The first question that just about everyone asks when they start thinking about content marketing is “what would I create?” This is followed up pretty quickly with the question “will people really care about what I’m posting?” Honestly, the answer is maybe, maybe not. Trust me, I’ve posted plenty of content that no one has given two licks about – fortunately the content that I post that people do care about gets enough attention to make up for it.
Making Your Content Great
We all want to create great content that’s inherently shareable and “bound to go viral”. The reality, however, is that very little content that we share through social media actually goes viral (and when it does it’s important to capitalize on it as best you can) but here are three steps to take to ensure that your content has the best chance at making an impact.
Know Your Audience
I talk about this in just about every “how to” article that I write. Knowing your target audience is so important, especially when it comes to creating content. Remember that people use social media to express themselves – everyone has a personal brand strategy (whether they’re aware of it or not) and it shows through what they share on social media.
Spend some time to get to know some of the people in your own network that you can identify as your perfect clients, customers, donors or sponsors and really explore what they share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and look for any commonalities between them. Are they all sharing political posts? Posts about camping with dogs? Posts about kids?
Once you know what the audience you want to reach is posting, you’ll be able to identify some ideas for content in the future. Don’t think about yourself and what you want or don’t want to share (of course there are limits to this) but focus on what they share and you’ll be able to create the right kind of content to be shared.
Make Sure That It’s Useful
We all love funny cat videos but those are only going to get you so far…unless you’re a pet store or an animal rescue or something. Make sure that the content you’re posting is actually useful to people in their day to day lives. List style infographics tend to work well for this very reason – they give people relevant information that they can consume quickly and easily.
Remember when it comes to social media to drive home the four “Es”: Entertain, Educate, Enrich and Engage.
Make Sure That It’s Easy to Share
When it comes to posting to social media, we’ve all become a bit lazy. At first we had to copy and paste a link with a thoughtfully written description because there were really no other options. Today? I just wrote my first status update in about four months…it just doesn’t happen as much anymore when it’s so easy to simply click on a button on my website.
That said, make sure that there are share buttons on your site and on your content. Remember, any barrier to sharing content will frustrate people to a point where they’ll just give up – until they find something similar to your content that is easy to share.
If you do a search through the web you’ll find countless articles on creating content – the top 10 rules, the 25 best ways…it’ll go on and on. If you’re serious about your social media campaign I’d encourage you to dive in and get to know the information that’s out there. Starting with these three tips will get you well on your way to creating social media content that gets shared.
What If I Can’t Come Up With Anything?
Producing content is one of the most important things to do as a company. While there’s a lot of mixed information about there regarding content types, the bottom line is that it still needs to be written. Whether you’re having someone help you write your content or you’re planning on doing it on your own, here are some ideas to get you on the right track.
1. Do a Special Post the Same Time Every Week
Weird Wednesdays? Time Management Tuesdays? FAQ Fridays? Whatever you choose (and it doesn’t need to be alliteration), coming up with a special day of the week to release very specific content is good for two reasons. One, your readers will begin to look forward to these each week, making your numbers boost. Two, it’ll be easier on your content writer when they already know what they need to produce on certain days.
2. Write a Response to Someone Else’s Article
It may not be incredibly original, but writing a response to someone else’s article works, and we’ll tell you why. The internet is full of new and new content everyday. Why keep adding to it, when you can respond to it? Surely, there’s a good opinion article out there that your company either agrees with or finds extremely offensive. While you should of course be careful about what you say, this is definitely a creative approach to writing. Additionally, you could write reviews of books and other things you’ve read that apply to your industry and have resonated with you.
3. Write a Product Recommendation Guide
This type of content of course depends on the business you’re running. By writing a product recommendation guide for your clients (this can sometimes be themed around holidays or seasons), it gives them more insight into your products and thus encourages them to make purchases.
4. Get Personal
Readers LOVE gossip. And, we’re not talking about who the latest celebrity news. We’re talking about letting your readers in on a few little secrets. You can write an article about new employees at your company, an investment your company recently made, or popular trends you’re getting in on.
