You've been there. You've started a blog, wrote extensively about your business and what drives you as an entrepreneur. For some reason, no one seems to be reading.
Don't worry -- it's not you. It's not your story. It's not necessarily your content. The process of getting your customers to find your website is not just a matter of registering a domain. If it was, there would be many more internet millionaires.
Content creation is essential for you to market your business, but there are a few nuts and bolts that determine whether your blogs, videos and infographics get traction.
Hint: there's a way to do it, and you don't have to take a marketing class to learn how.
It's doable. All it takes is a bit of strategic content creation and, if you're so inclined, the assistance of a professional content creator. Let us take you through the content creation process that will drive targeted traffic to your site.
A Word About SEO
You've probably heard about search engine optimization (SEO). Unless you're heavily involved in digital marketing, however, you might not know how SEO has changed significantly over the past several years. The internet is long past the days of keyword-stuffing blog posts or link schemes.
The search engines figured out what marketers were doing, and put a stop to it, by changing their algorithms. What eventually came in its place was the rise of content that served the reader and showed real authority on a subject.
Why content? Search engines want to give users the most relevant page for their search query. Content is the key to relevancy, and the better quality content, the better your SEO.
Content, visual and text-based, is the most important indicator of what your site is about. But it doesn't end there. Once you create great content for your site, you have to help people find it. But before we get to the sharing aspect of content creation, we start with an idea.
Start With an Idea (or Two)
All content starts with an idea. Before you go rushing to Google Trends to find the best trending keywords and develop a blog post -- we'll get to that in a minute -- have a quick brainstorm session with your team. Talk about what you want your content to say.
Think about what you love about your business. Run a plumbing repair shop? Recall all those times you helped a customer learn a bit about how to keep their pipes running smoothly. Have an online jewelry store? Remember that great customer feedback you got from a woman delighted with her new earrings.
From those moments, you can develop topics relevant to your blog and social media posts. Plumbing repair tips, faucet types, warning signs of clogged pipes are all things people want to know. The right jewelry for the right outfit, metal versus plastic as jewelry materials, and the history of the hoop earring, are all potentially relevant to your target customer.
Why not just write about what excites you? Because you don't want to stop with excitement. You also want to think about what's interesting to those who read your pages.
Peek at the Competitors (and Google)
But let's be honest -- sometimes it's not easy to tell what's on the minds of customers. Sometimes they are more interested in fashion, other times functionality. Sometimes both.
Your great ideas may also be the same ideas put out by the other guy with the plumbing shop in your neighborhood, so why should Google rank your content higher than his?
Your content must be superior in both its ability to answer questions the reader has and its overall readability.
So the next step is to refine your ideas. You know basically what you want to talk about, but research will help you tweak your ideas toward what people are already reading. There are a few things to look at:
- Google trends: What you call pop, someone else calls soda. While Google is now smart enough to distinguish between common word variations, the search engine's Google Trends tool is an essential way to discover what should be the focus of your content. If you can write about hoop earrings or stud earrings, compare these two terms to see which gets more search volume.
- Major industry sites: What's new and trending, whether you're a HVAC technician or a designer, is always linked to what people are thinking about. To get insight into current customer interest, follow major media in your industry.
- Competitor content: You want to set yourself apart from your competitor. To do that, it's important to know what's already working for that company. Peek at their website and social media posts. While you can get some indication of popularity of content through the numbers of shares, likes and comments, these are typically inaccurate measures. (BuzzFeed did an extensive analysis of its own content distribution and discovered lots of "likes" only tell part of the story.) Instead, analyze what pages are getting traffic on your competitor's website. Didn't know you could do that? With tools like Moz's Link Explorer, you can see where they are finding success.
Now you know the areas you want to focus on, down to the niche topic of your blog post. That's the first step -- but how are you going to flesh out the rest of your blog?
Develop an Outline
Even professional writers can find it challenging to develop a solid blog post. It all starts with direction: what do you want readers to know once they've reached the end of the page? Start off your outline with a few takeaways that are the focal point of the piece.
Then, sketch out the overall flow of the piece. Think through how the ideas are linked. Especially when you are excited about your topic, it can be easy to get off track and think every detail is essential to the reader. Often, it's not. Remember a blog post is a like hook to get people interested in your company. When your reader becomes your customer you can always fill them in later on those little details you find so fascinating.
Determine the approximate length of the piece and decide how many points could reasonably be covered in that number of words. The current conventional wisdom is that longer content is better for SEO, but only if the information contained within that content is solid. If you're not adding any additional value to the reader and essentially filling up space, best aim for a shorter piece.
If you're still stuck at this stage, review some professional blog post templates for inspiration.
Blog, Infographic or Video?
