Simple Guide To... Content Marketing. by Marina Lumley

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Content Marketing

by Marina Lumley

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The Simple Guide To...

Content Marketing

who should read this guide?

This guide is designed for people who want to understand what Content Marketing is all about and whether they should be considering it for their company. You may have heard the phrase “Content is King” and is the new thing in digital marketing and you could be unsure of whether it is a relevant technique for your business.

The guide has been designed to be shared so that you can also bring colleagues and team members up to speed

After reading this guide you should be in a position to understand whether Content Marketing is a subject you wish to explore further;

perhaps invest in some training; recruit a content marketing agency; speak to a consultant.

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about the author

Marina Lumley is a Marketing Communications professional of 18 years. In her career Marina was on the board of a highly regarded integrated marketing agency and developed marketing communications strategies for brands such as British Airways, Whitbread, Royal Mail, BT and many more. In the last 4 years Marina became an independent consultant and is both a trainer in marketing and practitioner in marketing communication strategy. Marina trains her own clients and also works for the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and The Chartered Institute of Marketing. Her areas of expertise include Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Integrated Marketing and eCRM. Marina also works closely with clients and agencies to improve their relationships and working practices through the creation of agency management programmes.

@marinalumley

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Contents

Introduction 5

what’s the fuss all about? 5

Why is Content Marketing Important? 6

why should we be interested in this noise around content marketing? 6 what does it mean to the digital marketing i’m already doing? 6 do you need to worry about this hot subject? 7

Simple Steps For A Content Marketing Approach 8

situation analysis 8 questions to ask yourself 8 keywords leading to content 8 what content do you already have? 9

team work 9

Content For Your Audience 10

summarising 10 your audience 10

why? 10

what does focusing on personas mean to your marketing? 11

Where Does Content Fit in your Business? 12

content’s role in your organization 12

Measuring Success 13

the role of content marketing in acquisition 13

other likely roles for content marketing are 13 what to measure 14

Identifying What Content 15

content mapping 15 content funnel stages 16 creating your own ecosystem 17

Planning Your Content 18

content topics, calendar and plan 18 example: national coffee shop chain 18 example: software provider 18

author 18

content / conversational calendar 19

formats 19

Spreading the Word 20

distribution methods 20

your hub 21

create / re-create / curate 21

Top Content Tips 22

About target360 23

integrated marketing automation and sales crm 23 get in touch 23

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Introduction

what’s the fuss all about?

We had better get this one out of the way early on, because there certainly is a lot of hype around it at the moment. The reason for the “fuss” is 3-fold as far as I can see.

firstly,

it is potentially a new and better way to engage prospects and customers with

your product and service – without actually doing a direct sell. So prospects can be warmer and more engaged with you earlier on in the buying cycle.

secondly,

there is ever

increasing pressure to maintain visibility in SERPs (Search engine results pages) and depending upon whom you listen to and what you read – the principles

around what gets your company found is evolving fast.

In the very recent past the majority of the focus

and effort was around On-page SEO and now the discussion is about what % of results does on-page SEO really drive? Some would say as little as 25%!

What this means is that Off-Page SEO is playing a bigger role in SERPS and many think that Content Marketing plays to the weightings of

Google’s algorithms.

thirdly,

the emergence of the term “In-bound Marketing”. What do we mean exactly? Well I would define it as a prospect or customer finding your digital assets and potentially making an enquiry with you without you finding them first.

Instead someone of influence to them ‘shared” something interesting (that will be your exciting Content) and they followed the path which led them to your door.

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why should we be interested in this

noise around content marketing?

Well because there is much evidence to suggest that if you deploy effective content marketing you:

Attract an audience you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach

Ensures the audience finds your offering more relevant than if you had gone out and acquired their attention through advertising

Develop in-bound techniques that are cheaper than paid-for out-bound marketing techniques – so you can generate a better ROI.

• •

what does it mean to the digital

marketing i’m already doing?

initially

By that we could say email marketing, PPC, traditional website optimization, and maybe social media marketing. Well to start with it compliments it. Content Marketing is “fuel” for your other digital channels.

medium-term

It is about maximizing the impact of all of your channels. So getting additional traction through the addition of Content Marketing to your digital toolkit.

long-term

It could be about shifting the focus of effort and budget towards a Content Marketing and In-bound Marketing approach where say 75% of your new business comes from this channel.

