For effective content marketing you must know your audience

Defining Content Marketing Audience

There are three reasons why you publish and market your content: to improve your search engine rankings, to provide useful content to your target audience so that your business or your brand becomes familiar to them, or for both. Whether you want to improve your search engine rankings or increase brand awareness, you need to know what sort of information your target audience seeks (related to your business) and then publish and market that content.

Exactly how much time do you spend understanding your core audience before publishing content on your website or blog? I always ask this question from my clients before starting new projects. I need to understand for whom I’m writing. Sure, I’m writing for my client in terms of my business, but for whom am I actually writing? I’m writing for my client’s customers and clients.

In broad terms everybody knows who should be the target audience. For example, I am publishing content on my blog and website to attract people who would like to hire me as their content writer, preferably for content marketing purposes. I’m not selling content writing books. I’m not trying to earn ad revenue by publishing content writing and content marketing tutorials. No, I’m trying to attract people who would like to hire me as a content writer. This can be a big difference and I need to constantly keep it in mind while writing and marketing my own content.

I gained this experience while trying to promote my web design business (in the early 2000’s) through content marketing – at that time very few people talk about content marketing but I knew publishing content on other websites meant greater visibility for my own website. But a tiny mistake that I committed was that I ended up writing lots of content that drew only those people to my website who wanted to learn web design. It wasn’t attracting clients who would need a web designer.

In order to understand what your core audience wants, you first need to understand what core audience you want to draw. As I mentioned above, I didn’t want to draw people who just like to learn about content writing and content marketing. I wanted to draw people who would like to hire me as a content writer and content marketing consultant. This is a broad category. I can go deeper and deeper – maybe I would like to attract small businesses because they are easier to handle compared to big businesses. I’m comfortable writing about technology, so I may try to draw technology-based small businesses that are looking for a content writer and a content marketer. And so on.

It’s not just about knowing what your core audience wants, it’s also about constantly being aware of what sort of audience you want to attract.

This is also called creating a persona for your content marketing – what sort of person should come to your website? What should be his or her requirements? What is he or she looking for vis-à-vis your website?

In most of the cases even when you know what sort of people you must draw to your website in order to increase your business, it is difficult to know what such people look for. This is the question this Content Marketing Institute blog post answers by interviewing various content marketing experts. Although there are many pearls of wisdom shared by these experts, the advise I can most relate to is given by Rand Fishkin of Moz.

Talk, watch, think

I’m actually not a big fan of personas. But, I do love spending a lot of time with real customers, hearing their frustrations, talking to them about the industry and its challenges, seeing what speakers are talking about on stages, watching the blogosphere and social media to see what’s resonating and being discussed, and generally being part of our customers’ world. I also love doing the work myself – being my own customer and feeling the same pain our customers feel. Those experiences give me a much better sense of the field than a persona

Content marketing, social media marketing and SEO are different but connected

It is normally assumed these days that content marketing, social media marketing and SEO are almost the same thing. They are interconnected but they are quite different and you can execute your content marketing, social media marketing and SEO strategies separately.

Being a content writer my personal opinion is your social media presence and your SEO are by-products of how you do your content marketing. It all depends on your content. I’m not saying this because I’m biased towards the importance of content. After all, what is SEO? It is the appearance of your content in search engine results according to its relevance. Similarly, what is social media marketing? It is about posting quality content under your profiles and continuously engaging people who follow you or connect with you, primarily due to the quality of your content.

But if an online marketer packages all these online marketing tactics into one solution, I don’t think he or she is doing anything wrong. Although you can reap benefits from them as separate entities, when combined, they can give you far greater results. Take for instance focusing just on content marketing. It involves publishing high quality and relevant content on an ongoing basis and then making sure that you leverage the strengths of all the channels available to you in order to spread your content as far as possible, among your niche audience. What are these so-called channels that you use in order to distribute your content? These may be

  • Search engines
  • Social media and social networking websites
  • Blogs and websites that link to your content
  • Blogs and websites where your content is published, attributed to you
  • Paid advertising to promote your content
  • Your mailing list

In order to promote content you need to have content. In order to reap the benefits of content marketing and content promotion, the content must be such as it should instil confidence among people who are drawn to it initially. This blog post explains in detail what’s the difference between content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization.

70% of Internet content will be video?

I found this interesting visual on this link:

70% content on the Internet will be video content

Being a content writing doesn’t worry me that people will be accessing with your content more than textual content? It doesn’t. Writing will always be needed. Yes, more people are consuming with your content because one, more video content is available and two, connectivity is improving all over the world. Even in Indian villages people are accessing YouTube videos and sharing them with each other and posting them on Facebook.

But that doesn’t mean people don’t need written content.

Well, I don’t have much to delve into this topic. It’s just that for a very long time I haven’t published anything on this blog and I wanted to make a beginning somewhere and when I came across this visual, I thought I should post it on my blog.

The actual link though is quite interesting. It talks about how MasterCard used content marketing to expand its brand presence by creating videos that emotionally touch people rather than thrusting their marketing pitch upon them.

