Noida, Uttar Pradesh: At 4.30am, the streets were deserted.
But there were around 10,000 men and women – young and old, rich and poor, fat and skinny – present when I arrived at a well lit stadium.
I went there to see one half naked man with a hairy chest, talk and do stuff related to health and fitness.
You might have heard of this man.
The man born as Ramkishan had humble beginnings as the son of an illiterate farmer. He struggled with childhood paralysis. But all that is a thing of the past. Today, this man has taken the center stage and is the driving force behind a business valued at US$1.9 billion (Rs13,000 crore).
Do you know who am I talking about?
I am talking about this man.
The monk who could buy a Ferrari.
He is the force behind Patanjali Ayurved.
Acharya Balkrishna, Baba Ramdev’s close associate, established Patanjali Ayurved in 2006. It is now one of the fastest growing FMCG companies in India – selling 700 plus products with a turnover of Rs2,500 crore during 2014-15. It aims to touch Rs5,000 crore during next financial year.
How did he do it?
Simple answer. Content Marketing.
Baba Ramdev is the best content marketer that the world has seen in recent times.
Let’s go back a bit to understand how?
As a child, he started practising yoga to get rid of effects of paralysis on his body.
In 1984, he joined a Gurukul near his native village and learnt yoga for five years. Later, he joined another Gurukul and imparted free yoga training to locals.
In 1995, he started a small pharmacy that offered free health consultations and sold medicines.
He kept on doing it and in June 2002 – reached to a level where one of his yoga camps was telecast by a religious channel.
In 2003, Aastha TV began featuring him in its morning slot. There he proved to be telegenic and gained a large following.
The key here is to understand that he was consistent and persistent; and he offered free education. He also started small – and not at a national level.
Ramdev started with free yoga camps. Once these camps become popular and people started recognizing him – he started to make money by selling the seats at these camps.
I paid Rs3,000 to attend the yoga camp in Noida and this helped me understand the phenomenon. With up to 10,000 attendees, the revenues from one such camp would have easily been in the range of Rs1-2 crore. He did at least 30-50 such camps in one year.
He had also launched an eight-day yoga and meditation package on the SuperStar Virgo Cruise once – from India to Hong Kong to Halong Bay, Vietnam. After being subsidized by a corporate sponsor, the price tag to cruise with Baba Ramdev came to be Rs80,000.
Without knowing about the term content marketing – he did content marketing; and did it amazingly well.
In his camps – along with doing Yogasana and Pranayama demonstration – he talks about home made remedies that you could use to get rid of diseases. Then he says that if you have hard time understanding the method or preparing the concoctions and powders – then you could buy these from one of (15,000) company owned stores.
He has also assembled a team of ayurvedic practitioners who offer free consultations to attendees at the outpatient clinic, held every day during the camp – and prescribe Patanjali Ayurved’s medicines.
He also did one very smart thing. He packaged Yoga into an easy to understand series of Asana and Pranayams – and proposed them as the cure for most of the diseases. That is content marketing magic – bundle knowledge in an easy to understand package and weave a story around it.
Think about this course that you a part of. There is a structure in place. You are learning digital marketing via email through 12 lessons. It is tough to learn something like digital marketing without a structure. I know because I tried learning that way.
So What is Content Marketing?
I am sharing three definitions with you.
“In content marketing – you solve the problem of your (future) customers using content.”
Ramdev’s content is free yoga training. He tried to solve the health (problem) of people and ended up selling Rs 2500 crore worth of products in 2014-15. He has started advertising only recently – so you can easily attribute 90% or more of Patanjali Ayurved’s revenues to content marketing i.e. free yoga training.
Here is another equation that can help you understand content marketing:
“Content Marketing = Content + Strategy to promote this content across multiple platforms with an intent to get results (like website visitors, blog subscribers, leads, prospects and customers)”
Or understand it using this angle:
“Content marketing is the process of creating valuable, relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage your audience.”
If you are selling high end fashion products then you can solve the problem of “how to look stylish” through your content and sell more of your products.
The Right Mindset for Content Marketing
Never put out content without knowing what you are going to sell. Even if you do not have the product ready – you should have a broad idea of what your product will be – before you start publishing the content.
If products are too complex for you – then think of service or training. You can teach people something that you are good at.
At times, you may have to work it backwards. For example, you may have a blog that is growing fast and you are happy about the growth. That’s a good situation to be in but don’t stop there. Create your own solutions that you can sell instead of promoting other people’s products.
If you have a blog that is going nowhere – then also you need to do this. A lot of bloggers don’t invest enough time and energy in their blogs because they get no returns out of it. If you are a blogger in such a situation offer services. With services you can start making money as soon as you get someone to pay you for what you know and can do for them. Then reinvest what you earn into the blog and look out for more freelancing opportunities.
Do the same If you run an ecommerce website. You can create demo videos /how to use videos for you products, and customer happiness stories by interviewing satisfied users of your products.
There is more to it as you will see once you read further. So keep going.
Who Should Do Content Marketing?
Almost every brand / business should do content marketing.
