A Guide to Content Marketing

Advertising on the Internet has changed since the late 90s. Banner ads and placed ads have become less effective than they used to be. The average Click-through rate for a display ad is 0.05%. Content marketing helps businesses engage with customers and potential clients without seeming to be selling the product or service. The end goal of any marketing campaign is still to sell a product/service but this isn’t done explicitly. It involves gathering an Interest in your product or service without necessarily saying “I sell X, Please buy at N1000.”. To do this effectively, creating engaging content for your customers is very important. This means creating content that the potential customer is already looking for or might be Interested in. In this article, we look at 5 important steps to creating content for audiences that are ready to engage with your brand.

1. Knowing your audience

The most important step before starting content marketing is to understand the audience the content will be created for. If your startup is providing a service for businesses, you want to create content for the person making the decision to purchase your product. So if you’re selling HR services, you should create content for HR managers, a marketing product startup should create content for marketers. This is the same for the consumer market. If your product is useful for health, you need to decide what demographic of people need this product. Ask yourself important questions like these;

  • What’s the ideal industry where my product is used?
  • At what point in life do people need my product or service?
  • What challenges do they currently face when they need my product or service?
  • What are the tips surrounding the use of my product that I can share without talking about my product?
  • What challenges do the users of my product face in their day-to-day lives?

These questions make it easier to create content that your target customers already want. If you already have customers but you’re willing to expand your user base by reaching more people, it’s a great start to ask your current customers what their challenges are. With an HR Product, for example, you can create a survey asking HR managers what their current challenges are – with hiring, managing teams, paying staff, deciding what to pay, etc. This helps you get an idea of the industry you’re in and can help you craft content that people can consume to solve these problems.

2. Understanding how each platform works

Each platform has users interacting with different types of content and reacting to it differently. A blog isn’t the same as Email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. Deciding what platform to push content to can be hard and again you can solve this by looking at where conversations in your industry tend to occur or carrying out a survey. If it turns out your target audience doesn’t congregate in one place to share ideas and discuss work practices, your company can lead the way by creating a place for them to discuss these issues. It can be a LinkedIn or Facebook group.

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Every social media platform comes with its pros, cons and user behaviors. It’s important to understand where people go to consume what type of content and how they interact with content on each platform. SnapChat might work for another brand – say fashion, beauty, makeup and tech but might not work if you’re solely selling software to a group of older people.

Defining your audience properly will help you decide what platforms to push your content to.

Another imperative thing to note is user behavior on different platforms. You shouldn’t just post the same content across the board because the websites require/promote different content types/styles. Facebook, for example, tends to encourage photo and video engagement as compared to links outside its platform. Instagram requires more visually appealing images but Email has no bias to the content within it as long as it is properly designed. Understanding how your startup can use each content marketing platform will be useful in deciding what content to create. It will also help you focus on particular platforms that are relevant to your business as opposed to sharing content on all platforms available.

3. Check the social media profiles of your prospective audience

A great way to find out what your target audience is Interested in, is to find out what type of content they already consume. In your survey, you could ask them to list what Industry blogs they read and craft out content like these blogs keeping in mind that plagiarism is a crime. You can get into the mind of your audience and understand them better by making a Twitter and Instagram list of the people you are trying to reach and watching the content they consume and interact with.

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4. Make a list of themes you notice

When the above step is completed, take notes of themes of content that you notice across the board. You might for example notice that a person is interested in alternative music and 5 other people on your list are interested in the same type of music. Remember that content marketing isn’t always about selling your own stuff. You could maybe one day post a video of your team singing one of these songs. Making a list of themes helps you come up with categories of content for your content calendar.

If you’re a health startup and you notice that your target audience keeps interacting with weight loss tips, you might want to share weight loss tips a couple of times.

5.Draw up a calendar

After finding out themes and Interests, the next stage is to draw up the content calendar. A content calendar is a defined guide to what to post on what particular day and time. It essentially removes the stress of coming up with content on-demand. A content calendar lets you plan ahead and be prepared to post content when required.

Note that you don’t have to post every day. Depending on the platforms you decide to publish content on, you might not need to post every day. You will find that the number of content you create is invalid. It’s not about how much content but how well your audience engages with them.
A good idea is to include major celebrations of the year in your content calendar. This is because they are easily forgettable as you go about your day-to-day activities. A calendar helps you to remember these events and produce content for them. Of course, you don’t have to create content for every event but these could help in times of a content drought – when you’re working on new content and have nothing to post.

With these steps, you can optimize your digital marketing strategies and reach a lot more customers with your content. This content even though indirect, increases your viewership and audience which in turn, translates to sales.
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