With so many businesses operating online, standing out from the crowd is essential. Content marketing is a great way to help you attract your audience’s attention.
In this article, I will tell you why content marketing is important, and how you can use it to engage with your audience. I will also introduce some best practices to help you create your own content marketing campaigns.
Content marketing is based on the creation and sharing of online material, like videos, blogs, and social media posts. It’s designed to generate interest in a company’s products or services by capturing people’s attention.
It can also help to increase sales by directing traffic to your website, boost awareness of your brand and build trust and recognition amongst your audience.
Let’s journey back to the days before the web when TV, print, and radio dominated. The two-way interaction wasn’t possible between brands and customers and audiences received advertising messages whether they wanted them or not. These days, people can pick and choose when they engage, and content marketing allows businesses to connect with their audiences like never before.
Imagine you run a dog walking business, and want to use content marketing to increase awareness of the company and drive more traffic to your website. To achieve this, you could publish engaging content about dogs on your website’s blog, and promote it across the company’s social media platforms to increase readership.
Great content campaigns are based on understanding who you’re writing for. The more you know about your audience and share their passions, as well as their pains, the easier it will be to engage them on a personal level.
Try considering the challenges or pain points your customers face, and then tailor your content to these insights. For the dog walking business, for example, pain points for customers could include a lack of time, bad weather, or simply wanting to keep their pet happy.
Next, let’s cover some effective content marketing practices. The key to success is creating a content marketing campaign that accomplishes three things:
(1) answering your audience’s questions,
(2) providing something of value and
(3) keeping them wanting more.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you put together your own strategy:
Take the time to get to know your audience better. Look at which accounts they follow on social media to get a sense of their likes and interests.
Experiment to find the best types of content for reaching your audience and don’t be afraid to use multiple formats.
Choose the right places to publish your content and make sure you’re talking directly to your audience.
Throw away the business speak and stock responses, and prioritize natural language to interact with your audience.
Make your content unique, interesting and exciting. Use engaging headlines, eye-catching pictures, and informative language to capture your audience’s attention.
By keeping these pointers in mind when creating a content marketing strategy, you can boost your potential reach and strengthen your presence online.
When starting to write your own content marketing strategy remember the three keys to success mentioned earlier:
Focus on answering your audience’s needs,
Create content they’ll find valuable, and
Keep them engaged so that they’ll visit you in the future for more content.
Now, try brainstorming how content marketing can be used to engage your audience online, and consider what goals it could help you achieve.
Get to Know your customers would be the next step
Everyone is different, so when it comes to creating online content it’s good to think about who your audience is, and what they want to know. This is where audience segmentation can help.
Segmentation involves dividing your audience into groups of who they are and what they like. Rather than spending time and money targeting a wide range of people, segmentation helps to identify the groups most interested in your product or service. The result is a more cost-effective and persuasive way to connect with potential customers.
By researching your audience and segmenting them into groups, you can then create specific content that excites, entertains and engages them.
For example, imagine a new dog walking business building its content marketing strategy. The first step would be to segment potential audiences and identify who would benefit from its service: this could be busy dog owners who don’t have enough time to walk their dog or people who want to socialize their pet with other dogs.
The next step would be to create content with that specific group in mind. For the busy dog owners’ segment, this could include helpful content about puppy boredom busters, or a guide on how much daily exercise is ideal for certain breeds.
But why exactly is audience segmentation so important when creating and distributing content?
Understanding the habits and preferences of an audience can help you target content directly to that specific group of people.
For example, if you’re looking to launch a new dog teeth-cleaning gadget, and your website analytics reveal that young men are statistically more interested in buying dog gadgets than other demographics, this would suggest you should target your content to this group.
Another benefit is being able to pinpoint audience behavior and using this information to refine your marketing approach. Now that you know young men are interested in dog gadgets, you could research a step further and find out how often this segment walks their pets and at what time of day.
Try to answer: What social channels does this group use? What do they do with their free time? For example, people who enjoy the visual nature of a social media platform like Pinterest are likely to prefer different content to those who like to read and contribute to forums. All this information can provide value when it comes to creating tailored content for this group.
To get insights into what people search for, try free online tools like Answer The Public and Keyword Planner. You also can utilize analytics features on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to get a glimpse of audience demographics and behaviors. Experiment with a number of tools and compare results to get a more complete picture of who your audience is, and how they behave online.
Finally, don’t forget to talk to people. It may be easy to forget in this online world, but connecting with people face to face can yield some truly unique insights into who they are and what they need.
To wrap up, here are some questions for you to contemplate:
Why is audience segmentation so important in content marketing?
How can it help brands when creating and distributing content?
And which tools can you explore to better understand your audience?
Next step that comes is choosing the right format for your content
Online content can take lots of different forms: from case studies and e-books to infographics, images, and video clips. Each of these different formats comes with its own benefits; whether it’s to inspire, educate or entertain.
Whatever format you choose, the purpose of content is always the same – to connect with an audience. This audience, in turn, will engage, share, learn, and perhaps even convert into customers.
Let’s start by exploring some popular content formats.
