Just a few weeks ago, I was at a social media conference speaking about one of the more advanced topics of content marketing. All went well, until I was done speaking.
As I left the stage, I was immediately greeted by an audience member who had a both a complaint and a question.
The complaint was that nothing I just said made any sense to her. She was new to this stuff.
The question, on the other hand, was pretty simple – “how do I get started?” “How do I make sure my content marketing works, and doesn’t just follow the fad?”
Great question, and one that you should be asking as well.
Whenever I get this question, there are five best content marketing tips that I quickly rattle off. This business owner was eating them up, and I soon realized that this was good stuff. More people need to know about them, I thought.
So, here they are. This is the stuff we all need to hear every once and awhile. This is how to write a good blog and make sure your effort actually pays off. They are my best content marketing tips.
Tip #1 – You Need A Blog To Tell Your Story
Step one, you need a blog. It doesn’t really matter how big you are – you need one. While you’re at it, you should make sure that it’s built on WordPress. It will give you he most flexibility down the road.
In addition, you need to know why you need a blog. If you work in a company, you are going to need to justify this blog to someone eventually. If you are a small business owner, you are going to need to justify the time invested to yourself because let’s face it – you’re it. Your time is your greatest asset.
Every business has a story, and it’s up to you to make sure your story is told. One of the first things you learn in business is that people connect to people, not your brand or a faceless corporation. A blog can tell your story, share you expertise, and provide you with a human connection to your customers.
In other words, you need this.
In addition, your blog is one of the keys to your social media awesomeness. I often refer to this as the hub and spoke model. The content that you create on your blog (or website) is the hub – it’s the place that will set the tone for your social media messaging. Use your blog content as your platform, and let the your social media content flow from there.
Tip #2 – You Need An Email Marketing Program
Social media. Social media. Social media. These days, it’s just about all you hear about. It is super important, but it may not be the most important part of your online marketing strategy. The reality is that email marketing still converts better than social media. And, it is easier to do well.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Make sure there is a way for your readers to follow or subscribe to your blog when they come visit. We cover several free plugins for collecting leads here.
- Connect your blog to your email marketing program. As you post new content, make sure it is sent automatically to your audience.
- In addition, you can also send a summary email once a week, promoting your most recent content in a newsletter style format. This is exactly what we do with our own Content Marketing Update.
- Another more advanced option is to work your way toward creating an email marketing auto responder course. These courses are a great way to build your email list and gain trust with your audience. We will often reuse our own blog posts to create these useful tools. Take note, that you can also do this with a great ebook or free downloadable worksheet.
The best part of the email marketing program is that you will create constant touch points with your audience. This is good for everyone. Your audience will get helpful and interesting information, and you will constantly ensure that your content has an audience following along. This builds trust, and that’s a win-win.
Tip #3 – You Need To Know What Your Customers Actually Want To Hear From You
One of the biggest struggles that marketers make is not understanding their audience. What does your audience really want to hear about? What can you say on your blog that will actually resonate with them?
There are a few strategies that we emphasize here at CoSchedule, including using data from Google Analytics and something that we call expanding your content core. Lots of new businesses get started by spending a ton of time talking about their own business. This is a mistake. Yes, you need to tell your story, but not like that.
Rather, you need to figure out what your audience wants to know. There are a few easy ways to make this happen.
- Talk to your receptionist. What are the questions your customers ask when they first call your office? The woman I spoke to at the conference ran a salon and massage company. For her, it might be finding out the questions that her attendants are being asked time and time again. There’s know better way to discover what your customers want to hear than asking the people that know your customers the best.
- Try to figure out what they are searching for. 60% of purchases made by consumers now start with a search on Google. That’s astounding. Take advantage of this and address those searches with your own blog content using a keyword-based strategy.
- Watch what your current customers are saying on social media. Follow your customers on social media and pay close attention to what they are talking about. You can use a tool like Mention to monitor broad topics and industry discussion effectively. This listening strategy can be an efficient way to learn.
- Ask them. Sometimes all you need to do is ask your audience what you could write about that would hold their interest. Their ideas might surprise you.
The bottom line is that you can’t do effective online marketing without understanding your audience. Spend some time researching this before you get too far. Once you can easily compile your data into reader personas you’ve gone far enough.
Tip #4 – You Need To Learn How To Write For The Web
Researcher Jacob Neilson confirmed that readers are more likely to scan our content than they are to read every word. In order to make your content consumable, you need to make sure it is properly formatted for online use. There are many ways to make sure that your content is readable. Here are a few you can implement right away.
- highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
- meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
- bulleted lists
- one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
- the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
- half the word count (or less) than conventional writing
This is an important topic, as there are many other things to consider, such as mobile devices and outside distractions that happen when your audience is reading your content. For an in-depth look at getting your content read check out this recent post.
Tip #5 – You Need An Editorial Calendar
I am a huge believer in setting goals, making a plan, and forcing yourself to stick with it. If you want your marketing to be any good, you are going to need to do the same. Often times, many marketers may take the more casual approach to blogging and social media scheduling – only posting when they have an idea, or at a moment of inspiration.
This won’t work.
When you leave your marketing up to chance, chances are it will never actually happen. That’s why you need an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar is a tool that helps you plan out your content on a weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis. Basically, it is a place for your to decide what you are going to write, and when you are going to write it. Plans tend to get put into action, and that is exactly the point of an editorial calendar.
Here at CoSchedule, we offer a completely digital editorial calendar that will allow you to schedule your blog and social media content in the same place. If you are looking for a low-cost variation, we have some free editorial calendar templates that you can download right now.
Tip #6 – Bonus! Setup A Social Media Sharing Schedule
The last tip that I always give new or renewing marketers is to create a social media sharing schedule. Like an editorial calendar, this schedule is a roadmap for your social media messages. It will tell you when to publish a social message, and give you a roadmap for getting your content out there.
Just like an editorial calendar this can be a powerful tool for making sure things actually get done. When we make the hard decisions right away, executing them can be much easier. When you are publishing a new post on your blog, this process can be especially important. For that, we recommend a specific promotion process that looks something like this:
- On publish – Social message sent when blog post goes live
- Same day – Initial social messages trickle out to your accounts over the next 2-3 hours.
- Next day – Messages are shared again on the appropriate social channels.
- Next week – Another series of messages are pre-scheduled and sent the following week.
- Next month – Even more social messages are pre-scheduled for the following month.
- Next _____ – Additional messages can optionally be scheduled for the three-month mark or beyond.
Using CoSchedule, a social sharing schedule will come out looking something like this.
The point here is that you need to know how you are going to promote your content once it is live. A social sharing schedule is a big part of this, and a powerful tool when combined with a growing email marketing program as outlined above.
The real truth is that anyone can be great content marketer, especially with these top five best content marketing tips. The biggest challenge may feel like the time (or lack thereof) that you have to get them done, but I hypotheses that it might actually be something entirely different. Often times, the biggest challenge is belief.
Do you believe that online marketing and blogging can really work? If you don’t, that is the problem you need to solve first. This month, we have been sharing some first hand accounts of how marketing like this can be used to grow a business, personal blog, or even a marketing agency. This is powerful stuff, and might just be what you need to become a believer.
I will leave you with a few links, and would encourage you to check them out.
- How Buffer Achieves Continuous Growth Through Content Marketing, With Kevan Lee
- How Content Marketing Can Grow Your Agency, With Andy Crestodina
- The Importance Of Matching Your Content And Audience With Arienne Holland Of Raven Tools
- How Content Marketing Can Build A Personal Brand, With Lindsay Livingston