Four Steps To A Comprehensive Content Marketing Strategy – Part 1
The use of content marketing has increased in recent years as a very organic way to engage with existing and potential customers. Content marketing takes various forms — be it blogs maintained by any large or upcoming technology company such as IBM, Microsoft, Twitter and so on or an active social media presence maintained by small companies and others. No matter which form it takes, content marketing is one key element for consumer-facing companies to keep in touch with customers.
Content marketing and digital advertising such as banner ads or Google search ads (Google AdWords) constitute the bulk of digital marketing. Specialized digital marketing and content marketing agencies have built expertise and reputation over the years and can design specific content marketing plans to meet the needs of specific businesses and execute on those plans on time and within budget. Digital marketing agencies and SEO agencies in India such as Mind Digital have built a strong reputation in this arena with their demonstrated track record of having executed many projects successfully.
A thousand marketing campaigns are sure to bloom around hashtags such as #RioOlympics and #Olympics2016 and they may be effective for brands. But such campaigns are time-sensitive and can only last while the Olympics lasts. Big businesses can afford to invest millions in such expensive, short-term campaigns. You’ll need to invest more to be visible in the clutter of campaigns all trying to get visibility at the same time.
So, if you are not a big business and don’t have a vast budget to spare for a dedicated content marketing campaign, outsourcing this activity to a digital marketing agency in India is a good option.
India-based SEO companies such as Mind Digital will take care of the many SEO aspects of content marketing. One key and common part of content marketing across all the different social media platforms — especially on your company’s blog, LinkedIn, and Quora — is ensuring that the content is written with the targeted keywords in mind.
Getting the SEO right using while hat SEO techniques — and content marketing can arguably be described as a white hat SEO technique — will ensure that your website will feature on page one of Google’s organic search results for your desired keywords related to your business.
SEO experts at India-based SEO agencies such as Mind Digital will undertake the necessary content audit of your company’s existing online properties and look at your competitors and how they are performing in Google searches for what keywords.
Long-tail keywords are better and get you a bigger bang for your buck.
For example, it’s better to target ‘bike shop in Pasadena, California,’ or ‘bike shop in Mountain View, California,’ rather than ‘bike shop’ or ‘bike shop in California.’ It will be easier for your business’s website to appear at the top of the organic search results in Google if the SEO is done correctly and the right keywords are targeted.
SEO professionals at India-based SEO agencies will ensure the right SEO strategies are planned and the correct SEO techniques are deployed for a visible, verifiable, and sustainable improvement in the client’s website’s search engine organic results rankings.
Depending on how competitive your business is, you need to target getting into the Top 5 search results on Google. Most customers will never bother to scan beyond the Top 5 results or at most the page one of search results.
Four Steps: Strategy, Target, Schedule, Tools (STST)
Digital marketing takes various forms such as search engine marketing, (mobile) video ads, and social media marketing as well as content marketing. Small businesses may feel intimidated by the cost prospects of a content marketing campaign. However, there are ways to keep costs low and one of the tools available is outsourcing the content marketing campaign to companies such as Mind Digital.
It’s important to have a long-term outlook and be careful of “content marketing agencies” and others who promise sparkling results and search engine spikes in a short timeframe.
The key to having a successful content marketing campaign is starting out with a strategy for how to execute it. The strategy part includes deciding what you want to accomplish through the campaign — whether greater visibility, higher search engine ranking, better customer connect, and so on.
The execution of the strategy or plan will take perseverance since content marketing is about the long-term and not like a 30-second Superbowl ad. Think of the perseverance of, say, Paul Salopek, now into year three of his seven-year journey of 21,000 miles.
A low-cost or almost free content marketing tool is having a blog where you post 5 to 7 pieces of content — articles or blog posts — on a weekly basis and you do that persistently over years. You will see results and better organic search engine visibility for your blog as long as the articles you post have value, provide useful information, or are of interest to users for similar reasons. Digital marketing agencies in outsourcing destinations such as India have the skills needed to write regular blog posts if your business wants to outsource this piece of content marketing.
Viral content can provide return on investment on a quicker timeframe. So, how to go about creating content that goes viral?
Strategy for creating viral content
You want to create evergreen or viral content that people notice. So, how do you ensure that your content manages to stand out over long periods of time? There’s no foolproof way to guarantee that some content will go viral or some technique will ensure that the content goes viral but the best practices are well-worth following or adhering to.
All content creators might aspire to come up with something like the historic Apple ad from 1984.
Or the other famous Apple ad, the ‘Think Different’ commercial.
