A quick-start guide to content marketing

Content marketing has become a key part of the modern marketing mix, so how can you use it to boost your business?

Content Marketing

Blogging, tweeting, uploading videos – you’ve probably done one of these at some stage or another. In doing so you created content, and whilst those ramshackle videos or ranting tweets probably won’t win you any leads, if crafted carefully content can bring in more sales.

Big brands are investing considerable money into it - £4billion in the UK alone - but you don’t need to have deep pockets to reap content marketing results. As a small business you too can create content that translates into cash. It’s a bit of an art though, so here’s a brief run-through of the do’s and don’ts.

First off, find a strategy

Before your business builds a blog or puts the finishing touches to that first tweet, make sure you’ve got a solid content strategy in place.

Think about what you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to build brand awareness? Improve sales? Increase loyalty? Once you know this you’ll be able to create your content more effectively. Above all else though consider who your customers are and try to create content around their tastes and needs.

Choose your channels wisely

Content marketing comes in many shapes and forms. From informative inforgraphics to angry opinion pieces there’s a whole host of options, and plenty of room for variation within your content marketing efforts.

The channels you use for your content marketing ought to tie in with your overall strategy, so let that inform your choices about the media channels you use. At the most basic level use your business blog as the base of your content, and your social media platforms as the way to share it.

Act like an editor

Like any good editor plan your content in advance and aim to create content and themes that keep people coming back.

Be distinct, create to your strengths and don’t get drawn into ill-thought-out ‘newsjacking’. There are some truly horrendous examples of big brands doing just that, as this recent lecture illustrates. By all means link content to news and events, but only where relevant.

Keep an eye on the competition

There are plenty of small businesses achieving amazing things through content marketing, and their innovation and creativity can be a handy source of inspiration.

The success of Lauren Luke and the Dollar Shave Club are two examples of what can be done through video, whilst our guide to business blogging can help you out on that front. Check out the Content Marketing Institute too, for fresh ideas and tips.

And finally, analyse everything

To get the best out of content marketing you’ll need to know what’s working best, so try to carry out some regular analysis.

Google Analytics is a must-have tool on the blogging side of things, as it’ll provide you with an overview of pretty much everything you’ll need to know. For a specific date range you can discover which articles are proving most popular, and through the ‘bounce rate’ feature you can discover which articles are the most engaging. You can even use it to measure your Twitter content too.

Facebook Insights is equally useful as is YouTube’s own creation. Start tracking your content on all of these and you ought to make better content marketing decisions. Done well content marketing can become a powerful business tool, helping to bring in new customers, build brand awareness and keep your current customers engaged.