How to Leverage Content Marketing To Grow Your Business
When it comes to growing your business, there are lots of options available to you. You can choose to expand your operation by opening an ecommerce store, or you could add new members to your team. And while you might be focusing on ways to grow your business internally, did you know that with content marketing, there are now more ways than ever to grow your customer base?
Profitability & content marketing
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”. Profitability is a key term to focus on here, as not being profitable is a big business faux pas. Content marketing at its heart is not just about posting videos, blogs, and funny comics for the sake of it — it’s about really aligning content with your sales funnel. Content marketing needs to be tied to revenue, and must be executed in the most cost-effective and efficient way for your business.
Here are some ways to be profitable:
- Use freelancers and outsource elements of your content marketing where there is a clear cost benefit to the business
- Don’t throw money at everything: stick to the channels that your customers frequent
- Don’t do anything with a plan: a content strategy and editorial calendar are a must
- Don’t spend precious business budget on unnecessary software: use fast store builders or open-source content management systems so that you stay in control of your content management at all times.
Content marketing channels
Even a very small business needs to embrace multichannel content marketing, and produce content across their website, social media, and external media sites.
Here are some handy rules about your core content channels to ensure that your engagement levels and results go in the right direction:
- Social media: The key to social success is to not just focus on sales messages – share news articles, guides and videos that your audience will find interesting. Use social media advertising (like Facebook ads) to help you ‘seed’ your brand and content, but don’t lean on them for your whole social strategy. Spend at least 40% of your time engaging on social media — this is all about conversations
- Videos: In a recent survey by Google, it was found that almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. Give your customers a behind-the-scenes look at your business – people love to see what goes on behind closed doors – and show customers how your products work. Video is a channel for passing on information — don’t just go chasing after the glossy ‘video ad’
- Blogs: Writing blog posts is a great way to position your business as the expert in your field. This is your chance to share product knowledge, give your opinion on industry news, or offer tips on how to use your products – all while providing your customer with something of interest. Blogs are for thought-leadership, not throwaway content
- Infographics: An infographic can help to present information in a clear and engaging way. You could use one to present facts or statistics about a particular product, or compare your service to a competitor’s. Infographics are liked and shared 3x more than any other type of content on social media – so if you’re not using them yet, then you should be. They are also a great thing to leverage for digital PR, and can get your business featured on other websites
If you want to quickly explode your content reach, then you need to embrace seasonality in your content marketing. Look at all the events going on around you, and add your own take and commentary to the mix. The right kind of content can quickly get picked up by bloggers and news sites.
Here are some news-jacking ideas:
- Produce a map that explores a popular holiday from a new angle
- Round up the most interesting news stories about a trending topic
- Gather social media posts like tweets into a funny article
- Create a tool or a resource that helps people (Christmas budget calculator, going to college safety checklist, ‘how to survive the election’ microsite etc).
Coca Cola saw an excellent content marketing opportunity off the back of the recent US solar eclipse. Here, they created and shared a slideshow video on Instagram that showed users how to turn the box of a Coke Zero 12 pack into a solar eclipse viewer. Using easy to follow instructions, they maximized the marketing potential of a current event to their advantage – and received lots of positive interaction from their followers as a result.
The helpful ‘how-to’
Some of the best branded content looks very little like marketing. In fact, focusing on user-friendly guides and tutorials, is one of the best ways to grow an organic audience online. From capturing vital search traffic, to partnering with influencers, a great ‘how to’ can make all the difference to your content bottom line.
On Covergirl’s website, they have a host of how-to guides for their customers. Everything from how to apply false eyelashes to highlighting your face is covered. By offering useful content such as this, Cover Girl are not only positioning themselves as an expert in the beauty field, but they are encouraging customers to make a purchase in order to use the tips that are shown. It also allows them to reach out to beauty bloggers and influencers with huge audiences, bringing in a ton of positive brand PR.
Going back to your sales funnel, think about how you can establish a need or a desire for your products or services via content? Can you perhaps create a series of exploratory blog posts, breaking down common customer challenges? What about interviewing brand advocates, letting them tell their story?
The key to successful product-led content is to ensure that the balance between being user-friendly and ‘salesy’ is right. You need to focus on solving problems for people, and creating content that they are likely to share and bookmark, not walk past. This is not about billboard advertising.
US food giant Kraft are undoubtedly a household name and their products can be found in cupboards across the country. On Facebook, they realized that offering their customers recipes is a great way to ensure their brand stays at the forefront of their minds. It’s a subtle plug to their products, but also keeps in mind the type of content that people frequently read and share online.
Has your business recently started using content marketing? Which platform worked best for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so make sure you leave a comment below.
Victoria Greene works in ecommerce, specializing in content marketing. When she’s not keeping her list of clients happy, she’s sharing her branding tips with online readers.