Expert commentator | Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:10:00 +0000 | http://www.smartinsights.com/content-management/content-marketing-planning/marketing-priorities/

Key marketing tactics which come before your content marketing

content-marketingContent marketing is the buzzword on everyones lips right now. For some, it’s becoming an increasingly big part of the marketing mix. For others, particularly small businesses, it shouldn’t necessarily be at the top of the list of priorities.

The theory of content marketing is an attractive one – produce interesting and engaging content which will be shared by your audience, and wait for the leads to roll in. Done well, it’s a very effective channel, however, it takes time, effort and even the most brilliant pieces can be hit and miss in terms of uptake.

Sign up for Hubspot, Kapost, Marketo, or any one of the hundreds of content marketing platforms that are available, and you’ll have all of the tools at your disposal for implementing content marketing. But this is about as far as it goes, there is still the small matter of who is actually going to plan, produce and promote your content – that is the hard part, and the bottleneck for most businesses, who struggle to find the resource to create this content on an ongoing basis.

And then there is the small matter of ROI. Most successful campaigns are built on content that is not overtly commercial in its intent. You might get the traffic and the brand awareness from this content, but it’s unlikely you’ll get conversions, at least not right away.

Follow these 5 marketing tactics BEFORE you roll-out your content marketing

Here are the 5 quicker wins that I believe all businesses should focus on before they invest in content marketing. You will see they are needed as a foundation of content marketing and if these aren’t in place, it’s like much of your content marketing efforts will be wasted.

1. Lead generation

By far the most effective, and often overlooked, way of growing your business is lead generation. You can pay companies for these leads, but even more effective is driving them directly to your site through targeted ads, search results and social media.

  • First, use the Google AdWords keyword planner to find a comprehensive list of the terms that people are searching are to find your products and services. Remember to localise these to your area for even more targeted traffic. 
  • Next, create dedicated landing pages with some engaging copy, maybe a video and a strong call to action in the form of a contact form to make sure you capture as many leads as possible.
  • Once you have these, promote them to prospective customers through SEO, paid search, display ads and social media.

2. Good, old fashioned SEO (and PPC if you need to)

Ensuring that your business is visible when people are searching for your products and services is absolutely vital, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Contrary to popular belief, SEO is definitely not dead. It is, however, becoming increasingly difficult, but if you do it right it remains the most cost-effective marketing channel.

Make sure your business is covering the basics in terms of your site’s accessibility and usability, and crucially, ensure that your site is accessible on all types of device. 

While you are waiting for your SEO efforts to kick in, why not invest in a PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign to get some instant traffic to your site. Bear in mind that these conversions can run into the hundreds of dollars, so it pays to keep an eye on metrics such as conversion rate, AOV (Average Order Value) and CLV (Customer Lifetime Value). You can phase this out as your site gains more and more organic traffic. 

3. Curation

Content marketing is about presenting yourself and your brand as a thought leader on a particular subject. This takes time, and effort, and unless you take the time to do some original research, you will in most cases simply be reiterating what other people before you have said.

Rather than spending hours and hours creating new thought leadership pieces, consider curating the work of others and sharing this on your social media accounts. Klout is a great tool for doing this, enabling users to schedule popular content to be shared with their followers at regular intervals.

4. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

CRO is a series of measures that can be undertaken to improve the number of conversions your site gets.

At a very advanced level, this can involve A/B testing of landing pages, and can be taken to as granular a level as exploring the difference between the colour and shape of buttons on click through rates. At a very basic level, however, it should involve the following simple checklist:

  • Does each of your pages offer a clear call to action, such as a phone number or an enquiry form?
  • Does your website copy communicate clear Unique Selling Points (USPs) that give the visitor a compelling reason to buy from you?
  • Is your site easy to navigate and browse on all devices?

5. CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

Before chasing new leads, you should be absolutely sure that you are doing everything in your power to convert existing ones. A CRM system will help you to do this effectively.

You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars in software such as Salesforce. Streak, a free plugin which handily integrates with Gmail will help you to do this – tracking leads from prospect through to conversion.

Make sure that you follow up on every signup you get, offer a free trial of your service if necessary and even pick up the phone and talk to people – you might be surprised at the positive response you get.