If there is one thing that marketers have learned in the past couple of years, it is that content is king. Audiences are becoming more and more demanding. They want answers, solutions, and insights; if all else fails, they want you to entertain them.
Creating good content is time-consuming and hard, but as we already said, it is also very rewarding. To make this easier for you, we’ve created a structure that you can follow that will allow you to get the most out of the effort you will inevitably put into it.
The only thing that is more important than your writing is your audience. Knowing your target audience will help you narrow down the topics you want to cover, allowing you to answer relevant questions they might have.
If you have a social media page that already has a lot of followers your job just got that much easier. Facebook, for example, has some great metrics that show you who your audience is, how they consume content, and when they are most likely to consume it. If all else fails you can use Google Analytics, surveys or interviews to get a peek at the relevant data. Keep in mind that personalized and targeted content yields 20% better results than content you haphazardly put together.
Now it is time to decide who you want to reach. Define the audience you’d like to attract and build their persona; their likes, dislikes, habits and everything else you can think of.
Take a seat, and grab a piece of paper:
- Write down the name of a specific persona (Jane the soccer mom)
- Determine her age bracket
- Is she single or married?
- What is her yearly income?
- What is her daily routine?
- What are her likes, dislikes, and motivations?
- How does she connect with your brand, product or a service?
- Anything else you can think of that will help you build an accurate profile.
Now that you have a persona, you can build an actionable plan on how to address the specific problems of that population. You can set out to answer their questions and offer assistance, addressing them personally. This way, they are more likely to be interested in what you have to say and more likely to become a customer somewhere along the way.
Have a framework that works for you
Before you even sit down to the drawing table you need to have a framework that works for your company. Knowing your audience will greatly help you in this part of the process. There are three key considerations that you need to keep in mind when deciding on how you are going to go about creating and publishing your content.
1. Decide on content format
Different types of audiences have different habits, and they consume different formats of content. Also, an in-depth analysis or comparison is better suited for a blog post than for a Facebook status. If you did your job well and you know your audience and type of information you want to share, it is going to be easier to create a good piece of content.
- Blog post
- Case studies
…and these are only some of the formats you might want to try out. Videos get better traction with millennials and blog posts with your industry professionals. Blogs are the most effective tool you have at your disposal to increase organic traffic, so it is a bit of a puzzle why only 35% of Fortune 500 companies are maintaining an official blog. On the other hand, people tend to stay longer on pages that have embedded videos (nearly 90% longer, so it’s nothing to sneeze at). The point is, don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit and see what works best for you and your business.
2. Content templates
Make things easier on yourself. Once you know the type of content you need frequently, make some templates that will facilitate their creation. If you are creating articles and blog posts consider investing some time into speeding up the process:
- Jot down some attention-grabbing openers that you can use in your articles. Daisy T. Howard, Chief Editor at BestEssayTips advice to have 8 to 10 differently styled opening sentences can help you get the ball rolling and make it easier on you to actually sit down and start writing. They can be anecdotes, example or anything else that allows you to easily introduce a topic.
- Do the same for the main body of the text. Have a couple of stories you can re-purpose for different topics and use them to get your point across. Even if you end up not sticking to it, it will get your creative juices flowing; struggling with a few words on the page is definitely more motivating than getting stared down by a blank page.
- Take some time to work on your closing. Ideally, you will want to sneak in a call to action here (just don’t get too pushy, ok?!). Spending some time on it will make it look more natural, and you will definitely do better than the generic ‘So sign up now if you want your writing to be as good as this!’
You can do this for all types of content you produce, just don’t repeat yourself. Have a batch of good ‘recipes’ you can use. You do not want your content to go stale and repetitive.
3. Devise a publishing schedule
Timing is often times the key when it comes to content marketing. When and how you publish your content, what channels do you use, how you reinforce it with marketing; all of this can have an impact on how your content connects to your audience, or whether or not they get to see it at all!
- If you are in a highly competitive industry we suggest publishing articles and blog posts on a daily basis, because some of your competitors are most certainly doing that. Following their lead while producing high-quality content will result in more visibility and more leads, and ultimately in more conversions.
- Video content, such as reviews and interviews, should be published once or twice a week. The reason for this is that it is harder to produce and requires more time to get just right.
- If applicable, don’t skip on e-books, whitepapers or case studies. If you have some genuinely interesting insight into your industry, share it with others on a quarterly basis. This type of content is tricky and requires a lot of effort to create, but it can be immensely rewarding. According to research conducted by V3B, 40% of buyers cite that their purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by this type of content, and this is topped only by 62% of them saying that they are more influenced by blogs on trusted domains.
4. Take stock of your inventory
Chances are you already have some content you can re-use or re-purpose. Make sure to take inventory to see if you can save yourself a lot of time and money, and avoid creating duplicate content. Open up a spreadsheet and mark down the following:
- Name of the document – Title and general topic
- Location (physical or virtual)
- Is the material redundant, tired or outdated?
Knowing a few things about the content you already have is great. It allows you to improve upon it without creating something completely new. You might be able to bring together a dozen or so of your articles and create an e-book or use some videos to put together a webinar. In any case, improving on existing stuff beats starting from scratch.
Research and ideas
Now is the time for grunt work. This is possibly the most time-consuming – and the least rewarding – phase of the process. To come up with quality content you need to put in the work and do some research.
You need to see what is trending before you can even decide on what you are going to write about. Keeping tabs on relevant industry blogs and publications is essential. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you do just that:
- Feedly – set up a Feedly account to keep track of your favorite blogs and websites. It will help you tremendously when deciding on what topics are currently hot and trending.
- Google Trends – this free tool also comes in handy when you are trying to assess what topics are getting the largest volume of search. Sometimes you can tie into a trending article or a piece of content with your own take on things and capitalize on its popularity.
- Built Visible – if you need to know what is trending on Twitter, Digg, Bing News and a score of other platforms, use Built Visible. This tool will pool the information from those sites and let you know what is hot right now.
If you are researching parts of your content online, it is important to keep your sources in mind. Always make sure that you are pulling your information from worthwhile and authority websites. Key considerations are:
Welcome to the brass tacks. Content creation is pretty far down our list in this process, but it is the heart of it. This is the part where most businesses and marketing departments focus all of their efforts. While we consider it the heart of the process, it is unlikely that it would beat as well without the blood vessels that are the previous steps.
The most important thing you will decide in this part is the format in which you wish to deliver your content. Take everything into account, from the persona you want to talk to, to the type of the content you are delivering. Some information is better presented in an infographic, some in a blog post, and some as a video. The most important consideration here is your audience. Go back to the drawing board and see how they digest information; this will make your decision much easier.
Having a great content creation and distribution process is the cornerstone of a successful content marketing strategy. Marketing is shaped by content; make sure you are not left behind!
Lucy Benton is a high skilled editor, a proofreader who currently works at Awriter.org, she enjoys sharing tips and stories. Now she is writing for marketing and business resources. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on FaceBook. and Twitter.