Content Marketing

Content marketing has always been central to the marketing communications department; the goal is to attract and retain customers by authoring engaging content that can influence customer behavior in favor of making a choice for your products and services.

With the traditional marketing techniques becoming less effective; with new tools today to block ads or to skip marketing messages; direct discount offers and iPad giveaways not eliciting the response we marketers were used to, it is imperative that all marketing personnel master the art of content marketing – which is really the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. Content marketing, especially in B2B context, has to help educate the prospects and customers become better consumers of your product and service category – it is focused on gaining the trust of the customer and helping them progress through the decision cycle from awareness, interest, evaluation to decision and even has a role in reinforcing the choice of your existing customers to reduce any post-purchase dissonance.

Any successful marketing outreach will experience higher consumption just because your subject line or tag line promises to deliver value in the form this content – offers for “top 3 trends in 2015” or “download the evaluative criteria for selecting a software” clearly shows that just the promise of valuable content changes the efficacy levels of your email marketing campaign. Try running a B2B campaign with the subject line using words like “buy now” and I am sure that your marketing campaign metrics chart will have an outlier. Catchy, edgy current buzz related phrases are tools marketers use, but that alone is not enough. Not only is creating the right content important – building a brand association with good high value content delivery is important. I find myself always opening emails from McKinsey’s Quarterly because their articles always provide deep insights on the topics they cover and I end up reading them even though in the beginning, I may not be even remotely aware about the topic

In today’s digital world, content is also key for marketers to drive inbound leads – SEO ranking is heavily dependent on the quality on the content on your website and the relevance to the keywords. Just by increasing the volume of the content articles – you can start to see a correlation to the inbound traffic; but by designing and delivering high content relevance to the keywords and distributing through multiple channels; both traditional and social– you start to see a multiplier effect in action. By gaining a consistent high value content delivery “thought-leadership” status, you start to see the viral effect.

Begin with the End…

This headline taken from Stephen Covey’s book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is the listed as one of the key habits and really summarizes how to get started with your content marketing strategy. Start from the very end – Think about what you would like your audience to think about your company or organization or about your products and services. Identify the topics or key themes you want to lead on and break them down into exact semantic keyword clusters that will be central to your SEO strategy – these will be the pillars of your content marketing strategy.

Get plugged in…

Analyze what your target audience cares about? Read what they read. Stay abreast of news in the community. Search as they search. Join events where they are. Drill down into how they would prioritize? Find out where they get their information today? Participate in their forums. In the traditional marketing world, content marketing person is usually not required to travel, no customer interface – the traditional view is irrelevant in today’s world where your content can be your differentiating advantage. It is imperative that content marketing be part of the conversation; know how they talk and what they talk about? This is key to be able to deliver value through high relevance of your content.

Take risks …

Don’t wait for the perfect piece. It’s okay to start with your initial idea and then tweak it as you get feedback – you can always supplement, if you missed a key point. Go out on a limb – take the less travelled route or a radical position. Anyways – it creates avenues for engagement with members of your target audience when you acknowledge their contribution. Post a short piece – if it gets the attention, scale this to the next level by doing more research, perhaps conducting a survey, conducting interviews of well known thought leaders and experts among the target community.

Multiplex …

77% of all US internet users read blogs. Don’t just post content on your website – use the plethora of channels to re-purpose content – presentations, podcasts, SlideShare, Tweets, blogs, Linkedin updates and group posts, create info-graphics and many others to create a multiplier impact. If you just write a blog and then tweet this with the right keyword hashtags, it can boost your readership and views by a factor of 20-50%.

Manage expectations…

Finally, ensure that expectations are managed within your own organization; ensure that content marketing initiatives are not viewed as a campaign that will deliver leads within the quarter. According to Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute,” For many CMOs and their C-level counterparts, content marketing initiatives should be viewed as long term strategy for attracting and retaining customers and fueling the brand”.

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