Content marketing. It’s been a bit of a buzz phrase now for a time.
I’m going to write about what people should consider when creating new content and how and where they should distribute it.
If you don’t have the time to read all this. Here’s the TL;DR version. Give people what they need, answer their questions and be found where they hang out. Do it with originality and be the best.
A lot of content produced these days falls flat on its face. Chris highlights some great reasons why too.
Unless you’re some leading luminary in your field or A list celeb that gets watched like a hawk day in day out or are some big news organisation with a loyal following then the reality is that you can’t create a piece of content on a whim and expect it to fly; you have to have a strategy with well thought out aims and objectives and goals in mind with what you’re looking to achieve.
Too many people start with “Me”. They sit there and fire up a word doc and begin to rabbit on about how amazing their latest product is or how cool their service is highlighting its sheen and competitive price or retrospect about their recent corporate event posting lots of pics showing stuff that no one really gives a stuff about and then wonder why it doesn’t get shared, or ranked, or linked to or exited after 18 seconds of yawn.
The best content is the content that gets shared and gets referenced and linked to and ranked and visited, again and again and again. If we can understand why that happens and then embed that knowledge at the planning stage, then we really can create something that’ll stand the test of time and win in the game.
Content Marketing Winning Formula
So, what’s the formula? What are the ingredients that’ll make your content fly? That’s of course a multifaceted answer which very much depends on your audience.
How sophisticated are they, what are they looking for, what do they expect from you but above all how useful will you be to their needs.
Need is a big word for four letters. In our day to to day lives we all have needs (oh wait that’s five).
Content marketing to Emotional Needs
The need to laugh or cry, the need to feel loved, appreciated, needed, to be recognised, cared for.
Content marketing to Intellectual Need
The need to have our curiosity sated, our minds stimulated, our questions explored and answered.
Content marketing to Physical Need
The need to get materials or sustenance to sustain and clothe ourselves, build and obtain what we need to run and fulfil aspects of our lives.
Many of us often look to the web to satisfy these of course and there are many different types of platform that do these very well:
The social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter for instance encourage repeat visits (stickiness) through enabling us to create our little networks of friends and influencers where we can learn from each other, keep tabs, rub shoulders with the cool or just laugh at stupid picture or stories.
The research answer platforms of Google and Bing again encourage repeat visits through giving us hints and tips around where we should go to find the answers to our intellectual or physical needs.
So what do the platforms referenced above have in common? The simple fact is that they’re all great examples of content marketing platforms in action, and they all succeed because of what they produce. At the very top level they accommodate people’s human needs and people use them to gain satisfaction.
The satisfaction word is super important. How many of us really enjoy being frustrated!? How many of us would use Google daily if we never found what we needed?
I’m reminded of an excellent little book I read a while back start with why. If we ask ourselves what it is we are doing and why, then it becomes a whole lot easier to crystalise our vision and focus upon where we think it is we need to be going.
Why are we here? To promote our cool content!
What would we like to achieve? Get lots of sales and visitors and earn a squillion pounds so we can go live on a paradise island and drink coconut water.
Well maybe, but in order to do that we’ve got to apply a principle or two and reeeeaally get inside the heads of our
readers and or potential customers and give them what they need
So how do we do that?
Starting with Why and Assessing Where To Go
Lets go back to starting with why. We want to get more visitors to our site and we want them to stick around and come back again and again and share our stuff.
Ok great, that’s simple. Let’s assess what needs we are going to meet and be mindful too that the more needs we try to meet the more difficult it’s going to be to get the piece to fly.
Why? Oh ok, well in short; generally speaking if we spread ourselves too thinly and try to be all things to all men then the reality is we are likely to fail. Agree? Good.
Having assessed the needs and our ability to sate it, where to next?
In short, we go everywhere. That is, everywhere online that we think that is currently answering the need that we’d like to address.
We’ll take copious notes and ask ourselves if we can do what they are doing as well or better. If we believe that we can, then off we go, if we can’t and know our efforts are going to fall short then seriously, why even bother? Should you really try to be Gucci when you’re nothing better than the Kwikimart?
You of course are nothing like a Kwikimart, you believe that you are the Gucci of your field and you know you can go above and beyond and kick this competitors arse or at least run him close.
You’re in a bit of a quandary though as the piece seems so big and you don’t quite know where to start. Well, that’s probably because you aren’t really Gucci yet but hats off for confidence and aspiration, you’re up and coming in your sector and people are already buzzing about what you do and you know you have a winning product and you’d really like to rank for that single vanity keyword with lots of volume but are a realist too and know that for today at least that’s a little bit ambitious.
Being an expert in your field, you know however that people have a lot of questions around your sector, not singular one word phrases but questions that start with “What is” “How can” “Help me to” “Show me the best” plus a whole bunch of other variants. You’ve already done your broader keyword research and you know where the volume is generally – you understand that there are so called head terms (one and often two word search terms that generally convert rather poorly) and the longer tail terms (search phrases of three words or more that are more specific and varied). You know all about buying cycles and research modes and understand that through being a part of this process you’ll help convert visitors to paying customers through injecting yourself into that cycle.
