Content Marketing is one of my favourite strategies to talk about and the foundation of our work at IMPACT. It can also be referred to as Inbound Marketing.
You may have heard the phrase "content is king". According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to reach customers.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
At IMPACT, we like to use the terms BEAUTIFUL, USEFUL, GENEROUS when it comes to our content marketing. Content allows you to connect with your audience in an authentic and personal way, it provides extra value, it builds relationships, and it demonstrates expertise and establishes you as an authority in your industry.
Why is content marketing important?
The importance of content marketing cannot be emphasized enough. It can help your business or school:
- Answer problems or questions your ideal families or customers have, and ultimately, educate them about your school or services
- Increase conversions
- Build trust and relationships with your current and prospective families or customers
- Create a community of support and information
Search engines comb the internet for keywords to determine search relevance (which means they’re looking at your website for content). But search engine algorithms will change, as they always do.
With the enormous amount of information added to the internet every second, search engine giants will continue updating their algorithm to decide which content should get priority and rank higher in search engine result pages. The only strategy should be to remain original, informative, and helpful to your audience by creating great content.
Content marketing is all about building trust with your customers. Trust and authenticity are two things that people are always looking for when choosing who to believe and follow. While this is often difficult to achieve without face-to-face communication, intimate social media platforms such as Facebook Live and Instagram Stories give content marketers the ability to humanize their brand and get closer to their audience.
Where should you publish your content?
Traditional content is published on a blog, which absolutely has its place in content marketing. But the new trend in content publishing include social media with a particular focus on influencer marketing.
According to Nielson, 92% of buyers trust an individual recommendation over the brand, and that is exactly what you have on social media.
What's important to note when it comes to using social platforms in your marketing strategy is which ages are where. Take note of who you're trying to target and decipher where these people are spending their time.
Once you discover where your ideal customers are, then you can leverage the intimate nature of these platforms to offer them the content they're looking for.
Here are some ways you can create content that will engage your audience:
- Use live video or streams to connect with your audience
- Offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into day in the life of your organization
- Do staff introductions
- Offer quick tips, how-to's, or did-you-know information
These are the questions you should answer before trying to publish every kind of content on every kind of platform. This is a game of working smarter, not harder. Ask yourself and your team:
- Who is our target audience?
- What do they care about?
- What media platform(s) are they using?
Know your audience.
Before we recommend a content strategy to clients, we work with them to build PERSONAS of their ideal customer.
If you’re going to create content that resonates, you need a clear picture of who you’re trying to reach. Any decisions you make for your strategy stem from having a deep understanding of this audience.
The bottom line is this: If you don’t know who you’re trying to communicate with, it’s impossible to know what kind of content they want. This really is step one. Everything builds from who it is you’re trying to reach.
Use tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and even surveys to begin understanding your audience. Pool these resources to start considering what platforms will be most effective depending on who your target audience is and where they spend their time.
What do they care about?
Once you know who it is you’re trying to reach, the next step is to uncover the pain points for this audience.
A key thing to keep in mind is that most people are unclear as to what the solutions to their problems are, but they are very aware of the problems themselves. Let’s say, for example, you offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services. It’s probable that a potential customer may not even know that they need SEO services. They’re not focused on the solution. But they are well aware of the problems they’re having. What they do know is that when they Google the things their customers may be looking for, their business is not on the first page and no one is finding their website.
When creating a persona, you need to uncover what they want to know, what they need to know, their likes and dislikes, and their wants and desires and offer them content that solves their problems.
You must know what your audience cares about most. This way you can understand how to best gain their attention and help them. In doing so, you become a trusted resource and when they’re ready to buy, you’ll be the person they choose.
Where can we, as an organization, excel?
One of the more important pieces of your content strategy is understanding your opportunities and your limitations.
Knowing where your audience plays online and understanding what content they are hungry for will help you determine where to focus your efforts to promote your content.
Think about doing a little research on your competitors to see where they are most active. But before you jump into a new platform (or multiple) based on that information alone, consider your organization’s ability to excel in each environment.
Think about things like:
- Your experience and knowledge with the tool. If you’ve never logged into Snapchat, you probably don’t want to build an entire content strategy around that platform.
- The amount of people it will take to keep the platform up and running. Part of your content marketing strategy will be discovering the length of your posts and what message they are sending out. For example, an eBook on LinkedIn would require more forethought than a 3-minute live stream from a networking event.
- The amount of time you'll have to dedicate to it. Some platforms are more fast-paced than others and require frequent posts, so this is something to consider when thinking about where to post your content and how to build your content marketing strategy.
What types of content should you use?
The graphic above illustrates the best performing content for building awareness, securing leads, nurturing leads, and converting leads.
Although blog posts are still very highly esteemed in the online community, there are plenty of other formats to consider:
- How-to videos
- White papers or e-books
Consider the different formats and decide what you have the bandwidth to produce.
Jump on the trend.
Now that you've learned what content marketing, how to create it and where to publish it, there are a few things you can do to get started today:
1. Figure out where your customers, members or audience is today – what social media channels do they use most often? Do they prefer to communicate via email or get their information in some other way? When are they open to receiving marketing messages?
2. Now look at where you are today and ask yourself:
- Are you where your audience is?
- Are you trying to do too much?
- Do you need to do more?
3. Finally, choose one of the channels you’re not using that your audience is, and start working to make that part of your marketing mix. Start small, let your audience know that you’re going to be dipping your toe into that water, and build from there.
There's no getting around the fact that content is the key to an effective marketing and SEO strategy. With the tools we've given you in this blog post, you'll be able to create content that attracts new prospects by answering their pain points and solving their problems.
Are you ready to kickstart your school's content marketing efforts?
Produced with Constant Contact