25 reasons your business needs content marketing

Business needs content

Content marketing is one of the biggest advantages the Internet has brought to small and medium-sized businesses, but it also has a drawback – very few people understand it, and it takes time, effort and strategy to actually experience its true power. Another problem with content marketing is that it is mostly related to writing and there are very few who take writing seriously.

On the other hand, people take SEO very seriously because they think getting higher search engine rankings is a big deal. Sure, it is a big deal, but getting higher rankings doesn’t guarantee success in terms of increasing your sales or getting more leads.

I often say that the need to implement a well-defined content marketing strategy is same as actually recognising the impact of global warming and taking corrective measures. Very few individuals in this world take global warming as seriously as it should be because they think it is some distant problem. Since content marketing takes time to show some real results and a great amount of consistency, one, people are unable to understand it and two, even those who can understand it, find it quite overwhelming, despite the fact that there isn’t more effective way of marketing your business than content marketing.

Why your business needs content marketing

Here are 25 reasons:

  1. It is cheaper compared to traditional advertising and marketing (sometimes even free if you don’t count time as money)
  2. It is much more effective than traditional advertising and marketing
  3. It helps you consolidate your online presence
  4. It makes your brand relatable and recognisable
  5. It encourages people to do business with you rather than convincing them to do business with you
  6. It organically improves your search engine rankings
  7. It gets you more qualified traffic from social networking websites
  8. It helps you engage your prospective customers and clients meaningfully
  9. You get repeat traffic to your website
  10. Your online presence becomes more authoritative if you continuously write about a particular subject and people can use your writing to improve their life or their business
  11. Content marketing is self-sustaining – a web page or blog post that crosses a particular threshold level brings you business for months and even years without you having to spend any money
  12. As your content marketing succeeds, its cost moves towards zero
  13. It increases your sales as, the more people read your content the more they are eager to do business with you
  14. Content marketing generates more leads for you
  15. As more and more people link to your content you generate multiple traffic sources and consequently, you have to depend less on search engine whims
  16. With content marketing, as a small business you can compete with big business by making your content more approachable and personal
  17. It helps you build long-term relationships with your existing and future customers and clients
  18. It helps you create a helpful resource on your website or blog continuously drawing people to your business
  19. Content marketing gives you an edge because most of your competitors don’t have the needed patience to succeed at it
  20. It encourages your customers to reach out to you and share your content on their own social networking timelines
  21. When you encourage your employees to create content for your business website it improves their confidence and makes them more productive
  22. As an independent consultant or service provider, as your authority increases due to content marketing, you can charge more for your services
  23. As your audience feels more educated, they will be more inclined towards doing business with you rather than another website that doesn’t publish helpful content
  24. Every piece of content you create and distribute is an invaluable business asset
  25. Sustained content marketing builds you a broadcasting channel with your own dedicated audience through which you can carry out PR campaigns and product promotion campaigns without having to depend on third-party broadcasting channels

For medium-sized and big businesses, I personally believe that the 25th point is the most important. Content marketing helps you build a broadcasting channel which very few businesses have.

Anatomy of an optimized web page

An optimized web page is a lot more than what it looks to you when you load it into your browser. The web crawlers and search engine ranking algorithms see your web page in a totally different manner than how you and your prospective customers and clients see. Similarly, people on social networking websites view your web page differently than those who view your link on a search engine result page.

What is an optimized web page?

An optimized web page looks good to your human visitors as well as search engine crawlers. “Optimized” means it achieves its purpose both in terms of converting maximum number of visitors into paying customers and clients and getting higher search engine rankings on major search engines.

Have a look at this highly appealing and informative infographic sent to me by Kelsey Phillips of Surepayroll. This is where the infographic “The Anatomy of an Optimized Web Page” has been originally published.

Image of an infographic explaining the anatomy of an optimized web page
Click the image to enlarge

The main ingredients of an optimized web page are:

  • The web page title: Ideally it should be around 60 characters (according to the Yoast SEO plug-in recommendation). The web page title is different from the headline that you often see at the top of the body content. The web page title is the meta tag that lies within the <head> and </head> section of your web page. It can be different from your web page headline.
  • The web page description: This can be around 150 characters. Although these days in terms of SEO the web page description doesn’t count much but it helps to have a good description because the description appears on the search engine result pages and also when someone shares your link on Facebook or Twitter. Let it give a basic idea of what your web page represents and why people should visit and read it or view it. The web page description is also a meta tag and lies within the <head> and </head> section.
  • The headlines: You use headlines to highlight the main points of the copy of your web page. There should be one main headline within <h1> and </h1> in an ideally optimized web page. Then you can have multiple <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6> headlines.
  • Body text:
    Self-explanatory. While creating content for the body text, make sure that you use the right language and you stick to the main theme of your web page. Don’t try to cram everything into a single page. Divide different ideas within different sections. Strategically use the keywords and scatter them all over the body text.
  • Images:
    They can significantly enhance the quality of your web page. Don’t forget to include the alt text.

These are the basic ingredients that can help you create an optimized web page. The rest of the information you can view in the infographic above.

