Most small business owners recognize the changing landscape of doing content marketing the right way and how strategies have to keep evolving in order to meet the needs of a tech-savvy and easily distracted public. No longer is it okay to simply create a blog filled with random facts about your business and hit publish — customers these days demand a lot more of a personalized touch.
Content marketing is reaping the benefits of so many years in which all of the online authority sites repeatedly told us all that “content is king.” It became somewhat of a tired cliche until people began to wake up to what that phrase really meant. In the not-too-distant past of “black hat” marketing days, marketers from all walks of business life flooded the internet with article after article after article….all essentially about the same thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, staying within your niche when you write marketing articles is a good thing; the problem with the deluge of content that was coming from these black hat marketers is that it was all “spun,” garbled, rife with misspellings, poorly written and generally just low quality work.
Although these types of article hatchet jobs, sadly, do still exist, most businesses have gotten a lot wiser and more careful about who they hire to do their content marketing for them. It’s not just about avoiding penalties from Google either. Businesses have learned that planning, creating and executing a comprehensive, highly effective content marketing campaign is not by any means an overnight endeavor. It is a long, time-consuming process, but they have seen that the results of such efforts are well worth the investment.
And what are the results?
Well, to put it succinctly, content marketing done right has the power to increase business exponentially. Content marketing done poorly gets you ignored.
Content Marketing the Right Way
Doing content marketing the right way is a bit like starting a research project. Your main job is to find out what your customers want to buy, what they want to know and what they don’t already know. Once you know the answer to these thing, then and only then can you begin crafting a plan to cater to their needs.
Finding the Answers
The first phase of an effective content marketing strategy always involves doing some sleuthing. After all, how can you deliver the perfect gift to someone without first knowing what it is they need or want? During your research phase you basically need to become to fly on the wall, so to speak, to get a handle on what products, services and information will actually be of use to your customers. Some ways to do this:
- Simply ask – Sometimes, tasks are a lot easier than we initially think they are. Some businesses try to “trick” customers into revealing information about themselves, but the fact is that customers want to be asked about what they like. And if you’re upfront about wanting to know, the more likely it is that they’ll be honest with you. You put a survey on your blog or social media accounts that directly asks your customers about what type of products they like most, what task they’re struggling with or if there’s any topic they want to know more about. The more specific you are about your ideas for content and/or new products, the more valuable your answers from customers will be, i.e., “We were thinking about creating a new product that helps people with decluttering their email inboxes, what feature for this type of thing would you find most helpful?” Then offer a checklist of the most common complaints about email clutter.
- Competitor research – Using other people’s customers is not a new tactic, but in the internet age, it’s become a lot more efficient to do so. Again, the goal is to keep a pulse on customer behavioral trends and more specifically — for the purposes of properly targeting your online content — where they’re spending their time while they’re on the internet. There are several services that can help you do this type of competitor research, including SEMRush, SpyFu and Moz’s Open Site Explorer.
- Find viral articles – This is probably the easiest way to create some high-interest online content. What could be easier that following the breadcrumbs left by viral articles? The research work has already been done and all you have to do is try to ride the momentum for a bit. Sites like BuzzSumo, Scoop.it, Klout and Mashable (in the Watercooler section), allow you to search a specific topic for all the recent articles in that have gone viral in that niche.
- Eavesdrop – This is where you get to simply listen to what the customers in your niche are talking or asking about, without even having to ask them. Sites like Quora, Reddit and Inbound.org have tons of people asking questions about a variety of topics. The best part is that you can provide answers to these questions and link back to content you may have written about on the same subject. This should be done with extreme discretion, however, as these sites don’t take kindly to people spamming their answers with back-links. Being too obvious about dropping a link could backfire. Instead, only answer questions that you really feel you have a legitimate answer to and only link back to your content or profile if it will truly help and doesn’t duplicate an answer that has already been given. Another popular eavesdropping technique is Amazon review mining. This involves looking through reviews of Amazon products in your niche for what people think is lacking from the items they’ve purchased. The idea is that you could then create content built around what’s missing. Read more about the Amazon review mining tactic.
Want to learn more about how to plan and successfully execute content marketing the right way? Get in touch with us and we’ll point you in the right direction.