If you product sells for around Rs 3-5,000 then content marketing should help you sell it directly without much human intervention. If the product is priced higher than this then you will have to generate leads and then nurture these leads (people) so that they’ll eventually decide to buy.
Why Do It?
Because it is cost effective.
And, unlike advertising you continue to reap benefits from content for long time even after it is published.
Clay Collins, the founder of SaaS startup Leadpages, was able to use content marketing to decrease the cost to acquire a customer (CAC) by one tenth.
Usually SaaS companies release new version of a product once or twice a year with a large number of updates to the product. Then an inside sales team (the team that sells over phone) works on educating prospects about new features.
Leadpages did the opposite. They released 1 feature a week and wrote about it on their blog. By doing so – they could replace a large inside sales team with one good blogger and reduce their customer acquisition cost.
Leadpages launched in January 2013 and gained 15,000 paying customers in 12 months and continues to grow. They have also raised $38 million in funding.
How were they able to do it?
As per Tim Paige, Conversion Educator at LeadPages they started with creating a lot of opt-in opportunities (Webinars, Free Reports, Live Demos, etc.). I have shared how to get started with this when I discussed email list building.
Let’s dig deeper.
We live in times where your customers are doing their own research, online, without you. They do it before talking to anyone at your company. By engaging in content marketing – you ensure that you are visible in right places when customers try to find you. This builds trust and marks the beginning of a relationship with your buyer.
As we move forward we’ll discuss:
- creating your content plan,
- how to go about actually creating your content,
- how to promote your content across multiple channels,
- and how to measure it for success.
Right now almost every serious brand is – trying to – do content marketing.
If nothing else – there are trying to blog. This creates a lot of clutter and noise.
To make sure that you cut through the clutter and are not lost in this noise – you need to understand it well and do it the right way – better than others.
You also need to understand how the world is changing to do it right.
We are now living in a multi channel and multi device world. Our customers are accessing information on mobile, tablet and other devices (like laptops at work or home).
They are active on different channels – at one point they are checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, next minute they are checking emails; and at other time of the day they might be using search (Google), checking out a website of a brand that they plan to buy from and also checking restaurant reviews on Zomato to plan a dinner date.
As a content marketer it is important for you to be seen across devices and on multiple channels in right light.
Your job as a content marketer is to earn your customer’s attention.
Agreed it is a tough world out there – but content marketing when done right – helps your brand stand apart.
Your goal with content marketing is to provide valuable, relevant, and educational content – in order to become a trusted source through all of that information.
That’s what Baba Ramdev did. Do you think there are better yoga experts than him out there? I bet, there are. But by providing all that useful content – he became a trusted source of info about yoga and ayurveda.
Here are some important elements that should be present in your content marketing strategy – if you are thinking about using content marketing for your brand.
1) Your content should not be boring or self serving. Make it interesting and engaging. It is not wise to talk about your brand all the time. Put the spotlight on your customers – let them shine. When you do that for your customers – they become your brand ambassadors.
2) Your content should be created based on what your customers want and what they are searching for.
3) You should never write a piece of content without an end goal in mind. You can have different goals for your content it can be thought leadership, awareness for brand, or traffic generation.
4) Do numbers driven content marketing. Write down what you want the content to achieve. Do you want more leads, do you want new followers on social media? Write down these goals and numbers before you start creating content.
5) Make your content marketing cost effective. You do this by creating evergreen content. Evergreen content when created remains relevant for months and years to come. At least 85% of the content you create should be evergreen. Rest can be news driven, company updates, trends etc.
6) Be available on all devices and channels that your audience frequents. The content you publish should be customized for each channel.
Once you do that you will be able to build a relationship and customers will trust you enough to buy from you.
Benefits of Content Marketing
- With content marketing you get customer’s attention
- When content marketing is tied to SEO, customers find you when they search for something related to your brand. This helps build awareness for your brand.
- It helps you establish trust with people. People buy from companies that they trust.
- You reduce the cost of acquiring leads and customers like in LeadPages example above.
Difference Between Content Marketing and a Sales Pitch
|Content Marketing||Sales Content|
|Shares interesting info – like behind the scene stories||Shares product details|
How to Do Content Marketing Right?
Use 5:2 formula.
First publish 5 educational content pieces and then 2 promotional content pieces (one soft sell and 1 direct sales pitch). Keep on repeating this.
You would have noticed that I did not follow this ratio. Because my goal is to give tons of value first without expecting much in return.
Does this mean that I am scared to talk about our products?
Not at all. I am proud of the products we have put out and the new ones we are working on.
So, I’ll do it when I have something to offer you that’ll give you 10 times return on your investment and never before that.
And, if I do that I’ll ask for your permission first – because that’s the right way to do it.
In any case – we’ll continue to share 98% of all our content for free with a goal of making our free knowledge better than paid products out there.
But you need not do it my way – use the 5:2 formula and talk about your product/services often.
CREATING A FOUNDATION FOR CONTENT MARKETING.
Building A Content Marketing Team
First, let’s understand the structure of a content marketing team.
I am sharing a sample structure below. This is the structure of the content marketing team for an established brand. Startups or solopreneurs can have a leaner version of this team – where 1 or 2 people take care of all content marketing activities.