5. Bring Up Archived Posts
Do you have an archive section on your website’s blog? If you don’t, you probably want to change that. Whether you’ve run out of content ideas for the week or there’s actually something you want to bring up, archived posts are the way to go. Think…you can make titles like, “This Day in (insert company’s name) History.” Show your clients how much you’ve grown together over the last few years.
6. Use Audio, Video, and Image Content
Not everyone likes to read, and that’s really important to remember when developing your content strategy. Mix up your content schedule with not just articles, but videos, slideshows, photos, podcasts, vlogs posts, etc. You’ll appeal to a whole new audience of readers.
7. Interviews and Stories
Whatever industry you’re working in, there are definitely a few important figures that your customers are following just as much as you. Though, it might be hard to get an interview with one of these people. If you can, great. If not, there are others that your customers won’t necessarily know about, but who will have something of value to add to your site. Do your research, think up some questions, and get ready for an awesome interview or story you can post on your site.
8. Get Help
As long as you keep producing content, you’ll need more ideas. After you’ve used all of these, what will you do? Don’t fret; keep an eye out on the web for more tips. People even write tips on where to find tips. As you long as you remain proactive, you’ll be fine!
What If I’m Still Stuck With My Content?
Writing creative content is one of the best ways to bring in leads to your company. It’s also a way to build your brand and network with others in your industry. But, wouldn’t it be nice if you could get your written content to write itself?
Nowadays, companies are handling the content they produce in all different ways. While some are turning to technology to revolutionize the kind of content they create, others are still sticking to old-fashioned, written content. But, just because that written content doesn’t include a video or an Instagram post, doesn’t mean it’s not worthy.
These days, the content we see online is often repetitive. So, if you’re concerned about getting your content out there, especially written content, you may need to go a different direction. Oh, did we mention that these ideas write themselves?
1. Interviews or Q & As
If you want your written content to write itself, then get others to work with you to write it. No matter what you may be an expert in, there’s always more to learn. People like content that can teach them something. Therefore, writing a Q & A article or an interview piece with someone special in the industry (or even a regular customer!) will bring in a lot of readers. And, it won’t take long to write!
2. Make Your Written Content Skimmable
You probably don’t even need to read this part to know what we mean! Using subheadings to allow content to be read more quickly, is another different approach to written content.
3. Get Readers to Help You Make the Content
Don’t have time to write something? No problem. Let your readers help you make the content that they are looking for. This can be done by incorporating a poll, allowing your audience to share things they like in a forum, or simply posting a video and let the comments serve as the written content.
4. Re-Write Old Pieces
Lots of companies are taking the time to optimize old content instead of creating new content that may not necessarily get read.
5. Spend Less Time Researching By Looking At What’s In Front Of You
People are fed plethora of information every second. Whether it’s by scrolling through your news feed, reading your emails, or checking the newspaper or the home page of a blog you like, it’s hard to take it all in sometimes. You may not even realize it, but all that information you’re seeing before you sit and write content may be there to help you. Keep a little memopad with you at all times. Whenever something gives you the sense of, “Hey! I could write about that!” jot it down.
6. Write About What You Know Best
Whatever service or product your company offers, use that to write your content. Why spend time writing about something else? You already have all the knowledge on yourself. If you want your written content to write itself, then write a piece on the service you offer, the competition, what’s new, etc. You won’t run out of ideas.
7. Get Personal
Not finding any interesting facts or new information to write content on? No problem. That means it’s time to get personal. Every so often, write a piece that you can write offline, without any other form of internet guiding you. Write from the heart; experiences, stories…anything that will resonate with readers.
What If I’m Creating Content That Isn’t Converting?
Are you a “creating-content” machine, but not noticing any conversions? Then your content, while it may be good, isn’t doing its ultimate job. The point of creating content is that it makes people want to take action. If you need help creating high-converting content, then just follow a few of these steps.