10 facts about content marketing people are constantly getting wrong

Wrong facts about content marketing

The good thing is that more and more businesses are understanding and recognising the power of content marketing. The bad news is, most of them don’t really understand what content marketing is and they are constantly running behind quick fixes. The presumed facts about content marketing, if not totally wrong, are not what they should be, and consequently, when business owners and entrepreneurs don’t see any positive results, they get disenchanted and worse, also start discouraging others from pursuing content marketing.

The thing is, if you are barking up the wrong tree is it the fault of the tree or your judgement? Obviously your judgement.

Listed below are 10 facts about content marketing people are constantly getting wrong.

1. Content marketing means improving your SEO

Most of the businesses want to publish lots of content because they want to improve their SEO. Trying to improve your SEO is not a bad thing but if you are using content marketing for this purpose, it’s an overkill. Content marketing is a complete mechanism, a complete process, of getting people to your website and then turning them into your customers and clients. By simply focusing on your SEO you may improve your search engine rankings and hence also increase organic traffic, but if you don’t focus on your branding, if you don’t get recognised for your quality of content and if you don’t target your audience, all your traffic will go waste.

2. Content marketing shouldn’t cost much

By this I don’t mean it should cost more but many business owners presume that since it is just writing, it shouldn’t cost the way other services (web designing, accounting, programming, etc.) cost. Like any other service, writing, producing, publishing and disseminating content is a real activity and people require expertise to carry it out. It takes years of training to consistently create quality content that remains true to your brand identity. Besides, content marketing isn’t always about writing and publishing content, a major part involves promoting your content and responding to user behaviour.

Just in the morning I come across a website selling “well-written” articles for $ 1.25 per article. At the surface it might seem quite enticing. Just imagine the amount of content you can get for $ 1.25 per article. But have you ever considered why such writers are never hired by businesses that actually make money? Even eHow, a company known to have made millions of dollars through AdSense-supported content, was paying or is paying $ 15 per article. And that’s not even “well-written” content as you may come across on many professional websites.

The point is, when you are looking for a serious, committed and professional content marketing service, extremely low cost (for example, $ 1.25 per article) shouldn’t be the only criteria. Dependability, expertise, writing quality and marketing experience should come as a complete package.

3. Content marketing is for big businesses

People are more comfortable with conventional advertising and they are also familiar with the way it works. You advertise and people respond to your advertisements. When it comes to content marketing many small businesses think it’s a fuzzy concept that requires lots of money and involvement. You daily come across questions like “what exactly is content marketing?” But how often do you come across something like “what exactly is advertising?”

Due to lack of awareness many people think that content marketing is for big businesses that can invest lots of money and hire multiple employees to create high-quality content around their brands, publish that content, broadcast it and then generates lots of buzz as well as inbound traffic.

I’m going to contradict myself yes, $ 1.25 per article can work for many businesses looking for lots of product and service descriptions and if these product and service descriptions are well-written and if you can post these product and service descriptions on your social networking websites or even broadcast them to your newsletter subscribers, this is an example of good content marketing.

Just as you can have an ad during the Super Bowl, you can publish pamphlets on your printer and distribute them in your locality; these are both examples of advertising.

Similarly, whether you storm the Internet with a celebrity endorsement or 5 hundred articles and press releases in a week or you consistently publish a single blog post every day and then promote it on Facebook and Twitter these are all different levels and forms of content marketing and hence, whether you want to pursue content marketing or not doesn’t depend on your business size, but on your strategy and your understanding of content marketing.

4. Provided your content is well-written, there is no need to target search engines

Although your rankings primarily depend on the level of competition you face, the quality of your content, the way you have used the language and the phrases, directly impact your SEO. Google’s SEO guidelines clearly state that write content in such a manner that it is good to read, easy to access and stick to the point and if you stick to these guidelines, you automatically improve your search engine rankings. But many content marketers believe that you should totally disregard search engines.

Whether you want to target search engines or not is your own prerogative, but you can get lots of targeted traffic from search engines because millions of people use them to find relevant information. But creating high-quality content for your target audience doesn’t mean you should ignore SEO. You can follow SEO practices while creating high-quality content. I do that on my website and blog and I also do that for my clients I can maintain the balance even while creating keyword-century content.

The problem is not with overly focusing on SEO or totally ignoring it, the problem is with getting carried away. The problem is either focusing on your audience completely or focusing on your SEO, completely. Maintain a balance. Write content for humans but use keywords and key phrases that these humans use on search engines in order to find the information you have published.

5. You cannot predict the success of your content marketing campaign or strategy

Well, using the same logic you cannot even predict the success of conventional advertising. Nobody has been able to create the perfect formula for ensuring the success of conventional advertising. Nonetheless, since it’s being done since time immemorial, people are more trusting towards conventional advertising and a bit cynical towards content marketing.

So, can you predict the success of your content marketing campaign or strategy? This Oracle report (it is a PDF) precisely calculates the ROI of content marketing and how you can definitely make out how much improvement you’re going to experience with your content marketing strategy provided you do all the right things. For example, in the very beginning of the report they write that “per dollar, content marketing produces three times more leads”.