BB companies with blogs generate 7%

more leads per month on average than

non-blogging firms. (Social Media BB)

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do you need to worry about this hot

subject?

Most companies should look at Content Marketing as an

opportunity waiting to be grasped. An opportunity to stay ahead of competitors, to win and keep more customers and do more exciting and relevant marketing.

It’s not a quick solution to deploy and it needs careful thinking but the benefits can be huge. And if all the signs are accurate about “Content is King”, it won’t be long before having this strategy deployed within an organisation is a MUST, not just a nice-to-have.

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situation analysis

I find a good place to always start is an analysis of your current situation. May seem simple enough, but a step often missed entirely by us marketers – who often go straight to tactics. Or if its not missed out, it doesn’t get sufficient time and energy and so the insight isn’t gleaned.

questions to ask yourself

Q. What are my prospects and customers searching for? What problems are they trying to solve? Become a mini investigator here and follow the various bread crumbs to see what answers they can currently find and who is helping them?

Q. Whom are you competitors talking to? – Who in particular does their content set out to appeal to?

Q. Is there generic content and audience specific content? Can you see some audience types emerging is there are trend?

Simple Steps For A Content Marketing Approach

keywords leading to content

Another very useful exercise is to look at what content is being served up against your current keywords that you are using to optimise your assets against.

And also what new keywords (outside of your core) are driving to content. I talk about key

words again under the section on Audience but it’s also an important part of your situation analysis to find out what problems / issues / solutions your ideal prospects are investigating and searching for. Because you’re content can be the solution and answer.

“Look for a blog,

for links within

their tweets and

posts and see

what content is

being created and

talked about...”

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what content do you already have?

This is the time to look under the metaphorical bed and work out what content you have already created. Is it surveys that you tend to do? Do you do events and record some of the live interactions on video?. You get the picture. Take a look at all of your collateral, links off your website etc. and work out what you’ve already got –and who is it aimed at.

team work

I wouldn’t suggest you embark on this all by yourself. This should be a team effort. Pull your fellow marketers together, suggest that the person currently responsible for your SEO joins you – perhaps an agency you work with. Think about who the people are that could help you get the conversation going internally.

And potentially you can split the research workload up between you and then re-group to debrief.

In fact I’d say that the whole subject of Content Marketing is better shared than embarked upon alone. You need a sounding board.

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summarising

Once you’ve got a handle on your current situation you need to produce a summary and try to turn the understanding you have derived into insight – what it might mean to your go-forward picture.

Content For Your Audience

your audience

In marketing there are various ways of creating a targeted approach. You might be product focused, life stage focused or value focused for example.

With Content Marketing, many find that you need to be Persona focused. Focus on a type of prospect that looks like your ideal customer. You may have 3 different Personas that you want to focus on, but it’s important to know how they are different.

why?

Because people search for different things based upon their needs and issues and they also get engaged by things that appear to answer or tackle those needs and issues. And we don’t all have the same ones.

You can’t be generic. That is what I am really saying. You need to choose whom to focus your content efforts on. And to do that you need to build up a picture of them.

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what does focusing on personas

mean to your marketing?

It certainly means that you have to be very customer/prospect focused in what you do. You have to create and visualize what is meaningful and really engaging to them. It means putting yourself into your customer shoes – and walking several miles in them to be sure you really understand them and are talking in a language they can engage with and on topics that are relevant to them.

It also means that you will probably be writing and creating a lot more yourselves as a marketing team. You can out-source content marketing but you won’t necessarily want to or can afford to. Or you might have to choose what you do in-house versus out-source. So a new skill is required – thinking and acting like a publisher. It’s not up everyone’s street that’s for sure but it can’t be avoided because it needs to be done well.

Simple Steps For Building Buyer Personas

Determine what the key customers attributes of your ideal

customer are.

What do you think motivates them

What do you think their goals and behaviours are

What is their typical Buying behaviour

What do you think are the triggers that get them

thinking and acting

Collect valuable data on them – Geo-demographics, job

title and responsibilities, authority

Analyse what you have gathered and create some segments

that look sufficiently different and significant enough for

you to want to focus your efforts on them

Create a Persona for the target audiences. Richly describe

them so that your can visualize them when you are creating

content.

