Disclosure: I struggled with writing this article. Or rather, I had difficulty providing a new angle to a discipline that has exploded over the last couple of years. Content marketing evangelism is everywhere. You’d be hard pressed not to find a how-to article on this subject on any given day. While brainstorming real-time marketing and social media ideas, a colleague of mine recently asked, “Is there anything new to say?” After a while we realized maybe it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
And that’s really the key to content marketing. Like real-time marketing and social media, there are countless articles on the subject with varying points of view. Sifting and trying to absorb this information can prove daunting to a new practitioner. And for experienced marketers who are seeking fresh ideas, techniques, and tools, reading the same pieces can be discouraging.
So let’s try a new spin. The most successful campaigns begin with a toolbox. But it’s not simply a collection of applications and platforms; it’s a strategic chest combining old concepts and with new execution.
1. Content Plan
Of course it starts here. Key questions to answer: What’s the strategy? Do you have the right content for your key initiatives? Do you have an editorial calendar or programming plan? Are you reaching the right audience in the right place? Is the content mapped to the appropriate touch points? Remember, content marketing isn’t about churning our new articles every day; many times the most interaction comes from repurposed content. This is a critical piece in your toolbox.
Some digital marketers may think I’ve just slipped back to the 20th century with that term, but it’s very appropriate here. Do not underestimate the power of visual storytelling. Words aren’t enough. And sometimes they’re inappropriate. Visual content fosters more engagement than any other content. According to a recent ROI Research report, about 44% of survey respondents said they were more likely to engage with brands who posted images on social media than any other type of content. Recent data from MDG Advertising shows that articles shared with compelling images, infographics, and charts get 94% more views than those without. People are visual learners.
You need a place to hold court and engage influencers. I almost wrote “blog,” but it doesn’t have to be a blog. This platform could also come in the form of a podcast, social media, or a webinar. Most savvy marketers have these tools, but many aren’t using them correctly. Use discernment in determining which platform works for you. Be consistent to your brand. Don’t jump on the next new thing, and don’t try to keep in lockstep with your competitors. What story are you trying to tell? And do you have the right people to keep it going?
This is where the old is very important. You need a record of past success and failures. What past campaigns gave you your biggest wins? Where did your users come from? What did you do in the past that worked really well? This can be as complex as robust CRM software or a simple Excel spreadsheet. This information should track conversions and also analyze successful engagements. And don’t forget about analytics. Remember, content marketing is about playing the long game. The goal is to foster a relationship that ultimately drives conversion.