Content marketing has been around for a good few years.
Most of us are pretty familiar with the broad ideas: create content, boost your Google search ranking and hope the leads start coming in.
But what do you do if the leads don’t come in? What if you’re churning out content for clients at a respectable pace and yet you’re not seeing any returns?
Google has been working hard to ensure the key focus remains on one important thing: your audience. In this case, that means your clients and prospective clients.
It’s your audience, narrowly defined and properly catered for, that is the key to unlocking your brand’s content marketing potential. Here are some ideas on capturing your audience’s attention, ensuring they return for future great content, and eventually turn into leads.
Identifying your audience is key to achieving online success as a publisher in your niche or area of specialist advice. Countless blogs and online magazines make the mistake of trying to cater to too broad a church, and end up suffering as a result.
Take Forbes as an example. It may be a huge global publication, but it does leave us marketing people scratching our heads when we find articles about Apple’s chief executive or the latest FTSE 100 performance next to an article on the top 10 happiest and saddest countries in the world.
To make sure your content is aligned to your core audience, simply ask yourself four questions:
- Who is the audience for each piece of content?
- Why are you creating content in the first place?
- What’s in it for the reader (what’s the ‘pain point’ you are solving for them)?
- Would your audience notice if you stopped creating content (could they get the same content elsewhere)?
One advantage an adviser can tap into is the fact it’s a client-facing job. Next time you’re speaking to a client about their needs, make a note of their questions and turn these into blog posts.
Do this often enough and you’ll soon own a valuable bank of content that directly addresses the needs of your clients.
But the next question is, then what? How do you get the content out there?
The word 'influencers' is likely to conjure up images of social media gurus lurking up and down the aisles of Twitter with hundreds of thousands of followers, sharing great articles and launching small business content into the stratosphere. This is true. However…
When you’re writing about a niche to a local audience, such as ‘financial advice in Manchester’, the likes of a huge California-based social media influencer probably doesn’t interest you.
Influencers you might be more keen on interacting with are likely other local advisers, or perhaps your professional connections such as accountants and solicitors.
You can start by making a list of people you already know who have a presence online. While their number of followers might be relatively small, if you find a dozen people likely to share your content suddenly you have access to a sizeable readership.
Consider sending a couple of articles to your new list of influencers. Once that's done, it may be time to sharpen up your own social media profile.
A guide to creating a social media strategy that works for each brand across all platforms will have to wait for another day, as the topic deserves its own article… or even a series of textbooks!
There are however three guidelines to promoting your content, particularly on Facebook that you might find useful:
1) Use a captivating headline
According to Copyblogger, 80 per cent of readers don’t make it past an article’s headline, so make it snappy. Keep in mind that the average human has an attention span of eight seconds - that’s your window to capture a new reader.
2) Use relevant imagery
Don’t be afraid to keep it simple. An article doesn’t need to be a bespoke piece of work that took untold design hours to complete.
But at the same time, try to avoid free stock images. After all, an image of people celebrating on a beach is unlikely to do much for a headline inviting people to make the most of a pension.
3) Write fantastic copy
We know, it’s easier said than done. But it's worth remembering, as long as you come across as you do in a face-to-face setting, you’ll be fine.
Avoid being overly formal, or overly technical. Highlight how your content is helping your reader, offer solutions and play to people’s emotions. This might sound manipulative but ‘Protect your child’s future by choosing the right Jisa’ is likely to get more clicks and engagement than simply saying ‘Here’s a guide to Jisas’.
The 4-1-1 strategy
This social media philosophy was developed by marketing expert Andrew Davis, and works best on platforms like Twitter.
It says that over the course of six pieces of content shared, four should be from influencers (where you retweet their work without asking for anything in return), one should be your own content (be it an original editorial, white paper or commentary of yours), and one should be a sales-related piece (maybe promoting your services).
The thinking behind 4-1-1 is that the more you share influencer content, the more they’ll start to take notice and begin sharing your content with their readership.
By mastering these steps, your content will take an important step towards becoming the strongest it can be for your audience.
The process takes time, but it’s important to not fall into the hole of creating content just for the sake of it. Instead, make it work for you.
And who knows, in time you may become the next big influencer that everyone wants to speak to.