What we’re going to cover
After this lesson you’ll understand what and why content marketing is important and how to build a content marketing strategy for your site.
1. What is content marketing?
CopyBlogger hits the nail on the head:
Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.
No matter what your websites about, producing great free content can be a highly potent and powerful marketing tactic (when done right!).
So what types of content can you create?
Whichever medium you choose, the aim is to create content that people find so engaging that they want more and voluntarily share it to their millions of friends.Content that is likely to become extremely popular and attract a ton of links is known as “link bait”.
Whatever you create, it will need to be relevant to what your site is about.
- Blog posts
- Video posts (“VLOGS” – lets hope that term doesn’t get too popular!)
- Infographics e.g. here
- How to guides
- Industry news
- White papers
- Free eBooks
2. How does creating content result in sales?
Content can help drive sales in a number of ways.
1. Viral success:
Viral exposure is the bullseye of content marketing.
Content is considered to go viral when it is rapidly shared organically (people share it for free).
A good example of this is an infographic created by KissMetrics – “How loading time affects your bottom line”.
This infrographic was so popular and successful because it gave insightful and useful information for FREE.
The potential issues highlighted in the infographic were also highly relevant to KissMetrics – because their services offered a solution to the problems addressed.
This helped to build brand awareness, establish KissMetrics as experts and drive leads. The end result was a spike in sales.
Now, you don’t need a super viral infographic like that to get results. It’s just a great example of how providing free content can boost sales.
If you do want to create an infographic but aren’t a graphic designer, head to www.Freelancer.com and search for “infographics”. Expect to pay between $500-$2000+
2. Organic traffic:
Traffic is considered to be organic when it’s free. Meaning if someone searches for “car servicing Cape Town” and your website comes up in Google and they click through to your site – you’ve just got free “organic” traffic.
The beauty of creating great content is that people will add links on their site linking back to yours.
This does two great things:
- You get free traffic from people clicking your link placed on others sites
- Google see’s all these links back to your site, and determines that your content must be high quality. As a result your site is listed higher in the search results (for your relevant topic)
The bottom line: you’ll get more free traffic.
And the more traffic you get, the more opportunities you have to sell/build your site.
3. Authority = trust = more sales
In 2012 Beyonce was paid $50 million USD to become the global ambassador for Pepsi. Clearly Pepsi determined that by whacking her face on their cans they’d get substantially more than $50 million in return.
I’m sure most people would be satisfied with even a thin slice of that sum!
So the point of that example: when people respect and trust someone – they are more likely to go forward with what that person suggests/endorses.
If you continually create high quality (non selling) content, it helps to build up an engaged audience that trusts you.
Establish credibility – it comes from worthy, shareable content.
The result – whenever you suggest a product or offer to your audience, they are much more likely to go for it.
The trick in mastering the art is finding the right balance. You can’t write 1 great article then send 10 sales letters.
You need to become more an expert than a sales person.
3. Where should you start?
The easiest, cheapest (free) and most effective place to start is with a blog.
If you love writing, then write blog posts.
If you’re great in front of the camera then film videos.
If you love speaking then record a podcast.
NOTE: Some written content should ideally always be included, even if it’s transcripts or a summary. This helps with SEO, which we’ll cover in an upcoming lesson.
Regardless of your content medium, the first step is determining what the objective of your blog is.
Once you’re clear on what you want out of your blog you can then craft your content around your objective.
For example, if you had a gardening blog with the aim of selling gardening books you could write a 10 part series on “10 common gardening mistakes that could be suffocating your garden”.
The articles would help establish your authority on the subject and prove that you know what you’re talking about.
Sales could come from a few places in this scenario:
- People exploring your site after reading the articles
- New people coming to your site from friends “Liking” or sharing your content who then might buy
- You gently mentioning at the end of the post that this tip is just a little snippet from the goodness of the bigger book
If you’re in the B2B space you should think about common questions your clients have, or content you feel could be useful to your prospective clients.
HubSpot do a brilliant job at this.
They churn out exceptionally useful PDF guides tailored to your interests. E.g. “Paving the way for a perfect client-agency relationship”.
The constant flow of useful guides from HubSpot places them as industry experts while also keeping them on your mind.
It’s important to note: the idea is not to give away the farm.
You need to find the balance between giving away enough to excite, but not so much that you’ve got nothing left to sell.
Think about your favourite websites/people (in any industry) and consider what it is about them that makes you trust/respect them.
4. I’m not an expert though? Help!
It’s quite common that you’re not an expert in your field – yet.
