Launching a content marketing strategy can be a scary proposition for some brands especially for startups. Make a couple of mistakes, and you end up falling flat on your face. The rewards, however, is worth the risk. A smart plan will take your company to the next level.
Content marketing is nothing like publishing a blog post or updating your on-site content. Great marketing means opening up your brand to the public. It’s all about humanizing your company and giving it personality. It establishes a deeper connection with your followers.
The risks alluded to earlier refers to possible backlashes from the community. As brands begin showing its personalities, they also run the risk of alienating some of their audience. There are also times when companies are scrutinized for poor word choices. But as long as you steer clear of controversial issues and be careful with the content you put out there, you should be fine.
Investing in content marketing
More than resources, you need to spend time in content marketing for it to work. You will need to publish new content regularly, and the message needs to be consistent. Content marketing is not a one-person job. You will need a team for support. This team will include at least some writers, video editors (if you’re pushing for video content), PPC specialists (if you have the budget), and an online marketing expert.
But most of all, you will need to create a message that would resonate with your target market.
But the good news is that even those on a shoestring budget can launch an effective content marketing campaign. Even posting blog content once a week can affect your online presence. If you don’t have writers on hand, you can do it yourself even if only temporary.
There are also freelancers that do this sort of thing. Hiring them would be less expensive than having a full-time writer on your team. Have these freelancers focus on evergreen content. In simpler terms, these are content that will always be relevant no matter how long ago they were written.
In tracking your investment in content marketing, you would want to look at your overall site traffic, engagement, social shares, and assisted conversions.
Defining your audience
Before formulating your plan, you will need to define who your audience is. You will want to determine things like:
- Demographic info
- What kind of sites do your audience frequent
- What channels they use to consume content
- Which influencers do they listen to
- What kind of information do they need
Knowing these things will let you determine what type of content to create moving forward. You can then create a style guide for your content creators to follow. After all, your tone should be consistent throughout all your channels. Having a guide is even more critical for companies that have multiple brands.
Content marketing is different from advertising
You need to understand how content marketing is different from advertising. Advertising is more aggressive and intrusive. They pop up on occasions when they’re unwanted. And they continue doing so until your message is seared into people’s minds. They’re more about product recollection than anything else.
Content marketing is the opposite of that. It has a more delicate approach. Think of it this way. Advertising shouts its message hoping to be heard by as many people as possible. Content marketing initiates a conversation with its audience. It poses questions and asks for opinions. This way, the message becomes clear people are more invested since they engage out of their own free will.
How do you make a killer content marketing strategy
To be honest, the rules are pretty lax when it comes to content marketing. The real important bit is for you to be consistent. Here’s the basic breakdown:
- Have a definitive brand message
- Utilize all channels at your disposal (website, social media, blogs, video, print)
- Publish useful content for your customers
- Sound like an authority figure in your space
- Let branding take a backseat
- Put some effort into building and maintaining subscribers
- Measure user engagement on a regular basis
- Tell powerful stories
- Be as open as possible
- Personalize content or product if applicable
- Use visually appealing images
Creating a central hub for all your campaigns is essential. Though you may have a lot of channels to post content on, they should ultimately lead users back to one place. This is where an aesthetically pleasing website comes in.
Also, remember to make your sites optimized for search engines. SEO rules should still apply even if they’re not directly tied to your main site. Some users are more likely to discover you through your content marketing strategy.
Don’t focus too much on content going viral. It shouldn’t be the main goal. It’s a pitfall many marketers have fallen into. User experience should always be the priority. The more people like what you have to say and offer, the more they’re likely to share your content with others.
Killer examples of content marketing
A lot of established brands have taken a liking to content marketing. There are even a number of them who have gained fame through this strategy. These are just some of the brands who have successfully used content marketing.
The beverage giant’s Share a Coke campaign was born in a conference room in Sydney in 2011. What started as a summer campaign for that region ended up becoming a worldwide hit. Its core message of connecting with someone is a universal concept anyone can relate to.
By allowing their customers to personalize their bottle labels, customers can add the names of those they hold dear in their lives. It’s a simple concept that brought Coke sales up throughout the campaign.
Takeaway: The campaign owes its win to be able to establish a connection through personalization. You ever wonder why cakes are so synonymous with celebrations? It’s because you can personalize each one to fit the occasion. It’s the same concept when you think about it.
Your campaign can revolve around connection too. While not all products can be personalized, your product can be the bridge between two people. Have a brainstorming session with your team to figure out how to make this happen.
