In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the fundamentals of content marketing and show you how to harness creativity to increase traffic.
What is Content Marketing?
Content comes in all shapes and sizes, but essentially, content marketing means using creative work to achieve your marketing objectives. This includes all the things you use to showcase and draw attention to your product, service or site.
The most common types of content are:
Pretty much everything you view online is content marketing and it’s all trying to grab your attention. Which is why you need to have a plan and optimise the content you put out there, so that it has the maximum impact.
When it comes to deciding on a content strategy, it’s important to prioritise. If you try to incorporate too many content strategies you’ll spread your time too thinly and won’t be able to captivate your audience. That doesn’t mean you can’t try lots of different content types, it just means that you should have a main focus. Once you have your main focus, you can then use different methods to drive people to the heart of your marketing.
Let’s say for example that you have a blog where you write about camping and in your blog you have loads of affiliate links to the things you’ve reviewed. The blog is your point of sale, where you tell people what they should and shouldn’t buy and why. They read your advice and then hopefully use your links to buy the things you’ve recommended. Your main content strategy then is reviewing items for easy comparison so that people know what they should buy and why. But how do you get people to your blog in the first place?
Getting people to your blog will require you to tap into other traffic sources and provide more content which is external to your main site to drive people to your blog. However, simply reposting blog articles which lead to your blog articles won’t work, as no one wants to read the same thing twice. Therefore, you’ll need a secondary content type which can grab their attention and make them want more. But how do you choose the right type of content?
How to Find the Right Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business
Your content strategy will depend on several factors and you should do as much research and testing as possible to determine the right course of action.
The main things you’ll want to take into consideration are:
- Your Target Audience
- Traffic Sources: SEO, Social Media, Email etc
- Competitors and their campaigns
- Your Vertical/Niche
- Your Unique Selling Point and Message
All of these things will have an effect on what will work for you and what won’t. The first thing you’ll want to do though is to find your target audience. If you know where they are, you can easily uncover the best traffic sources.
Once you know your traffic sources and target audience, then you can determine the best way to reach out to them to gain their attention. For example, if you discover that a large portion of your target audience uses Facebook, then video ads will probably be the best as they perform better overall. However, if you discover that SEO works better for you, then you might want to test out Google Adwords so you appear at the top of Google searches.
The philosophy is simple, the more you know about the market when you start spending, the less you’ll lose before you start seeing a profit. A little bit of time can save you a lot of money.
Keep Your Friends Close, Keep Your Competition Closer!
When it comes to knowing where your audience is located, the easiest way to find out is to see where your competition is advertising. You can usually do this with just a simple search on Google. However, if you want to get more detailed insights into the content and ads that competitors are running, then it’s worth investing in a decent spy tool. To see a list of the top spy tools available, check out The Best Spy Tools for Affiliate Marketers
The great thing about looking into your competitors’ campaigns is that you can quickly see what is working and what isn’t. You can do this in detail using spy tools or, if you just want to get a quick sneak peek, then you can use social media and check their engagement.
Facebook Ads Library is a great free tool if you want to get some quick insights into what’s working on social media. All you have to do is go to the Facebook Ad Library and search using your competitor’s page name. If they are running ads, you’ll be able to see how long they’ve been running for, where they are targeting and how much they have spent on them. If they run a lot of ads, then the ones with the biggest budgets are likely to be the most successful.
When taking inspiration from the competition, remember, that’s all you should take. You basically want to understand the direction and content types and then make something original from that. If you just copy what they are doing, then it’s unlikely you will succeed, especially if you target it at an audience that has already seen it.
Create Content that Converts
Okay, so you’ve researched your competition, found your target audience and traffic sources. Now you should have an idea about the types of content that you want to make. However, there’s one more thing to do first, and that’s to look back at all of that information and ask yourself, what are the Unique Selling Points of my product/service and how can I place myself in the market so that I stand out? This is where you’re going to start getting creative and coming up with some ideas of your own.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to create a masterpiece right off the bat, although it would be awesome if you did. At the moment, you are still at the trial and error stage, but you should be a lot further along than people who jump blindly in with no idea of what’s going on around them.
Now it’s time to look at some of the best strategies for individual content types!
Blog Posts and SEO Content Strategies
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a huge topic and it can be a beast to tame, but that really shouldn’t put you off. If you know your niche well and know how to sell, then it can be a very lucrative marketplace. Plus, if you get it right and rank high on Google then you can get decent results from organic traffic.
In the world of SEO quality and relevance always win. If people come to your site and they like what they see, then Google will judge you to be a relevant and reliable source and you can rise through the ranks. However, if they leave because your site isn’t what they expected or what they were looking for, then you’ll fall into obscurity. That being said, you can’t rely purely on good faith if you want people to flock to your site and you’ll need to cast your net wider if you really want to catch people’s attention.
