Content Marketing Strategies for a Digital World
Your customers have come to rely on service excellence. But how will your target market ever learn about your unparalleled services without an ongoing and effective content marketing strategy? The hard truth is, they won’t.
Global Marketing Ecosystem
In today’s digital world of commerce, content marketing has become more important than ever before. Global brands invest in teams of marketing professionals to build and maintain content calendars. They must then build and manage a team of researchers and writers to strictly adhere to that calendar and consistently deliver high-quality, relevant, and engaging content. But that just sets the stage. Companies that truly wish to compete on the global (or even local) market must also invest in analytics services to learn more about the content that drives engagement and then adjust their content marketing strategy accordingly to ensure they are consistently attracting and engaging their target audience. For many companies, this is easier said than done.
10 Types of Engaging Content
When most people think of content marketing, they think of powerful messaging. They think of blog posts on their website, articles, and maybe the odd white paper or two. And while these pieces of content are highly effective, there are several other types of content marketing that you might wish to consider. Let’s start with the obvious and then move to other innovative, unconventional, or more labor-intensive types of content marketing worth exploring.
#1 Blog Posts
Blog posts have actually been around since the mid 1990s, gaining a spike in popularity in the early 2000s. As somewhat informal pieces of writing, blog posts give each author quite a bit of latitude and creative license. In many blog posts, you’ll see a relaxed sense of grammatical and structural usage, allowing more of the author’s personality to seep onto the pages. Blog posts are traditionally quite short pieces, some containing as little as 250 words. Regardless of how informal blog posts might be, they do still pack a punch in the world of marketing. Depending on your target audience, blog posts offer a light and often entertaining or whimsical approach to a subject matter. Since blog posts are easily digestible pieces of content, they are relatively quick to write, quick to read, and can still leave the audience with a valuable message.
Although many often interchange the terms “blog posts” and “articles”, the two couldn’t be more different. For starters, articles are based (or at least should be based) on facts. They should also be data driven in order to back up the assertions that are being made. In order for articles to gain respect, they should appear to be unbiased in nature, (again, driven by facts and data) even if there is a call-to-action (CTA) message at the end. It is completely acceptable for articles to promote a company’s brand, services, and/or products, but the manner in which the article is crafted should be more formal and professional in tone and structure. Articles are also much longer than your typical blog post. We strongly encourage articles to be a minimum of 900 words but should be no longer than 1,200. Although this particular point is vigorously argued in marketing circles, our experience comes down to creating industry respectability. Articles that fall too short leave the reader hanging, looking for more, and being left with more questions than answers. On the other hand, writing articles that are too long run the risk of losing the reader’s interest.
#3 White Papers/Research Reports
Market research reports have taken various subjects that have been discussed in articles and have delved into the subject matter in much more detail. Research reports attempt to examine a topic from every angle as in “no stone left unturned.” Although many sponsored research reports likely still have the goal of driving business back to the client, all evidence in the reports should be thoroughly vetted and sources should be peer-reviewed when and where relevant. Research reports can become quite lengthy as a result, with some as long as 30 pages or more. Companies will often place their research reports behind a paywall or will offer full access only to those with a membership to their website. As a tease, some companies will often provide a “sneak preview” of the report, inviting those who might be interested in the full report, to subscribe to their site and/or become members in any number of ways. The term “white paper” is used quite fluidly in industry circles but the gist of a white paper is to offer readers a condensed version of a research report. Often used for marketing purposes, white papers might even be used to promote a new service offering or product. Nonetheless, both research reports and white papers attempt to cast the company as an industry leader.
#4 Social Media Campaigns
Social media marketing is a wide open field in which to play. If not careful, your company and your messaging can be swallowed up in the sea of competition. Nonetheless, the power of social media platforms cannot be ignored. Some companies use their social media influence to promote offers, discounts, and/or seasonal promotions. Others use these platforms in a much more informal and playful way – uploading company images, video clips, or introducing new team members (remember, all audiences love a personable touch). Companies that are able to invest a little more might use these platforms to launch paid-for ad campaigns, shining a spotlight on their industry expertise. No matter how social media campaigns are used, the real secret lies in consistency. Be not only consistent in your delivery scheduling but remember to also engage actively in publications that others within your orbit are posting. While it is true that everyone loves a personable approach to social media posts, they are quickly turned away by companies that solely focus on themselves and do not engage with others – after all, this is called “social” media for a reason.