So how to structure and execute your content marketing effort:
There will be a core content team with leaders from different marketing teams. This team ensures that the content that is coming out has the right message, brand voice and it is consistent with all other communication.
Then, the content servicing team. It will have a managing editor (person in-charge of the content strategy) / associate editor – then different writers (internal or external)
The content requests come to core content team which then gives to content servicing team.
How to Build Your Content Team
- Keep your eyes open for people creating great content and reach out to them
- Search on Linkedin and check their content outside Linkedin. Reach out to those whose work you like and think is suitable for your brand
- Check out former journalists who have covered an industry similar to yours
- Ask friends, associate, colleagues for a referral or ask on social media
- Also ask for employee contributions. They can help you with blog posts and eBooks. Subject matter experts from within the company can help out with webinars and technical content.
You can also hire an external team and outsource your content production.
It works for both big brands and startups.
If you are a startup then chances are that you have a lot to do and a small team. May be you have still not reached the stage when you can hire your own team. In that case – it will be wise to outsource.
If you are a big brand and you understand the value of content marketing – then you’ll need more hands even if you have a content team in place. In that case – go with an external team.
You can work with independent writers or an agency. Working with independent writes can be a hassle with respect to managing things. Take this route if you find a kick ass writer and you want that person on your team.
In case of an external team onboarding is really important.
- Educate them about your business and brand voice.
- Give them a style guide. I’ll get into details of create a style guide below.
- Work with them to get the quality you want.
- Give them the editorial guidelines.
You can create simple editorial guideline like this:
(Modify to create your own)
Guidelines for the Writers.
- Proof read, edited, original content, should not have been posted anywhere in the past.
- Focus on one idea per blog post.
- List a takeaway at the end of the blog post.
- Your contribution should be related to the TOPIC (Add your topic here).
- Write as if you are talking with / addressing a single person.
- Write short sentences and paragraphs not exceeding 4 – 5 lines.
- For a 800 word post – don’t think of a 400 word post padded out with fluff words. Think of a 1,600 word post trimmed down to its essence.
- To make the writing process efficient – come up with topics for a month of writing – usually four times the number of articles you plan to submit, and then move ahead with writing. Share this in last week of preceding month. (For example, share topics for April, during last week of March).
- Use quotes and reference research. The text based on research and quote should not exceed 15% of the article length.
- The article that you contribute cannot be re-posted / published elsewhere.
- In case of multiple contributions, please make sure that there is no duplicate content or repeating of ideas across blog posts.
- Use real world examples.
- Avoid using adverbs.
- Use active voice wherever possible.
Engage Designers to Make the Content Look Beautiful
You can have your in-house graphic designer or outsource this to a freelancer / an agency. You’ll take their help in design of ebooks, infographics, slide decks, and one page checklists.
Also check out Canva or Pablo if you want to do this yourself.
Content Marketing (Function) Ownership
Usually marketing team owns content marketing with content manager / managing editor/ content head reporting to marketing head / CEO.
In really large organizations – one of the following team can own content marketing.
- Product Marketing
- Demand Generation
- Corporate Marketing
- Brand Marketing
Whichever team owns it – all teams should provide inputs and share comments on important pieces before they are published.
Significance of Content Marketing Team
If you are the one leading the content marketing team – be sure to establish good rapport with different teams that you work with. Continue to ask them – what type of content can help them and then create it for them. Take their help in promoting the content.
The content marketing team works with different departments within marketing and support all of them with different types of content – that helps them achieve their respective goals.
Here is the different type of content you’ll create to serve different teams:
- Demand Generation / Lead generation – Content that helps to drive demand for your business, such as ebooks, infographics, slide decks.
- Customer Content – Customer case studies and testimonials that really show the external community how your product or service has helped customers.
- Brand Content – High level thought leadership content, such as guest blog posts, editorial content for industry publications and, the content that you want to put out there to really show what your brand stands for.
How to Make Sure That Your Content is Effective
To do that you create Buyer Personas and Buyer Journeys.
I have discussed this in the guide on SEO so I am just going to touch upon this briefly.
Buyer persona – is the profile of different types of buyers who buy from your company. Each of these customers will have a different path for purchase. This path is known as the buyer’s journey.
Based on buyer personas, you:
- Choose what content to create
- Target the right topics that these buyers care about
- Decide on the voice and tone.. (personal or research driven)
For example the content you create for a 50 year old customer who is a leader at a company will be different from someone who is in 20-30 year age group at a different level professionally and has different content consumption habits (prefers video over written content) or someone who is in 18-25 age group (mobile first generation).
Every buyer will have a buyer journey with different buying stages.
A customer may first come across a story about your brand on a site like Business Insider or YourStory → then do a random search on Google and come to your website → without exploring much there → head to your social media channels → from there come back to your blog → and then explore content there.
This will vary depending on your product and also at what buying stage a customer is at (ready to buy, researching or just exploring).
With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense to have a “Start Here” section on your blog. This makes sure that a random visitor on your blog is not confused. With a “Start Here” section, you hold their hand and introduce them to your best content first and let them choose from a small number of content pieces.
