2014 is rapidly approaching, and it's time to get serious about your clients' content marketing campaigns. Going well beyond simple inbound marketing does more than just get customers to find them through a form of planned serendipity. Real content marketing is about creating useful information that gets customers to want to spend time with your client's brand and to value it, so that the relationship can turn into tangible sales.
Getting a campaign rolling requires three distinct steps: understanding your audience, creating content, and mobilizing it.
Understanding Your Audience
One of the most powerful tools that has come out of modern marketing is the buyer persona. Buyer personas take demographics, market surveys and studies to the next level. Instead of writing to a set of attributes, with a persona you get to write to a person. This helps your content creation team visualize its audience and can also help you to find subjects for testing content.
A persona is a detailed description of your intended target. For instance, instead of talking about an 18 to 21 year old college student at a Midwestern school, your persona could describe Cory, a sophomore at Grinnell College. Cory lives with two roommates, prefers to wear Tom's shoes, and listens to Eminem. He has an iPhone, but also carries a Galaxy Tab, and never buys bottled water. Next year, he's spending a year abroad in Botswana. This level of understanding of your targets is the first step in a successful content marketing campaign.
Creating Real Content
A successful content marketing campaign does more than just attract search engine hits. SEO and good keyword choice are still important parts of inbound marketing, since they get your content seen, but that's really all that they do. Great content marketing is the difference between getting hits and getting traction, since it's what convinces customers to stay with your business to consume its content and, through the content, its branding messages.
For many organizations, real content is expert-level tips, tricks, reviews and background articles. Knowing your personas helps you create content that touches on your brand while also going far enough afield to keep viewers interested. If your company specializes in wine, for instance, you don't have to focus just on discussing wine varieties and vintages. You can also touch on:
- Cellar designs
- Newly available cheeses
- Different shapes of glasses
- New wine destinations
- Finding good values at restaurants
As long as the content is something that is of interest to your persona, it's probably good content.
Mobilizing Your Content
During the first part of 2013, web visits from mobile devices grew at 10 times the pace of visits from desktop computers. Any content marketing campaign for 2014 that doesn't take mobile into account is going to miss out on marketing's hot growth opportunity. While mobile screens are growing larger, thanks to the growing popularity of tablets and of large phablet devices, they still aren't excellent devices for reading long documents. This means that the best mobile content is going to be short and scannable documents -- like blog posts with bullet points and headings -- and video.
Companies that want to maximize their success in content marketing will reap benefits from creating both types of content. They speak to different users and can be enjoyed at different times and in different ways. While some pundits have a greater focus on video, text-based content has real value in the age of mobile. It's easy to interact with, and it scales well to be fully viewable on both very small smartphone screens and on large tablets. The details in high definition video, on the other hand, can get lost.
The Ultimate Content Marketing Campaign Rule for 2014
More than anything, though, the key principle to content marketing in 2014 and beyond is simply to do it. Since the earliest discussions of permission, outbound and content marketing techniques, some aspects of the marketing world have focused on more traditional methods. Time has shown the effectiveness, value and ROI of content marketing once and for all. Whether your clients blog, make e-books, podcast, videolog, or do a combination of all of them, 2014 is their year to get their content marketing campaigns up and running.