Content marketing is a type of marketing that offers free information in order to build an audience. This free information isn’t promotional but helps the reader solve a problem or answer a question. Then, when they need to buy a product they naturally come to you, the content provider.
Content marketing is important for a few reasons. First of all, there is an abundance of free stuff out there. Everyone from huge retailers to small ecommerce shops offers something for free to get people in the door. As an online marketer, you need to do this as well.
The goal of content marketing is to build a relationship with your audience. It’s important because it’s through this relationship that your audience sees you as an authority and trusts you, and this is what leads to sales in the long run.
8 Best Practices to Make Your Efforts Pay Off
Define Your Goals. Before creating any content, you need to ask why? Too often, we only pay attention to the fact that we need to create content, so we jump in without an end result in mind. So we need to ask why we are creating this piece of content in the first place? There are 3 main reasons to create content: to generate revenue, to save money, or to make our audience feel good and build good will. Anything else should be considered a secondary goal or not considered at all.
Know Your Audience. Who are you trying to reach? What are they interested in? What do they want to learn or what problem are they trying to solve? Figure it out and then give it to them. The form, the method, the frequency, the length, the style, the approach, the tone, the structure, the images, the whatever — should be dependent on what is best for the audience.
Narrow Your Focus. Give your audience content that focuses on very specific problems and topics. There is a great deal of general content available online but you’ll get more readers if you offer something specific and unique.
Focus on Helping. The purpose of your content is to engage your audience, not to promote. This isn’t what people are looking for. The whole point of content marketing is to offer something for free that’s high quality. Later you can offer promotions.
Demonstrate Authority. According to SerpIQ, the average content length of the top 10 search results exceeded 2,000 words. Why so long?Treating a subject matter in depth requires that much length. Don’t go for a word count as much mastery of the subject in order to produce an authoritative piece.
Listen to Your Audience. Monitor the results of your content marketing. Which blog posts get read the most? Which videos have the most views? Which content is ignored? Monitoring tells you what content your audience likes so you can give them more of it.
Mix It Up. Don’t stick to just one content format or channel. Try creating not only text-based content such as articles and blog posts, but also videos, audios, slideshows, resource guides and so on. Pay particular attention to the channels your audience uses. Meet them where they hang out, whether you hang out there, or not.
Don’t Rent, Own. Social media sites are great for promoting your content, but you should create the majority of your content on a platform you own and control, like your website or blog. (And sorry – that leaves out WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr and other places you can build a site or blog for free.) Let’s not forget the negative impact to marketers who built out extensive business pages on Facebook, only to have Facebook make changes to their algorithm which severely limited the reach of posts from those pages. Now you have to pay to get significant exposure to content you post on a Facebook business page.
If you’d like to learn more and put these 8 content marketing best practices to use in your business right away, I invite you to take our 7-day introductory e-course, Web Content Marketing 101.