When it comes to SEO, you’ll want to build your online presence and reputation as naturally as possible. This will require reaching out to other people online to post links to your site. The more quality links you have to your site the better. Of course, you can also do some of this yourself and linking from your social media sites will also help. However, to get Google to really trust you, then links from other trustworthy sites which aren’t related to your page can really help.
As mentioned, social media can help, and having a presence in more than one place is always good. However, when it comes to SEO, social media probably won’t have a huge impact unless you are actively funnelling people to your site. However, in many cases, especially in affiliate marketing, the two will probably be quite separate. That’s because, if you want to get people through a sales funnel, you’ll need as few steps as possible and getting people from Facebook to an offer through your website is impractical. If, on the other hand, you want to stream people to things on your site, then a social media campaign could work.
One thing you should be really careful about if you decide to advertise your website on social media is bounce rate. If you are trying to build up your SEO rating by getting people to check out your site through a promoted post, then you have to be certain that they are a relevant audience. If they aren’t then they might click the link and then simply leave. This will increase your bounce rate and could seriously harm your website’s ranking.
For more information about Google Bounce Rates, check out our article: Google Analytics and Bounce Rates: How to Analyse your Site’s Performance
One of the most effective ways to build a site that is SEO friendly is to ensure that your keywords are relevant and that they use terms that people are actively searching for. It’s important to do your research so you know the types of questions people are asking so that you know the type of content people are looking for. If you can do that and then go on to answer some of those questions, then you’ll also be providing the quality that people want.
There are a lot of good keyword tools out there, but here are some of the best:
Google Trends Google Trends shows you the top related search queries by location, so you can look at what people are searching for in the GEOs you’re targeting.
Answer the Public Answer the Public is a really cool free tool that will give you a ton of keywords and questions that people are asking based on your search query.
Quora is a really good site for discovering conversation topics. It can offer endless inspiration and give you insights into the types of questions people ask and the answers that they like. You can also use it as a traffic source if you find that you have the answer to people’s questions. You can give them a brief overview of answers and then direct them to your blog for more detailed information.
When using keywords remember to make sure that they flow naturally into your writing and that you don’t overuse them. Keyword stuffing is one of the oldest tricks in the book and Google has got very good at spotting it when it happens.
Video Content Strategy
Video content is great and it works well across multiple traffic sources. A lot of people get put off by it as it requires more time, effort and skill than other content types, however, there are some tricks you can use to cut the workload down, depending on the type of videos you want to make.
If you want to make review videos, then you’ll have to be prepared to put yourself in front of the camera. Having a face to go with the products you are reviewing will really help to build trust, after all, you are putting yourself out there. However, this comes with all the risks that the internet has to offer.
If you would prefer not to deal with negative criticism and remain out of the limelight then it’s still possible to just do voiceovers. There are plenty of successful YouTubers that do just that. Here are a few to check out for inspiration:
There are lots of different ways to do video and you should learn what works best for your traffic source. Let’s take a quick look at Facebook and YouTube.
There’s a big difference between Facebook and YouTube. Shorter is generally better for Facebook, whereas YouTube favours videos of 10 minutes or more. The reason for this is simple. People scroll through Facebook and take in a lot of information very quickly. They tend not to spend ages watching videos, so it’s best to grab their attention as quickly as possible and give them the information they need. People also don’t use Facebook’s search options to find specific videos in the same way, so if someone is looking for a longer review of a product then they will head straight to YouTube.
YouTube is obviously king when it comes to video content, however, unless you are planning to make video content your main revenue stream then it’s probably not a beast you should try to tame as it will require you to invest a lot of time, money and effort into making content that people want to watch.
With Facebook videos, you can actually get away with short, low-quality video as long as it is relevant to your product and grabs people’s attention. Because of this, you can even outsource production relatively cheaply on sites like Fiverr and still see good results. This method would be virtually impossible on YouTube.
We won’t go into detail here about producing replicable, HQ content for YouTube as there are plenty of videos available which can show you exactly what’s required and it’s best to learn from the pros. Just know that if you are looking to promote affiliate offers then Facebook and YouTube both offer very different methods of doing that, but unless you’re looking to be a full-time filmmaker then Facebook will be more effective and easier to get started.
Case studies can be great if you want to showcase your product using detailed information. They give you a chance to speak to people who are already knowledgeable about the niche you’re in, which can build trust and place you as an expert. However, they should only really be attempted if you really do know your product/service and where it fits into the industry.
Case studies won’t work with every product/service, but they can work for most. As a general rule, it’s best not to overload people with too much information and you should try to use language that can be understood by the masses. The best case studies will cater to newcomers and veterans alike, so be sure that your arguments are informed, informative and easy to understand.
