After major algorithmic updates by Google and Facebook over the years, content marketing has tremendously changed. You can no longer get away with creating salesy content. In fact, you will find it difficult even soft selling your products to your audience.
Even the world’s biggest brand, Apple, has set apart more than $1 billion for creating original content for its streaming platform. It shows that with information overload, you can grab the attention of your audience only by creating engaging content.
The redefined fundamentals of content marketing in 2018 for brands are:
- Research and establish how you can add value to your audience,
- Create compelling content that displays your brand’s unique characteristics,
- Instead of aiming for quantity, consistently publish high-quality content,
- When a content piece performs well organically, then amplify its distribution.
Now, here are six tools to streamline the above your workflow and nail down these fundamentals.
Personas are a fictional representation of your ideal customer. They give you a glimpse of your audience demographics, their desires, motivations, fears, and behaviors.
Having this information is the first step to design an effective marketing strategy. It takes away the guesswork about your audience – where your customers hang out and the kind of content that solves their problems.
Make My Persona is a nifty tool by HubSpot. It asks you 19 questions about your audience and generates a customized persona for you like the one below.
Image credits: hubspot.com
For finding answers to these questions, you can start with existing insights from your past customer interactions. You can also use competitive intelligence tools like Alexa.
The best way to gather information, though, is interacting face to face with your customers. It will give insights that you wouldn’t get otherwise. Also, one-on-one conversations will make your customers feel personally connected to your brand.
Before launching his online course, Ryan Robison met a few dozens of his most engaged email subscribers. They played a crucial role in producing the course content. The progress of the early feedback group using his course material also served as social proof for selling the course later.
Remember though that the persona isn’t static. It evolves with changes in your business strategy and products. For effective results, you need to keep collecting customer feedback and notice any significant behavioral shifts. Then, update your persona accordingly.
Once you have defined your audience, the next step in effective content marketing is coming up with content ideas. Instead of reinventing the wheel, a better strategy is reverse engineering what has worked in the past.
When you plug a subject inside Buzzsumo, it returns the most shared content. It also finds the platform where the content is most popular and the influencers that drove those shares. For example, here are the most shared articles on ‘real estate mistakes.’
Once you have collected a few content subjects, you can prioritize the one you want to work on by answering these questions:
- Which topic(s) are the most relevant to your persona?
- Will the article remain relevant a year from now and drive “evergreen” traffic?
- Do you have the resources to pull off a higher-quality content piece than the currently well-performing pieces?
When you begin writing, it’s a good practice to research the questions of your audience on the subject. Quora and forums are both excellent sources of finding them, but you can also plug your keywords inside Answer The Public and get a few ideas.
After creating your content piece, you need to work on your headline. 80% of readers don’t read beyond the headline. So run your title through CoSchedule Headline Analyzer and make it attention-grabbing.
Ofcom reported that Smartphones are the most popular internet device with 69% of Americans accessing web content through it. Also while people want to see more video content, textual content remains the most common content type.
The good news is you no longer need to set up an expensive music studio to produce videos. People relate to authentic and raw content, so, your Smartphone, a tripod, and a high-quality USB microphone are sufficient to launch your brand’s YouTube channel.
Indeed, Gary Vaynerchuk experimented with creating raw content on YouTube. The Plane Project consisted of videos shot on his Smartphone on his flight from Stockholm to New York. He called it the “rant” album and published 13 pieces. All the videos received at least 10,000 views, and the project was a success.
Videos are a rich communication medium, and they build a strong emotional connection with your customers. Depending on your target audience, you can create educational or entertaining content that adds value to their lives.
YouTube is the best place to build your brand because it’s not merely a video platform, but also the second biggest search engine in the world. Later, you can repurpose your YouTube videos on Facebook and LinkedIn to extend your brand awareness on these platforms.
Although Neil Patel doesn’t drive tons of website traffic from video content, he ranks #1 for industry terms like “SEO” on YouTube. The brand awareness and trust he generates, as a result, are invaluable. He later uploads these videos on LinkedIn and Facebook for reaching new audiences on these networks.
Cisco found that live video will account for 13% of internet’s video traffic. So to gain momentum quickly on YouTube, you can try going live.
Messaging applications are now at the forefront of online communication. It might make you feel that email is outdated. Thereby, you rule it out of your brand’s distribution strategy.
However, do you know that 79% marketers found email as the most successful distribution channel in 2017?
The key is personalizing your email marketing and send targeted messages to your audience.
ConvertKit is a powerful email marketing tool with a drag and drop sequence builder. You can also use automation workflows, tags, and segments to organize your subscribers and send messages tailored to their interests.
Pat Flynn migrated his email list of over 130,000 email subscribers to ConvertKit because of its advanced segmentation features and its ease of use.
With organic reach plummeting on all social media platforms in 2018, email remains a proven and reliable distribution channel. It’s a cornerstone for most kinds of businesses to set up a robust content marketing foundation.
Companies that adopt data-driven marketing are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year. Moreover, you don’t need fancy and expensive tools for data-backed insights about your visitors.
Google Analytics is a widely used analytics tool that offers insights about your acquisition channels, visitor’s behavior, engagement, and identifying leaks in your content pipeline. Once you assign a value to your conversion goals, its reports even give direct ROI estimates.
As the tool has complex functionalities, you can start by setting up these four basic weekly reports. Next, you can check your website’s mobile performance, compare the behavior of returning vs. first-time visitors and find the landing pages faring poorly. You can obtain these insights using these seven reports.
In 2018, the most useful metric is user engagement. You can monitor the stickiness of your content by looking at your average session duration, bounce rate, and pages/session.
All social media platforms now restrict showing link updates that take the users off their platform. The organic reach of business pages is almost non-existent. That doesn’t equate to equal distribution of your advertising budget on all social media updates.
Instead, you should continue to post social media updates at your regular frequency. Then, if you find an update performing well in the first few hours, then promote it using paid advertising.
Facebook ads offer incredible targeting capabilities and massive scale. So they are an excellent resource to amplify your content.
A key metric to decrease the cost of your Facebook ads and improve the health of your ads account is relevance score. Here’s an effective strategy used by Wordstream founder to promote his top 1% to 2% of content and increase his relevance score.
- Targeting two or more of a user’s interests,
- Tailor your ad message to appeal to them.
On a budget of $400, Larry targeted the overlapping audience of liberals and star trek fans. Besides yielding thousands of views and likes, the story got picked up by Business Insider and a major international television network.
Image credits: medium.com
All brands crave consumer attention and coming to terms with how content marketing is an invaluable vehicle for it. However, most brands fall flat on their faces because they focus on soft-selling their products and services.
In 2018, the only way content marketing can work is by creating engaging content that interests their audience. If used appropriately, these six tools alone can level up your content marketing and grow your business substantially.
Are there any other tools you use in your content marketing? Share them in the comments.