If your business has a website, blog, podcast, or social media channels all of it needs to be populated with
C O N T E N T.
‘Content’ is a word that’s flung around a lot. It can include anything from a tweet to an eBook; an Instagram story to a podcast episode. The form it takes will depend on what your content marketing aim is. Want to increase brand awareness? Get on social. Want to be seen as an industry expert? Have a blog section on your website, host a podcast, or even start a vlog. Want to get leads? Read this post.
But whatever you choose, content needs to have a solid plan behind it – otherwise you’re just wasting time.
A rookie error that we often see is business owners – who are doing their content marketing DIY – pump out content that doesn’t add value and lacks a clear objective. They simply create content because “everyone else is doing it”, which is a big mistake.
The fact is, content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising – but only when you’re not stabbing in the dark.
A content marketing strategy with purpose is business critical
“If there's no content marketing plan you'll fail. Many businesses start off with a bang: they put up a website, create social media accounts, and they quickly run out of things to say,” says Mark Stecker, Firewater’s FIRECHIEF.
“In the first couple of months there's big excitement, but then it fizzles out because having a content marketing plan isn't seen as business critical – which it should be.”
The content plan must underpin all your channels and give them purpose, so that they don't become stale. Relevant and useful content is so important that 47% of buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
Speaking of relevant and useful, quality content inspires, educates, or enables. It should also do one or all of the following:
- Help your audience figure out a particular problem that they face.
- Establish your company as the go-to expert when it comes to said problem.
- Bring potential customers to your business.
Evergreen content is everything
When thinking about your strategy, evergreen content is non-negotiable. But what is this ‘evergreen content’ we speak of?
It’s content that brings in a nice, steady stream of traffic to your company’s website. This type of content isn’t time-dependent and it doesn’t date – it’s relevant year in, year out. The beauty of evergreen content is that it allows you to focus on other types of lead generation tactics, like sponsored content and social media advertising.
Vince, our resident SEO stillman, points out that an expertly crafted piece of evergreen content (or any quality content for that matter) won’t always bring in the leads. But it’s highly likely it’ll put you at the top of Google rankings, help you to be seen as an industry expert, and it’ll ramp up brand awareness.
Plus, well-crafted content can be re-purposed on different channels – a bit like how Joburg’s recyclers re-purpose plastic into cash-money at the depot.
“It's impossible for every single post to be original content; you need to look at re-purposing content in a smart way,” says Mark. “So you can have a long-form article (800 words and over) that you can shorten for different platforms, or create video content from it. You don’t need to always re-invent the wheel.”
“You can also go back to old posts that performed well and make slight tweaks, or update the information – the SEO will shoot up,” he adds.
Oh, and you can read more about SEO – and why your content cannot ever be ‘MEH’ – here.
Your five-point content marketing strategy checklist
- Define your audience. (Be 100% clear on this)
- Define your tone of voice. (How do you want your company to come across, and how will your audience best respond to you?)
- Figure out where your audience hangs out online. (Publish there)
- Determine what type of content they consume. (Create that type)
- Determine what your content will actually be. (This is a hard part)
Ideas to get you started include:
- Case studies and white papers around successes using your product/service
- Address customers’ most commonly asked questions
- Create videos to support product details, reviews, care, repairs, tutorials, etc.
- Get the team involved and let them create content too (behind the scenes, profiles, insider advice, etc.)
- Look at past top-performing content via analytics and re-create that
- See what your competition is talking about and cover that, with a spin
- Don’t just talk about your product or service. If your company sells headphones, for example, your content can cover music, gaming, solution-based articles, or anything that’s relevant to your wider industry
Content marketing needs to be managed
“Implementation of the content marketing strategy can be DIY or outsourced to an agency, but either way there needs to be line of sight,” adds Mark.
It’s important to remember that high-value content can't be written by a third party who doesn't understand the business (Upwork, we see you), so input during the creation phase is essential.
“When it comes to content creation it's all about working together – everyone needs to understand the nuances, whether it’s an agency putting out the content or an intern at the company.”
It also needs to be managed – ideally it should be automated (there’s lots of software to help with this, both free and paid for). It must have a schedule for when it’s going to go out, which is where a content calendar comes into play…
Mark’s quick & dirty tips for a killer content plan:
“Look at the annual calendar and see what dates are relevant to your business, like industry and seasonal events. Map it all out and align the content to it, which will create relevance. Effective content marketing is all about authenticity and relevance, timing, and visibility,” says Mark.
- Looking at dates will reveal content themes, which you can plan quarterly
- Look for opportunities to identify industry year-on-year trends; create annual reports or predictions
- Think about different types of content – such as long-form, micro, and curated content – and mix it up on your schedule
- Always ask yourself – is it being helpful? Would I share it? Would people want to engage with it? What outcome do I want from it?
Feel like 2020 is already in full swing but your content isn’t? Contact Firewater; we’ll help you get on top of your company’s content marketing strategy and NAIL IT.