There are a few easy ways around this:
1. Interview people
If you’re not the expert, talk to someone who is and publish the interview.
You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to get someone to agree to a quick 5-10 minute interview. I’m not talking about Queen Elizabeth or Oprah here, but successful people within your industry. These people are often very regular, approachable people and are happy to chat.
After all, interviewing them is a big compliment and helps to further promote them. A great time to interview is when they have something soon to be released.
The best method for getting in contact will vary. For example some people check their email regularly, but not their Twitter.
If you’re following your potential interviewee on social media and notice they’re very active, go for that. Try Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn.
If you’re having trouble finding their email, try this trick:
Head to Google and type “site:www.theirwebsite.com contact” or “site:www.theirwebsite.com @”. By adding “site:” you’re telling Google to only search that particular website.
If you’re really stuck and need any contact to get started head to dig.whois.com.au and perform a WHOIS look up. Remember back in Lesson 1 how we talked about private domains? Well chances are you’ll have an email contact there.
It will often be a webmaster email. Just be honest with them and ask if they can put you in touch with someone that can help.
2. Become a collator of useful information
I’m not proposing you go all wild west and copy/paste other great content. That will get you absolutely nowhere!
What i’m suggesting is creating content like really useful lists. (Lists are one of the most powerful pieces of shareable content).
E.g. “8 people that are shaking up the fitness industry”. or “5 skincare secrets pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know”.
You don’t need to be an expert to conduct a bit of valuable research – just some creativity.
To illustrate the power of lists, a guy named Kevin Harris put together a list of Einstein quotes on an extremely basic website. Over the years tens of thousands of sites have linked back to the page – resulting in a similar SEO value to www.AmericanExpress.com!
For those that care, a page authority of 71/100 v AMEX 77/100
3. Directly embed other peoples content
The art of finding and posting other peoples content has got to be one of the easiest jobs out there.
You’re effectively voluntarily throwing yourself into the online vortex on a mission to find things you find funny/interesting!
The power of this is seen quite clearly by sites like:
www.LoveMeow.com with over 160,000 page views a month and 153,000 Facebook likes!
All they do is post videos of CATS!
You add value to peoples lives by saving them the hassle of having to visit multiple sites to be entertained.
They don’t have to watch five crappy cat videos to see one good one – as you’ve done the hard work for them.
5. Tools for creative juice
If you’ve got a case of writers block, here are a few tools to get you going:
I love this tool, purely because it is so ridiculous. All you do is add in a keyword or two and the generator spits out a catchy headline.
Below I added in “Startups” and got “7 things about startups that science can’t explain”.
As crazy as these headlines are, they will get peoples attention!
Google Trends is a powerful tool that tells you what searches are currently the talk of the town.
Beyond that, you can see what countries the searches are coming from and what terms are predicted to become more popular.
I searched for “Startups”. When digging into the results you’ll see that “Startups in India” is going to breakout. Therefore I could write an article like “Is India set to steal Silicon Valley’s tech crown?”.
Topsy is another one of my go to tools.
Simply add a search term e.g. “Startups” and the results will spit out all the latest activity surrounding that term. From tweets to links.
It’s a great place to find interesting content to share or write about.
Digg is a mecha for cool, creative and punchy content.
I go here for three reasons:
- To find awesome content to share
- And to study popular content to try and learn
The popular articles almost always have an intriguing headline and eye catching image.
With over half a billion twitter users, there’s a lot of tweeting going on.
Twitter Search is the single most important tool everybody should be using on a daily basis – Gary Vaynerchuk
And unlike Facebook, the conversations are completely public.
Twitter Search allows you to search absolutely everything that has been tweeted. The beauty however, is in the powerful search operators (terms that narrow or broaden search).
In the example below I have searched for “startups” then “:)” which means positive attitude then “near:NYC” meaning from near New York City.
You’ll be able to tap into what’s exciting people, how they feel about certain brands or topics and what content is taking off.
You can find a full list of operators by selecting “operators” on the Twitter Search page
- Quora: a question answer based website based around topics.
- AllTop: a sort of aggregated news site that pulls in top articles sorted into topics
- Amazon Best Sellers: locate your relevant topic then read through the comments to see what people liked, didn’t like and/or wanted more of
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner: we’ll be using this tool for keyword research in the next lesson. It’s great to see search volume for particular terms. Use “Keyword Ideas” for inspiration.
I hope you’ve now got plenty of ideas zinging through your head. It’s just a matter of putting pen to paper (or finger to key) to create some inspiring content!
Up next we are going to dive head first into what keyword research is, and how to swiftly generate your keyword plan.