6 Secrets to Content Marketing Strategy Success

a well-balanced content marketing strategy
Unless you’ve had your head under a rock or lived in some remote are, you know how important a sound content marketing strategy is to your ROI. Content marketing is the new SEO, not only scoring big with search engines (especially Google who’s increased the impact of fresh, valuable content on a consistent basis in its search algorithm), but it drives traffic to your site from social platforms and builds your online reputation.

But, knowing and doing are two very different things. That’s where this great infographic published on the LinkedIN Marketing Solutions Blog by Jason Miller comes in.

Secret #1: Blogging is the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy

Notice a key element of this infographic is the diverse types of content marketing that makes a successful digital marketing campaign. And, a blog is really the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy.

Often, I hear businesses argue they don’t need a blog as part of their content marketing — posting updates on social networks is sufficient. I think these companies miss the boat when it comes to optimizing their content marketing strategy.

Don’t believe me?

Read what these other authorities have to say about why your business needs a blog:

Should I go on — because I can list hundreds of recognized authorities who argue that a blog is essential?

To summarize, you need a blog [content marketing] because:

  • Content marketing is the new SEO
  • Content marketing builds consumer trust
  • Content marketing solves consumer problems
  • Content marketing builds your reputation
  • Content marketing is an effective PR engine

Need more information on adding a blog to your digital marketing strategy, grab our free ebook.

A balanced content marketing strategy

Even if your posts are useful, fresh, and appealing, readers get tired of the same old content. Hence, the notion of a balanced strategy to spice things up a little.

The infographic below gives you options for creating a balanced blog, including large amounts of grains, vegetables, meats, desserts, as well as little bits of condiments to spice things up.

A successful content marketing strategy should not only contain different formats of content — video, ebooks, infographics, guest posts — but different types of content. For my tastes, most blogs seem to contain too much dessert and not enough meat. Maybe that’s because you have lots of “gurus” out there advising content creation around stories, amusing images, and video.

Everyone loves dessert, right? That’s why dessert drives so many visits to your site. In this case, the gurus are right and filling your blog with juicy little tidbits, gossip, and fluff works just fine. It’s like a holiday party full of rich pastries, candy, and fruity drinks.

That’s what many ecommerce sites are — a holiday party. You want light content to entertain you, encourage your visit and some fluff in between filling your cart. So, if you’re an ecommerce site, having a content marketing strategy revolving around dessert might not be so bad.

But other websites don’t perform well if they’re overloaded with desserts. Folks visit the site for meat — maybe a little potatoes, and whole-wheat toast, with a splash of Dijon mustard. In other words, a balanced menu of different types of blog content.

This is especially true for Business-to-Business sites and consumer sites for complex products like software, electronics, and equipment. Visitors want expert advice and help solving problems on these sites — meat and potatoes. Even the Apple site is chock full of helpful information rather than desserts, despite Apple’s reputation for intuitive users experiences.

Secret #2: Creating meat and potatoes content

You see the value of meat and potatoes content in recent data showing longer content (1200+ words) is better in terms of SEO, traffic, and conversion. Now, there’s nothing saying your dessert content won’t be that long, but most long-form content is something I would characterize as meat and potatoes.

Meat and potatoes content takes a lot more time, research, and expertise to create. That’s what makes it valuable to readers and clearly establishes your authority as a business. It also increases important metrics beyond readership: lead generation and conversion.

On my own blog, for instance, an increased focus on creating more meat and potatoes content increased my visits by 110%, my number of page 1 keywords by 54%, and lead generation went up nearly 200%. In addition, content syndication rose to almost 100% of my content distributed on either Business2Community or The SAP Innovation Blog and often both.

Secret #3: Publish frequently

business-blog-strategy_hoyp0cI like the recommendations in the infographic about using different content elements to create a balanced blogging strategy, but I don’t blog every day — at least not on this blog. Sure, posting everyday –  78% (or even several times a day – 89%) produces more new customers over publishing once a month (49%) or so, but those advantages aren’t much different from posting a couple of times a week  – 76% (or 3, as I do on Hausman Marketing Letter) — according to Hubspot.

Secret #4: Quality over quantity

Publishing frequently helps, but the benefits disappear if you don’t produce quality content. Refer back to the infographic for ideas that create quality content.

Secret #5: An editorial calendar

Creating an editorial calendar reduces the workload involved and increases coordination efforts toward producing quality content on a consistent basis to fulfill your content marketing strategy.

