The game has changed when it comes to developing and retaining relationships with customers. Smart content marketers understand that they have to be quick on their feet, agile in their delivery of content, and savvy in their marketing strategy.
To enhance your online user base and give your customers what they want, you must be intimately engaged with your audience. Use these tips to improve your content, enhance its delivery, and strengthen your returns.
1. Budget Wisely
Content marketing isn't cheap – whether you're investing your own time and energy in its development, or you're outsourcing the work, it has a very real cost of time and money. Throwing cash at the creation of new infographics or hiring videographers to put together YouTube clips that no one watches makes no sense.
Take a hard look at your analytics and put your money, time, and effort toward the strategies that are working. For a long time, I was investing too much time into Facebook and Twitter, assuming that because they were the largest social platforms, they were where I needed to be. It wasn't until I looked carefully at my analytics that I realized most of my social media marketing traffic was coming from Pinterest – a platform I barely paid attention to.
Since switching more of my energy over to sharing content through Pinterest, my Pinterest followers have quadrupled (from 1,000 to 4,000), and the traffic visiting my site from Pinterest is now second only to Google search – that's just in a matter of four months.
Investing my time and effort into Pinterest makes sense because there's a clear payoff and the growth is significant. You'll improve your marketing strategy if you can identify one or two angles that are currently working and focus on those.
2. Provide Clear Guidelines
Content shared through your blog and social channels is a direct reflection of your business. Whether you're in charge of putting together your own content, or you have a team of people helping you out, you need to provide clear guidelines and expectations about the look, feel, and tone of the content you share.
Not only does this provide your customers with a strong understanding of who your business is and what you stand for, but it also helps your contractors deliver better content without as much back-and-forth.
3. Set Goals
If you don't know what you hope to achieve from content marketing, you're never going to achieve it. After narrowing your focus to a few channels (for instance, your blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram), look at your current stats and analytics, and set goals. Come up with a vision for where you want those channels to be in a year – how many followers, how much traffic, and how much interaction. Then, break down your annual goal by coming up with monthly milestones.
Finally, determine what action items need to be completed daily and weekly to help you achieve your monthly and yearly goals. You can always adjust your goal-setting as needed, but vocalizing and writing down your goals is a sure step toward eventual success.
4. Stick to a Schedule
Customers appreciate consistency. Just like they like knowing who you are and what you stand for, they want to know when they can expect to see new content from you. Create a content schedule, and stick to it. This schedule might vary from channel to channel, and that's okay. For instance, you might put out a new blog every Monday to send through your weekly customer newsletter. Then you might post Instagram images Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and new YouTube videos once a month on the 15th of the month.
If your content is high-quality, and if your customers are engaged, they'll start looking forward to and counting on your new pieces. Just make sure your content is always geared to your audience and fulfilling a need they have – if you're giving them something they can find everywhere else, they'll go somewhere else to find it.
5. Adopt the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” Methodology
Constant self-promotion of paid products or services is tiresome. Gary Vaynerchuk's book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World,” emphasizes the importance of planning for the knock-out “right hook” – the content designed to result in sales – by placing it between a series of “jabs” – the content designed to build relationships with customers.
The idea is to create and share free, high-quality, customer-focused content that leaves your audience wanting more, and then to build anticipation for the release of a paid program or service that gives them what they're looking for. It's a methodology that requires customization and fine-tuning for your business, but if you adopt the strategy, it will pay off down the line.
6. Create Pinnable Images & Infographics
As of July 2013, Pinterest had 70 million users, 80% of whom were women. Amazingly, only 20% of Internet-using women – and 5% of Internet-using men – are currently on Pinterest. That means the platform still has incredible room for growth, and it's not too late to get in on the party. Since 80% of Pinterest pins are re-pins, if you produce beautiful, high-quality images and infographics to share on Pinterest, they're likely to get repeatedly re-pinned.
The beautiful thing about Pinterest is that unlike most other social networks, where content sharing is time-sensitive and short-lived (two months from now, who will care what you tweeted today?), the Pinterest search function makes it quite possible for a pin you pin today to be found, re-pinned, and re-circulated again months (or even years) from now. I've seen incredible boosts in traffic from pins I pinned in January, randomly popping up again when someone new found it, pinned it, and got the re-pinning started.
7. Engage With Your Audience
The only way to truly give your audience what they want is to engage with them. Ask for feedback and pay attention to the comments and questions you receive.
But beyond that, recognize that your audience might be different through different outlets. For instance, those who follow you on Facebook might not be the same as those who follow you on SnapChat. By repackaging your content for different audiences, you're more likely to relate to and engage with your customers, as they want to be related to and engaged with.
Best practices for content marketing are constantly changing, so it's important that you be open to change. Reevaluate your strategy every few months and tweak your approach as needed.
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