How can you get better hang of buyer persona and buyer journey
Do interviews and secondary research. Look at what people post on Quora, what they write on reviews site or lookout for blog posts where customers have written reviews of competing services on their own blogs.
Sit with your sales team (if you have one) and listen in to customer calls. You can do it as the calls happen or check out the recorded calls later. For recording and accessing the audio over cloud – you can use a reasonably priced cloud telephony / IVR system like Ozonetel / KooKoo.
Talk to customer services team. If you work in content marketing for a startup or if you run a startup yourself – then take customer support calls at least one day a week. By doing this, you will learn a lot about what motivates your customers to buy and what are their challenges. You can use this learning to create effective content.
[If you are in the process of launching your startup or have launched your startup but do not have customers – then leave everything – even stop reading this – and get your first customer. Send cold emails, make cold calls, ask friends /colleagues for referrals and get your first (set of) customers and then spend evenings and nights on content marketing (and other digital marketing efforts).]
Speak to current customers – happy and not happy.
By doing all this you should aim to record following:
Customer background, job, goals, challenges, main source of info that they rely on, preferred content medium – video, email, ebooks; objections that they have about your product/service, their role in purchase process (are they the decision maker or there is someone else who assists in purchase decision).
Once you know this pick out the major customer group that you need to address and then create content that speaks to each persona and people at different stages in buyer journey.
Do not get discouraged if you don’t figure this out at first try. No one gets it right the first time. But keep your eyes and ears open and try to learn as much as you can about your prospects and customers. Genuinely care for them. Eventually you will learn enough to serve them well – first through your content and later through your products.
Developing Your Brand Voice
This is important to ensure consistency in content creation if you have more than one writer working on content creation.
For this you create a brand voice persona which is – the feeling that you’ll want your content to convey. This persona can be – conversational, accessible, educational, authoritative, or professional.
Next you define your brand voice tone which is – the way that your content will sound.
Your brand voice tone – can be friendly, direct, honest, formal, or scientific.
Next, you’ll determine your brand voice language. This is essentially the language in which your content is written. This could be simple, wordy, complex, jargony. It depends on your business and who you’re selling to.
Next step is to create a style guide. Once you have your persona, your language, and your tone all written down; you and your content team (in-house and outsourced) can figure the exact style to write about your brand.
It may look a bit complex in beginning but if you take a day or two to think about it and note it down – you will have a system in place to scale your content marketing.
All these elements will go in your Style Guide.
For your style guide – you’ll answer following questions:
- About your brand
- Who do you sell to
- Who makes up the content team
- You style and writing tone
- Specific grammar guidelines, as well as content types and structure
This could be as short or as lengthy as you want.The more information you add to it, the easier it’ll be to train – content marketers who’ll join – about your company and your style.
Your tone will differ slightly for each persona. Your voice should be consistent for all content.
Once you have figured out your brand voice and tone and other elements it is time to put all that into your style guide.
Check out http://styleguide.mailchimp.com/ – and create a shorter simpler version for your own style guide. Your style guide can be a simple Google doc or a PDF.
Content Marketing Goals
It is important to set content marketing goals because with goals you can define what content marketing success will look like. Once you define it – you’ll be able to measure it.
- You can set up both short terms and long terms goals
- Your goals can be qualitative – brand recognition, thought leadership, social engagement, relationship building, and trust
- And quantitative – number of new leads, downloads, social shares, leads, and revenues.
You can track how well you are achieving your goals by using goals functionality in Google Analytics. (I’ll share more about it in coming weeks when we’ll discuss Google Analytics in detail).
You can also look at the reports that you see using inbuilt dashboards of social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin etc. Also look at your CRM. If you are using a marketing automation software like Hubspot then it becomes simple to check these.
How to Ensure Success With Your Content Marketing Goals
Do not keep these goals to yourself. Share with key stakeholders, schedule check-ins with teams. This will make you accountable and improve chances of success.
It is scary to put yourself out in a spot by announcing your goals and it will take planning and effort to achieve those. But when you perform – you will make your team happy and you can ask the CEO or CMO for more budget.
You can do the same if you run an agency or if you are a freelancer offering content marketing services to brands.
For a content writer it is tough to become data driven and methodical. If you can do that you will be able to stand apart, command respect and earn increased revenues from your clients. So take time to absorb this and try it.
Choosing Content Marketing Technology
If you are a small operation you can use a simple spreadsheet.
If you use WordPress and have a blog or website with multiple contributors you can use a plugin like Editorial Calendar.
For larger operations and more sophisticated features you can use content marketing software like DivvyHQ, Kapost, Marketing.AI, Skyword or CoSchedule.
These softwares help you organize and prioritise tasks, manage projects, collaborate with different teams/writers, create overall editorial calendar and execute on your content marketing plans.
It may take a while to get used to the software but once you start using one that fits your needs the best – you may not want to go to spreadsheets or relying on emails to manage your content marketing.
Also check out Uberflip that helps you create, manage, and optimize content experiences at every stage of the buyer journey. It is a bit pricey so only large organizations or startups with good cash flow will be able to afford it. Give it a go if you can.
