Based on Content Marketing Institute’s recent study, content marketing is getting more popular with more than 35 percent of North American companies adopting some forms of it. Out of that figure, 42 percent publish content every week, and 55 percent plan to increase their content marketing efforts in the coming year. However, according to Altimeter, 70 percent of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy.
Despite the warm acceptance in the business world, it seems that not many marketers completely understand how content marketing works. Otherwise, they would have been consistent and able to integrate content strategy as a part of their marketing activities.
Content marketing itself isn’t new. However, due to the Internet, the conventional print and media-based forms have metamorphosed into a “living and breathing organism” that dominates blogs and YouTube videos, among other distribution channels. The latest phase of content marketing, which we’re enjoying today, started to take off by the late 1990s.
The term “content marketing” was first used in 1996, when John F. Oppedahl led a roundtable for journalists at the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Next, Microsoft launched the first major corporate blog in 1998. And in three short years later, the total spending on content reached $20 billion. This updated infographic by Content Marketing Institute showed the historical milestones of content marketing from 1732 to the present day.
Now, how can marketers improve their content marketing skills so that they can be successful? The classic answer is: Learn from the experts. You can take these high-caliber free courses from Hubspot Academy, Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content (University of Pennsylvania Wharton School delivered by Coursera), and Internet Marketing for Smart People. If you pay the Coursera course, you’ll be granted a certificate upon completion. The other two courses are completely free.
In those courses, you’ll be learning about these following five elements of content marketing success in-depth.
1. Understand your buyer persona
The term “buyer persona” refers to a fictional representation of your ideal customers. It’s the first step to better understand your target audience, so you can tailor your products or services to cater to their personalities, needs, and wants. Start with what you know about your best customers for each product and vertical.
2. Understand your customers’ needs
Next, focus on their pain points and answer them comprehensively. The following step is conducting interviews and research to immerse yourself in your buyer persona’s world. And the final step is getting into the persona’s head so that you can see the world from their eyes and with their motivation. This way, you’d be able to understand how they think and the reasons why they buy or don’t buy from you.
3. Create interesting, engaging, and viral contents
Before you create any piece of content, answer these questions. What interesting and engaging topic should I write? Does this story have virality qualities? First, choose topics that matter, meaning the Internet users have shown recent interests in them or choose any evergreen topics within the vertical(s). Second, search for what has been trending recently with Google Trends or viral stories before they even get viral with Almighty.Press. By curating viral and pre-viral contents and with authentic ingenuity, you can create new content around them and ride the wave to virality.
4. Know how to growth hack
What is growth hacking? It’s a category of online marketing that combines the usage of various tools with creativity and knack for technology. It’s basically “hustling” with the assistance of online tools to test ideas and take advantage of various hidden opportunities. Growth Hacker TV is a good place to learn from various experts in this exciting specialization of marketing.
5. Analyze the result, lather, rinse, and repeat
According to Digital Marketing Institute, only 8 percent of marketers consider themselves successful in tracking the ROI of their content marketing activities.
Unless you measure and analyze the metrics of your content, you wouldn’t be able to gauge its success. The five metrics to track are: social shares, traffic, conversion rate, leads, and team performance. The most popular free tool is Google Analytics. However, if you prefer more in-depth paid tools, you can use SpyFu and Pathful.
Content marketing can be quite challenging to those who aren’t well equipped for today’s competition. With two million blog posts created every single day, marketers need more than a blank WordPress page. They need advanced tools that can take their contents to the next level and make them viral, so they can get discovered.