content marketing

What to realistically expect from content marketing & content marketing tips

Unless you have been living off the grid since 2010, it is safe to assume that you are aware that content marketing is essential for any business that wants a healthy online presence.

From social media to blogging, website copy through to email campaigns, content marketing is about producing high-quality digital content that your target audience wants to read and engage with.

We have written so many blogs covering various content marketing tips and what content planning entails. But if you do not have time to go through it all… all the information you need is here:

Why you should invest in your content marketing.

  • It supports your sales funnel by growing loyal relationships with your audience; giving multiple ways to convert
  • Encourages your audience to return time and time again while capturing new people in the SEO net
  • Allows your business to capture and utilise data to enhance your content marketing plans and convert quicker

And while these reasons are hugely important to today’s business owner, the fact of the matter is, that the benefits from any content marketing will not happen overnight.

Sorry about that!

Like any relationship, on or offline, it takes time, tweaking, reviewing and then some more time. The key is to keep going when most others give up. Graft, review, tweak and measure.

There are 3 phases of the content marketing cycle.

In this article, we have put together what to expect when you start your content marketing. Including the 3 phases of content marketing, with some content marketing tips and measurables to prevent burning out too early in the game.

Phase 1. Excitable puppy phase.

Like most new ‘things’ this is often when businesses get it wrong. From the start. The content marketing world is vast and businesses often want to try it all, some will throw large amounts of cash at their content without having tested what works and what hasn’t. In fact, some embark bravely on their content marketing mission without having set goals in the first place. 

You will recognise these businesses. They will all of a sudden pop-up on every social media network, engage every second in the day, produce blogs on a weekly/daily basis and have unique graphics and videos galore. These are often the businesses that stop after four weeks when they have run out of resources and budget OR haven’t seen instant results so write content marketing off altogether. Please don’t fall into that trap.

The key is not to run before you can walk. At least until you have tried and tested your trainers, routes, running clothes and playlist with a few short bursts first.

Start with an objective, choose a measurement, then build a plan, based on research and data you have access to. This will ensure that you get the biggest bang (engagement) for your buck (time/money). 

Content marketing tips:
  1. Start with one social media account based on where your target audience is. If you are unsure where this could be, this will be where you find your competitors. If Twitter is right for your business, look to get involved with relevant networking hours. Instagram? Research and test hashtags to get the largest reach. Looking to start on Facebook? Then join relevant groups and share your updates into those as well as in your own feed. LinkedIn is great for any B2B business just remember it is a professional and more formal network compared to the others.
  2. Produce a blog on a monthly or fortnightly basis to test your tone of voice and to see what content has gone down well with your audience. Make sure you publish your blog one the same day and (if possible) same time on that day, so your audience know when to look out for it.
  3. If you can, try and put together a downloadable item every quarter. A case-study, look book or eBook can be a great way to get engagement and contact information from your audience.
  4. Start a quarterly email highlighting the new content that has been produced encouraging people to read your articles or download your content.
Measurables:

Look at your data every month. You can get most of this for free from:

  • Google Analytics – Website traffic, bounce rate, goal conversions and more
  • Search console – What keywords have people found you under? Are they part of your content plan? If not look to see what their search volumes are and add them.
  • Social media insights and analytics – Each site has their own analytics, and they give you more data than any 3rd party app.

Look at the results, tweak and improve, before you then move onto producing more frequent blogs or opening other social media accounts.

Once you have got into the groove, move onto phase 2.

 



Phase 2. The routine.

By the time you are in this phase, you will have some data to back up what you are doing and should be starting to see some traction. For any content marketing plan to be a success, data needs to be analysed to make improvements and should set the foundations for your plans moving forward.

Phase 2 is when businesses start to narrow down who their audience is, where to find them, what makes them tick. It’s also when you’ll realise you are NEVER going to be able to please everybody. The tone of voice is consistent across all marketing platforms during this phase, and people start to engage with the business online. You are even starting to smash those initial goals and are either looking to raise the bar or even enter new territories.

We tend to see businesses enter this phase after 3 – 6 months when following a content plan that combines consistent blogging and social media activity.

Businesses can be in Phase 2 for a while – and that is ok!

Content marketing tips:
  1. Looking to increase the content on your website and perhaps show a bit of variety? Video is going to be the medium of choice in the next couple of years but make sure that you are not slapdash about producing these.
  2. Grow your employee’s involvement in supporting your business and encourage your partners, suppliers, customers to engage with you as well.
  3. Feeling brave? Encourage people to leave you feedback and try and obtain some UGC (user generated content e.g product reviews, guest blogs, user videos etc).
Measurables:

By now your statistics should be providing you with an almighty, never-ending list of changes and considerations.  From changing the way a page on your website looks, reads and converts to reduce bounce rate, through to what updates on your social media channels get the engagement and website traffic you require.



Phase 3. The ‘go-to’ business.

The ultimate for any business is to be the company that their target market wants to go to for their product or service. And it only usually after hard graft on and offline line that businesses seem to nail this. Within this phase, you still need to be producing the high-quality content as you were before, but the results coming from it are in higher volumes, and you’re smashing your content marketing objectives.

Phase 3 often see businesses becoming a thought leader or influencer in their field. While this may seem far fetched if you want to add kudos to your offering, it is time to put your head above the parapet.

Content marketing tips:

This phase if for those that are serious about upping their content marketing game and will require taking a look at your image and tweaking before jumping into this phase. And we don’t mean getting a new haircut, we mean looking at your current digital marketing collateral and seeing if it give the right impression for you to be noticed over your competitors.

Our ‘is your business phase 3 ready?’ checklist includes:
  • Having a website to be proud of? One that you would happily send your influencers and industry journalists too. What does your branding say about you? Is your website copy up to date? If your site responsive?
  • Being prepared to make a comment on topical and industry related issues. You may need to have an opinion about industry issues that you previously avoided.
  • Having professional photography ready to send to journalists when requested, including headshots, premises, products or service images
  • Being able to write editorial type articles (this is different to writing blogs believe me) and the time to liaise with the press
  • Be prepared to reach out to journalists to offer comment when something major in your industry happens.

Phase 3 is when you need to hire specialists. To nail Phase 3, you will need an SEO and content marketer, copywriter, a PR specialist, graphic designers, social media support and someone to coordinate it all. Oh and there is that little issue or making sure that the business is making money!

The great news is that you won’t need all these specialists to be full time. Also, they will come with a fresh pair of eyes, recommendations and will do the analysis part for you.

If only there were a company that could do that all for you 😉

Seriously though, we want to know what your hang-ups are. Whether you started and gave up or seem to be stuck somewhere between phase 1 and 2 or 2 and 3. Regardless of where you are on your content marketing journey maybe, we all know that it is a vital part of any business growth and we would love the chance to help you.

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