Using content marketing to attract more clients is a concept that is catching on in India. But despite all the buzz about “content being king,” not everybody is quite sure what that means.
Content marketing is not about tom-tomming one’s brand, but finding out what one’s target audience desires and providing it.
What is content, exactly? In this case, content refers to online material such as videos, blog posts and social media messages that do not explicitly promote a brand. Instead, this type of marketing is intended to subtly stimulate interest in the company’s products or services.
The 4 basic steps of content marketing
Content marketing is a proven strategy for attracting customers who might not find your business any other way. It’s has four primary parts.
Learn about your audience.
Make a coordinated plan.
Spend the time creating high-quality content.
Promote your content once published.
Before we describe the steps, let’s touch on why content marketing has become so popular.
Advantages of content marketing
There are compelling reasons for any savvy marketer to put in place a well thought-out content marketing strategy.
The most striking attribute of content marketing is that it is good for both the marketer and the customer.
The specific benefits that accrue to a business that deploys content marketing include:
- Better business visibility and recognition.
- Enhanced customer loyalty.
- More visits to the business website, substantially increasing lead generation.
- Provides additional value to prospects and customers.
What’s more, content marketing opens a direct channel of communication with customers, particularly for those businesses that engage on social media. It also positions the business as an industry leader, enhancing its credibility.
Useful and highly effective as content marketing is, one has to understand that it is quite distinct from traditional marketing in that it takes longer to develop and deliver results. Experts suggest businesses give content marketing six to 12 months to make an impact before switching to another strategy.
How to create a content marketing strategy
While the larger Indian businesses have a fair understanding of the dynamics of content marketing and know that it delivers big time if undertaken the right way, the smaller businesses could do with a few tips:
Step 1: Learn about your audience
A thorough understanding of your target audience’s needs and expectations is the crucial first step. If you get that part wrong, your whole content marketing initiative would have been in vain. Read this for tips on conducting customer research.
Step 2: Make a coordinated plan
You should ensure that you have a well-documented content marketing strategy in place rather than disjointed and erratic attempts that do not add up to much.
First, identify and define your key goals to be achieved. Would you like to increase new leads by 10 percent next year? Make your goals specific and measurable.
Next, create a calendar. For example, on what days (and on what topics) will you post to your blog or YouTube channel — and how will you promote those posts? Think this all out beforehand so when the time comes, you just have to follow your notes.
Step 3: Spend the time creating high-quality content
It’s more effective to share quality content on a monthly basis rather than a lot of low-quality content on a daily basis. This is especially true of small businesses that do not have the luxury of a dedicated content marketing team. Pick a publishing frequency that you know you can achieve and stick to it.
Vet all content — at least twice — before you click Publish.
Considering your resource and time constraints, it would make eminent sense for you to create content that has a long shelf life such as answers to frequently asked questions. As long as it is of very high quality, it will continue to generate traffic for your business for months. It would be a good idea, however, to update it annually, to keep it contemporary.
If you are hard-pressed for time, you might want to outsource content creation and distribution to a freelancer. However, you do need to ensure that you have oversight of what is created and circulated on behalf of your business.
Step 4: Promote your content once published
Publishing a single blog post or YouTube video won’t in itself attract a crowd. You’ll need to promote each piece of content you share on social media. The pros also repurpose parts of a single piece for sharing on various networks (e.g. publishing interview transcripts on your blog, photos and bulleted lists on Instagram, etc).
Encourage followers to like, leave a comment or share, and be ready to answer any questions your readers might have.
A word about formats
Every marketer will need to select the content type that works best for their specific product or service. There is really quite a large list of options. It includes:
- Blog articles
- Press releases
- Book summaries or reviews
- FAQs (frequently asked questions)
- Interviews (recorded and transcribed)
- Online games
- User-generated content
- Research reports
- Webinars and podcasts
- Social media posts
For best results, choose formats that your customers are most likely to be drawn to. Long research papers are simply not attractive to those who prefer to take in information via video. At the same time, there are certain questions that require long papers to answer. Try to match the format to the content and the preferences of your target consumers.
Content marketing is popular because it works
Content marketing is a great way for emerging businesses in India to expand their footprint and even give their larger competitors a run for their money. Here’s what you need to remember:
- Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of online material that does not overtly promote a brand.
- Unlike traditional marketing, this strategy doesn’t necessarily require a huge investment of money. Rather, the investment is largely in the time it takes to create fresh, interesting videos, infographics and blog posts over the course of months or years.
- Choose a format for each topic that makes sense for the information and that will appeal to the people you expect to click on it.
Even very small businesses can get results from content marketing if they are able to understand their target audience's interest and needs and are diligent in creating and distributing high-quality content on a regular basis.
Editor’s note: Blogging is one of the most popular forms of content marketing and WordPress is the world’s most popular blog platform. For a supremely easy experience with WordPress installation and setup, try Managed WordPress from GoDaddy. It’s perfect for those with limited tech skills.