Before I go into detail about why content marketing is a necessary skill in the online space, let me explain how content marketing works and why people adopt it.
Content Marketing is sharing useful, educative, and relevant information that will improve the life of a current or potential client. Content Marketing is also a method of marketing that is used to display to your target audience how competent you are.
Your free content has to be rich in knowledge to help solve the problem or enlighten your target audience. Such that, when you pitch your product or services they wouldn’t hesitate to purchase from you.
Mostly because you have built awareness, trust, and competence over time.
Due to a lot of distractions in our world today, your content has to be interesting and engaging. Lack of these will make your audience feel bored and skip your content to the next one.
History of Content Marketing
Before I walk you through the importance of content marketing, I would like to share with you the history of content marketing.
How old would you guess that content marketing is?
When someone first asked me that question a few months ago, I thought it had been around just a few months after the introduction of the Internet.
But I was wrong. I was very wrong.
According to Content Marketing Institute
The year is 1732, and a man by the name of Benjamin Franklin just published the first version of his annual Poor Richard’s Almanack.
Why did he do it?
Did he do it for fun because he liked writing and expressing his ideas?
Nope, that wasn’t it at all.
He did it because he wanted to advertise the new printing business that he had created. He figured the best way to do this was to print his own Almanack and potentially encourage others to print there too.
Content marketing has been in existence for a very long time and it is not going to phase out anytime soon.
People need information and knowledge to improve their lives and make better decisions.
Now you’ve understood how old content marketing is and how useful it is, let us go further on different ways you can create content for your audience.
Different Types of Content Marketing
Content Marketing comes in different forms such as
Image: A picture is worth a thousand words. Platforms like Instagram, want you to post more images than written text. You can’t make a post on Instagram without including an image. Content marketers using Instagram as a medium to reach their audience have to create well-designed and quality images to pass their messages.
Video: If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth thousands of pictures. Video marketing is using videos to educate or entertain your audience. It could be a “How to” video, description video, storytelling video, etc.
Video allows you to tell a story faster than any other medium. In an instant, with the right characters, setting, and mood, you can make someone feel exactly what you want them to feel.
It’s why Nollywood movies are a 7-billion-dollar industry in Nigeria alone. Video is also the closest you can get to real contact with someone.
On YouTube alone, people are watching more than a billion hours of video every single day. The sheer size and power of that platform are undeniable
Vlogging: Vlogging is another way to market content. It is the same thing with blogging, just that in this case you’re making a video of yourself talking about your product or services.
Vlogging could be a selfie-styled video or pointing the camera of your phone or computer to yourself using a tripod stand.
It could also be a camera on a tripod stand capturing you while you talk about your business.
Now, if you hate doing a video of yourself educating your audience, you shouldn’t start a vlog either.
Vlogging is another phenomenal method to build trust as a personal brand.
People get to see the face of the person talking to them. People want to interact with humans. They want to feel that human-to-human connection.
Audio: Musicians use this method to create awareness and credibility.
People can be too busy to read your blog. However, putting your information in an audio format will enable them to listen to you while working or walking, or traveling.
A lot of authors are using this method to reach more audiences who do not have time to read their books.
If you hate videoing yourself, this should be a medium you should explore to reach out to your audience.
Podcast: Podcast is the recording of audio or video discussion about a particular topic that users can download or stream.
The key difference here is that someone can listen to a podcast while doing pretty much anything, while a video or written content requires them to look at it.
Podcasts like Road to 30, can be an excellent way to develop an intimate connection with listeners and potential customers.
They’re hearing you speak, one on one, which helps to humanize your relationship in a way that your written content can’t.
People love podcasts because they can listen to their idols and heroes spill their guts about whatever topic they’re interested in.
Blogging: If you hate doing a video of yourself but want to educate people, talk about how your products and services could improve their lives, then, blogging is for you.
Blogging is the act of using written words to communicate to your audience.
I chose to speak about blogging lastly because,
- This is the form of marketing I specialize in and
- I want to broadly speak about it.
One interesting thing about blogging is it involves WRITING. Writing is an important skill that every digital marketer has to learn because you need it in all digital marketing channels.
Come to think of it, you need to write
- To add a caption to your Instagram pictures. And when you attach a good storyline to the picture, you will give your audience something thought-provoking. You make them feel the way you want according to the story you told them.
- To your email list.
- That blog post.
- That sales copy.
- To reply to those comments on your YouTube videos, tweets, Facebook ads, and so on.
Writing coupled with good storytelling skills in the online space will print money endlessly.