Saying that you cannot predict the success of your content marketing campaign or strategy is akin to saying you cannot predict whether you are going to get more business or not by installing a telephone or by opening a new branch in another locality.

Content marketing is a platform. It’s a communication channel. It’s an engagement mechanism. What sort of business you get is a byproduct of the platform, the communication channel and the engagement mechanism you can establish.

6. Content marketing only means creating lots of fun content for the B2C market

When people approach content marketing from this angle they immediately feel discouraged when they realise that they are either serving the B2B market or their product or service is not “interesting” enough to warrant content marketing success.

Yes, fun stuff does well but only in terms of creating buzz and to an extent also brand awareness but even if there is no fun factor (and who says there cannot be fun factor in serious business?) content marketing can be one of the greatest tools to put your point across and make a presence for yourself.

If you think content marketing is only for a B2C audience, you will be surprised to know how Intel is using content marketing to strengthen its presence. You very well know that Intel is as B2B as it gets. It cannot directly sell its microchips and other hardware products to consumers. But it can certainly encourage consumers to purchase electronics and gadgets that use Intel products. Remember “Intel Inside”? It was a very clever marketing tactic. In fact to promote its content Intel is publishing a complete magazine called iQ.

Although as a small business or even as a medium-sized business there is no use trying to emulate Intel, but the point is, content marketing can be used for every business. The problem is not with content marketing, the problem is that sometimes people don’t understand how to use it and turn it into a formidable inbound marketing tool.

7. Content marketing should deliver fast results like conventional advertising

Frankly, it can, and it cannot. It depends on your market, your content marketing approach and the reaction of your audience. Having said that, remember that content marketing is not a machine or a formula. It’s a platform. It’s a channel. Take the example of a television channel. For a few months every channel has to work without getting advertisements. Then, as its audience builds up it begins to get ad revenue. The same happens with your content marketing. First you need to make a presence. People need to relate you to your content quality. This takes time unless you have got lots of money, like Intel. Even creating and writing quality content takes time.

The problem on the Internet is there is lots of noise and “voice” is rarely heard and when it is heard, since there is already so much noise vying for your attention, you either end up ignoring the voice or soon forget about it. In order to remember the voice, you need to be exposed to it repeatedly, on an ongoing basis. This “voice” is quality content. You need to constantly publish and distribute quality content in order to maintain your place in people’s memory. Again, this takes time but once you have embedded your voice inside people’s minds, you have got them as your customers and clients for life.

8. Promoting content is secondary to publishing content

Going back to the Intel example, its Global Paid Media & Content Strategist Luke Kintigh rightly says that

We have the mantra that for every dollar and hour spent on content production, it has to be matched with a subsequent dollar and hour devoted to amplification. Being agile and quickly acting on early distribution insights is also critical to optimizing recently published content as well as iterating and creating more content that will stick with your audience based on what youre seeing resonate.

A big part of content marketing is, what the phrase so eloquently says, “marketing”. You have got content, and you have got to market it. Marketing your content means making sure that your content reaches the right audience. No matter how great your content is, unless people know about it, unless the content is at a place where it can be found without much fuss, unless people can be brought to your content, unless there is a mechanism that attracts your target audience to your content, you aren’t going to achieve much success in content marketing.

9. Once you have gotten a certain number of blog posts and webpages, your content marketing is done

Content marketing isn’t publishing twenty blog posts or publishing ten webpages or submitting twenty-five articles to article submission directories. Yes, they help you, but in order to show some tangible results, content marketing needs to be an ongoing process. In fact, let us call it a process rather than a “campaign”. Let us call content marketing a part of the business. For example, you need to make phone calls regularly to your prospects. Do you call this exercise “making calls campaign”? No, you do it every day as a business development exercise. The same is the case with content marketing. Quality content writing, production and distribution is an ongoing process.

You may think, “Heck, does it mean ongoing expense?” but this is not the case. Don’t take it as an extra cost, take it as an operational cost, just as you need to pay the office rent, the electricity bill, the telephone bill, the Internet access, remuneration to your employees, etc.

Content marketing is one of the best things to have happened to small business owners because it empowers you to compete with the big guys by being innovative, persistent and quality conscious. The trick is, yes, being persistent for a long time and publishing and distributing content your target audience is looking for.

10 Quantity try and is over quality

Precisely this is the reason why many entrepreneurs and business owners find the idea of hiding content writers charging $ 1.25 per article enticing. You can get tons of content at an extremely cheap rate. Well, the problem is, you also get cheap content, most of it plagiarised and full of grammar and spelling mistakes. Of course there are exceptions. Exceptions are everywhere. And if you want to base your content marketing on exceptions, well, go ahead.

But if you really take your business seriously, don’t compromise on quality.

