Reaching out to new audiences and seeing your website traffic skyrocket is one of the purest joys in the business.
Sure, engaging with leads and convincing customers that your product is the one for them is fun, and shaking hands with a customer as you seal the deal carries the undeniable thrill of a job well done.
But… working in the top of the funnel, reaching out to people who have no idea what you’re about yet; that’s where the romance of marketing lies.
In the 60’s that romance was in the larger-than-life billboards on Times Square. In the 80’s, it was in Apple’s legendary 1984 Super Bowl ad. It’s the very genesis of marketing: you have a product, and you have people who don’t know about your product. How are you going to solve that problem?
But this isn’t 1984 – it’s 2020, and marketing has changed. The way brands generate leads and awareness is now more varied, more intricate, and more rewarding for consistency and quality than it has ever been, and content marketing is leading the way. It’s a little more complex, and a lot more digital. But just as exciting!
Content marketing has made its mark and is here to stay. The beautiful part is that well-thought out articles, eBooks, or even Instagram posts can have the same impact as those vaunted ads from marketing history, and for way less money than Super Bowl ads.
At its most basic, all you need is a website, and a good idea of the problems that you can solve for your ideal customer, and to start telling your story. But that’s just the start. Truly excellent content marketing is informative and creative. It’s well-researched, informed by data, intelligently tested, and frequently posted. You really do get back what you put in.
Even better, content marketing lets you provide a genuine service to potential customers right when they need it. Gone are the days of psychological tricks and system-gaming. This is the age of the Helpful Brand.
So, we’re going to take a step back and go over three vital ideas you need to take with you on your quest for new customers in this bold new year.
In today’s marketing, you need to know what your audience wants and what they’re searching for in your sphere of expertise.
Let’s say it’s January 2012. You own a bakery, and red velvet cupcakes have been in the cake ascendancy for about a year.
If you hadn’t kept up to date with the trend and gotten a red velvet cupcake recipe out on your blog already, then a huge chunk of traffic has just missed you.
The world moves fast, but you don’t have to move faster. Just smarter. If you do your analysis right, you can move your focus on the other parts of your business.
In the strategizing stage, Moz and Google’s Keyword Planner will be your best friends. Investigate the competitors you have a content crush on to see what keywords they’re targeting for their own content strategy, and you can piggyback on a best practice.
Even better, you can find a niche they’re not fulfilling through your own research and customer interaction, or through an investigation on Google Trends. Keywords with moderate volumes and no one else battling for them can be just as valuable as high-competition, high-volume ones, with the right approach.
Once your content stream is up and running, you can turn your attention to optimizing. Review the metrics and assess what parts of your strategy are working best. There’s a lot to consider when analyzing data and pulling insights. Context is key.
Say your new blog post has an average session duration of three minutes. If that’s higher than normal for your website, then that sounds great.
Now if this was a 1,000 word article meant to maintain interest right through to the end (and it takes the average person 8 minutes to read 1,000 words) then it could be that most readers are leaving before they’ve finished reading it.
Like so much else in digital marketing, your content strategy needs to be founded on a 360-degree cyclical structure of research, implementation and analysis, where every step informs the next.
With every turn of the wheel you can be more relevant, more informed, and most importantly…
90% of the top content marketers out there say that being useful is more important than pushing your company’s message. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating content. Empathy is back in fashion.
It’s vital now for brands to respect the time of their visitors. A recipe for a vegan casserole should be that first and foremost. Aesthetics, like branding and logos, come second to the useful content.
Like Neil Patel says, audiences are so internet-savvy now that their eyes will happily skip over anything that feels too much like obvious branding. Their attention goes straight to where the valuable information normally is – the editorial ‘core’ of the page.
Content marketing walks a fine line. If it feels too much like advertising, it’s going to lose its potency. Begin your content plan by it seeing it as more than ‘just’ a marketing activity. It should always be about solving a problem or spreading joy, and done with extensive research, expertise, and care.
If you regularly give your audience valuable content you’ll have a steady stream of new followers. If the first time they heard anything about you, you were helpful. And the next time they needed something, you were there again, there’s no more powerful way to earn an audiences trust and become their go-to resource.
Bonus tip: never use a misleading headline. Remember how much you loved clickbait and the companies that covered your Facebook feed with it? Neither do we.
Build A Plan And Follow It
You’re making decisions based on your audience and hard data, and you’re creating content with care. Now it’s time for consistency.
Unfortunately, one well-written listicle about the dangers of icy roads isn’t going to get a million new customers buying up your snow brushes and winter tires.
The best content marketing strategies are frequent, regular, and a strong mix of two different types of content: Evergreen content, and focused content.
Evergreen content is something that will provide your website with a steady stream of sustaining clicks for years to come like a guide to fixing a broken pipe or a podcast that goes over the basics of poker. There’s always someone out there with a busted pipe who needs a hand.
Focused content is hyper-relevant to something going on right now, like a dog shelter putting out a video dressing up all its pooches in wizard hats conveniently around the release of a new Harry Potter film.
Content marketing isn’t going anywhere, so you’ll need a healthy mix of the two – focused content for those big floods of traffic right when you need it, and evergreen content for that steady stream of clicks on a rainy day.
That consistency will help keep your numbers up and more importantly, it will start building loyalty.
If you can consistently put out content that’s helpful or entertaining in your niche, well, you’re not just getting people from a Google search anymore. Now you’re a bookmark in their browser. That’s the dream!
The Three C’s of Content Marketing for Driving New Leads
As you develop a strategy for driving new traffic with content, remember these three magical words; cognizance, caring, and consistency.
Be cognizant of your audience’s needs, genuinely care about providing them with information that helps them – or just makes them laugh – and be consistent in your delivery.
Then check your servers and make sure they can handle all that new, qualified, happy traffic.
If content marketing sounds great, but feels too time-consuming, hire a team that thrives creating and optimizing content. If you’d like to get the most out of your marketing efforts, get in touch!