I don’t want to stress the importance of writing in digital marketing, but if you depend on digital marketing to make a living, it is a must-have skill you need to develop.
Some people are natural writers, but those who can’t write can learn it. That’s the reason it is called a skill, not a talent.
A skill can be learned if you put in a lot of work while a talent comes naturally, but you have to put in some work to sharpen such skill.
You can learn copywriting here
Understanding The Buyer’s Journey
By now, you must have chosen the form of content marketing you would like to explore.
The next thing to do is to understand the buyer’s journey.
You see, in the online space, people don’t buy from people they are not familiar with or trust.
I will walk you through various stages a stranger have to go through before they buy from you.
And this is important for you. It will help you know the type of content to develop and how to make them loyal customers.
The three basic stages
The first stage of a buyer’s journey is awareness.
They simply become aware of your business. They aren’t necessarily ready to buy yet or even ready to opt-in to your email list or newsletter.
Some may opt-in just to observe you. But because of the content you created, they now know who you are.
Why is that valuable to your business?
Naturally, if people don’t know who you are, they can’t join your audience or, most importantly, buy from you.
People must first learn about your business.
And for that, content marketing is perhaps your best bet.
For instance, I used this blog post on 8 vital things you need to know before you relocate to Canada to create awareness for those who want to relocate to Canada.
Creating awareness and taking your time to answer their questions when they have problems, shortens a buyer’s journey.
Once people become aware of your business, they’ll buy from you.
At least, that’s how you wish it worked.
But, of course, it doesn’t.
Truthfully, people have to hear about you, take time to consider, and then maybe they’ll buy.
While content marketing is remarkable at alerting people to the fact that your business exists, it’s also remarkable at guiding people through the consideration phase.
And every great salesperson knows that people are far more likely to buy when you guide them than they would be otherwise.
However, you can’t, or rather shouldn’t, use the same brand awareness tactics during the consideration phase.
To gauge the interest of your current prospects, pay attention to newsletter sign-ups, the number of returning visitors, form submissions, and resource downloads.
To do that, though, you first must create content to continue attracting people who are interested in your products.
CONTENTS LIKE EBOOK are a remarkable way to build trust during the consideration stage.
Before a prospect buys from you, they have to be familiar with your thought process, the tone of your voice, your stance on certain topics, your brand image, and even the way you present the information.
For instance, is the information reputable? If it is, they will assume you are trustworthy. And if it is not, they will assume you treat your business carelessly.
NEWSLETTERS is also a remarkable way to build trust during the consideration stage.
A consistent newsletter helps keep the conversation with a prospect ongoing.
When they sign up, they might not be ready to buy at the moment, but when they are ready to buy, you will be their go-to seller.
SEO is another remarkable way to build trust during the consideration stage.
At this point, you will be doing it differently.
Using Long Tail Keywords to focus on those in the consideration stage.
Think about this.
If you want to buy a new laptop today, you wouldn’t type “best and affordable laptop to buy” you’d rather type “affordable HP laptop”
And the interesting thing about long-tail keywords is.
They have little or no competition which means they are easy to rank for.
Recap: Ebooks, Newsletters, and long-tail keywords are good tools to build trust when a buyer is in the consideration stage.
This is the final stage of a buyer’s process.
They now trust your business and have familiarized themselves with your products and what your business represents.
Now, it’s the time to make or break, push or shove, buy or ditch.
The person is either going to become a paying customer or fall into eternal obscurity.
This is the time in your content marketing efforts to optimize for conversion. To make sales.
If you’re using SEO, at this stage you should optimize for long-tail keywords inserting your brand name.
Even when you don’t include your name in the keyword, yet your brand name comes up as a search result when they search for it, they will likely buy from you.
At this point, your content should be targeted at a particular keyword that shows interest in buying at the moment.
If you’re doing any form of paid ads, you have to retarget anyone who has had any encounter with your business with the aim of conversion.
This stage is an additional stage in the buyer’s journey.
This stage of a buyer’s journey means that the buyer will continuously come back for more of your business because your business initially solved his problem.
This is why I tell people. Money is good, but most times it is not always about the money.
You should think of how to improve the lives of anyone who come across your business.
If you can’t vouch for your business at gunpoint, then you should do better.
These loyal buyers will gladly refer their friends to you.
And because your business and what it represents align with their need or ideology, these loyal buyers may turn out to be family buyers. That is, your product could turn out to be what everyone in the family uses.
How to Apply Effective Content Marketing to Your Business Using Social Media.
Step 1: Set Your Mission and Your Goals
As part of your content creation strategy, you have to make a clear picture of what your mission and goals are.