Staring at a blank screen is often the kiss of death when it comes to producing content on a schedule. Plus, tracking down resources (links, images, and supporting metrics) is easier if you put everything into an editorial calendar. As you’re working on 1 piece of content, you should be jotting down ideas and headlines for future posts. As you’re researching a particular topic for a blog post, you can add links and images for material to your editorial calendar for future posts as you turn up content that doesn’t quite fit the current post.

Secret #6: Measure, analyze, tweak

Your job isn’t over as soon as you publish your content. First, you have to share that content (and I use Buffer’s recommendations for a sharing schedule with a few minor modifications).

More importantly, you need to monitor the performance of published content based on metrics related to your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Here’s a list of KPIs I commonly use to track performance of my content. Now, tweak future content based on what you learned worked with existing content. Maybe certain headlines work best (having a number in the headline tends to return higher metrics, for instance).

Never trust what works for other companies, always measure your actual results. For instance, Facebook posts with a large image return higher CTR (click-through rates) in published accounts. I have a client, however, who’s CTR is about 300% higher if we include no image at all — only the link and a short description of the topic. Weird, I know, but every target audience performs a little differently.

Your turn

So, what can you add to my secrets of success?

What works best for you?

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing firm operating at the intersection of marketing and social media.

 

 

A well-balanced content marketing strategy
Courtesy of Jason Miller on LinkedIN’s Marketing Solutions Blog

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Social Media Marketing: Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Last week I participated in a discussion on the CMO group in LinkedIn regarding whether websites were old school and blog sites new school (Posted by John Tantillo, PhD). Here’s my comment on that topic:

Angela Hausman • Good questions, John. I think it depends. For well-known brands, like Apple and Macy’s, consumers likely search for them. But, for businesses relying on search to bring traffic — and leads/ sales — to them, fresh, rich, valuable content is increasingly important in search algorithms and will likely stay that way. Similarly, without content, a social media marketing strategy is hard to sustain — after all, there are only so many contests and special offers your can make through social networks before they lose appeal.

So, I would say the transition to content marketing is inevitable for most businesses and e-branding has little to do with that transition. In fact, content marketing establishes branding both online and off.

Angie

Then, today, I saw this cool infographic about the value of branding on Social Media Today. So, I thought I’d expand on my comments regarding the important of blogging in your social media marketing strategy.

Blogging

As you can see from the infographic, blogging is a big deal! But, we also see some problems with the way folks are blogging — namely using blogging sites or social media sites (microblogs) as the platform for their content marketing efforts. And, that’s a problem because:

  1. Blogging sites make it harder to rank well in organic search
  2. Microblogging doesn’t provide the rich content necessary to drive traffic to your website (and sell them). It’s a great add-on to your website (and blog), but shouldn’t be your only content marketing strategy — IMHO.

Blog Benefits

It’s no secret that blogging is the cornerstone of your social media strategy (some folks don’t think of blogs as social media marketing, but they are). The infographic shows why.

  1. Businesses get 100+% more leads when they incorporate a blog.
  2. Blogging increases your consumer trust.
  3. Blogging is the top reason why consumers follow your brand (and amplify your messages).
  4. More than 1/2 of readers view your company more favorably after reading your content.
  5. 70% of consumers gain awareness of your brand through your content marketing strategy.

Social Media Strategy

While some folks use a blog platform to make money or offset other costs, most of the bloggers I know use a blog in their content marketing to support their business. Big sites, like Mashable and TechCrunch, can make a living selling ad space or doing affiliate marketing, but most of us use a blog to attract visitors to our sites, build trusting relationships with customers and prospects, and inform consumers about our products. It’s a core element of our inbound marketing strategy.

My blog is the single biggest element of my business. I don’t do cold calling or send blast emails to prospects in hopes of gaining their business. I put myself out there as an expert in social media marketing — integrating marketing concepts and strong analytics — to bring in customers. And, it’s working. Every week I get several new leads from folks requesting contact using my vCita pop-up. I get more folks visiting my site and requesting contact after signing up for my email newsletter and finding great content on it.

Blogging gets you found

Without fresh, valuable, free content on your website, it’s much harder to get found in organic search. The Google algorithm (as well as ones used by Bing, Yahoo ….) include variables nearly impossible to score on without this content marketing strategy.

Content marketing

So what do you blog about? It’s really critical you blog about things your target audience finds valuable — stuff that solves problems for them. That means staying on top of trends of Facebook and Twitter and posting content that’s interesting, well-written, non-promotional, and solves consumer problems. You can’t just put up nonsense, like the embarrassment that is Miley Cyrus, unless it directly relates to your brand.JoT

 

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White House Correspondent’s Dinner: Digital Correspondents?

