Have you stumbled upon a blog article or video that you shared with your friends through social media?
Then you’re living testament of how effective content marketing can be. In fact, it’s expected to increase in demand in 2016 and beyond. Why is that? You’ve seen it yourself: people nowadays enjoy learning and sharing information. Whether it’s a blog, video, news, or app (as long as it’s relevant to a particular group), that content has the potential to enhance brand awareness, attract leads, and even help customers complete the buying process.
If your business has not invested much on content marketing – or you feel that your strategies aren’t working – then it’s time to fill in the gaps.
You’ve heard it time and again: you can’t sell if you don’t know WHO you’re selling to. Unfortunately, most companies still make this mistake.
Marketing for businesses is highly different than marketing to end users. This is because they have different motivations. For example: an organization trying to sell software to a business that offers personal computers would need a special pitch to bait their client. It could be in the form of a proposal or a webinar. Meanwhile, the computer company should also have a customized marketing approach when selling their PC’s to end users (like us).
This is one of the main reasons why it’s NOT always a good idea to steal competitor strategies. See what works for them, yes – but learn to develop your own for your company’s specific need. Future content marketing will not just be fierce, it will be demanding. According to a post from TopRank blog, the main challenge for marketers today would be to produce engaging content on a regular basis.
They also need to document which tactics worked for them, and those that don’t. Failing to do this is like walking on a tightrope: you risk so much time and effort on something you’re not sure would work. If it did, you’d be hard-pressed to repeat your success because you lack the data. A report from Content Marketing Institute states that 48% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy yet do NOT document it.
Instead of copying other organization’s methods, spot their mistakes and learn from it.
Credits to Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and Smart Insights for data used in this article.
I’m NOT going to tell you how to create a content marketing plan; that’s for you to decide together with your team. However, I will show you real statistics – plus a few clever tips – that you can apply to your own methods. These are highly flexible suggestions that every business, whether you’re in the B2B or B2c sector, would find helpful.
#1 Position your SEO accordingly.
Let’s begin with search engine optimization. Yes, it will still be relevant in 2016 and beyond. Why? It’s because SEO should be highly integrated with your content marketing. With 66% of content marketers using SEM (the huge umbrella of digital marketing where SEO belongs to), it makes sense to tie your optimization efforts with your content. In fact, they both fit perfectly together that it’s almost seamless! Here are several examples:
See how beautiful those two go hand-in-hand? If you already have an SEO campaign, talk to your SEO consultant about content marketing. For those who still haven’t invested in search engine optimization, it’s never too late to begin!
#2 Always include mobile.
According to KPCB mobile technology trends, time spent on mobile devices increased at 51% from 5 years ago. People are now using their smartphones or tablets at an average of about 3 hours a day.
This is no longer a question of whether or not you should consider marketing on mobile – you SHOULD! So what do they do on their gadgets?
If your current marketing plan touches base with one or more of the above mentioned activities, then you’re already on the right track.
#3 Look at different content types and distribution channels.
Ever heard of the saying: ‘at the right place at the right time’? It’s the same for content marketing. Success isn’t normally about getting lucky; rather, it’s about knowing WHAT people want, and delivering it to them at the right MOMENT. Think of it as a real life scenario: if you’ve been running in the rain, wouldn’t it be nice if someone handed you a towel once you step inside a restaurant or office building? Now that’s awesome timing!
Recent studies show that social media content ranks high at 93%, while holding in-person events is a good 75% among the most effective B2B marketing schemes. So why not tie these two together? Let’s go back to our previous example of the software company. To reel in more lucrative clients, they could hold a product launch and invite prospects via social media. Custom hashtags and engaging write-ups are great for getting people excited for an upcoming event.
During the product launch, their guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi access to share details of the affair. This creates more buzz on social media, thereby giving them two unique advantages: a) free brand advertising from their attendees and, b) nurtured lead relationships that could eventually turn into actual sales.
#4 Consider your existing audience.
While you hunt for bigger fish, never forget your loyal customers. After all, you wouldn’t be where you are now without their patronage. 74% of content marketers believe customer retention and loyalty to be one of their most important goals for the upcoming year. And it’s no surprise: after all, it’s more expensive to find new customers than keep those you already have.
On this note, it’s okay to…
#5 Resurrect old marketing ideas.
Why do 57% of content marketers prioritize more and better ways to repurpose their content? It’s because there are some ideas that have stood the test of time, and have endeared themselves to consumers. In a study by Elizabeth A. Kensinger and Daniel L. Schacter, they found that people recalled events with emotional connections better than those without. This means if a person has feelings toward a specific brand or business, they are more likely to recall it better over time.
It’s no wonder several old names are being revived today. The ‘business of nostalgia’ is not just a trend, it’s worth a lot. When Ellia Kassoff of LEAF Brands™ bought the rights to the formula, trademark, and marketing materials of Astro Pops, he knew they were on to something big. Folks who loved the candy – and would love to introduce it to younger generations – embraced the comeback quite quickly.
Another great example is company newsletter ‘Home Decorator’, introduced by Sherwin-Williams paint-and-coatings Company in 1910. The monthly print magazine was available for their customers, and featured design ideas and contemporary home looks. However, it was discontinued in the late 1950’s when the organization turned to other marketing methods. Sherwin-Williams resurrected the idea in 2004, renamed their magazine ‘Stir’, and made it available in both print AND digital formats.
Not every concept would be applicable in today’s dynamic environment. But it’s not a bad idea to revisit your company’s content marketing tactics to see if you can breathe life into old initiatives.
#6 Weigh content marketing pros and cons.
Search Engine Marketing (which includes SEO, PPC, and other paid as well as organic digital marketing strategies) is one of the main methods used by 66% of content marketers today. Meanwhile, print and other offline promotions rank second at 57%. You may use both in your campaign; however, be aware that each will have a different result based on varying factors.
If you’re on a tight marketing budget, you can opt to focus on just one aspect for now (such as SEM for instance), and then add offline promotions at another time. Never go into content marketing without a clear goal! You’ll end up wasting time, money, and efforts. Talk with your marketing division about your business priorities for 2016. Weigh the pros and cons of different approaches before settling on one. Then allocate a budget. Don’t belong to the 34% of B2B marketers who have no idea of what a successful content marketing plan looks like.
#7 Become an expert OR hire one.
With a whopping 76% of content marketers aiming to produce more content in 2016, you won’t want to be left behind. But having a plan alone is NOT enough. Surprisingly, 48% of marketers who DO have a content marketing strategy fail to document their efforts.
Pay attention to this detail when hiring or looking for someone to employ for your business. A person who doesn’t know HOW they were able to attain their success is probably not the best person to work with, because their methods may not be flexible enough for your company.
When we say ‘expert’, you want someone with enough experience to apply their own success with yours. They know what drives achievement, have the data to back it up, and understand the numbers and theories behind it. Plus, they are able to experiment with new ideas. It’s easy to say you’re an expert – but another matter altogether to prove it.
According to Digital Marketing Institute, while it’s nice to find someone who’s great at content, inbound and direct marketing, you should try to look for a specialist in each field. Targeted skills ensure that they are indeed an authority in their chosen niche, and that’s one of the best investments you can make for your business.
The digital marketing landscape is always changing. A year is not enough time to prepare. If you haven’t thought about your content marketing strategy OR you’re not sure where to begin, talk to an expert. Read what you can about the subject. Observe.
Today, it’s not really so much a question of content marketing’s relevancy but rather, HOW it should be implemented for maximum benefits. Remember: people love to learn and share their newfound knowledge with others.
So, how would YOU answer this need?