How To Get Started With Content Marketing: An OverviewTuesday, January 21, 2014
Content marketing can seem overwhelming. Yes, it’s a lot of work to write all of those blog posts and articles and ebooks. Yes, it requires constant upkeep in order to be effective. And yes, without a solid strategy—a reason for doing it—it’s pretty much pointless.
But the payoff is too great to allow yourself to give in to intimidation.
To make your transition into Content Marketing smoother and less stressful, I’ve put together an overview of the process for getting started. This is by no means a complete guide to launching your program—it’s more of an outline of the steps you'll take, with definitions and links to articles included. My hope is that, by seeing the full layout of the process, you’ll realize that launching a content marketing program is a totally achievable goal.
9 Steps To Getting Started With Content Marketing
1) Gain C-level buy-in.
You now know that Content Marketing is worth investing in, but you still might have to convince your boss. Joe Pulizzi (author of Epic Content Marketing) offers two strategies for making your case: The Pilot and Fear.
First, Pulizzi suggests pitching a “pilot” program—a short-term content marketing initiative (must last at least six months) that will provide just enough feedback to allow the decision-makers to see if they want to continue funding the program. It’s the same process television executives use to decide whether or not to continue filming a new show after its pilot episode.
If The Pilot doesn’t work, try Fear. Compile research on your competitors’ content marketing initiatives to show how they are overshadowing your organization.
It also helps to show some overall data on the effectiveness of content marketing.
2) Don’t try too much too soon.
You don’t have to transform overnight into a content generating powerhouse that publishes a new blog post every day and writes an ebook a week. Start small—lean and mean.
The best starting point is a weekly blog. That’s just one post every seven days, just 500 words a week. Totally manageable. It’s better to do one thing right than to do many things wrong.
The ebooks, whitepapers, slideshares and webinars can come later, when you’ve built up your momentum and gotten the hang of things.
3) Put someone in charge.
Content marketing is a team effort, but your organization needs one person to head the program. Whether you hire someone new or give this responsibility to your existing marketing director, this person will take the lead on developing your content marketing strategy, ensuring proper integration with the rest of your marketing initiatives, and making sure the content is developed on schedule. In small organizations, this person might also write the content.
4) Designate a writer.
The person who actually creates your content needs to be someone with professional writing skills. This might be someone within your organization already, but you might have to hire someone. Many experts recommend hiring a journalist.
For more tips, check out this great article on how to hire effective writers and editors.
5) Develop a strategy.
Defining a content marketing strategy is extremely important. A strategy keeps you focused on the end goal, and provides guidelines on what you should be writing about and who you are trying to attract/nurture/convert.
To develop your strategy, you’ll need to define the following:
- Organizational Goal: What do you hope to accomplish through content marketing? (Example: Bring in more qualified leads.)
- Audience Personas: Who is your target audience, where are they in the engagement cycle, and what information are they seeking? (More on developing audience personas next week!)
- Engagement Cycle: This has to do with figuring out the process through which people come to your website, engage with you, and eventually become a member or donor. Once you’ve figured out that process, you can map out content for pushing people through this process. (More on this in an upcoming post!)
- Content Niche: Joe Pulizzi challenges you to answer this question: “On what topic can you be the leading informational expert in the world?” Figure out how to fill a content hole. Here on the Accrisoft blog, our content niche is internet marketing and web design for nonprofits.
6) Choose topics.
Once you’ve developed a strategy, discovered your target audience’s interests and defined your content niche, you can begin to come up with specific topics for your content.
First, think about searcher intent (what your target audience is actually looking for when they search these topics—often an answer to a question). Next, do some keyword research to figure out how people are phrasing their searches when they Google these topics.
Align your topics with your targeted long tail keyword phrases and target audience search intent—not only will this help with your SEO, but it will also ensure that your content is something that will be useful and engaging to your target audience.
Topics on the Accrisoft blog have included nonprofit web design, social media for nonprofits, and, currently, content marketing for nonprofits!
7) Build an editorial calendar.
In order to pump out content on a regular basis, you’re going to have to think like a publisher and plan ahead. The best way to do this is with an editorial calendar.
Create an editorial calendar to map out specific content to be published (such as blog posts), the dates each will be published, and who is in charge of writing the content. You can take it a step further and plan out how you will promote your content through other channels, like social media and email marketing.
We use an editorial calendar to plan and write this blog—click here to download our template. You’ll find instructions included on how to use it.
8) Create content.
Only after you’ve put in the time to develop a strategy and a plan should you begin to create content. In future posts, I’ll go much more in depth on tips for creating content, but here are a few guidelines that will help you be successful:
- Focus on entertaining and educating, rather than selling. Your content must first engage people, earn their trust, and build relationships. The time for selling will come later.
- Determine the hot topics among your target audience, and create content around those.
- Perform a content audit. Look at all of the content you’ve produced in the past—including blog posts, news articles, videos, brochures, and other sales materials—and determine if any of it can be repurposed as educational or entertaining content marketing material.
- Every time you create a piece of content, think about how you can repurpose that information into other content mediums—blog posts can be expanded and turned into an ebook, an ebook can become a slideshow for a webinar, and so on.
- Extract content from other staff and employees of your organization. They don’t have to be strong writers—you can interview them on their individual areas of expertise, and then turn the information into a blog post.
- Stick to a regular schedule. Posting content frequently is important for getting Google’s attention; posting on schedule, when you say you will, is important for preserving the trust of your readers.
9) Amplify your content.
Creating great content isn’t the end of the game. Don’t just sit around waiting for people to search your keywords and find their way to your website—especially not when there are ways to speed up the process!
Post your content to your social media accounts—especially Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. If you have strong visual content, Pinterest can also be effective.
Social media allows you to extend the reach of your content. It also has a big effect on your SEO—as your content gets shared across social media, more inbound links are created and more people are clicking through to your content. Google will recognize the popularity of your content and begin ranking it higher in search results.
Email marketing is another great tactic for amplifying your content. Every time you publish a new piece of content, you should send a link via email to a subscriber list consisting of people who will find the content of value.
Check out 5 Ways To Get People To Read Your Content to learn more.
I hope this overview has helped you feel more confident about launching your own content marketing program. As I said before, this is not a complete guide to the process—it’s just an outline with a few helpful tips. But over the next few weeks, I’ll be diving deeper into the specifics. So by the end of the content marketing series, you’ll have a complete guide to content marketing!
Up Next: Developing Personas
Come back next week for a very important post on defining your target personas.
Image source: Blogging On The Brightside