Content marketing is an essential component of online marketing.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, the purpose of content marketing is to own (not rent) media that will attract and retain a loyal consumer base whilst changing and enhancing their behaviour.
You achieve this by consistently creating valuable, useful and relevant content that appeals to your target market.
The content on your ecommerce website includes all messaging, product descriptions, images, videos, site help, reviews and Q&As.
Critically today, your content also includes your business’ social media and blog material.
A Little Background on Content Marketing
One of the earliest examples of content marketing is the John Deere magazine “The Furrow”, first published in 1895. The magazine featured a combination of John Deere advertising, agricultural tips and stories. Although it has evolved with the times, it remains the biggest agricultural magazine today with a global circulation of over 2.5 million.
In a similar vein, Jell-O, in the early 20th century, whilst trying to promote a product that was then almost completely unknown, delivered free recipe books to housewives throughout America with recipes that featured Jell-O.
The success of these companies to this day stands as testament to the primary role of good content marketing in brand development.
Getting Started in Content Marketing
Here are some principles worth keeping in mind:
- Develop a content strategy before a marketing channel and social media strategy. This helps you to understand your audience and to develop content that’s good, relevant and engaging to share before you start sharing it.
- You can’t succeed on marketing channels and social media unless you have something that’s of interest to your target market to share.
- Your competition isn’t just the other online bike store, jewellers, etc. Your competition is EVERYONE else posting stuff online.
- Content marketers produce content to get people to do something. Content publishers publish to get attention. Today, you need to start thinking like marketers as well as publishers.
“Everyone is in two businesses. The business you’re in and the publishing business.”
Directing your Focus in Content Marketing
- Focus on answering these questions:
Consider what kind of content your target audience wants to engage with and tailor your content marketing around these considerations. For example:
- What am I trying to achieve as a business?
- Why am I trying to achieve this?
Create your content and put it out there on as many platforms as possible — email campaigns, your website, social media, and so forth. Not only does this improve your SEO but it builds loyalty amongst your target audience.
- What products do they want to buy?
Consider the qualities your target audience are looking for when visiting your site. A company charging premium prices is going to need to show their audience that the product is authentic, bespoke and of the highest quality. Your product descriptions, About Us pages and testimonials should all reiterate and reflect these standards.
- What other websites do they visit?
This is a useful consideration in relation to researching the kind of content that already engages your target audience.
- What kind of language do they use?
This may sound strange but is a crucial component in engaging your audience — if your market is teenagers, don’t be afraid to use #s and ‘LOL’s in your content, especially in your blogs and social media.
- What social media content do they engage with?
Get involved — if there is a trending # that your target audience are likely to pick up on, start tweeting it!
Likewise consider the kind of people and companies they are ‘liking’ on Facebook and videos that they are sharing from YouTube, etc. You want to be viewed as a brand that ‘gets’ your target audience. The best way to display this is by creating and sharing content on social media they are likely to want to share themselves.
Writing Good Content
You’ll find an abundance of resources on the web to help you write good content (see the Additional Reading section below for some examples). Here are some of the key points:
- Know — and write for — your audience (see above)
- Put your most important material at the start
- Write in the active voice and in the second person (“you”)
- Be direct, clear, simple, concise and consistent
- Keep your sentences and paragraphs short
- Limit each paragraph to one concept
- Use lots of headings, bullets and lists
- Include keywords in your headings
- Include images, videos and other multimedia channels where appropriate
- Spell-check and grammar-check your content
- Have someone else review your content
- Test your content by reading it out loud
- Cut out all redundant and duplicated material
- Make sure that your facts are correct
- Don’t copy other people’s words or images
- Keep your content up to date
“If you have a content mission and know exactly what your target audience is you can create a niche and stick to it.”
Dean Langasco — Content Marketing Guru
Remember, your content needs to always be appealing and relevant to your target audience and the direction in which you are trying to mould their behaviour.
Articles about how to combat exam stress are ideal for companies with a young audience, many of whom are likely to be students (for example Jack Wills) but wouldn’t make sense on a store selling golf equipment.
Although your content doesn’t (and shouldn’t) always directly relate to the business you’re selling, it should always directly relate to the interests of your target audience.
Another point worth bearing in mind is that it’s the human story that’s being created by content marketing that gives it its success. In the digital era we live in today, the need for human connection and authenticity is paramount — the most effective way for your company to build this into its brand is through content marketing.