How to Choose The Right Content Marketing Software and Train Your Team
To choose the right software – you need to understand and note down your content marketing workflow. You will have to see how many people are collaborating on your content effort, what is the process of content creation, the stages in approval process and who approves it.
Once you know this – you should check out software demo, take a trial where it is available. Also share your workflow docs with the software sales support team and ask them how well suited the software is for you.
Once you decide on software – subscribe, learn yourself and then train your team and any agency or freelancers who are involved. In most cases – content marketing software provider will have videos / screencasts about how to use it that you can share those with your team.
Creating Your Content Plan
- Come up with topic ideas
It starts with coming up with topic ideas. I have covered this a good deal in the lesson on blogging.
Make sure that your content matches your business objectives. Keep your buyer persona and your seo keywords in mind.
Check out what your competitors are doing on content front. Use a tool like Buzzsumo to find the most shared content on any topic (search for your topic) and write about that. This way you will start with proven content topics that are sure to be shared if you write well and make it better than the content that is already there.
Ask people on your email list about what topics they want to read.
Install an app like WebEngage on your website and ask visitors what they want to read.
You can ask your team for content ideas. Ask people on the sales team, customer service, and marketing team. Each will talk about customer desires and these will become your topics.
- Decide on the content themes
Decide your monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly, or yearly content themes.
This helps you in prioritization.
So for Quarter 1 you may be launching a new product and your content can focus on build up for that launch. For Quarter 2 you may focus on one industry segment that you sell to.
If a quarter is too long for a theme then go with monthly themes. While you are working on your content (blogpost, slide decks, ebooks, infographics) around a particular theme – do not miss out on your ongoing content initiatives. This means you should have themed content + some regular content.
Important: Map Content to Your Sales Funnel
Before you think about mapping content you need to understand your sales funnel.
Here is the standard definition:
“A sales funnel is a marketing system. It’s the “ideal” process you intend your customers to experience as they go from Prospect to Lead to Customer to Repeat Buyer.”
(I am going to share about sales funnels in details in next lesson on lead generation – so look out for that.)
For now, you can understand that a sales funnel is a “funnel” like structure to understand customer acquisition process – where (website) visitors enter on the top of the funnel and get introduced to your brand and are then converted into leads. Some of these leads are converted into prospects. Some of these prospects become customers. This ideally results in a win-win scenario. Customers get value in form of your product or service that you offer and you get revenues.
Only a small number of visitors become leads. Then a small number of leads become prospects and a small number of prospects become customers.
Here is what it may look like:
10000 visitors → 1000 leads → 100 prospects → 10 customers
Top of the funnel (TOFU)
Website Visitors / Leads – found your through social media, media mention.
Share best practices, educational and thought leadership content.
Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
By now – you know who they are. They have shown buying behaviour. You nurture them.
You nurture using reports, ROI Calculator, and share a bit about the product.
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)
You have prospects who are close to become customers.
You need to share info that is related to the product through demos, sales webinars.
You convert (turn prospects into customers) by showing that return on investment (RoI) on your product or service is higher than the investment. You share customer case studies to make sure that prospects find something to relate to. At this point, you want to assure these leads/ prospects that your product/service is the correct choice.
Mapping your content with the sales funnel helps you in achieving your content goals.
Once you have content for each stage of sales funnel you ensure that random visitors to your website start the journey to become your customers.
Understanding the Content Mix
Choose your content mix (type of content you’ll create) based on topic, goal and promotional channels for the content you plan to create.
Following are some content types that you can use in your content mix.
Blog Post (800 – 1800 words) – can be used for different topics and theme.
Frequency: You can post a blog post once a day or once a week depending on your resources and content strategy
Checklists – These are usually 1 or 2 page long downloadable content pieces. A checklist can have a list of best practices or resources on a particular topic or a list of actionable tips.
Frequency: Once every fortnight
Ebooks – are downloadable short books on a particular topic. They can range from 10 to 50 pages.
Frequency: Once a month or every other month
Ultimate Guides – These guides can be offered both as a PDF download and also made available to read online chapter wise. They can go from 50 to 150 pages. They can be later used to create smaller content pieces.
Frequency: Once a quarter
Infographics – Infographics are vertical graphics that are short and easy to consume. In an infographic you take information like interesting statistics about a topic, and present it in a visual way. You can post them on your blog with details in text about what is presented in the infographic. Text explanation helps with SEO. You can use services like Infogram to create these on your own.
Frequency: Once every two months
Industry Reports – You can create industry reports by conducting surveys and presenting it in a well designed document. Reports contain industry data and point of views of professionals in the industry. You can give interesting names to the reports – something like “State of Retail Industry 2016: Based on Inputs of 400 Retail Professionals”
If you promote this as a survey result – then it will have less impact than if you brand it as a report and format it like an ebook.
Frequency : Once or Twice a Year
Also look at other content formats like videos, slide decks and webinars.
Videos – You can create videos to make your content mix interesting and relevant for a wider audience. You can post your videos on YouTube, Facebook and also embed them on your website. Your videos can be for product demo. You can also take your blog posts and convert it into interesting videos on varied topics.