Try to avoid overselling when you write a case study, otherwise, it will seem more like a cheap sales pitch. An easy way to do this is to stay objective. Avoid giving your opinions and don’t use adjectives like the best, amazing, incredible, awesome etc. Instead, you should aim to show people why it’s the best e.g. 10x faster than…, 20% increase in… Doing this still shows that your product is great, but it backs it up with carefully considered evidence, which people can then visualise.
If you can create a convincing case study and get it in front of your competitors’ audiences then you can start to claim some of their customers for yourself.
Emails are a great way to retarget people and let them know that you have something new to offer them. To get started you’ll need to run some lead generation campaigns in order to get lists of people to email. If you’re using multiple sources, then be sure to tag people as they enter your list so that you know where they came from. This will allow you to segment more effectively later on.
With email, you can post pretty much anything related to your business, however, you should use your emails wisely and ensure that you aren’t spamming people. If you are in Europe or Brazil or targeting either of these GEOs then it’s important to be compliant. Here’s an article on understanding LGPD and GDPR.
There are a lot of ways to run email campaigns but here are some of the best methods.
DOI and SOI You have two options for email opt-in when it comes to new contacts signing up. SOI (Single Opt-In) and DOI (Double Opt-In). Single opt-in just means that new contacts only have to enter their details on your site and hit opt-in. DOI requires users to verify their email address from their inbox. DOI is recommended as it will filter bad quality contacts from your list and also help to ensure that your emails get into inboxes.
It’s always good to have an introductory email which gets sent automatically after signing up. You can use them to thank people for signing up and tell them a bit more about what they’ll receive in return. Plus, if you can offer them something in return for signing up then that’s even better. Things like E-books can make a big difference.
Segmenting email lists basically means that you sort your lists based on certain customer attributes. This is a must if you are targeting different GEOs in different languages, but it can also help you if you are targeting different audiences through different traffic sources. For example, you might have people sign up for your email list after seeing an advert on Facebook. They might have been enticed by a certain special offer you had running. Another group might have visited your website and read your articles and decided they like what they see and want to get more information. For these two groups of people, you might want to send different emails using different approaches.
Subject lines are probably the most important part of your emails. They will determine whether or not people are interested enough to open the email in the first place. If you don’t catch people straight away, then you’ll lose them and after a while your emails will start going to spam.
According to Marketo, 7 words or 41 characters is the ideal length for email subject lines. You should also be aware of tactics that will see your emails filed as spam. These include using spam words/phrases, irregular grammar and punctuation and ALL CAPS! However, you can use emojis sparingly, and these can help make your subject lines stand out. But only use them if they are relevant to your message.
Send Regularly But Don’t Spam
You want to keep your audience up-to-date, but unless you’re planning on running a daily newsletter, then don’t send too many emails. Two or three times a week is fine. Another thing to watch out for is sending out hundreds of emails at once sporadically. Spam Traps hate this and it can get you blacklisted surprisingly quickly. Therefore, it’s best to be consistent in the times you send emails to people and also stagger the times that your emails are sent. This won’t be too much of an issue if you’re email list is in the low thousands, but once it gets larger then firing off 10,000 in one go can also ring alarm bells. Most ESPs (Email Service Providers) allow you to send X number of emails per hour for Y number of hours. You can ask your chosen ESP the numbers that they think will be best.
If you want to get started with email marketing then here are some ESPs to check out:
MailChimp is great for beginners and allows you to build a list of up to 2000 contacts for free. It also has lots of templates and a very user-friendly interface.
Sendlane is another great behaviour-based ESP which specialises in e-commerce but can be used for most email marketing.
If you have an expertise in your niche and want to give people an incentive to sign up then eBooks can be a great way to do that. Having something to offer in return for people making an action is a great way to give people the extra push they need. Ebooks are perfect for this as they can deliver real value and help to push your brand or message.
There are a few different ways to use ebooks. The most popular is as an incentive for lead generation. You’ve probably seen influencers online offering free ebooks to people when they sign up for newsletters. You may have even signed up for a few yourself. Not all marketers offer real value in these, as they are often trying to funnel people to a paid online course and giving all the secrets away in a free book would defeat the purpose. Instead, they are used to get email addresses and whet people’s appetites in the hopes they are interested enough to convert.
If you’re not selling courses though and eBooks are simply supplementary to your niche then you can add as much information as you want. You can go as crazy as you like in the hopes that people will take your knowledge on board and share it. Just make sure that they attribute that knowledge to you and your site. The great thing about eBooks is that you can even add affiliate links directly inside them.
The Bottom Line
No matter what type of content strategy you use, make sure that it’s relevant to your audience and that it gives them what they want and need to convert. You won’t get it right the first time, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Keep testing and keep following your data and eventually you’ll come out on top.