The Internet is awash with content, some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. In this veritable maelstrom of information, how can brands use content to form connections that matter? Here is a useful six-step approach you can follow to generate leads online with content.
- Meditate on Your Target Audience - This doesn’t mean you have to pull out the Yoga mat (although I have actually done this before) to really connect with your target audience. I use the word “meditate” because I think it invokes the idea of serious, focused thought. When you strip away the bells and whistles, marketing is ultimately about human connection: your brand is nothing but a group of people conceiving of, creating, and ultimately selling a product or service to other biped hominids (even if you’re selling pet treats, it’s the people who have the cash). Prospects and clients have one thing in common- they’re human beings with human motivations. Don’t forget this.
- Think beyond the Written Word - Look, I love written prose at least as much as the next guy, but in today’s fragmented marketing environment, the written word is not enough. An effective content strategy should contain written, audio, and visual media. This is especially true given a) mobile devices are fast becoming the primary means of content consumption, and b) the surfeit of online content is making us all ADD. Because we are always on the go, I think auditory forms of content, such as audio-blogs and podcasts, will enjoy fabulous growth over the next few years.
- Optimize for SEO Relevance - As Google’s algorithm continues to grow in sophistication, and the search giant continues to emphasize fresh and original content, many of the traditional assumptions about SEO technique are obsolete. In this new SEO environment, try optimizing words and phrases that your audience is likely to search, regardless of difficulty or page rank. Experiment with this approach, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
- Promote and Engage on Social Media - If content is your brand’s message, social is its amplifier. However, sharing your content on social media is the easy part. You need to monitor it, actively engaging with those who like, tweet, and share your content. Ignoring the engagement piece is like advertising in the Yellow Pages and then not answering your phone when it rings. If pressed for time, consider targeting any social promotion to the channels where your prospects are most likely hanging out. Whatever you do, avoid over-promotion and under-engagement.
- Analyze and Tweak - Practice, as the saying goes, makes perfect. The same is true with content marketing. Tracking successes and failures only makes sense, as it gives you a chance to strengthen existing connections and form more relevant new ones by refining your message. Don’t be sensitive; if a content piece or an entire campaign flops, try and figure out why, and make adjustments. Don’t stray too far from your value proposition, though, or else you run the risk of focusing too much on form over substance.
- Surf the Net – Nobody has ever won a batting title by having just one good game. To generate quality leads, you must CONSISTANTLY produce content that is relevant to your target audience at each stage of the awareness/buying cycle. To do this proficiently, you need to be in the know, up on trends, hip with it, etc. Humans consume food to fuel their bodies; content creators ingest information to fuel their productivity.
As the world continues its migration to all things digital, online content is fast becoming the primary means of connecting with your target audience. If you do not take online content marketing seriously, then, you are probably better off ignoring it all together. Just remember that doing so will only weaken your credibility vis a vis those whom you are trying to reach.