Identify relevant keywords for each type of Persona

a.

b.

c.

d.

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content’s role in your organization

I’ve written this guide in a linear way for an easy read. But this particular section needs to be on your mind right from the beginning.

And I can’t answer this for you – it’s your journey of discovery. I was in a workshop the other day with 10 people all from different organisations. I was training them on digital strategy and the

subject of content marketing naturally came up. One company was a professional body aiding its members which were in a specific business sector. The professional body currently had about 25% of businesses in that sector signed up to membership but were under constant pressure to increase this number. After much discussion it became clear that the challenge wasn’t about what acquisition channels to use - but instead what content did they need to

create, distribute and disseminate to make their membership body “relevant” and “needed”. Relying on their website to tell a limited story just wasn’t enough.

By highlighting the challenges and issues that their member

businesses experienced and received support on was a great way to start to understand what type of content needed it to be produced. It also bought to the forefront a number of completely new

keywords that their marketing efforts needed to optimise against. So the role of Content Marketing for this organisation was defined as “answering the challenges and issues that their members

encountered” and making those rich stories available to those outside of membership.

“Interesting content is a top reason

people follow brands on social media.”

(Content+)

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the role of content marketing in

acquisition

This is possibly one of the most important ones. Why? Because we know that consumers spend an ever-longer period researching and considering a purchase before engaging with a specific brand. So it’s critical that we get on the radar early.

If we are on the radar – we can then get into the conscious of the audience and unwittingly be the answer to their problem or desire when they are ready. When done really well it stops the

audience even considering other options – it just becomes a forgone conclusion.

other likely roles for content

marketing are

Drive credibility and thought leadership Customer retention

Up sell and cross sell Customer service • • • •

Measuring Success

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what to measure

No of visits to your content – are people finding it relevant No of re-tweets or share of your content link – do people find it interesting enough to share

No of interactions and comments about your content – do people want to engage with it

No of times it is found and clicked on in SERPs - is it deemed to match the needs of those searching

Level of influence of those interacting with your content - are you having an impact with people who have influence within your relevant subject area or sector

Role your content plays in the conversion pathways of your prospects interaction with you online – is your content forming an influential role in the overall digital picture?

How many of the interactions with your content lead to another goal being achieved? – e.g. a form being filled?, Another piece of content downloaded? An enquiry made?

How long does your content stay relevant for? – good content can have a long shelf life and if you continue to support it with optimization and distribution it can bring in new interactions • • • • • • • •

and leads for a long time.

In fact one of the most significant things you can measure is the role that your content played in driving an in-bound lead and then look at whether that lead became a sale or not.

You could find that it was cheaper than outbound marketing and may indeed have a better conversion rate to boot.

Can you derive sales and a stronger ROI from your content?

“Content Marketing is just like any other digital

effort and you need to work out what success

looks like and measure that.”

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content mapping

One thing to consider when you are planning a content marketing approach is what content you use and when. It is important to map the type of content you create to the key stages in the prospect or buyer journey.

Put simply, I mean that you wouldn’t angle products and features of your product or service into the content in an overt way at the early part of the buying cycle. It would need to be strong added value and highly relevant content. Potentially quite indirectly relevant to your company offering – but extremely relevant to you target Persona.

However, when you prospects are engaged with your content and being nurtured. When they are showing signals of wanting to explore further and potentially look at your product – that’s the time for more product focused content – albeit – benefit led.

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content funnel stages

You can use the language that suits your market or sector but here are 4 simple stages to map against that some content marketers use

Awareness - when the prospect gets acquainted with your brand: a blog post

Research or educate – when they start researching solutions to their problem: ebook or webinar

Compare or validate – when they look at the options open to them: demo or testimonial

Purchase – when they decide to buy: detailed feature list

But there is also another set of stages that your could map your content against which are more customer focused

Acquire – when you get the audiences attention for the first time: this could be a blog post but equally it could be an ebook or white paper

Participate – this is when they feel ready to do something: give you their data in exchange for richer content for example

Engage – when they are warm enough to want to join in the conversation perhaps commenting on a blog or looking at multiple pieces of content from you

Share – when they are interested enough in what you are talking about to want to share it with others.