1. Create Intriguing Intros
Remember when your English teacher back in the day told you about using a “hook” to capture your reader? That’s just as relevant now as it was then. While your intros need to follow certain guidelines to get your page to appear on search engines, you also don’t want the reader to get bored before he or she has even gotten to the second sentence. Pull your reader in by creating a few words they can’t look away from. To do this successfully, some good advice is to write your intro after you’ve already written the rest of your content.
2. Understand What People Are Eager to Read
A good intro doesn’t really matter if your content is absolutely boring. Of course, what might bore one person could be incredibly interesting for another. That being said, there are still some guidelines to follow to make sure the content is enjoyable no matter who is reading it.
The easiest way to make people want to read your content is by knowing what they like. How do you know exactly what they like? See what they are sharing! Check out which articles on your site have been shared the most. Then, look at which articles have been shared the least. Compare the two, and see what you should be doing more of and what you should be doing less of, or just what you need to be getting rid of completely.
3. Take Out the Spam, Insert Only Small, Relevant Ads
Have you ever clicked on an article that looked really interesting, only to get to the website and have the text completely hidden by a plethora of ridiculous ads? We’re willing to bet that you probably didn’t read that article.
We’re hoping you already know not to do that to your site, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ads that are simply annoying people. Having a pop up box asking users to sign up every time they click on something can really deter them. The key here is don’t interrupt your readers. Just give them a little CTA button at the top or side of the page, that they’ll notice and come back to when they’re ready. This is known as permission-based marketing.
4. Make It Look Good
They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But, let’s be honest. While some of the best books in the world have had the dullest covers, people are more likely to grab the book off the shelf that’s flashy. Your content should be no different. Implement high quality images that grab a reader’s attention, and make sure the formatting you use is consistent and easy to read.
Sometimes, the whole process of making high-converting content can be a little superficial. But, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?
5. Don’t Limit the Sharing Possibilities
The ultimate way to have high-converting content is that it gets shared. Therefore, you must provide your readers with easy and flexible ways for them to share content. One way to do this is by putting share icons towards the beginning and the end of the article.
The other, is actually to get more creative within that. Maybe your reader wants to share a quote he or she really liked from the article, a thought, or anything that simply resonated with him or her. These are called “sound bites,” and they are super easy to insert into your content.
Here Are 5 More Ideas to Generate Leads from Your Content
While a website should, of course, look professional and be functional, it also needs to have other qualities. Just like you and your team, your website needs to possess certain skills in order to do what it has set out to do.
Apply these techniques to your website for a stronger lead generation strategy:
1. Provide Downloadables
Are you giving your leads enough incentive to come to your website? Providing them with complimentary downloads will keep them coming, and coming back for more. Some examples of “downloadables” include whitepapers, eBooks, podcasts, or software samples.
2. Make Clear and Compelling CTA Buttons
In order to get a lead to commit, there needs to be plenty of opportunities for them to “opt-in.” Therefore, clear and compelling call-to-action buttons should be located on many different parts of your website. If your current CTA buttons aren’t obvious and aren’t spread throughout the site, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Make your call-to-action phrases persuasive, and make the person feel as though it’s targeted directly at them. Additionally, make sure your CTA buttons are strategically placed and stand out, without being too ‘in your face.’
3. Add a Chatbox with Chatbots
One effective way to bring in leads is by making it easy for them to get to know you. Customers like a company they can trust, while companies like their customers to be people who can develop loyalty to them. One way to do this is by adding a chatbox, in which leads can click on to get in touch with you quickly, easily, and without being too formal.
We know what you’re thinking. It’s not easy for you to be on-call in a chatbox every single time a lead has a question. That’s why incorporating a chatbot to run your chatbox. An automated answering service is the bridge between leads and you, providing them with sufficient information they need to move forward, without digging into your time.