After President Obama’s repeat performance at this year’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner, one might ask about the relevance of digital correspondent’s in an age where more people get their news from their computer than a printed paper in their driveway.

And, that’s just what Mashable did today. They reported on a recent survey by CareerCast putting newspaper reporters at the top of their list for WORST jobs in America. Does the downturn for newspaper reporters mean there are great opportunities for bloggers and other types of digital correspondents?

Digital correspondents: the downside

Digital correspondents face some of the same stresses that make newspaper reporting a bad job. First, time pressures, writer’s block, and deadlines. And, digital correspondents who don’t work for a big media outlet, like TechCrunch or Mashable, have to search for stories to fill their pages, in additional to publishing frequently.

As a digital correspondent you’ll also need a thick skin. Unlike your newspaper counterparts, users can freely comment on all the failures, discrepancies, and differences of opinion in your posts. And, their comments are right below your copy for everyone to see.

Get ready to have your hard work scooped by others. Digital correspondents produce copy in a form easily stolen by the unscrupulous. Every post I create is stolen at least once and some by multiple copycats.

And, digital correspondents need to know a whole lot more than newspaper correspondents, who simply upload their stories to their editors for publication. Digital correspondents need to understand SEO (search engine optimization) and have a little technical expertise. In smaller agencies and if you’re a blogger, you also need to understand digital design, linking, know where to get legal images or create them using graphic design, and how to share your content. These skills put you in high demand and give you skills that apply to other types of digital endeavors.

Digital correspondents also don’t get much respect. While some groups understand the role digital media plays in getting their message out, many still prefer to limit their press conferences and press credentials to traditional correspondents working for established media outlets. A major exception was when NASA invited 1000’s of bloggers to watch the liftoff of a space shuttle mission.

Digital correspondents: the upside

Of course, there’s an upside to being a digital correspondent. Writing a blog, either for yourself or a digital media outlet, gives you a platform and an audience for your opinions. For me, it’s the freedom to say things I believe about marketing and social media without having to go through the review process common in academic journals that sucks any creativity, innovation, or insight out of your work.

If you create a popular blog, of course, you can make a little money from it, either through advertising or as a speaker or coach. Popular blogs also attract guest bloggers who can help shoulder the burden of creating content on a consistent basis.

For me, possibly the biggest benefit of being a digital correspondent is being able to help businesses succeed. I get a real kick out of someone telling me they were able to do something better based on my posts.

And, finally, blogging helps you stay on the forefront of your area. You’re forced to read a lot … network a lot … and think about your chosen area a lot. This keeps your game sharp.

 

 

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Use Social Media to Support Your Local Business

social media support your local business
Let Social Media bring more customers to your local business

Local businesses often feel like social media just isn’t for them.  But blogging is still a good way to make money, even if you never want to make money from your blog.  Small local businesses can see a huge increase in sales through blogging and other social media tactics driving customers to your physical store.

Let’s say you have a retail store selling children’s shoes.

How will customers find you online?

Either they’ll search for children’s shoes or they’ll listen to what their friends are saying on Facebook and search for your store.  Of course, you can do traditional advertising, too.

Searching online requires your store show up on the first page in Google (or some other search engine) because consumers rarely look beyond the first page for options and being on top of the results page has a tremendous impact on sales in your store.  Strategies to get you there are called SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  Generating a buzz about your store on Facebook, or other social network, requires consumers willing to talk about your brand or share your messages with their networks.  We call this SMO (Social Media Optimization).

Lately, these two aspects of getting your store noticed have blended because Google changed its search algorithm so it’s using social media buzz as part of what determines where your business shows up in an organic search (ie. When you search for children’s shoes, rather than XYZ shoe store).

How you can make money blogging using SEO principles

No one knows exactly what’s in Google’s algorithm but SEO experts play around with different tactics (actually experimenting and carefully monitoring results) to find out some things that have a big impact on where you show up on the results page.   Here are just a few things we know help you show up higher in search:

  • Fresh content on your website
  • Having more people visit your website
  • Keywords match search terms
  • Engaging consumers in social media

How you can make money blogging using SMO principles

Here are some things you can do in social media that encourage consumers to create buzz about your store:

  • Share interesting facts about your products
  • Talk about consumers
  • Have consumers help create new products or services

How a blog helps you make money

While some of the things that get you first in search results can be done without a blog, some can’t and ALL of them can be done with a blog.  Here are some examples of things you can do with a blog to make money in your retail store:

