implement this advice into your own business, just remember to be patient and realistic at first, especially if you haven’t met much success yet.

Find things that work a little, and learn how to improve from there with each new quarter as you schedule more releases. Stick with it and don’t expect to earn millions in profit immediately. Those who make great content out of love for their topic and audience will eventually shine the brightest thanks to the time they put in, the care expressed in their work, and the relationships they have formed with countless passionate fans.

About the author

Shane Hall