“We are thinking about content marketing as campaigns, we need to do better”
Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute
I watched a keynote this week from Joe Pulizzi in which he quoted that 9 out of 10 marketers are doing some form of content marketing, but 50% don’t have a strategy and don’t know what success looks like. A statistic that made him cry was that on average only 30% of content marketing is effective. That’s right. 30%.
He believes that we are treating our content marketing efforts as campaigns and that to get the results we simply need to do better. To stop looking at our marketing activity as a chance to use up all our words and limited attention of our audience with bits and bobs about our products and features. We need to take the time to understand customers and create something remarkable and unique that will build your audience. This will take time, brands that have hit the content jackpot took a slow and steady approach, created amazing content in one particular format, regularly, they built their audience, and then saw results. It is a marathon and not a sprint.
[quoter color=”jeans”]We need to take the time to understand customers and create something remarkable and unique that will build your audience.[/quoter]
So how do you get marathon ready?
How to understand and empathise with your customers
You need to have a deep understanding of your customers and the things that keep them up at night. Get obsessive over your customer and all the questions they have on a topic that you love talking about, Joe Pulizzi calls this “the sweet spot”.
What to do: Create your customer persona and identify an umbrella theme and then draft some pain points or issues that happen to match your sweet spot.
For example: Let’s say I own a craft store, love knitting and want to help more people get their knit and purl on. I have the resource to blog regularly about the topic and my goal is to create a community, with the business goal to sell more knitting goods.
Start by creating your umbrella theme:
And then dig into your target personas issues and pain points to map out topics that will trigger a response.
Once you’ve created this, then use Google Trends a great and FREE tool that can help shape your strategy. Use it to plug in your user pain points and see what the interest is over time for that topic. You will most likely find that people do the same things, at the same time, each year. Track this in an excel doc that will be your ‘go to’ editorial calendar where you have the insights and backing to create and publish content at a time when your users are searching for answers.
Head to the bottom right of this tool and select “Rising”. This shows not only the top queries for this term, but what is trending. It’s a nice little growth hack which you can use to jump on and be ahead of the competition in creating content on a growing topic.
Still staring at your blank piece of paper?
So you have your editorial calendar and you know that you need to publish something on a theme based on your persona insights and Google Trends data “Avoiding Knitting Pain from Knitting Tension Problems” where do you start?
Use this formula to brainstorm your ideas:
Source + Theme + Format + Idea = Engaging Content
Let’s break each section down.
Source: What are you basing your content angle on?
- Curated: assembling content around your brand and themes
- Created: original content based on themes and pain points of persona
- Co-market: partnership or influencer based content
- Recycle :repurpose content, integrated formats
Theme: The pain point you’re going to focus on, these will link back to your editorial calendar.
Format: How are you going to deliver your content? The Content Marketing institute suggests you focus on one format and regularly publish. For example, a 10 min podcast every Monday. There are many to choose from and you need to select based on your resources and budget:
Here are a couple of examples:
Ideas: Once you know your format, what ideas can you use. Below are some examples.
Now let’s put this into action for my knitting example.
Worked example of creating a brand new content piece
Source: Created – a brand new original piece of content
Theme: “Avoiding Knitting Pain from Knitting Tension Problems”
- Q&A: With doctor or health professional on how to avoid tension injury when knitting
- How to: A detailed how-to guide on avoiding tension problems
- Interview: With well known or influencer knitter on how they tackle pain from knitting tensions
- Top 10: Top 10 ways to get tension problems and how to avoid
- Facts and Figures: How many people suffer from tension problems cause by knitting
Tools to help create original pieces of content marketing
There is a lot of competition out there and your content needs to cut through. So, you need to be original, offer value, and be consistent. When you have pulled one of your ideas forward to create your content, use tools to support the writing process.
I have been using Cronycle to follow in real time what is being currently published and talked about in my chosen area, I even created a newsfeed for ‘Knitting’. This is going to give insights quickly to see if something has already been covered, and to check whether I have a different angle on the articles written. Previously I used Google Alerts, RSS feeds, and scrolling through social monitoring tools, but it took a little too long and didn’t always pick up an article quick enough.
You should also (where possible!) ask your team for advice. Your company employees have knowledge and opinions, sending an email with a link to an article and asking them to read it or comment has never really got much traction when I have tried it.
Instead, try creating boards in Cronycle and pinning articles to base your research and ask team members to annotate. Another plus is to use the tool to find influencers who may want to co-write content or help your distribution efforts.
Content should be easy to read, when you are ready to publish, try using the Hemingway App which will highlight areas to review.
Hello pretty picture – the design factor
The more visual your content, the more engaging you will be. We don’t all have designers at our fingertips and you can do without a fine for taking a Google Image which is has a copyright fine. I have been using Canva a lot recently as it has either free images and graphics, or if you do need to buy them, they cost $1. Affordable pictures for your content, even on a budget!
There you have it! Please tweet me with your opinions!
About Jill Quick
Lead Instructor and Trainer for General Assembly and an author for Smart Insights. She loves to work, teach and write on Digital Marketing , particularly on Content Marketing, Google Analytics, and Email Marketing. She is a Digital Marketing Consultant at Quick Marketing.