Ultimately, the key to modern content marketing is starting from a place of informing your audience. How many times would you want to hear about the perks of your product? If you’re boring yourself as you’re writing your blog post, your audience is already gone.
Schedule a personal profile, a day-in-the-office piece, or some innovative method of using your product that your customers haven’t considered yet.
With marketing right there in the name, it seems obvious that your content marketing is going to include some, well, marketing. And of course, occasionally you’re going to mention the product you offer or the services you want people to buy. But if every single piece of content you offer ends with a marketing pitch or for the purpose of building links, you’re not going to see the sales you want. Let’s talk about why.
Diversity of Content is Key
If there ever was a time when customers made the choice to buy based on a single piece of marketing, that time has passed. With more choices than ever before, customers exhaust many avenues of research before settling on a single product or company. The more kinds of content you offer, the better chance you have of engaging with them.
How-to videos, FAQs, customer testimonials, and articles about industry developments relevant to your product are all key content pieces that move the needle from “undecided” towards “sold.”
Millennials Know When They’re Being Sold To
In many classic marketing schemes, companies almost pretended that they weren’t selling anything. Ads featured brand X and brand Y, only revealing at the last moment that they were recommending something completely different. Modern television ads are full of commercials that never tout the actual benefits of the car or phone they’re advertising, just show a movie star driving around a closed course or showing simulated screen images.
Having grown up with this sort of marketing at their fingertips, Millennials have incredibly canny at understanding when someone is selling to them, and understanding what is, and what is not, being said.
Content marketing works, but marketing to Millennials requires a different sort of communication than marketing to their elders. They expect to get information on your blog, not a sales pitch.
Inside scoops on how the product came to market, a day in the life of your sales team, and the way your company is looking to change the world are all going to make much more of an impact than another story about why they should buy your product.
Millennials Have An Incredible Amount of Buying Power
Some companies may believe that reaching the age-group between 17 and 34 years old is optional, but any company that wants to be profitable cannot afford to leave these people behind. Millennials are expected to spend $200 billion a year, beginning next year, and $10 trillion over their lifetimes.
This is more than any previous consumer generation. Companies that focus only on older marketing methods and older generations will, by definition, find their customer base decreasing year over year.
Customers Of All Ages Respond More To Other Types of Content
Every marketing expert agrees that reaching Millennials means having active and fruitful social media channels, but too many companies start a Facebook page and maybe an Instagram account and think their work is done.
In fact, understanding what makes a person likely to share a piece on social media can help a company develop content.
There are five primary reasons we share content:
- To bring value and entertainment to our friends
- To define ourselves to our friends
- To grow and nourish our relationships
- To feel more involved in the world
- To support a cause
Knowing this, businesses should design content that fits at least one of these categories. For example, a smartphone company could write an article about five great places their phones are being used (entertainment and defining ourselves as people who might do these things) or how their phones are being used by disabled people to aid communication (to support a cause and feel more involved).
But Balance Is Key
Of course, at some point, you’re going to write some straight-up marketing pieces. Usually, these are great when there’s something new happening. A new product, a new service, a new edition, a big sale, or a once-in-a-product opportunity.
Many companies aspire to have a 70/30 split, where around 70 percent of content is “evergreen,” reflecting articles that customers might refer to time and time again, and 30 percent is “news,” reflecting on industry, product, and personnel news. Maintaining an editorial calendar can help a company make sure that they’re getting the balance about right.
We develop blindness towards all sorts of advertising. When first introduced online, banner ads achieved a 50-90% CTR. Now the majority of people can’t stand them. Marketing effectiveness demands a change.
It’s not so much that various methods of marketing are inherently ineffective. It’s just that people get used to them, so marketers need to innovate. Data-driven marketing is one result of this ever-present need for change.
Why You Need to Have Data-Driven Marketing
The proliferation of information in our time might lead you to believe that companies are using data all the time in their marketing. However, they are not.
The Harvard Business Review reports that while infographics are now fairly standard, very few of them portray data that tells an original story. Marketers tend to use data for their own decision-making, but not for creating content that adds value to their customers.
That’s really too bad because the insight data offers can be quite interesting and even enriching. Solid, data-driven content gives your company credibility. If you have reliable facts backing up your opinions, people will see you as trustworthy. Another advantage is that your own knowledge will increase as you share information with other influencers.
Data can also have a lot of power simply from the fact that much content on the internet is mediocre. If your content has integrity—if it is original and accurate—it will stand out.
The companies that are best at marketing with data use it to appeal to people’s emotions. They present their data in format that is interesting to look at (hence the popularity of infographics), and ideally they put the information in the context of a story.Quote source
For the Google Trends “Year in Search 2015,” Google did an amazing job at turning data into a compelling story. The company presented the top searches of the year through a brief video. The opening text says, “In 2015 the questions we asked revealed who we are.”
The video goes on to show the questions people searched, such as “how can i help the refugees” and “how can we overcome prejudice,” interspersing the questions with pertinent footage from the year. The video used data not only to tell the individual stories behind the searches but also to tie them together into a larger narrative of unity within diversity.