- Who is your target audience
- What type of content can you use to reach them
- How would your content improve their lives and well being
While your audience will be getting these from you, you should think about what you will get from it as well.
- Improve revenue
- Making more sales
- Getting more traffic
- Improving the perception of your business, so you gain influence and authority and are seen as a thought leader.
- Using strategic SEO to drive more traffic and reduce marketing costs.
- Social media management
Step 2: Know Your Audience
For your campaign to thrive, you really have to know your audience at the tip of your fingers. You can’t be out there creating content for everyone, no matter how good you are.
Researching and knowing your audience will help you identify their pain points – understanding and using pain points to make illustrations, makes them feel understood
How to research about your audience
- Collect demographic data (age, gender, education, income)
- Collect customer feedback. Ask them how your content is improving their lives. If it is not, ask them where the problem is and where they want you to improve or address their problem.
- Create a Customer Avatar. By now you already have your demographic data and customer feedback handy. The next thing to do now is to find the challenges, pain points, motivational behavior, and sources of information of your target audience.
When you know all this about your target audience, you will understand
- the kind of content they will respond to
- how it will help them
- what will make them care about it
Step 3: Figure Out the Best Content Channels
You probably have been posting on your website and other social media channels.
Given a two months period, it is time to select which content channel converts more for your business.
Apart from your website, which you will continue providing content on, select the social media channel that best converts your content and expand on it.
For instance, if you’ve been posting your content across all social media platforms for a period of two months.
It is time to evaluate the best-performing social media channel for your content.
The one with the most engagement and conversion should be the one you niche down and expand.
It is better to be excellent in one thing than average in a lot of things. No one would take you seriously.
Step 4: Decide on Content Types
With your research result below, you now have an idea of the content you should create for your audience.
Most successful content marketing strategies rely on having a central core of content published on their own site (optimized for ranking) which can then be repurposed and shared on other content channels.
So blog posts are an essential part of your content marketing mix, and they still deliver strong results. Ideally, your blog posts will be actionable, valuable, and shareable, and may include a range of article types.
Step 5: Create a Content Calendar
As part of your strategy, you need to know exactly when to publish your content on each platform.
At the appropriate time, your audience is more likely to see your content.
Let’s say your audience are 9-5ers, targeting them before 9 am is a waste of resources because that period, is when most of them are preparing for work.
And targeting them after 5 pm is a waste of resources.
So when do you target them?
You target them either on weekends or in-between their working period.
This and other reasons were why I said that you should use the first 2 months to research and figure out what works.
Creating content is also part of the research. It will help you know which time of the day your audience is active on social media.
When you figure out the best time to publish a post, you can use Google Calendar and simply put the due dates for each piece of content there.
Step 6: Create Content
By now, you have your content strategy all set up. The only thing remaining is the creation of content.
You simply go to your Google Calendar and pick the topic you want to talk about and work on creating it.
You need to find out,
- what content is already out there
- how your new content can add value to your audience.
What this means is, making Google search of the topic you want to talk about, get the top content and see how you can improve it.
Improvement can come as a way of talking about the updated version of that particular post.
Looking at how things change rapidly, most top content on your particular topic on Google search could be a few months or years older.
You should improve it with the latest development around the topic you want to write on.
For instance, when I was writing this post, Facebook had stopped businesses from using Audience Insights.
Meanwhile, a lot of How to Run A Successful Facebook ad videos on Google search have still had Audience Insights in them.
You can improve this by creating a new video on *How to Run A Successful Facebook Ad Using The New Update”
Step 7: Distribute and Market
After making having a content strategy and creating your content, the next thing you should do is to distribute it.
Distribution is a very important part of the process.
Distribute your content to your email list, website, and other social media channels.
Most of the engagements will come from your social media channel, be ready to engage to educate them more.
One thing interesting thing about posting on social media is that you get feedback on your content immediately.
And when you create content, you may not cover everything you want to say about that particular topic, but questions from social media will give you the opportunity to express ideas you couldn’t add to the initial post.
Step 8: Measure Results
Finally, it is time to measure results. This will give you information on what you are doing right or wrong. Improve those with positive results and fix those with negative results.
Here is how you can measure your results on the most popular social media channels.
- For your website. Before you create any content, you should ensure you set up your website on Google Analytics so that after posting content you can track people who visited, how long they stayed and which part of your website they stay longer.
- For twitter. You have to log in using your browser or any tool off the Twitter App. This information will help you identify which days, content, and time of posting have the most engagement. Learn how to analyze your twitter activities
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