Question-and-answer content can be a very effective content marketing tool. It’s not only a great way to connect with industry leaders, but is an equally effective way to engage your audience with the latest industry insights. The trick, of course, is to craft well thought-out questions that you have researched well in advance. Get to know the individual you are going to interview. Get to know their expertise, background, and current role. Much like a journalist, an interviewer must do their due diligence in order to create an interview worthy of attention. If done correctly, these pieces of content have the potential to add credibility to your organization not to mention build industry relationships while casting your company as an industry advocate.
#6 Employee Spotlights
Not sure what to write about? Why not consider crafting honorable mentions for your employees? This is a fairly seamless way to generate quick, promotional content. You already have the employees, and your employees already know their own individual stories, so why not build promotional pieces that put them in the spotlight? Not only will each employee rise to the occasion, but employee spotlights also demonstrate your company’s commitment to a healthy, productive, respectful work environment. And since each employee strengthens your company’s offerings, bringing attention to their individual talents strengthens your company’s reputation as having a full team of qualified, experienced professionals.
#7 Newsletters and email campaigns
Have your service offerings changed? Have you enhanced your processes? Are you expanding? By building a healthy list of email subscribers you’ll be in great shape to send out weekly, monthly, or even quarterly newsletters to keep your readers engaged and up to speed on company news. This is a tried-and-true content marketing strategy that allows you to engage your already established audience and encourage folks to visit your site, engage with your content, and/or inquire about your services.
Do you think you have it in you to run a webinar? Again, depending on the subject matter, the preparation, and the set up, webinars have the potential to cast you as a thought leader within your industry. Effective, engaging, relevant webinar topics could place your company as the go-to authority on the topics you cover. The power of webinars also lies in their use of both audio and video. A multimedia approach appeals to many webinar attendees. It allows them to not only make a connection with the voice but webinars also generally allow attendees to actively participate in the webinar by asking questions and receiving valuable answers. Keep in mind, however, that webinar preparation and governance requires considerable time and resources that cannot be overlooked.
The world is full of podcasts for virtually every industry. Although podcasts do not support video, their appeal seems to lie in the nostalgia of radio talk shows. Podcasts allow the listener to focus more on the storytelling without any video distractions that might occur on webinars. Contrary to most webinars, podcasts usually run in a series, offering regularly scheduled episodes on a given topic.This allows listeners to choose a podcast that caters directly to their interests. Podcast hosts have the potential to gain recognition as authorities in their field, grow audience prospects, build influence, and of course, build a library of quality content. And, although these are all inspiring goals, podcast development and governance, much like webinar preparation, requires a lot of time and commitment. Ensure right from the get-go that you have the resources necessary to invest in your podcast.
# 10 Promotional Videos
Marketing videos are where it’s at. In today’s high-speed digital world, your audience is looking for quick, entertaining, yet informative content that drives a clear message, and video marketing (if done correctly) delivers. Remember, however, that it’s all in the delivery. Craft your promotional videos to appeal to your audience’s pain points, then deliver effective solutions. Also remember that many viewers will click out of your video within the first 10 seconds so make every second count by getting straight to point. This is often referred to as the “upside-down pyramid” strategy – instead of just waiting until the end to craft your powerful punch, open with an immediate hook to keep your audience engaged. But perhaps most importantly, stick to the “2-minute or less” rule. If your videos are too short, viewers might miss the messaging altogether. Likewise, if your videos are too long, you run the risk of losing your audience’s attention. If done right, the return can be very rewarding.
In fact, in a recent wyzowl video marketing survey, when marketers were asked about the return on investment (ROI) for their videos, a resounding 88% reported that they receive a positive ROI.
Market for Success
Nowadays, the digital world of business is all about building lead generation, strengthening your SEO ranking, increasing brand awareness, growing audience engagement, and of course, expanding your target audience. From infographics to ebooks, and from blog posts to white papers, companies compete vigorously online for their audience’s attention. The trick however, lies squarely in your content marketing strategy.
Before you endeavor on any content marketing campaign, get to know your audience. Where do they go for information and what types of content attract them? Understand their pain points and be ready to focus on viable solutions. Design a clear focus on what objectives you’d like your content to achieve and be ready to track the success of each marketing campaign. Because, yes, you might have the best products and services on the market, but content is still king – or queen – depending on what lens you look through.