Let’s be honest here: they’re ripping off Game of Throne’s iconic opening sequence. But it’s hard to complain especially when it’s done well. Hootsuite specializes in social media management. While everyone understands what social media is, it’s hard to put into words what the company is all about. At least not in the amount of time it would take your viewers to click away.
They needed content that would not only entertain but also inform. And no better pop culture phenomenon’s better for the job than Game of Thrones.
Takeaway: Be aware of what’s trending and use them to your advantage. Learn what people are interested in. But be cautious. There are instances when joining the bandwagon may seem unwise.
It takes a lot of guts to be open with your audience. But it’s essential especially when consumers are questioning the quality of your products. To put suspicions and doubts to rest, McDonald’s allowed customers to post questions and answered all of them.
“Our Food. Your Questions.” helped the company regain some of the trust lost and created a portal for discussion. This level of transparency is important if you want your company to grow.
Takeaway: Learn to be open to your customers. If they have questions, provide some answers. Giving customers a behind-the-scenes look at how your operation is run and what makes your products unique will help build trust. Regularly publish updates, so your audience feels like they’re part of the community.
Birchbox is another excellent example of how to personalize content to promote their products. They are a subscription service that delivers themed beauty products on a monthly basis. To encourage their subscribers to continue purchasing, they created Birchbox Magazine. Through the magazine, they’re able to produce informative articles that complement the theme for the month.
Takeaway: Educate your customers. Some uses for your product may be obvious to you but not to them.
NYX is a company operated by the people behind L’Oreal. To promote their line of makeup, the company utilized the voice of the many beauty vloggers online. They started a competition called #faceawards where vloggers compete for the best makeup. One of the requirements if for them to post a video documenting the process.
Takeaway: Find ways to collaborate with influencers. Working with beauty vloggers is a wise strategy since they’re creating content for you and sharing them with their subscribers. Competitions also do a fantastic job of elevating your brand. It’s effective in gaining attention.
HubSpot sells inbound marketing software that caters to small businesses. Not the most exciting thing to write about. But the company made it work by becoming a valuable resource for tips and general information. They utilize ebooks, webinars, case studies, and even do quizzes.
These types of content aren’t usually available to the public for free. The case studies alone are enough to generate interest in the company. This display of authority over inbound marketing raises credibility.
Takeaway: Be the voice of authority in your field of expertise. Use data to educate your customers. You want to be the hand that guides them to success.
You would think that Adidas’ blog is no different from the thousands out there. But they do one thing unique. They let their employees provide “personal insights into [their] business in sports.” By sharing their thoughts, the shoe and apparel company can humanize its brand.
While not everyone can relate to professional athletes, people can undoubtedly understand average Joes who, just like you, are doing what they can to be physically fit.
Takeaway: Humanize your brand. When you communicate with your audience, don’t sound like a robot. Create content that would make your brand a relatable one.
Ben and Jerry’s
Ben and Jerry’s to this day continues to find ways to make ice cream fun and exciting. But behind their fun-loving nature, the company has done its fair share to promote great causes. They make it clear where the company stands hot topics such as racial injustice.
Takeaway: Be a part of the community. If there are causes that you hold dear, share your thoughts with everyone. So long as you’re sincere about it, people would come to support you.
The brands mentioned in this post may have had a huge team (and budget) to pull off the content marketing strategies they implemented. But it’s no reason to be disheartened. Even those with a limited budget can run a successful campaign. Content marketing favors the creative above all else.
And you don’t have to stick to blog posts either strictly. You can make infographics for starters. These are shareable images crammed with useful information. You can also start a podcast because a lot of people like consuming content on the go. Best of all, you can start a podcast for free. Some upload podcasts on YouTube.
Speaking of YouTube, you can also make video content. It doesn’t have to be fancy. With the quality of cameras on phones these days, you won’t need to rent extra equipment to start. You already have the necessary tools in your pocket.
To establish your authority, you can self-publish ebooks and make them available for download on your website. If you sell food items, you can make your recipe book. Don’t have the time to write an entire book? Slide decks could also work.
Finally, make sure you have someone who knows how to utilize social media to its full potential. A good chunk of your interaction will take place on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social sites. When creating a website, make sure all your social media information are present. Including sharing buttons would be a great call.
Hopefully, these killer examples of content marketing inspire you to launch your campaign. There are numerous resources available online if you need help.