After attending search conferences for a few years now, it seems only right that content is getting some time in the spotlight. This week at Search Engine Strategies (SES) New York, I had the great pleasure of presenting on the topic of content marketing.
For so long talk has been about how to optimize and then how to promote – but we’re circling back around to meat and potatoes of online marketing which is the content.
Without it, what are we optimizing and promoting? Oh no, please don’t say it’s your static product pages… Well, if it is (and we’ve all been there), it is most definitely time to look at content marketing and what it can do to take your brand to new levels of customer engagement and acquisition.
The 3 principles to content marketing to keep in mind are:
1. Know Your Audience
Creating content without understanding your target audience is like trying to paddle a boat with a spoon. Not effective and certainly not efficient.
The simplest way to start understanding what type of content your audience is most compelled by is looking at what content receives the most visits, shares, tweets, etc.
This can give you a baseline for both what archetypes (i.e. tips posts) and topics (i.e. content marketing) are most successful.
If you are already creating content and paying attention to what plays and what doesn’t, you might be ready for the creation of audience profiles or personas.
A next great step in creating content, the creation of profiles will help you further segment your content strategy (see tip 2) in such a way that you appeal to different preferences.
For example, you may find that you have 3 personas to which you need to create content. Let’s call them Bob, Dan and Sherri.
Bob – Younger and engaged; he uses Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, writes a blog, writes reviews and shares photos.
Dan – Slightly older, engaged but less so; he uses Google, LinkedIn (not Facebook) reads blogs (doesn’t write one), but also writes reviews.
Sherri – Younger and engaged; uses Bing as her search engine of preference, uses Facebook (not LinkedIn), writes a blog, shares photos and videos.
Imagine with the clarity of the above 3 personas how you can augment your content strategy to better reach each one and deliver content that they are most likely to engage and share.
2. Create a Content Strategy
Once you understand your audience, you are in a much more informed position to create a content strategy.
Most content strategies start with already existing content, which is OK. But in any competitive market new content will need to be created as well.
Start outlining your content plan by understanding your objectives. i.e. inform an audience, help them with a purchase decision
Then brainstorm the topics that you can create content for and tie them into topical categories and assign each post a keyword group.
Review the content you have planned to ensure you are covering all key topics and accounting for various content archetypes.
3. Analyze & Refine
Like with any marketing, content marketing should have a measurement piece to identify successful content and inform future content creation.
Be sure to look at the basics such as what content received the most visits, shares, tweets, etc.
Then take a deeper dive to look for the unknown. For example, do a search in analytics for the inclusion of a ‘?’ in the referring search phrase to understand what types of questions people are looking to answer. Then, create content that speaks to the topic and ultimately will help drive more traffic.