The basics: developing a content marketing strategy

Content marketing provides valuable information and/or targeted entertainment that fits your brand’s personality and connects with your customers, sans any type of product plug. For business owners, this fosters customer engagement and retention, and draws new people to your brand.

Develop trackable goals

Decide what you’re trying to accomplish and set quantifiable goals you’ll be able to analyze later. How many new Facebook followers are you trying to acquire over a set period of time? Page views? Likes? Email subscribers? Choose 3 to 5 realistic metrics to track so you can alter and update your strategy later.

Keep in mind that content marketing won’t necessarily bring in a mass flux of new customers automatically. While customer acquisition should be tracked as you develop and share your content, the primary goal is to engage current customers and increase brand awareness. Someone who starts following your blog or social media may not need your product or service right now, but they’ll be more likely to choose your company when they do, because you’ve already provided them with something they find valuable.

Understand your audience, pinpoint their needs

Once you have goals in mind, it’s time to figure out what kind of content you need to put out, and that starts with understanding your current customer base as well as the customers you want to draw in. If your current customers fall into the 25 to 45 demographic, are mostly female, and college educated, plan for a voice and topics that appeal to this group, and research what kinds of content a person in this category gravitates to, including blogs, infographics, videos, or something else entirely.

From here, think a little bigger and create profiles for customers you want to win over. Think of what would be useful for men in the same age range, younger men and women, people of different nationalities, urban vs. suburban customers, and more. These profiles help you personalize the content you produce to your current customers and the customers you want to acquire. Remember to be realistic here – if your business is unlikely to be useful to a certain demographic, it’s a waste of time and money to try to target them.

Research your industry, identify the trends

You’re an expert in your field, and you probably built your business on something that you either do well, are passionate about, or both. Remember that what might be interesting or useful to you, as an expert, is not necessarily useful to your customer base. Research your industry and note what people who utilize the services and products you provide are searching for online, and base content off of that.

Fine tuning your strategy

Once you start sharing your content via your blog, social media accounts, and other avenues, figure out what works. Set a period of time, say 3 months, and review how close to or how far you’ve surpassed the goals you initially set. Look at what content was shared the most, and refine your content marketing strategy to focus more in those areas. Research the demographics of the new customers you’ve drawn in as well as the people who’ve shared your posts to update customer profiles or scrap some altogether.

As you set your initial strategy and tweak it along the way, always remember the difference between traditional marketing and content marketing: the former intends to interrupt and persuade, while the latter intends to provide value and build trust.






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