Content marketing is fairly simple to understand, but doing it well isn’t necessarily easy. You can learn to create consistent, valuable content that engages audiences and inspires them to share. A big part of coming up with great content centers on understanding just what you need to say, and how you need to say it. Effective inbound marketing can be summed up in one basic formula: great content = more engagements = more leads = more sales. Keep that equation in mind as you follow this primer for content marketing made simple.
The 5-Step Guide
1. Know Your Audience
If you want to achieve greatness with your content marketing, you must consistently engage your audience. The only way to do that is by knowing what audience you want to reach and who it is that makes up that audience. One of the best ways to do that is to develop a sense of empathy for the people you’re targeting. When you truly appreciate the problems or needs they have, and appreciate what solutions they want, your content can speak to them on an emotional level. So, put yourself in your reader’s shoes, understand what keeps her or him up at night, and then write a compelling story that helps alleviate any pain, suffering or frustration they are feeling.
2. Map Out a Journey
User journeys or buyer journeys – call them what you’d like, but decide how you’ll be sharing and linking your content. Websites are the hubs that all links lead to, but how do you keep people clicking forward? You provide a platform that helps them respond to your CTA. Some examples of data that can help you understand your audience’s way of thinking include:
- Surveys that focus on user perception and satisfaction
- Analysis of customer inquiries
- Keywords and SEO rankings
- Third-party research about demographics and trends, from resources such as Forrester and the Content Marketing Institute.
3. Target Your Message
The holy grail of content marketing, targeted content must be personalized and speak to your potential buyer by addressing a specific need at a precise point in his or her journey. In other words, write content that shows you have a deep understanding of who your audience is and where they are on their path to purchase. Keep your messages concise and relevant.
4. Make an Impact
You can’t win at content marketing without great design. Design is merely the visual style for your words, which must look great and stand out. Display it in a way that your audience simply can’t ignore, and present it in such a way that they are motivated to share with others. Good design speaks volumes about your professionalism, quality, and market leadership, and signals that your content is of value.
5. Inspire to Action
Getting your audience to take action is what great content is all about. Deceptively simple, creative calls-to-action help your audience do what you want them to and improve your conversion rates – a real win-win result. The tricky part is figuring out what types of CTAs your audience hasn’t already seen a million times. Don’t approach CTAs as afterthoughts. Make sure they’re well-defined before you begin writing and let them guide the content you create. While your content is written to show your audience why your solution is what they need, placing well-designed CTAs throughout that content helps them easily take the next step.
What words you use and how you choose to say them must be meaningful to the audience you hope to attract. Your content must solve real problems and satisfy real needs. Why does it matter how you say something? Because in content marketing it can mean the difference between success and failure. The way you convey information to your audience – no matter how valuable it is on its own – affects readability, engagement, retention, and conversion. If you want to succeed, your content must resonate with the people who read it.