Blogs are typically published as a subsection of an existing website and can include original content or guest authored content. Writing unique, quality blog posts can help increase publicity and give you interesting content to share across other channels, like social media.
Infographics are informative and a great way to present knowledge visually. They work well online thanks to their eye-catching format and can help present complex or unusual content in a creative way.
E-books are educational, easy to read guides focused on a specific topic. This format provides readers with practical content and will help you stand out as an expert in your field.
Videos can include anything from product demonstrations to tutorials and customer testimonials. They allow brands to create engaging, entertaining, and useful content that can be consumed on the go.
There are many other content formats to consider, including press releases, webinars, reviews and case studies. To explore even more content formats, please check out the additional links provided at the end of this topic.
Successful content doesn’t have to go viral or reach millions of people. Focus on creating content should be tailored to your audience, and design it so that it moves customers towards a specific goal or action.
Now that you’re familiar with different formats, the next step is to consider the main goal of your content. In content marketing, there are typically four main purposes of content, which are:
to educate, and
Let’s take a look at how to match different content formats to your content goals.
For Example – Parul runs a dog grooming business and is looking to create a content strategy to help boost her online presence.
To entertain her audience, she decides to publish funny video clips of dogs doing tricks over social media. To inspire, she plans to create a forum space on her website where people can post their questions and get insights from both her and other pet owners. To educate her audience, she shares blog posts including top tips on dog care and dog nutrition. To convince people to use her services, she’ll share testimonials from happy customers, as well as e-books to showcase her knowledge in specialist grooming skills.
In your own business scenario, consider how certain formats are best paired with specific content goals. For example, if your goal is to educate, then guides, e-books, and infographics would be the ideal formats –whereas if your goal was to entertain, a better format choice would be quizzes or competitions.
When assessing which content formats are the right fit for your goals, think about the ones you can easily produce yourself, and consider recruiting assistance for those you can’t. Identify the purpose of your content, and then select the formats best suited to that goal. Finally, when designing your content, remember to consider your audience, and address their specific needs in a format that will wow them
The last step that comes is writing for your online audience
When it comes to creating content, there are some key differences between writing for online audiences and offline audiences.
Reading habits can vary a lot between online and offline content, with factors like style, length and structure all having a big impact when it comes to writing for different channels. To capture your online audience’s attention, you’ll need to adapt the way you approach writing.
For example, while reading a long article in a newspaper could be enjoyable, reading multi-page articles online are more likely to be frustrating. This is because as online readers we are constantly flooded with information, so our need to multitask and consume online data quickly and efficiently has left us with shorter attention spans.
Keeping this in mind, here are a few best practices for successful content writing:
Start with a good hook that clearly explains to the reader what they can expect. A great hook or opening sentence is important to draw people in. This could be a statistic, like “60% of people say owning a dog makes them happier”, or a question, like “are you up to date with the latest in puppy fashion?”.
Make sure that as you’re writing, you always keep your target audience in mind, and focus on what you can offer them. Try to read your content through their eyes, and don’t be too salesy – you want to engage your audience, not bombard them with too many sales messages.
Another valuable tip is to incorporate a “call to action”, or CTA. CTAs are short statements designed to entice a website visitor to take a specific action, so you should make them as creative and persuasive as possible. It could be ‘start now’ or ‘sign up today’. Tailor your CTA to your strategy, and make sure it helps you achieve your objectives.
Creating content regularly means it can be tough to stay inspired, so here are a few ways to come up with engaging topics.
Try researching your competitors to see what topics they cover. As you research, keep a list of potential topics and refer back to it when it’s time to brainstorm new content. In addition, tools like Answer the Public allow you to type in a specific subject or key term and receive a list of some of the most searched queries involving those words. This is great for creating content topics that respond to real user demand.
Other tools to help you get an idea of how popular a topic is including Search Console, which can help you see the terms people use to find your website, and Keyword Planner, which shows you how many people search for a specific term.
Finally, make sure you’re consistent in your writing style so that when readers read your content, they immediately associate your brand or business voice with it. A clear and recognizable tone of voice will help to establish a relationship with your audience and differentiate you from competitors. Try writing down the attributes you want readers to associate with your brand, such as honesty and enthusiasm, and always write with these qualities in mind.
To wrap up, consider how writing styles differ between online and offline, review our top tips for writing for an online audience, and consider how you can tap into online resources to get inspiration for new content ideas.
Now you know step by step how to create awesome content
- Content marketing can help you develop a stronger brand identity and connect with the right audience.
- Your first need is to find out who his audience is, then segment this audience into groups before creating content targeted to them. Finally, he needs to publish his content and promote it to his defined audience segments.
- If the aim is to engage with both existing customers and new customers, then a competition is a great way to grab people’s attention and engage them with the brand.
- Ashish should remember to focus on his target audience and find a consistent style and tone of voice. He should always aim for quality writing over quantity, and remember to open each blog post with an engaging hook.
So, what’s your story? Are you using content marketing already?
If you have any other great examples I’ve missed, please tell me about them in the comments.
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