Keep your videos from 1 to 3 minutes. If you are sure about your content and believe that you are a good storyteller then you can go for longer videos of 10-15 minutes.
Frequency : Once every fortnight
Slide decks – You can create Slide decks or presentations based on your blog content or infographics. Once done – you can publish them on SlideShare and promote to your email subscribers and also on different social channels.
Frequency : Once every fortnight
Webinar – A webinar is an online presentation – promoted as an interactive event with opportunity for Q and A – with a promise that audience will learn something new by attending the webinar.
In a webinar, a speaker presents along with a slide deck. People sign in and attend webinars in real time. Webinars can be recorded and those who register can watch the recording later. Webinars are great if you are trying to teach something complex to your audience. Webinars are also used for lead generation and sales conversions. You can use software like GoToWebinar (This is the one we use for our paid online courses), Cisco Webex and WizIQ to host your own webinars.
Frequency : Once every month. They can be more frequent if you use them for conversions or delivering training.
By picking up different content types – you can create your content mix and based on this plan you can create your content calendar.
Content Plan and Editorial Calendar
Create a content plan by including the content type from the ones shared above.
Based on this content plan you create an editorial calendar. A basic editorial calendar can be created in a spreadsheet with fields as shared below.
Once you are ready with an editorial plan you move to content creation.
Efficient Content Creation
To make content creation efficient you should build a repeatable process to make it simple and consistent.
Here is a 15-step process than you can follow:
- Research. If topic is technical or requires deep expertise then discuss this with an expert from within the company – do an interview / braindump to supplement your own research.
- Create an outline – include points that you are trying to put across and write down different sections.
- Write first draft.
- Add intro and conclusion.
- Break your content into headlines and subheadings – add list and bullet points to make it scannable.
- Do another round of edit for improving content and flow.
- Add examples, reference links.
- Review to make sure that it adheres to style guide (This is for new team members / contributors).
- Copy Edit for grammar and structure.
- Send it (or share via Google docs) to 1 or more people for review. If you want to review track changes use MS Word.
- Write second draft if needed.
- Read it aloud and fix any typos.
- Show it to everyone who is involved (members from different teams).
- Send for design. Designer should refer to style guide for brand colour, font usage, and image style etc.
- Once done – LAUNCH.
This is an extensive process. If you want something simple – remove some steps from the process above.
Make Your Content Work Longer and Harder for You Using Content Repurposing
By content repurposing you take one piece of content and convert it into a different format.
Work on a big content piece – like ultimate guide (50 – 150 pages) and then break it into different resources.
By repurposing the content used in a detailed guide you can create following.
- 5-10 ebooks based on different chapters
- 10 or more checklists
- 4 Infographics / slide decks
- 5 Videos based on the content
- 20 Blog Posts
You can also reverse this process and start with blog posts eventually convert these blog posts into different content formats.
“The Martian” movie that went on to gross $627 million started as a series of posts by Andy Weir on his website. Once he started posting it – some readers requested he make it available on Amazon Kindle. First sold for 99 cents, the novel made it to the Kindle bestsellers list. Weir was then approached by a literary agent and sold the rights of the book to Crown Publishing. From there it got wings and it became the success you see today.
The lesson here is to never underestimate the power of small consistent action – and a small piece of content. You never know how it will surprise you. So be sure to make everything you put out – best you can do.
Promoting Your Content
If you want the content to help you in completing your content goals (getting blog subscribers, generating leads etc) then you need to have a barrier to stop people from directly consuming your content. This is also known as gating.
To introduce a barrier or to gate your content – you put a form in front of your content. Here are some examples.
Anyone willing to check out this content needs to share information to be able to view or download that piece of content.
There are different options that you can choose.
Option 1- Gate all your content – good to build database for startups – except early stage content (like blog posts).
Option 2 – Gate content based on buying stage. Only gate content items that are close to product buying stage.
Here are some pointers:
DON’T GATE – Early stage content like blog posts – when user are getting introduced to your brand.
GATE – Mid stage content – ROI calculator.
DON’T GATE – Late stage content like – Case Study
Another commonsensical thing to do is to put a gate / form in front where you invested a lot of time in creating the content.
Create A Content Promotion Strategy
Create a strategy document – and add topic of the content, audience, goals with the content and suggestions to promote.
If you are going to promote it yourself this doc will be good for reference and bringing clarity to your thought process.
In case you are working for a brand or a client then hand this doc over to the client or company’s your digital marketing team. You should ensure that the promotion plan is multi channel and utilizes all relevant facets of digital marketing.
The digital marketing team working on content should test different channels and then put more efforts behind the channels that are giving you good results.
Utilize the sections on your website to highlight important content
- Add your downloadable content like eBooks and Ultimate Guides in Resources section.
- Create a section on homepage where you can add additional resources. This should be close to footer.
- Create banners (like ads) on your website and cross promote content on relevant pages. You can add these banners to your blog sidebar.
- You can also have a related resources section on the bottom on each blog post.
Promote on Social Media
Post your content on social channels. Organic is not enough always. See which content is moving and pay to promote it. Also do it for important content pieces like eBooks, new videos etc.
