The essence of content is value. It’s about giving your audience what they want, not telling them what you want. There’s a place for that – your website, your brochures, your sell sheets. But content marketing is a space reserved for engaging narrative that informs or entertains your audience.
- Content is an introduction to your brand. It can turn readers into buyers by forming favorable opinions of or creating trust in your brand when it engages your audience.
- Content builds authority. It can give your brand a voice in your industry. Some of the easiest content to create is taking a problem or trend and offering your commentary on the topic.
- Content helps with SEO. Strategic use of keywords can help make your content more effective when it comes to showing up in search results.
- Content generates leads. This is especially true when you offer your content in exchange for an email or simply ensure your pages have an option to join a mailing list that you can feed future content to.
The written word – blogs, articles, white papers and case studies, for example – is the easiest way to get started in content marketing. It’s a great gateway to all the other visual forms of content that are out there.
Your content development needs to start with competitive analysis. This is simply taking inventory of what the competition is writing about and how they are presenting the information.
There are a number of ways to go about uncovering this content, including good, old-fashioned Google and software like SEM Rush or Ghostery. The best way, though, is to spend some time on the competitions’ websites to see what they are producing.
Keyword and Topic Research
Keywords and user intent help shape our content. Content needs help being discovered and you need a strategic approach to get some traction. In other words, you can’t just post and pray it will actually engage.
Like competitive analysis, you can use software to see what the competition is ranking for. Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends can also help point you in the right direction and spark some ideas.
Once you’ve established what the competition is writing about and what information is in-demand among users, you can start building your headline. But, don’t just string a bunch of keywords together. Content is all about engagement, so make things interesting.
Remember creating content that’s not out there is the ultimate goal. As content creators, we’re always looking to fill the gaps.
First, look inside your own organization. Who are your experts? Internal experts may not be writers, but there are ways to extract the information you need – sometimes with a simple interview or list of bullet points.
You might also turn to an industry pro outside your walls. A neutral expert – perhaps someone from a trade organization or an author on the subject – can help you build effective content with broader appeal that avoids self-promotional optics.
Sometimes your client can be a source. Tap into their expertise whenever possible as it’s not only good for your content, but client relations as well.
This quick guide represents a few ideas to get a content marketing initiative started from scratch. It’s important to remember, above all, that the goal give your audience what they want. Competitive analysis, keywords, focus and sources can get you most of the way there, but ultimately it’s the creativity that will get your content noticed.
About The Author
A journalist by trade, Shane tells stories that connect brands with target audiences and inspire them to act. He’s a writer, not a copy machine, and that approach brings exceptional content to every print or digital piece he pens.
Shane taps into his past as a reporter and editor to develop clear messages that resonate in every medium, be it blog or brochure, sponsored content or script.
Daily newspapers developed a habit for idea generation, attention to detail and knack for question-asking. His background as a magazine and Web editor keeps client communications grammatically sound and effective.
Shane’s word-based deliverables range from long-form features to concise digital copy to persuasive prose. He’s been on both sides of the PR pitch and puts some muscle behind ABC’s media relations.