4. Incorporate Videos
If you’ve been following our blog, then you’ll know how important videos will be in the coming year. One of the website techniques for stronger lead generation is adding attractive videos to your site. Remember, people are visual creatures, and providing them with something that will feed that will ensure more leads.
5. Make Sharing Easy
When it comes to making a solid website for your company, we’re all aware of the main things that bring in leads. It’s so important, for example, to have things like content and useful landing pages. But, along with that, there needs to be a way for your current audience to share what you’re doing with others.
Make sharing to social media and email very easy for the visitors to your website. Don’t make it confusing or a hassle for them to click on these sharing icons. A new box should pop up in which they are already logged into their accounts. This will allow them to share what they want from your site in a click of a button, making sure leads come to you without needing to do much at all.
What Should Go in My Content Calendar?
Figuring out your comfort zone when it comes to creating meaningful content is a constant struggle. Each and every day, new trends are coming out, and it seems impossible to stay on top of what the people want. Or, at least what you think they want.
A lot of the time, one of the hardest things about content marketing is simply deciding what to write or what to do. When it comes time to actually put the words on paper or make a storyline for a video, it may not all come together.
But, we’re here to help you fill up your content calendar with ease. This way, the next time you have to produce content for your company, the ideas are already set and ready to go. So, get your pen and calendar ready! Here they are.
Memes have taken over the Internet. And, whether or not they make sense with your company, people respond to them well. They respond to them well because they are quick and easy to read, and funny. Everyone loves a good laugh every once in a while. It’s human nature. If your company’s content strategy can cater to your audience by use of memes, you’ll be in good hands. Fill up your content calendar with these once a week. GIFs are good to use, too!
What does your company want to teach? Is it how to use a new software? How to start a business? How to save money? Or, how to find the best travel deals on the internet? Whatever it is you’re trying to sell to your customers, remember, knowledge is power. And, when that knowledge can be obtained free of cost, that’s even better. To fill up your content calendar, offer extensive guides that explain, inform, or inspire your audience.
Whether you’re doing it through B2B marketing or you’re just doing it to share some really great stories, guest posts are a great way to fill up your content calendar. Find a person that has something interesting to say or someone who is an important figure in your industry, and get them to share their experience on your site. Not only will it be good for developing your brand, but it will also help others. The more you can network, the better!
If you’re really at a loss for what to write, then check out news articles. All you have to do is search what’s trending in your network or industry, and read about it. Find a way to incorporate that news into your content strategy by re-designing and adapting the article to cater to your own audience. Everyone enjoys reading the news to some extent, and they especially love seeing a new angle on it than everyone else has taken.
Believe it or not, listicles are still a huge hit with readers. They are easy to read and make it possible for readers to just scroll through and read the sub-headings if they so choose. Adding images to each sub-heading also helps keep the readers’ attention for longer.
TALK ABOUT YOURSELF! (Not really)
One way to easily fill up your content calendar is by being the expert you are on yourself. You obviously know a lot about your company and what’s going on or what will go on in the future. Hone in on that information and use your content strategy as a way to talk about hot topics within your business. Your customers will find this interesting and it will encourage them to stay tuned for more insider information!
What If I Don’t Have Time to Create Content?
Creating content is essential to promoting your business and capturing leads. Without it, you’ll really have a hard time getting your name out there and growing your business. And, it’s not just about writing articles every so often or making posts on Facebook. Good, strong content can be measured by how creative it is and how it engages your readers on a regular basis. While there are many different approaches to content, unfortunately, most companies don’t even have the time to make ordinary content.
If you’re wondering how you can possibly make time to create your content, here are some useful tips.
Create a realistic schedule for yourself
Creating content every day may not be realistic for you. But, doing it once or twice a week may be more feasible. Content needs to be to be included in your work schedule just like any other major task. If you make an hour for yourself each week to focus just on content, you’ll start to see results quickly; without putting too much stress on yourself.
