Everyone is talking about how content is king and how one needs to produce a lot of it to succeed online. But not many businesses actually see real results from their content efforts.
The majority of online businesses invest in content marketing simply because their competitors do so or because they have been told they need to. Content marketing often lacks a plan, or any type of a strategy behind it.
If you are one of those business owners who cannot tell whether their content marketing efforts are justified in any way or whether the content they publish makes any impact, here are 5 tips to finally see your content working.
1. Optimize for leads.
Blogs and articles may not sell that way. But direct sales are not a good way to measure content success anyway. Content builds trust and loyalty. Content is right on top of your conversion channel drawing people in. So build some secondary calls-to-actions, beyond your regular "buy now" button. Turn lurkers into repeat visitors and ultimately buying by converting visitors into subscribers.
Did you know that email is still the most effective form of marketing there is? Not just for big companies, but for small businesses as well. You get direct access to the email inbox that many people check every since day.
You can write once a week and end up with massive results. Plus an email subscriber is a regular audience member. Not just a one time visitor. Buzzfeed is one of the most popular websites ever created. Their emails have a high open rate, and in 2013 it raised their traffic by 700%!
Really start pushing that email newsletter box. Put in calls to action, give some kind of incentive, if possible. Exclusive content is a great way to do it. Make an ebook, offer it for free if they sign up for the newsletter. Or if you happen to sell a product of some kind, give a discount code or an email address. Here are a few ways to optimize for leads and start building up that list.
2. Optimize for search engines
While there are other sources of traffic and it's never a good idea to depend on one of them, search engine traffic remains the major point of success for most businesses marketing online.
Google traffic is highly-targeted and hence converts very well. Moreover, once it starts coming, it will go on for a while (unless you get heavily outranked by a competitor or hit a filter).
That being said, one of the must-take steps here is to have your content diagnosed and optimized by a reputable search engine marketing company. A good search diagnostics includes indepth keyword research (which will also give you more content ideas), optimization recommendations, usability fixes and more.
Small businesses that cannot afford an ongoing search engine optimization report, can use tools like BlueJay offering a on-demand pay-as-you go report which looks good. Another option is to handle the search engine optimization campaign in-house.
3. Target social media shares.
Social media is another solid source of free traffic business can tap into, provided they understand how do it right. Creating sharable content is a tricky thing and can require a lot of effort. BuzzSumo is a good social media analytics solution allowing you to monitor what goes hot in your industry.
If you want something that shares well every time, you should focus on two specific mediums. The first is the big one, and that is infographics. Of all forms of visual media, these seem to do the best across all basic social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Not surprising when you consider that they are optimized to the method where we learn the best. It uses text and visuals to present information in an educational way, one that sticks.
The second is any kind of graphic quote. For some reason, these little visuals are very popular with influencers in particular. They get shared all the time, the more famous the quote the better. I saw an influencer in the fitness niche get thousands of shares on an inspirational graphic that probably took them all of five seconds to make using a generator: TrySpruce is the fastest ways to create visual quotes.
Using platforms that bring your content in front of active social media influencers is an effective way to get it shared. Viral Content Buzz is a free tool that does just that. Also, this guide gives a pretty comprehensive overview of various ways to get your content shared.
4. Connect with a cause
When Boxed Water wanted to increase awareness of their non-profit mission The Retree Project, they reached out to several influencers for assistance. Instagram users Jaime King, Megan DeAngelis and Aidan Alexandr got on board, and helped spread the word.
In a month they saw a jump from next to no awareness to more than 2500 images circulating the social network with their campaigns hashtag. It also established a connection with these three influencers, and potentially connected them with others.
This success story is a great reminder about how a cause can bring you and influencers together. Consider contacting them about a campaign related to a cause, especially one they have shown some interest in. Or introduce them to an issue they may have never known.
There are companies that specialize in connecting a business to a cause for mutual benefits including charity, PR, awareness and more.
Related: Marketing With a Mission
5. Don't ignore the trend: videos!
Online videos and video streaming cannot be ignored these days. You see videos everywhere and the trend shows no signs of fading out.
Video hosting sites are probably the most fascinating of all social networks these days. They are more than just a platforms, they are a community that is expanded across one end to the other. Unlike something like Facebook, which creates its own insular circles, site like YouTube gives you a platform which you can use to speak to the whole world without limiting yourself to a circle of people that chose to listen to you.
When someone begins making popular videos on one of those sites, it is common to connect with other influential video makers in the same genre. If you can wriggle into a niche yourself, you have plenty of opportunities to connect with other successful content creators already there.
VidRocket is one option here giving you an easy way to connect to Youtube influencers. There are certainly more platforms like that but this will give you an idea where to start.
Content marketing strategy is tough: It involves a lot of experimenting and creativity. But don't let that stop you: Once you find a tactic that is really working, it will be a rewarding experience bringing you new marketing possibilities you would have never thought of otherwise.