10 failsafe ways to create an unbeatable content marketing strategy

Failsafe ways of creating an unbeatable content marketing strategy

How do you create an unbeatable content marketing strategy for your business? In order to achieve this you first need to understand whether you can create such a marketing strategy or not – do you believe it can be done? Kevin Spacey rightly says in the below-mentioned video that when it comes to whether a movie (which is content) is going to be a success or a failure, there is nothing like luck. Everything can be predecided. You follow the rules, you get the results. There are certain templates that get you success. Of course there are instances when people don’t follow certain templates and still hit the jackpot (he cites an example of The Godfather patriarch who constantly gets anxiety attacks), and that’s how new templates are created, but I personally believe you should dabble with new templates only when you have tasted success on the strength of existing, proven templates. Anyway, first the Kevin Spacey content marketing video:

Just like the templates people use in order to experience success in various aspects of life, there are some failsafe ways to create an unbeatable content marketing strategy. As I repeatedly say in my blog posts, every business and organization (or a person) has its own definition of success so whether your content marketing strategy is succeeding or not depends a lot on how you define success. Really, making money isn’t always the purpose, but let’s, for the benefit of clarity, assume that every business wants to get more business, more leads, more contacts and more traction. This is how success is defined – getting more with less. Content marketing gives you that provided you do the right things. Listed below are 10 failsafe ways you can create a content marketing strategy that packs a punch.

  1. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve: Some people think content marketing means getting more traffic from search engines. Yes, better content definitely improves your search engine rankings but this is not the only purpose of putting into action a content marketing strategy and in fact, you shouldn’t even call it a strategy. An “SEO” campaign, yes, even an SEO strategy, but definitely not a content marketing strategy. This is one of the goals and not the only goal. The main purpose of your content marketing strategy is building a platform and getting people to know you and trust you. It is to make it easier for people to find you when they actually need to find you. It is to strengthen your brand. It is to clear all doubts from people’s minds. Increase traffic? Yes, but that is natural outcome. It is a byproduct. So before you launch your content marketing strategy, have a clear idea of – write it down somewhere and put it on the wall – exactly what you intend to achieve.
  2. Focus on the quality and the value of your content: This is also something that you should highlight and always keep in mind because as you publish and distribute more and more content, somewhere you’re going to lose track and get trapped in that vicious cycle of publishing as much content as possible. Be discriminating. Only publish the best content. This may frustrate you and it may also slow you down but sticking to quality always pays. Be ready to stick your neck out as Kevin Spacey suggests in the video. If you simply do what others are doing, there is no difference and there is no way people can distinguish you from the others. Make yourself distinguishable by providing people value. They should know that what they get from you they won’t get from anyone else.
  3. Document your content marketing strategy: This way you know where you stand, where you are coming from, and where you are going. Documentation gives you a clear picture of what is being done and what needs to be done and what are the results you are getting and what changes you have to implement considering the results. As the scope of your content marketing increases it will become difficult to track everything. Remember that you are building an asset. Even when you are publishing a blog post you’re investing time and money in it. So why not get maximum return out of it? How do you get it? By building it as a precious business asset. Remember that a few loose bricks can bring your wall down and every blog post, every article that you publish is a brick in your wall of brand building. Documentation also helps you sustain an editorial calendar. I recently wrote about what you mean by documenting your content marketing strategy. This brings us to…
  4. Maintain an editorial calendar: An editorial calendar saves you from going directionless. When you have an editorial calendar you don’t publish content randomly. You have a clear strategy. You can brainstorm on every blog post, on every article, on every infographic and on every social media update. You can intend its impact. You can make a list of keywords you would like to focus on while creating content on particular days and then how you’re going to promote that content. You can assign various content types to various social media and social networking channels because not every sort of content is suitable for every social networking channel. If you have a bigger content marketing team you can also assign various tasks to your team members using your editorial calendar. There are many ways and tools you can use to maintain a compact editorial calendar. Here is what I wrote about the importance of creating and maintaining an editorial calendar (you will need to scroll down a bit in order to come to the exact bullet point).
  5. Regularly audit your existing content: Content auditing must be done in the beginning – before you initiate your content marketing strategy for the new content you should have already audited your existing content. Your existing content is the ground upon which you build the building of your new content, it is the foundation. So you need to make the foundation strong. Here is what I wrote about what is content auditing and how to audit your existing content.
  6. Solve problems with your content: The greatest degree of success is reaped by the content that solves people’s problems. Don’t just create content to cover your keywords. These days I am writing content for a client who actually wants to cover his keywords but I’m writing the content in such a manner that every piece of landing page provides some useful information to the visitors. Whenever you are creating a blog post or an article think hard – is it solving a problem? The more problems you solve, the better you solve the problems, the more business you will get and the better will be the chances of creating an unbeatable content marketing strategy.
  7. Always think like a professional publisher: How does a professional publisher think? He or she doesn’t just think about creating content. He or she has to take charge of everything from quality to adherence to guidelines to timely publication of the content and then distribution of that content to the targeted audience. As someone who is striving to create an unbeatable content marketing strategy the job of making sure that the right audience can access your content is as important as creating and publishing your content. Think like a book publisher, a magazine publisher or a newspaper publisher. Unless people read your content, it is of no use. So use all the tricks that you have in your kitty – your marketing acumen, your own brand, your presence on social media, your influence, your networking, your SEO skills, your knack for using the right channel for the right content format, whatever is at your disposal, use it. In fact if you want to think in terms of proportions, the effort spent on promoting quality content must be equal to or more than the effort spent on creating quality content (although, creating quality content is a must and without that, nothing can be achieved).
  8. Nurture your broadcasting channels: As I have written above, distributing and broadcasting your content is as important as creating it. But how do you broadcast your content if you haven’t developed a channel for yourself? You either pay for an existing channel (which can be extremely costly) or you spend some time creating your own channel which is not very difficult on the Internet. Whether you want to build a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, broadcast quality content on an ongoing basis. Be recognized for broadcasting quality content. Engage people on your channels. Even on your blog, make sure you respond to people’s comments. Approach people on Twitter and LinkedIn and have conversations with them. When they know you they are more eager to access and promote your content. Become a brand in yourself. Nurturing a channel to broadcast your content shouldn’t come as an afterthought. It is one of the main activities of creating an unbeatable content marketing strategy.
  9. Don’t neglect the search engines: For a long time, a big chunk of your traffic is going to come from the search engines. They may come and go, but people will be using one or another search engine whether they do it on computers and laptops or their mobile phones. So producing quality content doesn’t mean neglecting search engines. In fact when I’m writing content for my clients my main intention is to provide value as well as write optimized content. By optimized content I mean content the search engines can easily evaluate and rank for the appropriate keywords and key phrases. Mind you, I’m not talking about needlessly stuffing your keywords, what I mean is, incorporating them logically with your main content so that they become a part of your writing. In fact, if you focus on the core message of your content, you automatically end up using the main keywords and key phrases.
  10. Start building a mailing list from the word go: Many people make this mistake; even I have made it – they don’t pay much attention to building a mailing list. I started much later. People normally relate mailing lists to spamming but it is not like that. Publishing a newsletter builds you a solid platform for broadcasting your content. Lots of my work comes from my newsletter because I’m constantly posting quality content on it and broadcasting it routinely. In fact more qualified traffic comes from my newsletter compared to Twitter. Again, it takes time to build a solid mailing list so start as early as possible. Remember that people should want to subscribe to your mailing list. Don’t trick them into subscribing to it and make sure that you have a double-opt-in system to get new subscribers.