If you find you're struggling to create an outline for your topic, consider if a different content format might be best for your messaging. While text is an essential part of your content marketing, it's not the only option. Indeed, some of the most successful marketing strategies combine infographics, videos, and images.
Infographics are just that: graphics that convey specific information. If you think your point could be made in a flow chart, pie chart or statistical analysis, maybe a colorful infographic works better. Same with video: if you're trying to promote the culture and personality of your business, the human touch of a short clip may reach your target more effectively.
Remember, one important aspect of marketing is that your content is something people want to share: often, non-text based content meets this objective.
Partner With a Writer (or Get Creative Yourself)
But let's say you're currently focused on your text-based content. You have your ideas, outlines and a clear vision of what you want to say. The next step is to, well, say it. Perhaps you already work in a creative field or you already enjoy putting words to paper (or screen, as the case may be). Draft your text in accordance with your outline.
Even if you are a talented writer, you may not have the time to compose your own content. This is one reason why hiring a freelance writer might be a wise choice for your content strategy. If you think that most freelance writers focus on creative topics or journalism, you might be surprised to learn that a large, and even growing, segment of the professional writing market is focused on content creation.
That's right, there are people, called content writers, who are essentially dedicated to doing exactly what you need to get done to promote your business.
Review, Refine, Revise
At this point, you are going to develop your content according to your objectives. Return to your key takeaways frequently in order to determine that you're getting your main point across. Reflect upon the flow of the text to make sure it is logical, consistent and gives a positive impression of your brand.
In essence, you don't want your content to be boring, but you also want your style and tone to be an accurate reflection of who you are. A plumber can make silly jokes about stereotypes about the profession, but that may turn off many customers. A designer can appeal to a high-scale clientele, but in the process of seeming too "upscale," alienate many potential buyers who might love her jewelry.
Ask yourself: am I sending the right message, and am I doing so in the right way?
Share Far and Wide
You've written great content. How do you make sure it reaches your audience? In many ways this is the most important part of content marketing: promotion. At the same time, it's where even seasoned businesses often fail.
Coming up short is not surprising when you consider the internet is glutted with content, and the medium is always changing. But there are ways you can make sure your target market sees what you have to offer.
Think about how you choose what movie to watch or book to read. Often, you get the recommendation from someone whose opinion you trust. Influencer marketing works in a similar way. While your audience may not know an influencer personally, they may follow them online and take their advice to heart.
Imagine an influencer is like a five-star Google review, but many times more valuable.
Don't worry -- no one is recommending you contact a big name celebrity and pay them huge dollars for an Instagram post. As we discuss in our detailed post on influencer marketing, the right influencer is not necessarily the one with the most followers. Rather, it's about the extent to which they reach the niche market you want to target with your content.
Use tools like Followerwonk or Buzzsumo to find social media accounts that post on topics relevant to your business. If they have a high social authority -- indicating engagement on top of sheer number of followers -- consider reaching out and asking them to share your content. If they run a website, ask if they will share your content as a guest post that lives on their blog. It's another way to give your content traction.
Never stop reaching out to influencers with your content. You will get a lot of rejection or you will be just plain ignored, but don't give up. That one "yes" can make a huge difference.
It may seem sufficient to post your content across your channels and leave it at that. But there are little tricks to make this work as well. Choose the right site for the type of content. LinkedIn can be ideal for thought leadership posts or business-focused infographics. Instagram works for "culture" and image-based posts. Twitter may be best for breaking news about the business. Facebook can do all of this, but also allows you to promote business events and share invitations.
To maximize effect, use the social media sites' embedded analytics to determine when your target audience is online and using the channel. Then, post at that time. You probably know from your own personal social media feeds that it often feels like you just happened to land upon a post at the right time. Your posts should also feel "lucky" this way, even though you planned them strategically.
You can also take other steps to boost your content readership. Paid display ads and sponsored content are other options. But often, you can make great strides through these organic (and free) techniques. So see if they work for you -- you might be surprised at the increase in engagement you'll receive.
Read Also: When Is Paid Promotion Right For Content?
Rinse and Repeat
The toughest part of content marketing is consistency. Too many people give up after not "going viral" with their first couple posts. Content marketing is a grind and a long-term investment, you don't get the instant gratification of paid advertising. But, with paid advertising, once you turn off the money, you turn off the traffic. Earned traffic through content pays for years after the work is done.
Keep researching. Keep ideating. Keep writing. Keep promoting.
Get Started With the Experts
All in all, promoting your business through content can seem like a big job. It is, but it's also worth it! The good news is you don't have to do it all yourself. Services like Scripted exist solely to provide businesses with great content. Start with an idea, or ask a writer to pitch you one. Whatever you choose, you can get professionally produced blogs and articles that you'll be proud to put your name on. Want to learn more? Get in touch with Scripted today!