Keep an ‘idea notebook’ next to you at all times
Coming up ideas for content topics, whether they be articles titles or video themes, isn’t easy. In fact, it can sometimes be writer’s block to a whole new level. And, when that hour comes each week where you’re expected to just sit down and work on your content, that’ll probably be the one time it doesn’t come to you. Therefore, it’s a really good idea to keep an “idea notebook” with you wherever you go. It can be anything from a memo pad in your purse, a piece of paper in your wallet, or a memo on your phone. Whenever, and we mean WHENEVER, an idea comes to you, immediately jot it down. You’ll be really happy you did.
Always plan ahead
Things come up. Business meetings happen, phone calls happen, emergencies happen. And, sometimes these “happenings” can really get in the way of creating content. It’s easy to prioritize other things in your business when they come up, and often, content creation gets put on the backburner…sometimes for weeks at a time. To stop this from happening, try to get ahead on your content as much as possible. Write an extra article if you can. Or, if you know that you have something that MAY come up the next week or two, adjust your schedule so you can fit in your content creation time.
Re-invent the wheel
Content doesn’t always have to made from scratch. While you should always try your best to be creative and original (and not any of that copy-and-pasting stuff), there’s no reason you can’t reinvent the wheel. Take a look at what’s trending online, what your target audience has been showing their interest in, and adjust your content accordingly. You can also repurpose old content if you have a tight week ahead of you.
Get Help (It’s Okay!)
You can’t do everything! No business is successful without a little help. Two heads are better than one…I get by with a little help from my friends…whatever you’re motto is, sing it in your head once in a while. Remind yourself that it’s okay to get some help when you need it. Whether this means hiring a content creator or asking an assistant to take the load off of you once in a while, it’ll make the quality of your content that much better.
Utilize your marketing automation service as much as possible
Marketing automation services, like The Mission Suite, want to make your business life as easy as possible. That’s the whole point, after all. And, once you create content, we want to make it easy for you to share that content and analyze that content, so each time it gets easier and easier. Don’t forget to utilize your marketing automation service whenever you can.
Where to Promote Your Content
Once you’re done creating, there are different channels where you can promote your content:
Earned media takes the free channels to the next level, increasing your potential to convert leads. This is free as well. But, it may take more effort by requiring networking skills in order to take full advantage of this. An earned channel is the means of promoting content through shares, mentions, reposts, and reviews by others. This will spread your content far and wide and will hopefully allow your content to be seen by many.
Paid channels are just like they sound, requiring businesses to pay in order to have their content seen. This can be done via pay-per-click, display ads on social media, boosted posts, paid influencers, paid content promotion, etc. Many business leaders may be hesitant about paying for these channels. But, they are usually quite effective in getting leads to convert once they get to the content on your site.
Owned channels give you the ability to share content on channels which you already own. Think about your social media platforms, like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It also includes video channels, like Youtube. Beyond that, your email list and blog are great examples as well. Here, you can create content, post and promote as you wish. Although it is possible to link all types of content to your website in the end.
Marketing automation helps you save a lot of time when it comes to being in touch with your clients. The right software can allow you to create workflows and templates to get important and engaging information out quickly. Additionally, you can keep track of your various campaigns and check the analytics after. This way, you know how your customers are responding to what you’re sending out.
Marketing automation allows you to also have workflows going even when you’re not around. This is done by scheduling campaigns and posts, so they get sent out even if you’re not at your computer. Scheduling is a great feature of any marketing automation software. However, it’s important to know a little bit about best scheduling tactics beforehand.
Why Schedule a Campaign or Post in the First Place?
Imagine every Monday and Wednesday, you want to send out a newsletter to your subscribers. But, sometimes, you are not free to sit at your computer, write up the campaign, and hit send at 11:00 AM (or whenever you need to send it). Being able to schedule your campaign will give you peace of mind, allowing you to go about your business while being sure your campaign is still reaching the right people.
