A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing

By now, we all know customers, prospects, and audience members want useful, relevant content. The key is figuring out how to use content to drive business – that’s where content marketing comes in.

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content Marketing Institute

Content marketing is an essential piece of your digital marketing strategy. When done effectively, it’s how you use your online channels to build an audience, generate leads, and convert customers. But where do you begin?

Define your goals.

Before you begin, you need to know what you hope to accomplish with content marketing. Do you want to build brand awareness? Increase audience engagement? Close more deals? Defining your goals will help you determine what content is best for your business. For example, if you want to build brand awareness, you may decide to write a guest article for an industry publication. If increasing sales is your goal, you can use white papers or case studies to educate prospects. The bottom line – you can’t decide what to do if you don’t know where you’re going.

Know your audience.

The importance of really knowing your audience cannot be understated. You may think you understand your customers, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking yourself some basic questions: who do I want to sell to? What problems do they have? What are they searching for? Don’t just rely on your team’s knowledge, either. Check out what works for your competitors or other sites in your industry. What topics get the most comments, likes, or shares? Additionally, tools like SEO or website analytics can challenge your assumptions and help you get into the mind of your audience. Your content is for your customers and prospects, so it should be focused on them. Plus, the answers to these questions can help you identify content topics. It’s a win-win.

Create a realistic plan.

After you’ve defined your goals and completed your audience research, it’s time to create a plan and stick to it. Figure out who is going to create content, where it will be published, and when it needs to go live. Set yourself up for success by taking stock of your resources and planning around what’s available to you, too. You may not have the capacity to produce daily blog articles, and that’s okay. When it comes to content, more doesn’t equal better. Set yourself apart from the noise by producing consistent, quality content and making strategic choices about where and when to publish it.

Measure for success.

A blog article or email by itself is just a piece of content, but it becomes part of your content marketing strategy when you have clear, measurable objectives and use data to inform your decisions. Once you start publishing content, regularly check your web analytics or social media insights. Did you see an uptick in blog subscriptions after a specific article? Are your followers liking, sharing, or commenting on your posts? This information can tell you everything from how your audience feels about your content to whether you’re even reaching the right people. Then use the data to periodically revise your strategy so it stays aligned with your business’s mission and goals.

At the end of the day, content marketing is a simple concept that is easy to get wrong. But with clear goals, a defined audience, and an editorial plan, your content can be one of your most valuable business assets. Your customers and prospects want useful content – now it’s time to give it to them.

Are you ready to build your content marketing program? Let’s discuss.

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