Always include right CTAs and share the value that a particular content piece offers.
Monitor responses to your social media channels and reply promptly.
For the launch of an important content piece (like an ebook, video or webinar) – update the cover pic of your social profiles to promote that particular ebook, video or webinar.
Promote on LinkedIn for B2B products. Share updates on your company page. Use sponsored updates and LinkedIn ads (Advertising on LinkedIn is costlier than other channels). You can also leverage LinkedIn Groups and post updates there.
You can upload slide decks on Slideshare. Slideshare allows you to add lead gen forms to slide so use that functionality.
Use Pinterest to promote Infographics. It usually works better for B2C content.
Using email marketing for content promotion
Make sure that you send updates about new content to your email list. In the email offer a short summary and then include a CTA asking your subscriber to download, read or watch depending on the content you are promoting.
If you are promoting an ebook or another downloadable content assets like an ultimate guide then add a cover of that resource to your email.
Find partners who work in similar industry and ask them to promote your content in return of some incentive. You can pay money for this or promote your partner’s product to your email list.
Using your blog for content promotion
For every content piece that’s not a blog – like ebook, webinar, infographic, video, slide deck – write a brief blog and ask your blog readers to check that content out.
While promoting this content offer actionable takeaways, add a screenshot / image of the content and include a strong CTA (Call to Action) asking people to download / watch / join.
Use content syndication to promote your content
If your content is very good then there are sites that allows you to republish your content on their platform.
Blog post syndication is simple. Repost all blog posts that you write on your blog – on LinkedIn and Medium – 10 days after you publish them on your blog. 10 days gap is to make sure that the blog post published on your site is indexed (included in search results) by search engine. This is from SEO perspective. An even smarter idea will be to post a part of your content on LinkedIn and Medium and ask readers to check out the rest on your website.
You can also try syndicating your content on sites like Business Insider, and Huffington Post. It is slightly tricky but you can give it a shot.
Use influencer marketing to promote your content
Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers.
You can engage influencers in your industry by featuring them in your content. For example in this content marketing guide I have featured Clay Collins and Tim Paige from LeadPages – and I can reach out to them and request them to share it with their audience.
So how does this help in your content marketing?
When influencers share your content their audience – it gives your brand added visibility and credibility in front of an audience that is relevant for you.
You can find infienceners based on your industry knowledge. You can also use apps like Followerwonk to find influencers on Twitter in your space You will find some usual faces and also unearth some new accounts that you didn’t know about or didn’t think were relevant.
You can also use hashtags on social media to find and connect with influencers and meet them at industry events.
Some content types like roundup posts (where you ask 20-30 industry influencers to answer one question and feature all answers in one place) and ebooks where 1 or more influencers are featured work well to engage influencers.
A roundup post can have a title like – 20 Industry Leaders talk about the biggest trend in INDUSTRY NAME. With a round post post you put the collective power of influencer behind your content. Even if only 8 influencers share your content – that’s eight times more reach than usual.
Be sure to not showcase same set of influencers in all your content. Engage with new people. This will help you get a wider reach.
Use Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads to Promote Your Content
For an important content launch – leave no stone unturned to make it work. Even if it means putting some money behind it.
Use PPC ads like Search Ads, Banner Ads and Retargeting to promote your content. This will help you increase reach of your content and if the content is gated – you can collect some leads as well.
If can you do not know much about PPC – it is okay. You can try out other content promotion techniques. If you are keen to learn about PPC basics – then you should check out the Google Adwords lesson which you’ll be able to see in coming weeks.
Because PPC can cost good deal of money – use it only for MOFU and BOFU content – content that is for those who are in later stages of buying journey.
Measuring Your Content RoI
By tracking your content marketing you become confident about investing in content.
Many marketers do not think about RoI – because they don’t know how to measure it.
Decide on your goals when you are creating the content. Think and decide what are you looking for – social shares, leads or visits. This will also help you decide your gating strategy.
To measure your RoI – write down the investment for each step and resource in content marketing process.
Item / Resource – Investment (In Rupees)
- ebook – 5k
- Ultimate Guide – 15-25k
- Slide deck – 5k
- Checklist – 1k
- Asst. Content Manager / Asst. Editor – 70k / month,
- Content Manager /Head – 150k / month
- Writer – 30 – 50k / month
Based on prominent industry surveys here are some original goals for content marketers:
- Brand awareness
- Lead Generation
- Customer Acquisition
- Thought Leadership
- Brand Loyalty
- Website Traffic
- Lead Nurturing
Pick some of these content marketing goals and start tracking in a spreadsheet to begin. (Track monthly using Google Analytics.)
- Referring sources
- Exit pages
- Bounce time
- Top Content Assets
You can also track content downloads, social engagements – in your marketing automation software.
Also track social shares, likes, comments , social follower increase etc.
How to do content marketing if you are on a budget?
Now you know all this – time to give it a try one by one.
Content marketing can make your brand more accessible and trustworthy. And, trust or lack of it – may very well be difference if your customers will buy from you or not.
It starts with taking some time to think and plan your content, know your customers and giving them value through your content. Soon, you will see them as loyal customers.
