Content marketing is something we’re all familiar with even if we don’t recognize it as such. It’s a way of marketing that uses informative, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain an audience and drive customer action.
What does that look like?
Take Dove, the beauty brand. Best known for its white bars of soap, Dove’s content marketing strategy isn’t limited to sharing images of people taking baths. A recent tweet promoted Dove’s #CrownCoalition campaign, an effort to “fight race-based #HairDiscrimination against Black people.” By getting involved in causes their customers support, Dove’s content informs its audience while also promoting its brand.
Another example is Nike, the brand behind “Just Do It.” Nike does a lot more with its content marketing than spread news about shoes. On its website, Nike has an entire landing page dedicated to social justice initiatives like the Jordan Scholarships program which gives young students full rides to college. An accompanying video lays out the mission of the program and students’ responses to their inclusion, an entirely unique piece of content that has nothing to do with athletic gear.
And it’s a valuable strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.”
So how can a brand create a smart content marketing strategy that speaks to the audience it’s trying to recruit?
Here’s our guide.
Be an authentic expert.
The public’s BS radar has never been more tuned in. And nothing is a bigger turnoff to consumers than brands that come off as fake. The first step in optimizing a content marketing plan is to make sure it’s authentic. That means aligning company goals, mission, and ethos with the voice of all content.
A few ways to boost your brand’s authenticity:
- Infuse all content with your brand’s personality
- Write content that interests your audience even if it doesn’t seem directly related to your brand
- Keep SEO in mind, but create content for humans, not computers
- Spread the content writing to experts within your brand so topics come from those who know the most about them
Produce Relevant Content
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many brands botch this step. Relevant content doesn’t mean you have to limit the topics you cover, however. Just make sure what you’re producing has value to your specific audience.
For instance, Anthropologie’s Twitter feed includes the usual tweets: sales alerts, promos, and decor ideas, but it also recently showcased this year’s over-the-top holiday store displays. By giving Anthropologie fans intriguing imagery, the brand in turn encouraged them to visit stores and linked to the website as well.
On the flip side, there are brands like Bank of America who have to think a bit more outside of the box to engage their audience. Rather than simply post info about new checking account options, Bank of America recently shared with its Facebook followers a joint effort with Buzzfeed, a roundtable discussion of real conversations on navigating income disruption and family life in 2020. For Bank of America customers or future customers, this free event offered added value for using the brand while encouraging trust in banking with the business.
Embrace Video and Other Media
Blog posts are great, but they aren’t the only kinds of content marketing tools available. Creating a healthy mix of media, from photo galleries to video, will boost audience engagement while keeping content fresh.
Invest in a production company to produce videos or just DIY them on a cell phone, whatever best suits your brand. But remember, any piece of content is an extension of your brand, so it needs to have some level of professionalism.
And don’t forget the audio. According to Statista, 88 million people listen to podcasts. The growth of this media has led to podcast advertising — an extension of content marketing for audio. This can be as easy as turning a series of blog posts into a podcast episode, interviewing an expert in your field, or discussing a piece of information or entertainment relevant to your brand audience.
Co-branding is still branding, and teaming up with others can be a way to double your ROI. More and more brands are reaching out to other brands to create content together. This can be beneficial in many ways:
- You can share backlinks to improve SEO
- You can reach a bigger audience with the added brand exposure
- And you can tap into a wider range of experts to showcase
The key to great collaborations is finding partners who have mutual goals, similar audiences, and complement a brand’s identity. So choose wisely.
To get started consider a weekly interview blog post or podcast, ask guest writers to write posts, or host Instagram or Twitter takeovers with influencers. Build from there.
Don’t forget, Audience interaction is content
Have a great tweet from a customer? That’s content. Got wonderful product reviews? Those are content. Receive a handwritten thank you letter for excellent customer service? That’s content too. Every interaction with a customer can be content when you look at it the right way.
First off, nearly everyone online is fair game. That means posts from public Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts can be reshared with a brand’s audience as content marketing. You can also ask your audience for feedback to share. This can come from product reviews, customer surveys, or in-store feedback you film at the moment.
Feedback from other customers is something consumers value. In fact, more than four in five (86%) shoppers trust customer reviews they read online, according to Review Monitoring. So take advantage of them to drive trust and build audience interest.
Invest in Content Marketing
Gone are the days when content marketing could be an afterthought — a blog entry posted on the website once a month. The truth is, today brand content is marketing and should be treated as such. That means investing in it through personnel and tools to make your strategy successful.
More and more companies are making content directors full-time roles in order to ensure this critical business component gets the attention it needs.
Utilize Your Leaders’ Voices
Give your brand authority and raise your brand’s reputation by including the voices of your leadership team in your content. Encourage them to publish opinion pieces, write blogs, take over Twitter, or even manage the Instagram account for the day. Putting their voice out there will position them to be a thought leader in the industry and grow your brand awareness in the process. As a bonus, it could also lead to earned media.
For many brands, content marketing is a low priority. But as we’ve illustrated, in today’s global economy where online retail continues to eclipse in-store sales, the need to develop creative, smart strategic marketing campaigns can no longer be ignored. So if you really want to optimize your content marketing, you need to hire professionals.
A good content marketing team will offer a robust group of experts who specialize in data-driven concepts that pair creativity with results-driven campaigns. They’ll have well-trained writers who work in tandem with social media managers, email marketing gurus who team up with veteran publicists. You want a team that has years of experience but is also up to date on the latest tools and techniques from paid media to TikTok. If you’re interested in more ways to optimize your content marketing, get in touch. We’re here to help.