  • Blog about material in your shoes, where your shoes come from, or fun facts about shoes such as how they impact development or foot health.  This increases the keyword density on your site and likely brings traffic from folks who don’t need shoes right now, but will remember you when they do.
  • Take pictures of customers who come in for shoes or collect pictures of them wearing your shoes in interesting places and post them to your blog.  You can even have contests to encourage more submissions.  Maybe they have to hold a picture of your store or a sign about it to enter the contest.  This encourages consumers to share the pictures with their friends meaning they’re also spreading the word about your store.
  • Ask customers to suggest new products or services and get their friends to vote for their ideas.  Again, you’re spread the word about your store through your blog.
  • Create a cause for your local business.  Maybe you’ll donate shoes like Toms or talk about sustainable practices in your store or some other cause marketing efforts.  For instance, McDonald’s supports the Ronald McDonald house that has nothing to do with their business, but is appealing to their target market — families with kids.
  • Of course, even if you decide not to blog on your blog, you can turn it into an ecommerce site with less expense and effort than if you had created a static website.  All you need is a plugin and there are several available at low cost or free.  It will also be more dynamic – meaning you can change products or layouts much more easily than in a static website.

Don’t forget other social media platforms

While your blog is your home base online, other social media tactics help bring traffic to your site.  Here are just a few options local businesses should use to bring more traffic (and money) into their business:

  • Google Places – claim your physical location and link it to your Google+ page and your website.  Google returns websites located nearby since searchers often want local businesses.
  • Yelp and other rating sites are great to ensure folks find your local business.  Encourage patrons to rate your products and services and share their ratings with their Facebook and Twitter networks.
  • Facebook and Twitter are, of course, nearly mandatory given the huge number of users of these social media platforms.
  • Develop relationships with other local businesses and link your sites together.  For instance, other retailers in your mall or shopping center might create an online shopping venue supporting all the local businesses.  At a minimum, these local businesses should cross-link their digital properties.

Hausman and Associates

Hausman and Associates publishes Hausman Marketing Letter and the monthly email newsletter of the same name.  We also provide cost-effective marketing and social media through our virtual agency concept.  We welcome new clients and would happily provide a proposal to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE.

 

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Does Blogging Fit in a World of Social Media Domination?

Recently, experts like Jeremiah Owyang question the fit between blogging and social media. I mean, with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, do we still need blogs?

But, look at how important blogging is for business success, according to Technorati:

blogging and social media

As you can see, bloggers are blogging more because people still read blogs and buy based on information from blogs.

Brian Solis says if very well:

When you think about social media, what do you envision? Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Foursquare? If you’re like me, blogs would have made the top of the list. But how can blogs survive in a time when the attention of connected consumers is not only precious, it’s elusive. After all, people can read no more than 140 characters at a time right? With the surplus of networks and a river of social activity that washes away personal information levees, how can we be anything but distracted?  In fact, this is the time to compete for attention by not just feeding it forgettable snacks here and there, but enrapturing it through value, direction, and insight. Do the work no one else can make the time to do. There’s always a market for intelligence.

So, maybe you’ve thought about integrating blogging and social media, but don’t know where to start.

Today, we start a series dedicated to helping you begin blogging and integrate it into your social media strategy.

Step 1. What Should You Blog About ?

First, your blog needs a tight focus rather than a hodge podge of unrelated posts.  Your blog should also relate to your business in some way and support other elements of your social media strategy.  A good example is King Arthur Flour where they blog about baking.  Another, very different approach comes from American Express (American Express Open Forum) where they blog about things their target market needs (business advice) even though the posts aren’t related to their core business.  Finally, look at British Telecom, which operates 3 blogs, each delivering insights important for one of its three target markets.  Other elements of their social media marketing strategy echo topics from the blogs — so they’re integrated.

So, why build a blog around what customers need rather than your business? It builds community (traffic) and is likely to attract a target market ready-made for the products, services, and advertising you dish up. Here’s a great reference to help you understand what a target audience is and why its important for your blog to have one.

Here are some additional considerations in finding a topic for your blog.

Are you interested (and knowledgeable) on the topic?

  • If you’re not interested in the topic, you’ll likely get bored.
  • If you don’t know much about the topic, you’ll likely run out of things to say.

And don’t forget, there’s lots of competition out there, so you need to offer a unique perspective to keep readers coming back.

Next Steps

Today, we introduced the notion of blogging as part of your overall social media marketing strategy.  Here’s what we covered:

  1. How blogging supports your business success
  2. What to blog about

Next post, we’ll begin discussing the hows of blogging and integrating your blog into your social media marketing strategy.

As always, your feedback is important.  So, please let me know what you think, ask questions, and let me know what other topics you’d like to see covered here.

 

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