Content marketing seems to be the buzzword thrown around a lot by businesses today. Everywhere you turn, experts state that you must use content to build your brand.
Well, that is great and all, but how do you actually accomplish this mighty goal with the blog as the cornerstone of your content marketing?
That is where this post comes in. We want to tell you how to implement a content marketing strategy with your blog that can make an impact in your business.
The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Business
Top to bottom content marketing
Content marketing doesn’t start with content… it needs a plan.
1. Have a strategy
One of the biggest challenges most content marketers have is that they just start creating content.
That does not work. You must understand the value of the content you are creating. Every piece of content should be getting your business closer to your stated goals.
For example, if you created a blog and your aim is to add one client per month, then you need to determine how many blog posts you need to post per month to achieve this goal.
An easy way to do this is to work backwards. What percentage of your prospects become clients? Next, determine how many leads or email subscriptions you receive from each blog post.
Based on those numbers you can then set your target blog post count per month. As time goes by you can adjust the numbers to match your conversion rates or to increase the number of clients obtained.
Take the idea above of adding one new client per month. If your close ratio is 1 out of 10, then you need your blog to produce 10 leads per month. If each post produces three leads, then you will need at least one post per month to succeed.
2. Find out what your clients want
Have you ever written a blog post that you thought was just brilliant? Seriously, if it was any better, you would think that it was divinely inspired.
Then you proudly share your work, only to receive a lackluster response. What happened? Likely you wrote your blog post for yourself and not your audience.
Writing a blog post is different than writing a journal or diary entry. In the later, you get to muse, note down your personal thoughts and observations, as well as dwell on whatever topic takes your fancy.
In a blog post, you need to remember that interaction is the name of the game. This means, you should ask your clients, readers, and prospects what they want to hear about on your blog. Use polling software like Survey Monkey or Gravity Forms to find out what your readers want you to talk about on the blog.
Then you will not have to guess what to discuss. You will know what information your audience craves.
3. Be a resource
You are not blogging to make money. You are blogging to be a resource to your clients and prospects. This means helping them whenever possible.
By providing information on your blog you offer added value to your prospects. This is something they will remember when they need your services.
Creating value can mean anything from providing them with the information they need (education), entertainment, free giveaways, or inspiration. As mentioned in the previous point, find out what your readers want and then deliver on that need.
Some sites like Buzzfeed deliver value by creating interesting lists of memes. Many an hour is wasted reading 15 Game of Thrones Pickup Lines, Cats Who Look Better with Bangs, and other “needed” topics of discussion.
On another note, writing a blog post about content marketing tips could be very valuable to bloggers. (Deep thoughts!)
4. Marketing is 80% of content marketing
Once a blog post is published, the real work begins. While this is the point where most authors think they are done, the truth is that marketing should be 80% of the work you do on a blog post. That way, it has the chance to get the widest possible audience.
How do you market your content then?
First, this is where your social network plays a big part. If you are consistently adding targeted connections to your social networks, you will find that those people will be your target market and the most likely to check out your blog posts.
Have accounts set up on the major social networks. Then make sure to post your content at regular intervals on the social networks relevant to your business. LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook all have amazing groups where you can begin to develop a rapport with other members. Just remember that if you only post your own content in the group, you will be quickly ignored. In fact, 80% of your contributions should not be about your own content, but a mixture of information, sharing, and communicating with others.
Furthermore, once you have published content, remember to let your email list know. That way, instead of only sending them offers, you are providing them with valuable information they can use.
Sponsored Ads are another option to promote your content. You can use paid search to help you garner targeted visitors to your content. This works really well with Facebook and Twitter sponsored posts, as well as Google and Bing Pay Per Click ads.
5. Connect with influencers
Since blogging is about gaining influence, you have to accept the fact that in today’s market someone will generally be a stronger blogger in your field than you are. That is OK, because you get the chance to connect with them to see how you can create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Start connecting with influencers in your field. You will be surprised how big a role they will play in your business over the years. People you meet at conferences, can become business partners, or joint venture partners promoting your products.
In today’s fluid online business environment, there are no true competitors. Those people who might be your competitors might well be the ones most likely to share your content to their social network.
This means you need to spend time developing relationships with influencers in your industry. If you are afraid of competitors, then find synergistic partners you can have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Putting together a campaign
Now that you have steps needed to create a great campaign, it is time to take action. Content marketing takes time to work successfully, so do not start a campaign in 6 months after extensive planning. Start a blog today from ideas you already have, learn from your mistakes, and understand how a content marketing strategy can help increase contacts, build relationships and ultimately increase business opportunities.
Guest author: Richard Barker is the Marketing Manager at Harrison Mann, a UK based Web Design, SEO, PPC and Digital Marketing Agency. Over the past 9 years he has successfully worked with organisations around the world and also built up his own sites, such as Adelto, from scratch. Connect with him on Twitter.