A Holiday in The Canaries
At this point it’s probably good to use a real world mock up example to illustrate the point.
In this scenario, you are a holiday company; a travel agent, and you provide people with a means of booking holidays all over the world.
You’re not the biggest travel agent out there but you’re pretty hot and love what you do and really go above and beyond in sourcing your holidays for potential customers. You care about quality and have a USP that sets you apart from the competition, you have a great app that allows people to enter a set of criteria and your technology stack notifies them the moment a cancellation happens so they get a chance to book at a low price last minute say.
Your website is relatively new and has a big mountain to climb for those high end location type holiday keywords, but you’ve made a good start and you’re gaining momentum and think you’re on to a winner.
You’re a bit like a hunter in some respects. You know where your prey hangs out, you know where all the watering holes are, the little niches in the forest that they congregate in. You know how to bait a trap and you know what kind of food lures them in.
Your keyword research and PPC test campaigns have revealed that your holiday seeking target may often start their journey with a search for ‘holidays’, or they might refine it with other terms and searches ‘Canary Islands’ or ‘Canary islands Holidays’ , ‘Canary Island Hotels’ they might have a wife too or a friend and tell them to take a look too.
You’ll know that they’ll go off and search for similar versions and variants. They might find themselves on a relatively large provider site like Thomson or First Choice. They’ll look for deals or luxury type or budget or starred ratings or hotels with best reviews. They’ll look at pictures, temperatures, facilities, price and compare and contrast with other sites they may have encountered. If they’re smart or overly cautious they’ll want to read independent reviews too so they’ll perhaps seek out tripadvisor. They’ll want to get there easily too so they may well refine further by checking out travel options and flight times and prices. They may find that they’d rather disintermediate and segment the process booking flights and accommodation and transfers separately.
Back to those Needs again…
All of those stages require answers to a variety of need.
The need to feel safe, the need to know they’re not being ripped off and getting value for money. The need to be reassured that it’s going to be a lovely sunny destination and they’re going to have a great time. The need to know that they won’t have to leave at 3am to get a flight maybe and on and on…
When we think about it, there’s not a single piece of content that could answer all of those questions in one hit. It looks like a massive task and we’re unlikely to be able to hit them all overnight. But we CAN begin; our understanding of the sector and the NEEDS of our audience will help inform what we do. Our knowledge of the competition, the breadth of the opportunity puts us in a fantastic position to create a series of content pieces that will win out. We’ll assess the core volume like a river and look at all the tributary phrases that run off.
Holidays > Canary Islands > Canary islands holidays > Compare holiday prices canaries > What are the best hotels in the canary islands > What is hotel amazeballs really like? > Reviews Of Hotel Amazeballs > Canary Island resorts > Pictures of Hotel Amazeballs > Canary Island Flight times > Airports serving the canary Islands, Airport name parking, Accommodation near Airport name….
Answering the questions
Ok so we know what the questions are and we are going to answer them. We have a brand style and we our messaging is pretty much sorted generally but what of our audience and more to the point what kinds of content are at our disposal and what will get the best bang for our buck?
We can have the greatest content in the world but if it isn’t being surfaced then it might as well not exist. So we need to consider how our content is likely to be distributed and by whom.
We might find ourselves in a situation whereby we already have some great people talking about us. We’ve a whole community of people who’ve mentioned our app by way of WOM on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs. Great, but probably isn’t really enough by itself. We need to get our content on cool platforms with big communities. It’s why we added those additional buttons on our images that enable content to be shared to Pinterest or Instagram. It’s why we were meticulous in selecting vibrant amazing imagery that people would like and feel positive affinity to.
We also know that certain kinds of content seems to get shared more than others. People like to have fun it would seem, the need to laugh and smile. It’s for that reason why sites like Buzzfeed excel. Easy to digest content that makes people smile. Of course, unlike buzzfeed we aren’t in the “ad impression” game but we are in the add an impression one and so anything we can do that makes an impression on our visitors is worth doing.
Through establishing footholds on domains with big followings we give ourselves that opportunity to raise our brand and draw people in. We need to understand the audiences of our partners and deliver them results. Buzzfeed, Facebook, Reddit all want content that’s great, that fulfills their users needs, that gets shared and generates ad impressions. They don’t want your boring product page that says nothing and in many ways neither does anyone else! Google wants to give its users what they want too.It wants to surface the best content, the content that answers need, the content that will bring them back again and again and again.
We mentioned previously the USP of our make believe holiday company – a nice simple shareable idea that people will share with others. A solution to people’s problems, in this example the problem of paying too much for holidays perhaps.
You’ll need to probably supplement your efforts with some cold hard cash, a bit of Facebook advertising perhaps or a dalliance with Twitter ads or Google and Bing PPC of course. Some of you will be ahead already having done the hard work of creating great engaged networks of followers and friends on your social platforms, a ready army of content amplifiers ready to do your bidding and share your content IF it’s good enough of course.
So it’s simple really isn’t it?
Think about the needs of people, think about how you can help them with their lives and they’ll like you for it and share your stuff with their friends. Bore them silly and they’ll switch off and you’ll get isolated and sent to Coventry.
Ps. We have a product dedicated to this very thing, check out our content marketing module