We’re reading and writing more than ever before. Content is everywhere. It’s King, some say. Perhaps it’s the Kingdom. Whichever way, we all read and we all write, most of us lots, every single day.
If you’d not heard of JH before reading this, you have now. Because of content. When it comes to reaching new customers, content is where it’s at. Let’s look at some stats:
- Content marketing is cheaper than traditional approaches, but generates on average 3 times as many leads
- The average conversion rate on sites with content marketing is 2.9%, without it’s 0.5%
- 70% of people say they like to learn about a brand through articles but not through ads
- 60% of marketers say they plan on increasing their content marketing budget next year
- 72% of people say they feel closer to a brand that they’ve read content by
Great. Sounds good. So, how?
There’s more to it than just writing as much as possible, and publishing as widely as you can. Successful brands are publishing content that’s credible, readable and has merit in its own right – not just advertorial-esque PR-type copy. ASOS, for instance, has effectively tapped into the mindset of its audience by constantly publishing posts on style, celebrity outfit inspiration, beauty tutorials and retail trends.
To be this good, you need to:
First, always first, it’s research.The success of content marketing hinges on in-depth, data-centric research. Making great content isn’t enough if it’s not suited to the customers you’re trying to target, so you must understand what your target audience’s interests are, what pains they have, what questions they want answering, and what channels they’re using.
3 reasons that research is crucial:
- It’s how you will get to understand your customer’s pain points. Look at what they ask for on social media, what’s trending, survey them directly – get to know them better in any way you can.
- It’s how you’ll start to understand their journey. You’ll find out where they are, what time they’re shopping for your product, and the language that they speak in along the way.
- Your initial research gives you a foundation to measure from. It lets you measure the effectiveness of your content efforts, revise those that didn’t work, and come up with new strategies that will drive better results.
#2 Answer problems with your content
All-natural cosmetics brand Lush appeal to a consumer who loves to pamper themselves but with a strong ethic about the world around them. Whilst the Lush stores are effervescent on the high-streets (you smell them before you see them) they needed to make sure they got the message that they talk the talk on values across to the concerned customer in the face of populist growth. Their blog has a big focus on campaign issues and their anti-animal-testing stance – helping to keep its caring brand image in perfect tact, and their customer’s minds at rest that the company’s mission hadn’t got lost.
In eCommerce it’s good practice for businesses to not just write product descriptions in terms of features, but also benefits. That’s because precisely pointing out benefits helps potential buyers understand exactly how your product will solve their problem.
The same is true for content marketing. Think first of your audience’s pain that your product will solve, that’s your starting point for everything you write.
#3 Get blogging
Starting a blog on your website is probably the fastest way to see a return, and by and large it’s free. There are many ways a blog helps engagement, here’s just a few:
- blogs are a platform to answer or start a discussion around a popular question. You can use social media platforms to see what’s trending in your industry, then write about it and post with the hashtag, or link to other posts on there – voila, seen by thousands
- it boosts your SEO. Search engines love a blog as it’s relevant, timely, well-indexed content. Tick, tick, tick
- it positions you as ‘expert’ – it shows you ‘get’ the industry, you’re at the forefront of what’s going on. Provide tips, guides and industry news and your consumer trust ratings will soar
So what do you blog about? Consider these categories: Industry news, company news, insight and thought leadership. And that’s a lot when you think about it. Most of all, make it relevant and interesting. Remember, fancy features mean nothing unless they’re of benefit to the end user, and likewise for blog posts. Whatever the subject, first imagine you’re telling a friend about it – write this down. This can be your first draft to work from, it’ll immediately have you focussing on why this matters and what difference it’ll make to people’s day to day.
Still stuck for ideas? Look at what others are doing. Take Ted Baker’s blog which is unsurprisingly rigidly on-brand – simple, clean and beautiful. And Slack’s that is very much on a thought-leadership mission, but with its uniquely matey tone throughout. There are thousands to go to for inspiration though. Look at ones from your specific industry of course, but be open-minded to what others outside of that are doing too – you’ll be surprised at where you collate your tips list from.
#4 Be everywhere
Content marketing is an omnichannel game. You need to make sure your content is everywhere, just like your customers are. All the main social media platforms need to be active, and for each one a different strategy is needed.
Take Made.com’s use of Instagram to show how its customers use their furniture, for instance. Using real life people in their homes – at work and in the midst of family life – is a way of instantly making their beautiful products pictured more clearly in the minds of the customers, as well as helping to engage further those featured on the feed. And back in 2015 Dominos enabled their customers to order a pizza by tweeting emojis to @Dominos. Want to try that? Yep, us too – clever stuff.
#5 Include reviews
Include user generated content – reviews. Without objective reviews and testimonials, your conversion rates (and SEO) will suffer. Plus they increase trust via credibility. Some tips:
- include social media comments from customers as screenshots on blog posts and product pages
- place customer testimonials throughout the site, not just on a single page
- use ratings or reviews in social ads, and even in traditional marketing materials