There are many ways to creating an unbeatable content marketing strategy and I could go on and on, but these are the basic 10 ways you can implement and experience great results.

What is content auditing and how to do it on your website

Image of auditing your existing content

Content auditing means going through your existing content and streamlining it according to your content marketing needs. You have been publishing a business blog for many years now, right? Even if not a blog, you must have created many webpages for your business website in order to describe your various products and services. You have your homepage. Then there is a company profile. Even an FAQs section. You may also have the testimonials page. And maybe many more pages talking about various aspects of your business and the sort of projects you have undertaken. The basic point is, there might be lots of existing content that needs to be revamped. Content auditing means creating a list of things that you need to do in order to bring your existing content up to the mark.

Is content auditing needed for every website and blog?

It depends. If you have always been careful about your content then perhaps you don’t need content auditing. The need arises when you have been creating content without paying much attention to exactly what you are trying to achieve, what sort of audience you are trying to target and what sort of results you are striving for.

If you take your content marketing seriously it doesn’t matter whether you have 5 pages, 50 pages or 500 pages, you need content auditing. Unless you have audited your existing content, you cannot claim to be taking your content marketing seriously.

Is there a precondition to auditing your content?

Totally understanding your content marketing is a precondition to auditing your existing content. For this purpose, documenting your content marketing strategy is of extreme importance because once you have started documenting your thoughts you know

  • What sort of audience you’re going to target
  • What sort of content you’re going to produce and distribute in order to target that particular audience
  • Which content distribution channels you’re going to use

Once you know what sort of content you need in order to make your content marketing effective you know what changes to carry out in your existing content.

What is the procedure of carrying out a basic content audit of your website?

What you need:

  1. Google Analytics
  2. A Spreadsheet Tool (Microsoft Excel, Google Docs or Zoho)

Although you can do content auditing on your website without using any tools but if you have got many pages and blog posts, using tools definitely helps and it also gives you a sense of things that need to be done. You can begin with Google Analytics. Of course if I suggest Google Analytics I assume that you have been using its tracking script on your website for some time and there is sufficient data in your Google Analytics dashboard to give you a picture of what sort of traffic your website is getting. What if you don’t use Google Analytics? Install the script onto your website and let it gather some data for at least a month.

Assuming you have some data in your Google Analytics account, go to the website that you need to audit (in case you are tracking multiple websites from your account). On the left hand side you need to go to the following section:

This will give you a list of the page views of all the pages. If your pages are arranged in descending order you will be able to see which pages are getting the maximum traffic on your website. These are the pages that you need to audit first.

In the “Page” column click the pop-up window link:

The page will open in a new window from where you can get the URL and then copy/paste the URL in the Excel sheet.

This way, one by one, you can transfer all the URLs to the Excel sheet. Mind you, if you have many URLs it may take lots of time so if possible, get someone else involved.

Once you have transferred all the URLs to your Excel sheet, you can start auditing them one by one. Again, it makes sense to audit the content of those pages that get the maximum page views.