Assignment for the week (Finish by March 19th, Saturday)
- Write down your buyer persona.
- Create a brief style guide using the example above.
- Create your editorial calendar for April 2016.
Hope you have learned and enjoyed.
Mohit – A Digital Marketer who is happy to talk to you again 🙂
P.S. Comment below – have you been doing some form of content marketing (like blogging) already with a link to your website? I am going to check all of your websites / blogs.
18 thoughts on “Content Marketing Guide: How to Use Power of Content to Increase Reach and Revenues and Reduce Costs”
Your email course lesson 7 was awesome with simple though long narration was informative.
Include some more indian startup examples and how they got success.
Additionally the content marketing plan was good and informative
Yes my blog is http://blog.advantagefp.in and I have been following lot of your advice on this blog
And my site is as follows and has been restructured based on your advice too http://www.advantagefp.in
Your comments welcome pls
Your blog and website look much better now.
But there is almost room for improvement and growth because web/digital is a dynamic medium.
Some suggestions to improve.
Add a phone number to header. Talk to a financial planning expert. Same level as the logo.
The copy on the form that is linked to CTA (Start with our free email course) – can be made simpler.
Get Free 7 Day Course:
Start building your financial foundation today.
You will get first email as soon as you add your name and email to the form on right hand side.
Extra sub-menu items in top menu need to be removed.
For example – Under Contact Us – Map, contact info can come on one page – remove careers if you are not hiring now, login can be sent via email to anyone who needs it, same for feedback survey.
Your “99 minutes workshop” can come in events block.
For other times you can create simple link using a ConvertKit form and ask people to enter their email if they want to know about future events. This form should only open when someone clicks on the link.
And recent posts are detailed – and these will help you establish authority.
– make your URLs SEO optimized by doing keyword research and using keywords with buyer’s intent and good traffic in the URL.
– All images should follow a pattern. Use a consistent size format for your images.
Hope this helps!
Indian examples of good content marketing.
Companies leveraging blogs really well for content marketing: Sutralite, Druva, Brightpod. Companies leveraging mutiple content formats: Crowdfire, Simplify360 (leverages infographics) and VWO.
Thanks a ton for the guide on Content marketing. This was very helpful and using the ways mentioned in the guide. Have already started working on it. Will share it with you once completed. Do leave your comments. Would be waiting for the comments and the your next lesson.
Glad you found it helpful.
And, it’s great that you have already started taking action.
I’ll share my feedback and thoughts – once you write back with what you have done and any challenges you faced.
This was the longest Lesson so far. Crazy long. Some parts were dead boring. Some were just fantastic. Then some were boring again (…….and again and again…….and again). Honest!
Somehow managed to finish it.
Tried to get the best out of it.
I dont have a blog but the website is http://www.prakashsolanki.com I plan to start blogging about a couple of topics I’ve been into for a while.
Honest is good, Prakash 🙂
Thanks for sharing this. Gives me motivation to do it better when I do it next.
The idea was to deliver the maximum value possible – hence the length.
Kudos to you for finishing it.
It’s good to see your website – with an email form and downloadable asset.
I am sure you have already built an email list. If not – try doing it before you start blogging here.
Another thing to learn from your above post; how to reply. 🙂
Yes, the list has reached about 500 people.
The website is built everything around these lessons. And the stats are turning out pretty neat.
With this in regard, if I were in Delhi, I’d have definitely applied for an internship.
🙂 500 is a great start. Glad that you are putting learning to good use.
We can keep on discussing without internship also.
The article is wonderful. Although it is lengthy, it was worth investing time to read it. My website is http://www.thepositive.news and I publish articles on positive stories, unsung heroes and good governance. Its a media website. Can you have a look at it and give some suggestions. ?
Thanks so much, Prudhvi 🙂
Glad you found value.
I checked out The Positive News. Great effort.
To improve what you are doing – take a look at upworthy.com
In their early days they had a big focus on email list building.
A year after their launch – because of virality of their content (that was powered by the headlines of their articles / they wrote 25 headlines for each article – before they picked one to go ahead with) – FastCompany called them “the fastest growing media site of all time”.
I also noticed that you are getting good shares on your Facebook postings.
I suggest that you invest more energy and effort into Facebook.
Partner with pages that have similar audience.
Instead of posting – just the links as updates – add 5-10 lines with each updates and ask people to comment / like / share. See if you can post some video content – that is doing good right now on Facebook.
So if I have to share 1 – 2 – 3. It will be,
focus on email list building,
write good headlines and
grow your Facebook page.
Good luck 🙂
I had done it in past for http://www.ninefinestuff.com but that was not well planned. A good work to invoke the basics in the mind of a beginner.
Good luck with your efforts.
Mohit, thanks for the 7th installment of your course. I am trying to pickup matter suitable to my work – Journalism. I hope the work on my website – ajournalistreveals.com is also improving.
Great Gayatri 🙂
Sure, if you apply the ideas here you’ll be able to take your website a notch above.
Doubt – Would like to understand an example of how this combination can work out – [Brand voice persona – Authoritative ]+ [Brand voice tone – friendly ] ?