How to start using content marketing in 6 easy steps
There can be no doubt that the search engine has become the most important way of constantly directing new visitors to a website. As a result, today’s companies, publishers and private individuals are all producing a flood of content, which is listed more or less prominently in search engines, depending on the specific search terms. Accordingly, a lot of thought should always go into precisely what sort content to produce, so that potential customers can find exactly your needle in the haystack of content. To avoid wasting time and limited resources, a strong content management strategy is required.
For many companies, the obvious solution to their content emergency seems to be “the blogging employee”. This approach evokes a wide range of possibilities, but strategy doesn’t seem to be among them. By following the six steps below, marketing managers can establish a content marketing culture within their organisations, while simultaneously relieving the pressure on other departments.
1. What is content marketing?
B2B or B2C customers are all looking for answers to their questions, no matter whether they are at home or in the office, or whether they are using a mobile device or the PC at their desk. Their expectations are clear: they are looking for someone to answer their questions, to solve their problems, to fulfil their needs.
The internet has brought such a fundamental change to the way that products or solutions are found that ever less confidence is placed in traditional types of advertising, which always only had answers to questions which had never been asked. Today, companies achieve confidence by showing that they can deliver what they promise, and that they know and understand the needs of their customers.
A good content marketing strategy never grows tired of asking what exactly the customers are looking for.
2. Establishing content culture
Any new strategy has to begin with a sales pitch, if it needs to win over senior management. Your boss will not approve your plans just because everyone is talking about content marketing at the moment. Arrange a meeting with senior staff from the most important departments of your company, so you can point out all the benefits that content strategy offers the company. For example, that the customer service department will be under less pressure when many important questions from your customers are already answered on the website. At the same time, sales or product managers can assist you in deciding which topics are covered, which will make things easier for you.
There are already a great number of success stories that you can cite, also in the B2B sector. Here are three recent examples:
On the subject of “Introduction to cloud computing technology” alone, Cisco offers a collection of videos (over 85,000 YouTube subscribers) and countless infographics and studies which can be downloaded free of charge.
Indium is a manufacturer and developer of materials for the electronics assembly industry. Their in-house blogs feature the combined expertise of their staff in articles and white papers.
Aerohive is an IT service provider. Customer loyalty is achieved by blog posts, white papers, webinars, newsletters etc.
3. Start with the company website
Your content strategy doesn’t begin by setting up a Facebook page. Social media channels are indeed essential when it comes to the distribution of content, but socialising only works if you have something to say – and the company’s website is the best place to start. Before you consider press releases, technical articles, e-books, podcasts or blog posts, take a look at the content that is already on your site. How efficiently are visitors directed to the sections that are the most useful to them? What kind of user experience awaits them? It’s not so important how great the site looks and which colours are used in your corporate design – how quickly and simply can visitors find what they are looking for? A company website should be designed on the principle of “content first”. The information which your customers are looking for should be prominently placed and easily accessible.
4. Who are your content creators?
As mentioned above, content marketing doesn’t pose the question “Which of us should be blogging?” It is less important to find talented writers in the company than to find the people who best understand the brand and know the company well. These may also be business partners or participants at a conference, whose talks you have filmed to show on the company website. It is important never to lose sight of how you can help your customers, and to find the people who can do that best in (or outside) your company. The customer service department is one place to look, another possibility might be the CEO or the company founder – but don’t let them write a blog if they are much better at speaking or putting together informative presentations. There are many different formats for content, and each format needs the right tool to present it on a website. If necessary, get help from writers or designers, so that the quality of your content will be suitably high.
5. Create a topic plan – and stick to it
Plan the topics for new website content well in advance. This will allow you to remind contributors early enough if you haven’t yet received their content. Establish how often and how much you want to publish and stay true to the plan whenever possible.
6. Distribute your content!
However attractive and helpful the new content is, you shouldn’t just rely on search engines. Advertise it yourself – after all, it has cost you a lot of time and effort. Good content is not just a flash in the pan. It is important that you keep pushing it. If you have also been able to convince the company management of the effectiveness of your content strategy (as described at the beginning), then they will be happy for the content to be shared through networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, or perhaps only via e-mail. Immediately offer visitors to the company website the possibility of registering for a newsletter, or of following your business on Facebook or Twitter – like this, the size of your audience will increase with every new piece of content.
Following these six steps will let you get a lot moving in your company. As a marketing expert, you will often have been in a situation where you were pushing for new ideas within the company. Don’t be disheartened if not everyone is so enthusiastic. The successes will prove you right, and slowly open new in-house resources to you. Start with a pilot project!
Think it can’t be so easy to implement content marketing? What are your reservations? Are there any doubts in your company which I can help to eliminate? I look forward to hearing from you.
About the author:
Bernhard Lermann has been an online journalist since 1998. For several years, he led the editorial team at gq-magazin.de for Condé Nast Digital, and also developed corporate publishing titles for brands such as Volvo and Samsung. At Lermann PR, he advises clients from the fields of semiconductors, architecture, construction, SME and IT, and on matters relating to digital communication and content marketing.