How to get started with content marketing (and why it matters)

Digital marketing tips

If you’ve ever clicked on an article or video posted by a company  then you’ve been content marketeered (that’s not really a word, so don’t quote me).

But before I fill your ears with marketing jargon, let’s keep it simple. Content marketing, or inbound marketing, is all about earning peoples interest. Instead of pushing your message down customers’ throats, you tempt them in with an interesting carrot. This guy knows:

“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing.” – Guy Kawasaki

Alright. We all love a carrot. But how is that going to get us customers?

Inbound marketing is an indirect marketing method that starts by generating interest. This interest can turn strangers into visitors, visitors into leads and leads into eventual customers.

It might sound fluffy, but this method really works. Evidence shows that it is not only more effective than traditional marketing methods, you also get a lot more bang for your buck.

Where to start with content marketing?

First, find your voice (and make sure it’s authentic)…

…because 68% of online buyers spend considerable time reading content published by a brand they are interested in (The CMA). Reading something useful, interesting, unusual or just plain hilarious not only helps people feel loyal to your company or brand, it also has them coming back for more.

But people can smell a hidden advert a mile away. So try and find a topic that you can offer some real and authentic advice about. And if you want it to be obvious, make it obvious in a unique way. JustEat for example have found a tone that balances funny with sales.

(And no, I’m not trying to get free stuff from JustEat. But if they want to send a tikka masala my way, I will graciously accept.)

Second, optimise, optimise, optimise.

I cannot stress this enough. Your content needs to be razor sharp with all the right keywords if it’s going to pop up on that first page of Google results.

After all, B2B customers conduct 12 searches on average before checking a specific brand’s website (Kapost) and 71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search (Google, 2015).

It takes time to work through and update your website, and you will definitely need some experienced content writers to help you along the way, but it is well worth the investment.

Third, share it everywhere.

That means making the content clearly visible on your website, sharing it on social media and setting up an email marketing system.

Think email marketing is dead? Maybe on Monday morning when your inbox is full and your patience is thin – but email has a median ROI of 122% – that’s four times higher than social media and paid search (DMA and Demand Metric). And 86% of professionals prefer email when communicating for business purposes (Hubspot). So it’s alive people.

If you’re not sure where to start with email marketing, try MailChimp. It’s cheap, intuitive and has reasonably good reporting systems so you can track your progress. Plus, they have a funny sweaty monkey that gets stressed just before you send something out. I like that.

Finally, get analysing.

We live in this cool time where you can record marketing data on pretty much everything. Gone are the days of pasting adverts on billboards and waiting for the landline to ring (though I do miss my old, curly wired telephone).

Using online analytics is a great way to stay on top of your efforts and see what works. For a B2C company that sells products online, this can be as simple as seeing how many people convert to paying customers.

For B2B or not-for-profit organisations, keeping track of the amount of visitors on your posts, or seeing how many people sign up for your email campaigns can be good performance indicators.

Whatever you decide, there are many tools out there that can help you along the way. The digital world is a large and complicated one, so make sure all your efforts are really making a difference.

If you like all my fancy advice and want to hire me to help you out, then please get in touch. And if you’re calling from an old, twirly telephone, even better.

A group of people sat around a tabel reading different types of media

Build trust, start a dialogue and drive leads with people-centric communication

Communciations tips

I talk about people-centric communication quite a bit. Mostly because I am aware that everything I write is read by another human being trying to get on with their day.

Sound obvious? Maybe so. But how many times have you started to write something at work and thought:

“This needs to sound more academic,” or,

“How can I make this sound more impressive?”

If this doesn’t sound familiar, look at it this way. How many times have you sat down to read something and thought:

“I wish this was MORE complicated!” or,

“I love how difficult these sentences are. It makes my life so much easier!”

Formality isn’t dead – but over complicating things to sound impressive should be. You don’t necessarily have to be funny or creative, but when it comes to strong business content, you need to keep it clean, sharp and as simple as possible. Because this is not about you. This is about  your reader.

B2B: Businesses are people. Get to know them.

To really communicate with your audience, you need to first remember that a ‘business’ is not an external thing with no feelings or personality. Surprise surprise, businesses are made up of people. People start a business, people manage that business, people ultimately choose whether to buy your services and people benefit from the outcome.

Therefore, when starting a B2B content marketing strategy, people should ALWAYS come first. Look at the decision makers in a company and ask yourself: who do you need to connect with? Who is calling the shots? Who does the research?

Then, work out what they need to know. Do they understand finance, but not the technicalities of the services they need to buy? Do they want to start doing things differently, but aren’t sure how to get started? Do they simply want to save money? Or streamline something they already have?

Your job is to clearly explain how you will help them do this.

“To create engaging and interactive content, put yourself in the shoes of the new B2B buyer audience, understand their challenges and build a campaign around those insights.” Nick Clark

The people-centric approach to B2B communication acknowledges that people are the heart and soul of every single business. Consider their needs before putting pen to paper, and talk in a way that they will understand – or better yet, enjoy.

B2C: Build trust with your customers through personal communication

When it comes to B2C, things are no different. Typical sales content starts with how well your company does something or how good your product is. But this doesn’t necessarily solve your customer’s problem, and it rarely captures their attention.

The first step to any content marketing strategy is not thinking about what you do – it is carefully considering your core customer group and thinking about what they want and need.

Do they want to read a long list of benefits, or do they want to learn something new? Perhaps they are sick of generic products, and want to know why yours is different. Maybe they want to know your ethical standpoints, or just want to see something fun and engaging.

Whatever it is, talking to your customers in a personal way makes them feel part of something bigger. Not only because they actually understand what they’re buying (and want to read more about it) but also because they see the personality behind your organisation.

This builds trust, which drives conversions. A study by Bonfire Marketing found that 63 percent of customers will choose an authentic brand when making a purchase. People care about who you are and what you are doing. Like any quality human relationship, trust matters.

So stop hiding behind business jargon and start making personal connections with your business writing. Ultimately, taking a people-centric approach helps your customers understand your company and encourages them to engage. Whether that’s by clicking on links, browsing your website, commenting on your posts, signing up to your newsletter, or buying that product, it starts a dialogue. And this drives what we all want and crave – leads.