Businesses run into trouble implementing data effectively for a number of reasons. First, there is simply an overwhelming amount of it. It can be difficult to know how to sort through and productively utilize all of a company’s accessible information.
Another potential pitfall is that sometimes those in charge incorrectly estimate the costs of gathering data. Sometimes information isn’t gathered correctly or analyzed thoroughly, and often there is poor or no communication across departments.
Silos are in fact a significant challenge to success, especially in larger companies. The larger a company grows, the greater the challenge to be unified and to communicate well about any goal. It’s also easy for businesses to lose sight of their goals if they are not relying on data for what their priorities should be and whether or not they are sidetracked from them.
It is critical to remember that data is not a solution in and of itself; it needs to be reliable. Kimberly Whitler of Forbes states, “If the data is bad—disorganized, incomplete, inconsistent, out of date—then the resulting decisions will be bad, too.” That’s why it’s important to have people at your company who understand how to find, analyze, and organize trustworthy data.
How to Leverage Data Effectively
As you seek to leverage data-driven content for your business, there are some specific principles you should keep in mind.
First, be strategic. Choose your data team carefully; it’s extremely valuable to have people from different departments and perspectives. Have a clear idea of your goals and KPIs so that you are mining your data with purpose.
Know the best channels to tap for the data you’re trying to attain. Is your audience primarily on Twitter? Then don’t waste time gathering information from Facebook or Instagram. Have good analytics models in place, as well as metrics with which to measure your results.
It should go without saying that your data should be as accurate as possible. Once you’ve collected enough information, use it to build customer personas that will lead to customer-focused content. Avoid silos by having cross-company goals, and evaluate and re-evaluate the data as you collect it.
Remember, data is most interesting and valuable to your customers when it is presented with visually appealing, quality content. Fortunately, quality content is exactly what Google is looking for and is one of the main ways you can get Google to index your site.
Neil Patel notes that having a blog is one important way to increase site traffic: “websites with blogs get an average of 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.”
Good content is interesting enough on its own, but having evidence to back up the content makes your position even more powerful. It’s also worth observing that Patel uses multiple infographics throughout his article, making use of their widespread appeal.
People Crave Insight into the World
People love to learn new information, especially if that information tells them something about who they are and is presented in a fresh way. Effective data-driven content will boost the power of your marketing because of its ability to make the truth interesting.
When you are running an online business of any kind – be it a blog, an ecommerce store or just a marketing campaign for a tangible, offline company – you have multiple sources of content distribution at your disposal.
YouTube, blog platforms, Twitter, Facebook… social media has become the way of the future in online business. Failing to properly utilize such a resource will severely damage your online visibility, which is crucial in today’s world. Social media is changing the way we are doing keyword research, produce and market content.
Identifying Weak Areas
When trying to analyze the effectiveness of your content strategy on the web, you should take some time to review and understand what it is you are currently doing right. This will also show you where you need to improve. You can do this through a content audit, which is essentially putting together spreadsheets of all social media campaigns to find where you are lacking.
Once you have taken a fair look at what you have been doing, start looking at how much you are really posting, and the relevance of the content. For example, are you meeting your desired quota for blog posts per week? Are they generating the right response? Are tweets being replied to or retweeted? Have you been communicating with your Facebook fans on a personal level? Are you published a good balance of links, original updates and comments or replies to readers?
If you are clear about what you have and have not been providing, you can improve your social media marketing and so your overall content strategy. These three apps can further help you along the way:
An editorial calendar is a must have item for anyone who is posting online but especially for those who are want to run a multimedia campaign using social sites and methods. It is just too easy to lose track of what you are going to post without one… Not to mention it lessens the quality of your content to fail to plan ahead.
Technically, a spreadsheet works fine to plan posts. But if you want to really take advantage, an app like DivvyHQ can be what you need. It is a scheduling application that allows multiple users, reviewers and help in better targeting your posts.
They have plans from $25 to $195 a month, as well as custom pricing for larger companies of more than 20 people and a 30-day free trial. They even have in-person or online training for implementing social media strategies.
This platform works by putting together a report on what your audience is searching, reading and otherwise showing interest in at every stage of the content creation process. This allows you to better target your own campaign and post writing, as well as provides a direction for links and status updates.
Skyword works by making sure your SEO, usability and content quality guidelines are being taken serious.
What makes it different from a basic SEO app is that it actually was created to factor the data into the writing process itself. Currently, it is in the beta stage and so asking only for feedback from those that choose to use it. It is free to create an account.
A simplification app for content creators and managers, this works by creating a “site map” that involves all media content you have to get done. You set in the parameters and turn it into single page collections that can be shared and edited by invited parties.
The platform costs $66 minimum and for that you can maintain 10 active projects and add an unlimited number of users.
Working out a way to increase the efficiency and workability of a content strategy takes time, effort and a bit of know how. These apps will help you to get it done much more quickly, and without the stress.
Add in the fact that two of them are free and the other more affordable than any similar service I have personally found, and you have every reason to try them out.