In this series of Smart Insights Best Practice Advice, Danyl Bosomworth of SmartInsights.com shares tips on best practice to get better results from digital marketing. This week, Danyl provides seven tips on content marketing for the social web.
Brands have long used content marketing to promote their products and services, and the emergence of the social web has increased the need for – and the reach of – content. According to the recent 2010 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report, for instance, over half of B2B marketers are planning to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months.
But what happens if you become frustrated that your content isn’t getting the reach? What if you’ve done the hard work, developed some great content but it’s just not happening in the results stakes? Danyl Bosomworth provides the following seven tips to help achieve better results.
1. Objectives and purpose
What is the point of the content and what do you want it to achieve? Define this clearly, are you using it the right way? This can be complex with multiple objectives or it can be as simple as getting readers to visit a web page with a request form on it. Either way, know what you’re aiming for and the related KPI’s and objectives you’re going to use to prove impact.
2. Relevant communications
Do the research to ensure relevance and customer centricity when talking about or sharing the content. Use any existing customer personas to guide editorial, also delve in to some basic keyword research within search engines and social – why is this good? It’s the language that you’re market is already using, so echo it.
With keywords in hand, and an understanding of the audience, you craft the message for the person that’s going to consume it. Remember the Ogilvy advertising mantra with his emphasising the ‘big idea’, that’s the communications piece that enables the consumer to ‘get’ it. Why should I look, read, watch or listen to the content, what’s in it for me?
3. Graphic design
In its broadest sense we’re talking about the packaging and creative upon which the content sits, if the content is great then it should look great too, premium even. Have a professional execution – for example, don’t throw ebooks into a crappy Word document – it doesn’t exactly inspire, does it.
Design has never been more important, people expect it and the standards are higher than ever. Just as important is the need to design a great experience for consumers. Readers (as well as search engines) should also be able to tell what the idea is, it should be easy to consume and scan and it should definitely be easy to share, save and post to social news and bookmarking sites.
4. Distribute it
This is a key area, you need to publish the content you’ve created, sounds obvious but so often over-looked. Ensure that however you’re publishing, you have automated distribution through Email subscription or RSS. However, pushing out content automatically must be done carefully to avoid duplication and overt promotion that just gets annoying.
Post on key site pages with traffic, again obvious – think about being findable in the obvious places your market already is. If your consumer is on Facebook for example, you might find it makes sense for your Fan page to accept posts from the blog and that the blog also posts to Twitter. Then have Twitter post to LinkedIn. You get the picture!
Following from point 2, optimise content with relevant keywords or the content you are publishing. Make SEO a natural part of the publishing process. Again your goal is being findable. Monitor and cultivate social networks where conversations are happening relevant to the people and companies you’re trying to reach, you want your content in those networks and also relevant portals to your market all with relevant links back to your site.
5. Inspire me
You’ve got your content in front of the right person, now give readers something to do by designing in the outcome (ties back to point 1, as well), think about engaging me in comments or discussion, subscribing to other services, join or even buy, also sharing the content with my network. Not all content needs to have an outcome, but if you don’t ask you won’t get. The story of the content should guide the reader to a conclusion such as more content, or visiting a web page.
Without making it painful, you might layer the calls to action to appeal to different personas at different stages in the buy process – broadening the relevance, just keep it all relevant and on-message so that it doesn’t put people off.
Don’t forget to thank and encourage commentators that are interacting or sharing your content – this is powerful stuff and you’ll hear people like Jay Baer and the Convince & Convert blog really hammering these basics home. It’s motivating to be thanked, and as obvious as it sounds it grows good-will, one at a time.
6. Monitor what’s happening
Ensure that you have tools and processes for measuring performance, for the short and long term. Whether you use social media monitoring tools, Google analytics or even PostRank, make sure you track the reach of the content you’re promoting. Understanding where you’re getting traction is important to enable you to improve what works and what doesn’t – most likely where you push in terms of distribution – if you cannot measure it, you cannot monitor and improve it.
It’s important to think strategically since developing and promoting content on the social web is different to direct marketing. For starters opportunities might arise to create and promote content on demand, for example responding to trending social topics.
Test and refine! We accept in other areas of marketing that not everything we create and share, will pay off. So thinking of testing time of day, message, creative, traffic sources and anything else that could impact the reach and engagement.
Have you got any tips that you can share?
Danyl is co-founder of Smart Insights and a digital marketing contractor. His experience spans brand development, direct marketing and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side over the last 12 years.