INTERNATIONAL: Content Marketing — Focus on the Customer
by Debi Hazelden, September 17, 2012
Many organisations have difficulty creating great content once, let alone creating content on a regular basis. Fresh content helps with your search engine optimisation strategy and also shows your social following that you are active and engaged in the industry.
While many businesses struggle to come up with content ideas, it’s a good idea to create an editorial calendar to organise a steady flow of content. Brainstorm ideas and put together a spread sheet of what will be created and on what date.
Below is a diagram of what your content strategy might look like:
Research Customer Segments
It’s important to understand your consumers and the people you are trying to reach with your marketing campaign. You need to understand your customer's:
Find out how your consumers discover and seek out the resources that motivate them. Know the social platforms they are active on and tools they use to engage and recommend things. You need to be proactive, adaptive and have an integrated approach.
Most organisations get by with disconnected SEO tactics and a difficult to measure social media strategy. The challenge for many is to create high-quality content on a regular basis over a long period of time.
Perform keyword research to find the keywords that attract targeted traffic to your website. Start by brainstorming a list of seed keywords, and use important keyword modifiers, Google Suggest, Google Insights and keyword research tools to expand on these and come out with a list of relevant keywords to target.
Theme your keywords and also categorise these into the three stages of purchasing something: hunting, shopping or buying terms -- what is the intent of each keyword?
Hunting: The hunting stage has recently shifted from search to asking people on social media. The whole front end of traffic that used to hunt using Google has moved to Facebook. Social has become the stage before search.
Shopping: Help customers refine their purchasing needs; understand and educate through search and social media.
Buying: Customers buy products through organic search, paid search and social media. Customer loyalty can be built up through social media.
You can also work out the estimated market share your website has for each buying cycle to find where you have opportunities. Use the total search volume from Google AdWords and the actual traffic for each keyword to see where your opportunities are within the decision process.
You need to understand your customer needs across the buying cycle: hunting, shopping and buying. Connect relevant stories with interested customers and this will lead to shorter sales cycles, better customer relationships and more word of mouth.
Create content for each buying cycle to capture this traffic (e.g., hunting: guide pages; shopping: comparison pages; buying: quote pages).
Find a Competitive Advantage
Use out-of-the-box creative, analytical and lateral thinking to proactively solve marketing problems and find a competitive advantage. How can your company differentiate itself from its competitors? At the same time, sync messaging to engage and influence people so the brand becomes the most relevant solution for their category.
Plan your content, take a look through your existing content and check where the gaps are. Create an editorial calendar and prioritise where there is a high degree of interest and relevance. Incorporate other marketing activities and promote content socially.
Example content types include:
Publishing options include:
Social platforms include:
Content Creation Options
There are many different ways to find ideas to create fresh, useful content. Survey customers to find out what they are interested in learning, or look at Yahoo! Answers to find questions people are asking. Ask your customer service staff to take note of frequent questions or check what people are asking you and your competitors through social media.
Optimise and Promote
Search Optimisation is Critical
Remember that what can be searched can be optimised. Search is the best opportunity to connect customers with your brand content! Companies need a holistic content marketing and search engine optimisation program to drive diversity of content and media types as well as inbound links.
There are a few things marketers can do to make their business information and digital assets easier for search engines to find and index, including:
As long as there are search engines and internal search capability on websites, optimisation will be imperative for improving the performance of marketing from a content perspective.
Optimise for Your Customers
More isn’t always better. Content needs to be visible in places where customers might be looking for it, or be likely to be influenced by it. If content is placed in the right spots, it also means a better experience and more customer interactions.
Be Seen in All the Right Places
More content isn’t always better. The content you create needs to be visible in the right places. Place content where customers might be looking or might be influenced by it. This means a better experience for the customer and a higher rate of interactions.
Purchasing a product is just the start of a social engagement with the customer. This social interaction needs to extend across the life cycle that takes the customer to evangelist of the brand.
Make the effort to discover your customer’s experiences through search and social media and evaluate what works and what does not to ensure ongoing optimisation.