But that’s a high bar to meet. Somewhat of a lesser bar is to follow well-known “content marketing secrets” such as using cute baby images or animal images. Indeed, surveys have empirically verified that using cute animals or cute baby images improves response rates. Cute babies help increase response rates by as much as 88% while cute animals do so by a more moderate 42%.
How do you make babies relevant to your content or marketing message? Well, even a very tenuous link may be enough — think of the Evian ad.
Why babies and cute animals work is because they generate an “emotional connect” with the reader’s brain. A great many of our purchasing decisions and similar behavior as consumers is driven by subjective experience that is in turn built on top of the right emotions. It’s no different when it comes to how the typical reader or consumer interacts with content online.
For content to be engaging and share-worthy, it must look interesting on first sight. You massively improve the chances of your article getting clicked or read if you start with an interesting headline. The importance of having the right headline cannot be stressed enough. In fact, as this New York Times article shows, the right headline can generate twice or thrice the traffic of a boring headline.
Attention spans are getting shorter all the time and nowhere more so than in the online world. To catch the attention of a reader in the short time span you have, you need to have a strong enough emotional driver in your content. Viral content usually goes viral when they are able to create a strong emotional connect in split seconds with the use of visuals as well as simple-to-understand language.
Which emotions lead to greater sharing of content? Perhaps companies like Facebook have a lot of internal data about this which they may not freely share with the public. But it’s common sense that positive emotions — say, an article that’s inspirational in some noble way — will lead to greater sharing of content than negative emotions.
Some positive emotions that lead to greater sharing include amusement, surprise, happiness, hope, excitement, and affection. See how these emotions can be incorporated into content that you create.
And the Web is becoming more visual than ever. Our visual cortex takes up a major part of the entirety of the cerebral cortex. Humans are highly visual creatures. Hence, content that is rich in visuals — images, infographics, video embeds — is more likely to go viral.
FAQs are another way of creating evergreen content that stays useful for a long time.
You can become a “thought leader” in your chosen niche. If you can stay on top of the news cycle through social media, then nothing like writing articles that provide perspectives on the latest breaking news related to your industry — whether it’s Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn or the latest rumors surrounding the iPhone 7.
You can draw your audience by asking them to participate in some manner by having content that is interactive. Take the JunoCam on the Juno spacecraft that just entered orbit around Jupiter. There are many such initiatives that seek to make the audience an active participant and which seek to empower consumers of the content.
Gamified content or content gamification is somewhat similar and related. Numerous examples of brands using such techniques exist. Think of the progress bar on your LinkedIn page. The U.S. Army uses gamification in its recruitment ad and Khan Academy uses gamified learning concepts to make learning maths fun for kids. Think of the weekly quizzes on various news websites such as Slate and The Economist. They let readers measure themselves on a scoreboard and they also maintain an overall Leaderboard. These will appeal to highly educated audience members of the sort who might be used to solving the daily New York Times Crossword and who tend to be more educated and belong to higher income groups.
Human interest stories will engage readers by appealing to them on an emotional level. The articles that you publish on blogs can have an occasional personal element or tell a personal anecdote — how a product benefited someone personally or how someone was helped by someone in a tight situation and so forth.
Look at the top articles from 2015 on the New York Times website or the most read stories from the New Yorker site. What distinguishes or characterizes those stories? Among the top 15 stories from the NYT are articles about people — about Justine Sacco, George Bell, the anonymous New Yorker and what happens when someone dies alone in an apartment, and Sandy Bem, the Cornell psychology professor who decided to take her own life upon learning she had Alzheimer’s.
Viral content can come from many different sources. Think of David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon commencement address or Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. Different people gather their news and views from different sources and their definition of viral content may different. Meaning, some piece of content — say an article or a YouTube video — may be quite popular and may have gone viral in some circles but not in others.
People who are Tesla enthusiasts — and these days, that means the electric car company and not the inventor — may be familiar with the viral videos of people driving their Teslas in “insane” mode or Autopilot mode and so on. People in academic settings or doctors or college graduates may be more familiar with Dr. Paul Kalanithi’s writings and his book or the recent CalTech commencement address by Dr. Atul Gawande.
Being imaginative and quirky can also lead to wonderful, viral content. Think of Felix Baumgartner’s jump from a balloon from the edge of space. His sponsor Red Bull made it a worldwide event even if for a day or a few minutes. Buzzfeed’s watermelon exploding video went viral for a day and must have made many media executives at established news outlets despair at this new outfit eating the lunch of the old giants who claim to be the “paper of record” and so on.
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