Welcome back students! Hope you all had a wonderful summer.
My name is Professor Ryan Kettler — welcome to Content Marketing 101. My job is to help you be successful with your content marketing efforts this semester and beyond.
Content marketing is the process of writing and distributing valuable, compelling, educational and relevant content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of increasing qualified traffic and customers to your business.
School’s back in session, so listen up and get ready to take some notes!
Let’s begin by reviewing your syllabus and going over each of the lessons we’ll be completing:
Lesson 1: Research your target audience
The first, and most important step for any content marketing campaign is to research your target audience to find out the following:
- Who they are (demographically)
- What they enjoy reading about
- What they’re afraid of
- What they need help with
- How they prefer to receive information (where they hang out online)
Finding this information will allow you to shape and structure your content in such a way that it’s well-received. It never feels good to publish a piece of content you think is amazing, only to have it be a complete flop.
Researching helps you avoid content marketing duds.
The easiest way to research your audience is to start engaging them. Add a newsletter signup form to your blog and then send surveys out once every quarter asking your subscribers what they want to read about to get the answers and insight you’re looking for.
Another great tactic from Jason Falls is asking a research-type question to your Facebook audience every week to stay in tune.
Lesson 2: Brainstorm your blog topics
Now that you know more about your target audience, you should be able to easily come up with some relevant blog topics that are of interest to them.
Let’s say you’re a coffee roaster. Your company imports coffee beans from all over the world and roasts them to make some super-tasty, caffeine-laden work fuel.
You know through your research that your audience loves reading about the different regions where coffee is cultivated.
You have your first topic to write about! Not only that, this topic can easily be turned into a series where you highlight each of the countries that produce coffee and their cultures: Ethiopia, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, etc.
You can determine one region to highlight each month. This allows you to easily plan out at least a year’s worth of posts, which brings us to our next lesson.
Lesson 3: Schedule your content marketing calendar
You’ve researched your audience and brainstormed some topics that would interest them. Now it’s time to schedule your content marketing calendar and get to writing.
This means planning for, and writing one relevant blog post a week, for 52 weeks. It may seem like a lot, but trust me, you can do it. Don’t worry about length, instead try to make the articles as interesting and engaging as possible.
Set a day of the week when you’re going to publish posts so your regular readers know when to expect new content from you.
By planning and scheduling your content marketing calendar, you’re going to be way ahead of the game. There are a lot of marketers who write content about topics without having the slightest clue if they’ll resonate with their audience or not. That’s a dangerous habit prone to producing fewer results.
Check out Jamie Griffiths’ handy content calendar template over on the Convince & Convert blog.
Lesson 4: Build your audience through teamwork
If you have an internal team or colleague that can assist you with your content marketing, that can take a good portion of the workload off your plate. Some of you might be working by yourself and thinking, “there’s no way I can do this” and “I just don’t have the time.”
I hear you loud and clear and want to share a secret — you can do it, and you do have the time. You just have to make it by prioritizing your content marketing.
One great way to save time is to work with other relevant businesses by having them promote your content. This is called co-marketing, and it’s a super-tactic for you to implement in your strategy.
Going back to our coffee roaster business, we know that our audience is people who love and have a passion for all things coffee. That’s a pretty big audience which means there are thousands of other relevant businesses who you could provide content to in exchange for a relevant backlink. Links from other sites are even better than content on your own website, since they connect other audiences with your business.
For example, you probably sell coffee accessories along with your coffee: grinders, scales, pour-over setups, tea kettles, etc. You should reach out to some of the vendors whose products you sell and pitch them on some guest post ideas. An example would be reaching out to the vendor that provides you with the grinders you sell in-store and asking them if you can provide them with a guest article about “How different grinding coarseness affects your coffee’s taste”.
I’m sure the vendor would agree to publish your article in a heartbeat. It’s a topic you’re already an expert on and it’s relevant to both of your businesses and audiences. It’s a match made in coffee heaven that’s sure to generate some buzz. Later on, the grinder vendor could reciprocate by providing you with a guest blog post for your website.
Lesson 5: Review and grade your progress
After you have started publishing and promoting blog posts on your blog as well as your co-marketing partners’ blogs, it’s time to review and grade your results.
In order to do this effectively, make sure that you have installed Google Analytics on your website. The will ensure that each of your posts, both on- and off-site are tracked and analyzed. Another great way to keep track of your content partnership team and audience is using BoostSuite’s co-marketing audience metric.
Success with content marketing can be measured many ways: comments, shares, retweets/mentions, sign ups, form submissions, etc. The key is to have a goal in mind around one or a couple of these metrics.
Here’s an awesome beginner’s guide to setting up goals in Google Analytics from the Search Engine Land blog for your reference.
An additional technique to use when reviewing results is creating custom campaigns and trying Google’s URL Builder to track referral traffic from the posts your partners publish.
Following these tips will allow you to quickly and easily review your results and give yourself a grade as to how close you were to meeting your goals. If you didn’t quite get there, then you should be able to tell how you can improve next semester. Obviously if you exceed your goals, you get an A+!
I wish you the best of luck with your content marketing this semester and well into the future. If you’re able to follow my lesson plan step by step, I’m sure you’ll pass Content Marketing 101 with flying colors and make the Dean’s list!
Please rate your professor’s knowledge and advice in the comments below!
About the Author:
Ryan Kettler is Director of Communications for BoostSuite, the collaborative marketing tool for small businesses.
Ryan is an Internet marketing zealot, sports fanatic, devoted runner, avid golfer, beer connoisseur, and live music enthusiast. When he’s not helping BoostSuite customers he can be found running 5ks, sampling IPAs, and cheering on his North Carolina State Wolfpack.