In reality, it might be good to use both mapping systems together to help you decide what you do when.

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creating your

own ecosystem

I started talking about a content ecosystem about a year ago because it made sense to me to think about it as a partly as a living thing that could create its own energy. But perhaps the best reason to have one, is so that you can put an order to everything you are doing and make life easier for yourself.

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content topics, calendar and plan

Firstly, you need to work out what the key topics are for your

content. This comes back to understanding the Personas are whom you are talking to.

example: national coffee shop chain

A national coffee shop brand may be targeting sociable women in their 30s who have lots of options on where to go for a coffee either by themselves or with friends or indeed children.

From derived insight on this group – caffeine is a reoccurring subject for them on its relative merits and disadvantages.

So a caffeine calculator that they could engage with for all range of beverages would be a handy piece of content for this Persona to interact with and share with friends.

example: software provider

A software provider may be targeting Managing Directors/owners of medium sized companies. Derived insight on this group – making sure you’ve made a robust decision vendor is critical.

So offering up a Vendor Comparison report from an independent source that compares the various software companies would be a really relevant piece of content to tap into.

author

You also have to plan who is going to write each piece of content. Who is most knowledgeable, most able and has a good writing style? And who would enjoy writing or benefit from writing? • Are you commissioning an expert?

• Are you compiling it yourself? • Is it 3rd party content?

• Is it customer-generated content?

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content / conversational calendar

Mapping out when you are launching and talking about your content is also key. Firstly it reduces the amount of times you end up in a panic because you need to be posting or tweeting but you don’t have a subject to mind. Secondly it ensures you have a coherent and relevant plan – because you can think it up in advance.

formats

This is the next thing to think about. There are many different formats and you need to consider what will work for you.

You need to think about the topic and audience and what format would suit both. And you might want to use multiple formats for one topic. For example you might hold a webinar on a subject, produce a slide show and write a comprehensive white paper. You then might write a series of posts about the subjects you speak about. Those posts and related content could then be distributed through tweets and circulation lists of those who subscribe to your blog.

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distribution methods

SEO: being found in SERPS is a big win for content. It’s a natural distribution that means your content is optimised well against your key words – so well done when you achieve this.

PPC: an expensive and last resort means to distribute content – but can be successful if you can clearly measure the impact.

Paid Content Marketing: More and more you see brands advertising content rather than their services. They use valuable banner space to promote their content – a guide for example.

Twitter: a great tool for reaching out frequently with soundbites and thought starters. And its great for linking followers to your chunky content that is hosted elsewhere – on your blog, facebook page or website.

Social Networks: Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ they are all fantastic social hubs for individuals to discuss, debate and share content. It can be naturally viral as long as the content is relevant and interesting and helps to use video and pictures in the posts.

Content Portals: YouTube, Vimeo and Slideshare are great examples of how you can host and distribute your content. You would be amazed at the high level of intellectual content available through the simple search function.

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your hub

And don’t forget to think about what the HUB – or home of your content is. Yes it could be your website but there are many advantages to it not being your website. In b2c it could be either Facebook or a blog. In b2b it’s more likely to work well from a blog. A blog enables you to make fast and easy updates. It also enables you to categorise the nature of your posts and content. If you add a menu to your blog you can add some permanent content features and hide those behind registration traps so that you capture data.

create / re-create / curate

There is no need to keep creating fresh content from scratch all of the time. You have options to update the key content that you create.

For example, re-run a survey twice a year and update the questions to reflect changing dynamics. You can also pull content together from other sources and put your spin on it.

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About target0

integrated marketing automation

and sales crm

target360 is an enabler to supercharge sales and marketing. It enhances your marketing and sales practices and informs your business decisions. Through our marketing automation and CRM toolkit, we allow companies to optimise their marketing and sales funnel to help them deliver on their potential.

Our marketing automation suite provides solutions to these 5 common challenges faced by marketers on a daily basis.

Not enough time

Insufficient content to drive true engagement Weak processes that inhibit the sales journey Limited ability to measure effectiveness

Inflexible and cumbersome data management system

UK owned and based, our team’s ambition is to help customers deploy a cost effective solution and realise the benefits now, and support you in the future.

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