Of course, people also like to schedule social media posts or large, promotional campaigns, too. Really, anything can be scheduled. That being said, there are certain scheduling times that are better than others. And, if you know these times, you can use it to your advantage. Likewise, if you schedule campaigns or posts in no specific pattern, you might find that your reader activity isn’t as great as it can be.
Choosing the Best Scheduling Times
Once you figure out what to schedule, the next question is, “when?” While many websites and blogs will try to tell you the best times to schedule campaigns, the truth of the matter is, there is no perfect answer. However, the best advice generally teaches business leaders to ask themselves, “When do you check your email or social media feeds?”
For people who work a typical 9-5 job, there are certain times during the day that they are checking their personal inbox and feed more than other times of the day. When they wake up, perhaps around 6:00 AM. A little while after they get to work, around 9:30-10:00. On lunch break, between 11:30-12:30, and again at 2:00 PM on break time. People tend to also check their phones towards the end of the workday, and then again before bed. However, before bed, people are less likely to engage in the emails they receive, mostly because they are exhausted from their day.
With all this in mind, it’s not necessary to post at all these various times. What is important, though, is experimenting with different times on different days of the week, and analyze the campaign reports thereafter. After trying different strategies out for a few weeks, you should be able to determine which scheduling times are best.
What to Remember Before Scheduling
Scheduling campaigns certainly gives time back to busy business leaders. But, if scheduling becomes too much of a comfortable habit, it can leave room for errors in your posts. Even if you’re scheduling for the next day, it’s important to always send yourself a test e-mail to make sure everything is clean. It’s also important to remember the date you’ll be sending the campaign, as you don’t want to accidentally write “Happy Tuesday” when the campaign is due to go out on a Wednesday. When people send out campaigns immediately, they can pause the campaigns if they catch a mistake right away. But, scheduling can take this “extra chance” away.
Content marketing can be a terrific way to expand your online presence but your content distribution strategy is the key to making sure that this strategy bears any fruit. Last time we discussed the three different buckets of content distribution; this time we’re going to focus on the “paid” channel of content distribution and highlight a few lessons that we’ve learned to hopefully help shorten the learning curve of content promotion.
Constantly Test Your Ideas in Small Doses
The content marketing space is crowded, no question. Scrolling through our Facebook and Twitter feeds gives us a sense of just how crowded it is, and it probably won’t be thinning out any time soon. With this overcrowding, there will come new platforms, new landing page ideas and new campaigns. If your content marketing team is worth its salt, they’ll be bringing you new ideas on how to get your content in front of new eyeballs on a fairly regular basis. That’s great, but it can also get expensive very quickly. To avoid this, segment your content promotion budget and keep a small allocation for testing new ideas. It’s kind of like baseball – two or three ideas out of every ten will land and generate a return. When you find those, work them into your main promotional budget and test your next idea.
Remember That ROI Doesn’t Always Mean Dollars
Of course at the end of the day, you’re probably going to be judged on revenue growth but remember that there are other ways to gauge the success of your content marketing strategy. With all of the information that’s available on the web today people probably aren’t going to convert based on one touch so make sure that you’re judging the return of your content promotion on more than simple leads or purchases. Make sure that, in your focus on revenue, you’re not missing out on things like generating email subscriptions, encouraging your visitors to share your content on social media and driving more page views.
Have Questions? Ask Someone
One thing about marketers is that they love to talk. If you’re hitting some roadblocks with your content marketing strategy, ask someone for some advice. Find someone who’s been down this path before to find out what they’ve done. There’s far too much information out there for one person to explore so put your head together with someone else. If you’re a business owner working on your own content marketing strategy, reach out to a marketing firm and ask for an initial consultation – and bring questions like:
- How can I reduce my CPA (cost per acquisition)?
- What best practices would you recommend with a campaign like mine?
- How can I target my audience to help reduce my CPA?
- When should I terminate my campaign?
Need help creating high-converting content, or knowing whether it’s working or not? Then request a demo with Mission Suite and see all the ways we can help you make conversions.