Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing (Part 2): Choose Your Content
Now that you have a basic content marketing strategy, you’re ready to start choosing content. To begin with, some common types of content include blogs, infographics, photo galleries, videos, lists like “15 Great Places to Explore Nearby,” and guides like “How to Pack for a Long-Distance Move.”
You’re probably already familiar with all of these content types, but actually choosing content to create can be harder. To make it less daunting, we’ve simplified the whole process into three steps.
Step 1: Create Buyer Personas
In Part 1, when you built your content marketing strategy, you started to develop ideas about your customers’ identities and behaviors online. Before writing your content, you need to create buyer personas based on those customers. Think about your ideal customers. Do they have a shared gender, age, profession, or financial situation?
You don’t have to create just one buyer persona. Depending on your company and how many audiences you target, you might have several. Be as specific as possible when creating each persona. A precise identity helps you understand your customers better, including what they talk about and engage with online.
These personas make decisions about content easier. Refer back to them when you’re making the following choices:
- Determining what kind of content you need
- Setting the tone, style, and delivery strategies for your content
- Targeting the topics you should be writing about
- Understanding where buyers get their information and how they want to consume it
After you determine your personas, map out their journeys as customers. Mapping this “buyer journey” allows you to understand what process your customers go through when they’re considering your product or service.
The buyer journey also allows you to develop a content strategy that speaks directly to your customers. Then, your content will appeal to them regardless of which buying stage they’re in.
Step 2: Research, Brainstorm, and Work on Good Ideas
Your buyer personas should already be giving you some ideas about the content you want to create. However, before you publish your first piece of content, spend time researching your industry, especially trending topics.
Your list of content ideas will be longer now than in the previous step. More ideas are good—but be selective. No matter how great an idea sounds, it needs to fit within your overall marketing strategy, so be sure to vet it with objectives in mind.
You’re now ready to turn your ideas into real content. As you begin creating, remember to be informative and worthwhile from the start.
- Provide new information relevant to your customers’ lives, choosing details they’d want to know.
- Your content shouldn’t be like a textbook. Be entertaining wherever possible. You don’t necessarily have to crack jokes—entertainment is more about grabbing your audience’s attention and respecting their time.
- Above all, remain consistent and honest. If you feel like you’re stretching the truth or losing authenticity, go back and redo that section.
You may use content from other sources if necessary, but don’t simply copy and paste. Provide commentary on the content, so your unique voice comes through, and be sure to reference your source. Also, if you’re using an excerpt, it’s best to provide a source link.
Step 3: Publish and Follow the Response
Once you’re done creating your content, you might be so proud of your work (or so relieved to be finished) that you want to publish it immediately.
Don’t. Take a moment to look at your content critically before publishing. Finding out that you’ve misspelled a word in the title after you’ve published it feels terrible. A little careful editing can save you from a lot of grief.
If everything looks exactly how you want it, publish! Then, promote the content on all of your channels, keeping in mind the unique capabilities of each channel. Think beyond the norm, such as videos for YouTube or photos for Instagram. Consider the “voice” of each channel, too.
Most channels have their own culture of communication, so your personas might interact differently with the same content depending on the channel. To make sure your content stays relevant, get to know each channel’s voice and tweak your message accordingly.
Finally, when your content is published, measure how your audience responds. Watch the number of shares, likes, tweets, and downloads, and look at website traffic and other analytics. Paying attention to your audience’s response tells you whether that content was successful or not.
Don’t despair if your content receives little interest. Knowing what your audience likes anddislikes helps you make better content decisions in the future.
In the long term, following the successes and failures of your content could lead you to rethink your overall content marketing strategy, which is a good thing. Tracking your popularity is important because your audience’s reactions will cue you to both key mistakes and triumphs in your strategy.
Creating a successful content marketing strategy isn’t always a smooth process. If you’re experiencing consistent failure, review the following list of strategical mistakes and evaluate whether they apply to your situation.
- Starting to create content before you’ve identified your goals and objectives
- Not fully understanding your buyer personas and their journeys as customers
- Lacking purpose in your content or strategy
- Developing a strategy that doesn’t match your brand voice
- Not using an editorial calendar to outline what is being produced and when
- Not addressing staffing or ownership issues
- Talking too much about yourself rather than focusing on your customers
Regardless of what kind of content you choose to create, your customers should always be your focal point. Your attention should be on them, not on yourself.
That’s also why using social media is so crucial. It connects you with your customers. To learn more about how social media can strengthen your content marketing strategy, check out Part 3!
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