Here are a few things you can change while auditing individual webpages and blog posts:

  • The web page title: Your web page title should preferably contain your primary keywords and it should be within the recommended length. For example the Yoast SEO plug-in suggest that your title should not contain more than 70 characters. Remember that it is your web page title or your blog post title that people see appearing as a hyperlink on search engine result pages and even on social networking websites updates. Make your web page title compelling enough.
  • The web page description: The description of your web page must be around 157 characters. Try to include your main keywords in the beginning of the description but make your description, logically, is as descriptive as possible.
  • The body text: Is your body text over-optimized? Is it under-optimized? Is there too little text on the web page or blog post? Can you include more links to other pages? Can you create more sections? Can you describe your products or services in a better manner? Is your content badly written? Are there typos, spelling mistakes in grammar mistakes?
  • The use of keywords: No matter what people say, the keywords still matter. So keep your list of keywords nearby while auditing your content. Make sure that your primary and secondary keywords are used in the body text strategically. Create multiple sections under headings and subheadings and make sure that these headings and subheadings contain your keywords. Create bulleted lists and make sure that these bulleted lists contain your keywords (at least a couple of times). Use your keywords in the hyperlinks. Make sure you don’t over-use your keywords. The most important thing is readability and quality of your content.
  • Alt tags for your images: Alt tags are very important – to make your website and blog more accessible to people with visual impairments, and also to tell search engines what these images contain. If you have omitted including alt tags with your images, now is the right time to go through all the images and add alt tags, while you are auditing your content.
  • Interlinking of webpages and blog posts: Interlinking means linking to webpages and blog posts that add more value and description to your existing web page or blog post. Suppose I’m writing this about content auditing. Above, I have mentioned that in order to audit your content, you also need to document it. Recently I wrote a blog post on documenting your content marketing strategy, which is a totally different topic. So instead of explaining it again, I have simply hyperlinked to it. It is not just good for usability, it also directs the search engine crawlers to this link in case this link hasn’t been crawled yet. When the search engine crawlers crawl your links they also crawl the links present on those links.

Auditing your existing content can be a lengthy process so be mentally prepared for it. It is not something that you can do in a day or two. If there are 100s of pages of content on your website or blog, you may need months to go through individual links and audit them. You may also need to hire external help. Go ahead, do it. Before you hire a content writer to write new content for you, it’s better to hire someone to audit your existing content first.

10 ways to find the best content writing service for your business

Best content writing services for your business

Finding the best content writing service for your business is one of the most, in fact, the most significant part of initiating an effective content marketing strategy. A big problem on the Internet is, although you can find lots of information, often it is very difficult to find the information you actually need, the information you can use to grow your business. The same applies to finding the right content writing and marketing service for your business. Whom do you hire? How do you decide? Sometimes a company looks lousy but delivers great content. Sometimes a company looks great but delivers lousy content.

A great problem is you cannot find that out unless you have worked with the service provider for some time. Content marketing, although is the strongest marketing tool available on the Internet, also takes its own good time to give you results and by the time these results manifest, it is a bit late to realize whether you should have hired this particular content writing service or not.

Is there a sure shot way of finding the best content writing service for your business? No, there is not. But of course you can minimise the chances of ending up with a lousy service.

What are the best ways to find the right content writing service for your business?

Your business is unique, your customers and clients are unique, so your content requirements are also unique. Why so much stress on being unique?

It is your USP – unique selling proposition. This is what sets you apart. With thousands of people offering almost the same sort of service or the same sort of product, especially on the Internet where one website is just a click away from another, how do your prospective customers and clients decide whether they should do business with you or with someone else? You need to provide something that they cannot get from someone else or at least it is very difficult to get it from somewhere else, or at least, comparatively much more expensive, or whatever. The thing is, there must be something that should draw them to you rather than to someone else. Once this is decided and settled, let us explore some ways to find the best content writing service for your business.

