“Starting is easy; persistence is an art.” It’s an old German proverb, but one that fully encapsulates what often occurs with content marketing today. You start out publishing one piece after another — maybe daily, weekly, whatever. Then, the tides slowly turn, and the frequency lessens so much that you’re lucky if you put out content once a month. Come the second year of the endeavor, you find yourself unfortunately having abandoned it altogether.
Content marketing works best when there’s a consistent cadence. If you can produce content on a regular basis, the effort will likely be three times more effective than some random ad. What you’re doing is giving people what they want: information. In fact, the most successful of our Microsoft partners provide consumers with a steady stream of information. It keeps their brands top of mind and keeps their target audiences engaged.
The key with consistency is to avoid becoming repetitive. Pushing out identical messages will just get boring. You want to change how you talk about your products or services, using similar words or phrases so as not to stray from the value and purpose of your business. It’s all about educating and nurturing your audience to instill a level of trust that’ll eventually convert average consumers into loyal brand advocates.
Making the Right Choice
While many businesses push out content daily — 60% to be exact — that shouldn’t be your ultimate goal. Best practices will tell you to find the right medium first and then arrive at a timetable that works for you and your target audience.
One medium showing no signs of slowing down is the podcast. Podcasts provide you with the opportunity to position yourself as an expert in your field. And if you produce a high-quality show, you’ll likely see a 25% higher conversion rate than with a traditional blog. Beyond that, podcast listeners are 20% more willing to become followers. With production costs being relatively minimal, it’s worth a try to see whether you gain any footing.
Though podcasts can provide a better return than blogging, this medium still has legs. Dust off your keyboard and get to work on creating regular content for that blog. Offer up some advice, post an infographic or two, or tap a few experts to write guest content. If you’ve got the platform already, why not use it?
Another avenue you should explore is social media — or, more to the point, links within social media posts. Get on social channels and start posting commentary related to your industry. But with every few posts, include a link to relevant content on your site or blog. It’ll drive traffic to your website and likely improve your search rank.
A Question of Content
Content marketing can sometimes seem confusing and daunting, especially for small businesses not familiar with the strategy. But it’s totally doable when you put a process in place that you can repeat time and again. The following are often the best places to start:
1. Identify your content objective
Most businesses base their marketing strategies around the customer journey. And like any journey, it has a number of steps, each with the potential of influencing the purchase decision — that is, of course, as long you understand what customers need at that time.
Go directly to the source and talk to consumers to gather feedback. The goal here isn’t just to learn more about the customer journey so that you can better speak to each step along the path to purchase; it’s also to gather stories.
Stories can be woven into real-life narratives that are likely to resonate with an audience. In fact, you can develop educational content for those at the journey’s start and then use more targeted collateral to move them from awareness to interest.
It’s all about pinpointing the objective of the content and making sure you provide it at the exact moment the consumer needs it most.
2. Conduct the “So what?” appraisal
Naturally, you want to develop relevant content to ensure that your target audience members will use it as part of their purchase decisions. That often requires you to take a step back and really look at your marketing collateral.
If you’re left saying “So what?”, take it as a sign that you need to rework the content. Maybe some new graphics will better catch consumers’ attention. Changing out and bolding key phrases might be all that’s needed to make the content’s value apparent.
The copy itself is important. It needs depth and a little swagger to be worthwhile, but the visuals and format will also play a role in whether consumers pay attention.
3. Employ content experts
Creating generic, uninspired content is one the fastest ways to put a cramp in your marketing strategy. It won’t generate any real interest from consumers — and could even go on to dilute your brand message and hurt your brand reputation.
The solution: a marketing professional with a background in content creation. Hire full-time, part-time, or freelance. It all depends on your need and budget. Besides, marketers can also help with content distribution, giving suggestions on how, where, and when to get marketing materials in front of consumers.
4. Test and refine
No marketing strategy would be complete without testing. Otherwise, you’ll never know whether a simple change could be the difference in making good content great. So test different types of content on different channels. Try changing up the visuals, copy, format, and calls to action to see what resonates most with audiences.
Then, keep what’s working and refine what’s not. Just make sure to continually monitor the impact of your content. As audiences or markets change, additional revisions may be necessary.