The Don Drapers of the world are facing extinction. The sun is setting in the world of traditional advertising, and a new era is dawning. It’s the age of content marketing, and it’s changing the way businesses communicate – not just with customers, but with each other as well. Faced with this sea change, companies today have a choice to make: either create a winning content strategy or watch their customers flock to competitors who do. The choice is simple. It’s evolution or extinction.
Now obviously, you’re not the sort to throw your hands in the air and run away from new challenges. If you were, you wouldn’t be running a successful business (or reading this blog) in the first place. So if you want to learn how to market content, you’re in the right place.
At The Content Factory, we work one-on-one with clients to develop strategies for everything from website copy to blog writing. Many of the clients we work with are developing a content strategy for the first time, so we’re used to explaining the process in plain English. And that’s our goal with this guide. In today’s blog, we’re going to talk about how to market content effectively and efficiently. By the time we’re finished, you should understand just what content marketing is, how it works and how you can begin the process for yourself. Ready? Let’s do this.
How to Market Your Content (And What Is Content Marketing, Anyway?)
Before you can develop a killer strategy, you first need to understand what content marketing is. So let’s try to explain it, without the business jargon:
Content marketing is the process of creating and spreading valuable pieces of media to consumers. Quality content entertains, instructs and influences. It’s not merely a vehicle for a sales pitch. It has intrinsic value, and consumers can use it.
When people find content useful, their connection to a brand and its products is strengthened, and as those people share that media, even more consumers are exposed to the company that created it. When you create useful content that has a purpose, the material essentially markets itself.
What do we mean when we say “media?” It’s a bit of a catchall phrase for many different things. Here are a few examples:
Website copy (the writing that fills your company website)
Social media posts (like status updates and tweets)
Guest posts on outside websites
Of course, for content marketing to work, it needs to be optimized for its target audience. An infographic on the mating rituals of narwhals may seem like a quirky way to grab some online attention, but will it draw customers to your law firm’s website? Probably not. An infographic on workman’s comp cases or the average cost of a divorce would be a lot more effective. Now it’s time to explore a few other concepts that can help you learn how to market content effectively.
How to Market Content: 10 Killer Tips
Content marketing is a fine art, and at The Content Factory, we get better at it every day. It took us years to learn some of the points we’re about to share with you, but we’re going to lay them all out here, just because we’re that awesome.
1. The client is the key. What’s the number-one rule of content marketing? Keep your potential clients and consumers in mind, always. Every piece of media you create should be crafted, through and through, to draw and to maintain the interest of your target audience. Are you writing or designing something that your customers would actually care about? It’s all too easy to just chat the day away in a blog, or to go off on irrelevant tangents. When you do, you’re wasting both time and money.
2. Original content reigns supreme. Companies that succeed do so because they offer customers something that their competitors can’t, whether it’s a superior product or on-point customer service. It’s no different in content marketing. If you want your material to gain traction with consumers, it has to be special. If you’re just regurgitating blog ideas or web copy you’ve read elsewhere, the impact will be nil.
3. Provoke a reaction. Content that provokes an emotional response is highly effective, and the best emotions to stoke are fear, anger and surprise. It’s not bad to do this when your intentions are pure. For example, a blog titled “Recent Credit Card Scam Attacks Seniors” will cause readers who are afraid of being duped to read on. That can be a good thing. It might also inspire anger, or even outrage – and when people feel those things, the next step is usually action. For you, that means that these readers are much more likely to share your media. As for them, they’ll feel informed.
4. Stick to the facts. These days, everyone and their mom has a blog and an opinion, and that’s why you’ll want to get off the soapbox if your goal is to connect with consumers. Instead of opining on current events, politics or your favorite “Game of Thrones” character, stick to facts and stats. When blogs, articles and website copy are stuffed with concrete details, people feel compelled to share.
5. Offer expert advice. We’re willing to bet that all the time you’ve spent building your business has taught you a thing or two about your industry. For content that really goes places, try giving your potential customers some expert advice they can actually use. That’s what we’re doing right now, and it’s got you reading, right? Trust us – we know what we’re talking about.
6. Know your voice. To say that we have a varied client base is an understatement. We’ve worked with everyone from adult toy retailers to medical supply companies, and along the way we’ve learned that there’s just no such thing as a one-size-fits-all voice.
