Our guide to content creation
Content is a massive part of life in 2019 – it informs us, entertains us, answers our questions, confirms our thoughts and enables us to share our lives with a global audience.
We are all consuming content on an hourly basis – every time you search for something on Google, every scroll through Instagram, every time you read the news online and the blog post you’re read on LinkedIn (see what I did there?!).
Content is an essential tool in educating, informing, attracting and engaging your customers – both existing and prospective. Creating content should be the lifeblood of your marketing strategy, as you generate interest through the creation of written or visual content designed to appeal to your buyer persona.
Content can be delivered as a blog, an email newsletter, a press release, an infographic, a photo, a video, a social media post…. the list of ways to deliver your content is seemingly endless and that’s what makes it so exciting!
But why is content so important?
By creating authentic content, you’re giving your audience useful, sometimes entertaining information that can act as a way to drive traffic to your website, sending both new customers to you and retaining existing ones. Content can start a dialogue between you, your customers and your prospects.
It’s also worthwhile noting that as an inbound marketing practice, content creation can generate some fantastic returns for your business. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising and 43% of B2B marketers say blogging is their most important type of content. Hubspot claims that SMEs that use content marketing get 126% more leads than those that don’t.
What should be my goals when considering content?
Setting your goals for content should focus on your marketing goals and will therefore range from attracting more visitors to your site to generating more leads. Each piece of content should then be in line with goals and desired outcomes.
Creating a buyer persona is a great way to first understand who you’re speaking to, how you want to speak to them and where they can be found. This semi-fictional character is the distillation of the various elements of your target audience and serves as a representative of them. After researching your audience, the end result will be a clear picture of who you want to market to – you may even have several different customer personas for the different goods and services you are selling and will have to market to them accordingly.
You will also need to consider the buyer’s journey and create content for each stage, i.e. the awareness, consideration and decision stages. That way you ensure you are creating relevant information for all parts of the journey; meeting your audience where they are.
How do I know which format to use for my content?
You will need to have your buyer persona at the forefront of your mind when creating your content, i.e. creating content that is in a format most easily consumed by your prospects that, crucially, is enjoyable! The content can take whichever form that best serves your buyer persona…video, podcast, infographic, blog, white paper, case study, webinar. It’s also worth considering how you can repurpose your content, for example video is a highly engaging form of content that is shareable across all digital platforms and can be re-edited to create fresh content. Video is also 40% more likely to be shared on social media than any other type of content!
Obviously, each piece of content will have varying levels of cost and required time to achieve the best possible output, so it is worth considering which method of delivery best suits your business objectives and budgets. It’s also worth looking beyond the marketing department for content ideas, as every department will have a different take on it and perhaps provide some fresh ideas to add to the mix!
The channel you use for your content should be considered too, with popular choices including email, social media, website, Pay Per Click (PPC), display ads and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Interestingly, according to Sprout Social, 82% of marketers claim email is the most effective channel, with social media following with 52% and website coming in a 51%.
What about a content marketing strategy?
Creating the buying persona that your content is designed for is the first part of the journey. The second part is planning how to disseminate that content and having a strategy gives you a road map for how and when you will use your content.
Firstly, you must know your goals and WHY you are creating the content. Multiple goals will be a common occurrence and can be matched with content types and channels, and for each goal metrics will need to be defined that will measure your success. For example, one of your goals may be to increase sign-ups for a course you are running, so to achieve this you will create a case study of a previous candidate and share it on your website and across social media. The case study will be made up of text, photos, a short piece-to-camera video interview and a downable PDF of the course details. The sales team will use the collateral you’ve created to send to potential customers and the marketing team will promote the various elements of the case study across social media, using each element on the most appropriate channel.
The next part of your strategy is the content audit. If you already have content, you can analyse its success to help you understand what’s working and what’s not been so successful. Social media, very usefully, provides detailed analytics that can be a great way to discover what type of content your audience is most receptive to – you can clearly see what’s working and what isn’t!
Lastly, you will need to map your customer journey, as different types of content work at different points. A trouble shooting video for a product won’t be as interesting to someone at the awareness stage, as it will be for someone who has already purchased the item. However, it may be useful to them at a later stage!
Creating a content calendar is a great way to plan and trace your content, listing the content, type, audience, customer journey phase, distribution channels and dates for publication. Don’t forget to analyse your content as it is consumed to check how it is fairing and then adjust your output accordingly.
It is safe to say that a content marketing strategy takes time, creativity and organisation to deliver. However, content is what every audience consumes and is now what forming a large part of many marketing budgets – in fact according to the Content Marketing Institute, the most successful marketers reported a 40% spend of their budget on content marketing in 2018. It’s time to get creative!