  1. The content writing service has a website: For a long-term business partnership this is a must. Yes, you can find good content writers from niche business directories and portals, they are not very reliable because most of them don’t have much stake in being consistent. Since most of these business directories accept listings for free or at a nominal fee, you don’t find very dedicated and serious people in these directories. Of course, if the very same people also have websites running legitimate businesses, things become different. When a content writing service has a business website it means it is serious and it has invested time and effort establishing shop on the Internet.
  2. The content writing service website looks professional: If they have a website, the website should look decent and professional. It doesn’t mean it should be able to compete in design competitions, but it should have a clean design with all the needed information available on the website. The homepage copy should clearly explain all the services that are being provided. There should be terms and conditions. An FAQs is a must. All the contact details must be available on a separate, dedicated page.
  3. The service also has a blog: What’s the use of working with a content writing service if it does not promote its services via content? Most of my business comes from my blog. My business also comes from LinkedIn and Google, but even traffic from these websites is drawn to my blog so that is the main attraction. Just imagine, a content writing and content marketing service not being able to promote its own services through its own content. There should be a business blog that is regularly updated.
  4. The content writing service has a mailing list: This is because no matter what people claim, email marketing still rules the roost when it comes to promoting your services and products on the Internet. 500 people subscribing to your email updates are far better than 5000 people “Liking” your Facebook page or following you on Twitter. So yes, a serious content writing service would obviously have a newsletter subscription box on the website and if it doesn’t, it isn’t serious about content marketing.
  5. It has a solid social media presence: Most of the world these days spends time on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn (just to name a few). It is also a good way to attract people. Want to find someone? There is a great chance that you will find him or her on Facebook or Twitter (or whatever social networking platform is in vogue when you are reading this). Also, if the content writing service can be easily reached on Twitter you can get a response faster in case you have some problem.
  6. It stresses upon quality rather than quantity: If you have quality content on your website or blog, your search engine rankings automatically improve. So if a content writing service says that you should have lots of content to cover all your keywords so that your search engine rankings can improve, you are being shortchanged. Of course you need to cover your keywords but that is secondary. The first priority should be the quality.
  7. The content writing service has a strict policy on plagiarism: Just because text is digitally present everywhere on the Internet it becomes very easy to copy/paste it and then slightly spin it to pretend as if you have unique content at hand. This is what those $ 5-per-article services do. It’s a sure shot way of nipping your content marketing strategy in the bud. The service you’re planning to hire for your business must have a strict policy about how to handle plagiarism and how it controls its content writers in case it has multiple content writers.
  8. It charges are reasonable rate: Actually what’s reasonable differs from business to business, but you can find out what are the industry rates and do the calculations accordingly. As I have mentioned above, those $ 5-per-article services can wreak havoc with your content marketing campaign but in the rarest of rare cases, they can also work to your advantage. If your content writing service is charging pittance try to figure out how it sustains itself. Take for example charging $ 5 for an article or a blog post. If I charge you this rate, try to figure out how much money can I make. Even if I write 10 articles or blog posts in a day I will only be able to make $ 50. How much can I be worried about providing you quality content this way? It also sends me a signal that if you desire cheap content then maybe you aren’t even interested in quality that much. It works both ways. You get what you pay for. So if a content writing service charges very low rate always be cynical about their offer. The charges should be reasonable from both ends of the spectrum.
  9. It can scale according to your requirements: It isn’t always about how much content writing the service you’re planning on hiring can do, it’s also about how much content you need. Perhaps you require 10 blog posts or articles everyday but your content writing service can only supply 2-3 at the most. This deal is not going to work for you. Similarly, if in a package they offer 20 blog posts every month but you require only 5, and they don’t have an alternative package for you. Again, it’s a no-deal. So you should look for a content writing service that can scale according to your business.
  10. Many businesses and individuals vouch for it: Recommendations and testimonials tell you that your content writing service has provided excellent services – services that have actually helped businesses grow. Simply writing content doesn’t help much. The content must be able to take a business forward. It isn’t also just about improving your SEO. Your content should also be able to improve your conversion rate and in fact, this is much more important compared to your SEO. So if a content writing service has actually helped businesses, they will readily provide testimonials and recommendations.

Despite taking care of the above-mentioned 10 attributes that can help you find a content writing service for your business you can end up with a lousy service provider, but then this can happen in any industry, in any service and with any product. Taking care of these 10 things will just reduce the chances of ending up with an inferior content writing service.

What do you mean by documented content marketing strategy?

Documented content marketing strategy

What is the difference between content marketing strategy with documentation and without documentation? How can it have an impact on your overall marketing effort? Small businesses that document their content marketing strategy

  • Experience greater success
  • Have a clear idea of exactly what they are trying to achieve
  • Have a well-thought-out plan
  • Rarely run out of content writing and content publishing ideas
  • Whether it is team effort or a single person everybody knows his or her responsibilities
  • Create and distribute content for well-defined personas
  • Have a strategy in place in case the campaign needs to be tweaked according to the attention it is getting or not getting
  • Experience greater ROI
  • Experience improve search engine rankings due to better targeting
  • Have a greater conversion rate both for the website as well as email marketing

Documented content marketing strategy means at every stage you know what you’re doing and where it is going to lead. With documentation comes vision and it also provides direction to those who join later on. Suppose from a small business you grow into a medium-sized business and from a medium-sized business, you grow into a bigger business and all along, you want to follow a consistent content marketing strategy. More people will come on board. How do they know what you have been doing so far and what sort of results you have been experiencing? If you have documentation, they can simply refer to it and come on the same page. They can know

  • What are your business goals vis-a-vis your content marketing strategy
  • What sort of brand story you have been building so far
  • What sort of audience you are trying to reach and how you engage that audience
  • What changes your fundamental content marketing has gone through
  • What content distribution channels you have been using so far and which other channels you’re planning to target
  • What workflows and processes your team is following
  • What strategic changes your content marketing team has carried out according to the web analytics tools you use
  • What sort of customer feedback you have received for your content marketing

Documented content marketing strategy of course takes time and investment because you are not only generating and distributing content, you are also documenting each and every step using a well-define system and if possible, even specialized tools.

60% businesses with a documented content marketing strategy consider themselves more effective compared to 32% who simply implement their strategy without maintaining written, step-by-step records (source).