Think hard about your brand image, as well as your target audience. If you own a high-end jewelry line, you’ll want to keep your writing posh and professional. If you manufacture collapsible beer bongs, you’ll probably win customers over with dirty jokes. There is no single “correct” voice when it comes to content marketing. If you want to succeed, you need to find the unique voice that’s perfect for your company.
7. Shout it from the rooftops. We’ve seen it time and time again: companies create content and then release it like a rehabilitated dove into the wild, expecting it to fly away and succeed on its own. But it doesn’t exactly work that way. Creating content for the web is only half of the battle, because no strategy is complete without effective social media promotion and online PR work. That’s how you build initial momentum. If your blog writing is top-notch, it’ll market itself, yes. But you’ve gotta give it that initial push.
8. Assemble an expert panel. You know what’s better than the advice of one expert? How about the advice of 10 or 20? When you reach out to a client’s industry peers for outside advice, the results are, quite often, fantastic. We like to round up a large group of experts, get their input on a single subject and then create one article or blog post on that topic. We quote those insiders right there in the piece, and then they promote the article through their own websites and social media channels. That puts our clients right where they want to be – in the industry spotlight.
9. Create evergreen content. It’s pretty stupid to put a bunch of effort into an infographic or in-depth article that’ll seem dated and irrelevant after only a few weeks. Pop culture references and current events can help give a piece of writing color and life, but these things need to be framed in a way that doesn’t put a timestamp on your writing. A joke about Bill Cosby’s horrendous sweaters is timeless, but talking about Lady Gaga’s “latest single” or “yesterday’s election results” may give your content marketing an expiration date. Stay away from these things so that your content can be readable and shareable for years.
10. Write for the eye. Like it or not, most web surfers do judge the book by its cover, so if your latest blog looks like giant wall of grey text, the reader will respond like a seventh grader cracking open “War and Peace.” If you don’t make your writing visually appealing, in other words, your content marketing efforts won’t succeed.
Most online readers will scan articles to decide if they’re worth reading, and when you provide them with clear subheadings, bullet points and numbered lists, you give them an idea of what they’re in for. Photos and graphics can help too – a good rule of thumb is to include at least one photo for every 500 words. These things will keep readers hooked. It’ll stop them from losing their concentration and straying to content that’s easier to digest instead.
Are these the only tips you need to follow when you’re trying to figure out how to market content? Of course not. Like we said, there’s an art to this, and like any art, content marketing takes a lot of practice and dedication. These 10 tips are meant to be something of a primer, but to truly create a winning content strategy, you’re going to need some help.
Hiring a Content Marketing Team
According to Mashable, over 62% of companies outsource their content marketing. Why? Here are a few good reasons:
Companies want to experiment with different services until they land on a content strategy that feels right to them. They don’t want to hire an entire internal team only to realize later that they need just a handful of blogs per month.
Business owners don’t want to waste time training traditional advertisers or new hires. They know that the sooner they start producing content, the sooner they’ll be able to draw attention and drive sales. Working with a team that can hit the ground running helps them to do that.
They aren’t sure how to gauge efficacy. Seasoned content marketing teams will present data to them, providing them with numbers that show growth not only in web page visits, but also in time spent on site, conversion rates and even social media interaction.
They, and their employees, have better things to do. Many content marketing efforts fail because business owners make the mistake of thinking they can do it all. In reality, creating and promoting winning content is a full-time job. Savvy entrepreneurs realize this. They outsource their content writing so that their other work doesn’t suffer.
Some business owners balk at the idea of devoting part of their budget to content marketing, but research has proven that this is one investment that pays off, big-time. One study found that content marketing, over the course of three years, generated 31 leads per $1,000 spent. That’s nearly three times more than what traditional marketing efforts deliver, and that’s why businesses everywhere are beginning to catch on to the value of content marketing. Right now, marketers spend over a quarter of their budgets on content marketing, and that percentage continues to grow.
As for us, we’re witnessing that growth first-hand. When companies have questions about how to market content, they come to us. When they’re looking for a content strategy of their own, we help them develop it.
Want to know more about what The Content Factory can do for your business? Visit our services menu to learn about our online PR, web copy, social media and branding services. Ready to begin building your own content marketing campaign? Contact us today, and we’ll create a custom package of services that’s perfectly tailored to your business – and to your target audience.
Have any tips we missed? If you’ve been thinking long and hard about how to market content, our readers would love to hear your ideas. Post a comment below!
By: Alayna Frankenberry, staff writer at The Content Factory.