Content Marketing Starter Guide 2019

Content marketing is an overused marketing buzzword. And many people have a fuzzy idea what it actually means in 2019.

According to Wikipedia,

Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online.

And the ultimate aim is to grow the customer base and get more business.

The term content marketing is a broad term that covers mainly online activities like

  • publishing blog posts, otherwise known as blogging
  • social media marketing that includes regularly engaging and pushing out content (text or video) on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat etc. And of course live video is also a form of content marketing
  • growing your Youtube channel by regularly publishing videos
  • starting your own podcast channel is also another form of content marketing
  • and of course publishing a book!

At the surface, it might be pretty straightforward.

We publish information to our potential customers, they find us and hey presto, they decide to buy from us (immediately).

In truth, it doesn’t happen like that. The type of information you put out makes a whole lot of difference.

Not to mention – competing with your competitors with the same audience.

It can become as challenging as trying to get a stranger’s attention at the other end of a loud, crowded room.

Because everyone is shouting, laughing and talking loudly at the same time, the only way to communicate above the noise is to be creative and unique.

Marketing is changing (constantly)

When the smartphone became a commodity for the average consumer, it transformed the way businesses marketed to customers. In the past, businesses with a large budget for TV or radio advertising had the upper hand.

And businesses decided what products to sell to the customers and convince them they need it.

Today, any business can easily reach out to a potential prospect if the businesses is discoverable online.

The cost of entry to start a business is as low as it can ever be so anyone can easily start a business.

However, the marketplace has become very saturated due to the lower entry barrier and so, it is more competitive to grab your consumers’ attention!

Not only that, if you want customers to feel connected to your brand, you’ve to talk to them in their language so they can understand you!

The customers want to feel you care about their problems, their pain-points and it’s not 100% all about the money.

This article covers what type of article works best in 2019 to get your customers’ attention and how you can connect with them so they are convinced they want to buy from you.

Getting your audience attention

How to connect with your customers

One of the questions I’ve been often asked by clients is “how can I create messages that don’t feel like marketing messages?”.

The first step begins with listening and identifying customers’ pain.

The message (content) that you craft should ideally help them resolve their pain so their day to day becomes smoother and more satisfying.

Rather than selling the features of your products, focus on how working with you or buying your product will either remove or minimize their existing problems to improve their quality of life.

If you offer services, instead of emphasizing describing the process,

  • how much does a session cost or
  • how long is the session or
  • in each session this is what we’ll cover

begin with a focus on benefits.

  • Explain how they would feel after working with you
  • Describe why your approach is different and give them confidence in the expected end results
  • You can even go into specifics like which aspect of their life and business becomes improved at the end of it
  • and even better, which specific pain is going away after specific number of days.

Then tie in the benefits with the detailed working process and what will be happening in the process.

If you offer a product, highlight how that product will improve the life of your customers

  • Who is this product most useful for? Example, this can be meant for parents with toddlers or people with lower back-pain or people who are experiencing moth problems at home etc
  • What problem does this product solve?
  • After using the product, how will the lives be improved? More time, no more physical pain, less stress etc

Create trust and emotional connection through understanding your customers

Before you get in touch with your customers, find out what interests them and how you best fit into their lives. How can you make their lives better?

Of course, it’s easier said than done. It involves engaging your customers and prospects as closely as possible and getting specific information.

Think, if you feel that a brand is relevant to you or you feel your gut says “yes!”, the more apt we are to read, listen to or watch the content from the brand.

Customer insights forms the foundation of meaningful future messaging that won’t feel like marketing messages.

Meaningful messages creates trust and personal connection that’s stronger than any individual price or pitch.

The best marketing in the world doesn’t feel like marketing. In each campaign launch, there is the opportunity to conceive a surprise, grabs your prospects’ attention, and truly engages them.

I will take that intriguing challenge on anytime over yelling “SALE! SALE! SALE!” at the top of my lungs.

Creativity, branding and building relationships with your loyal fans becomes even more critical than ever.

building relationships

Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing

Content marketing focuses more on putting out information with the primary objective to impart knowledge so consumers know what they need or what to buy.

By educating your audience, it’s an opportunity to affirm a need for your products and even to increase your products’ appeal as the best answer to solving their problems.

Social media marketing is a subset of content marketing and focuses more on creating a two way conversation flow where the customers or prospects feel more engaged and closer to the brand.

Directing consumers attention to what’s special about this product or brand

Good marketing – consistency, meets the needs and attracts ideal clients

Yes, you need a content marketing plan to quickly get your results

First and foremost, you need a marketing plan and within the marketing plan, you need a content marketing plan.

It’s like how we navigate our trips using apps like CityMapper or a GPS. We want to reach our destination as fast as possible. We don’t want to waste time getting stuck in traffic nor lose our way.

Crafting a content marketing plan with the right topics and setting a publishing timeline sets you up on the shortest route to success.

The plan should ideally include the following

  • An editorial calendar to decide when to push out your content.
    • The specific day and time.
    • Frequency: daily, weekly or monthly
  • Which platform are you going to use
    • Blogging on your own website
    • Guest blogging on other people’s websites
    • Uploading your videos on Youtube
    • Selection of social media platforms to promote your content.
  • What topics will you focus on to highlight the benefits of your product or services
    • The top questions from your clients
    • The most common pain-points you solve
  • Which format do you plan to deliver them in
    • Audio
    • Visuals
    • Videos
    • Words
    • or mix of all four!

Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.

blogging your way to more traffic

What happens when you don’t have a clear and disciplined content plan?

If you are a new-ish website owner, you won’t be getting Google traffic. And if you don’t have a consistent execution plan, it’s going to take you a longer time to see results.

Many business make this mistake of sharing their opinion through blogging or videos about the latest topics and trends.

The thing is – your website is not the national news website. Your website is not a household name – at least not for now.

So new visitors won’t be googling your brand name.

In Google’s eyes, what’s on your website is perceived as lesser value and authority than a similar article on “New York Times” or “Financial Times”.

The initial aim of content on your website is to raise your “website status”. When Google starts presenting your website pages to users on page one search results, that’s when you have “real Google status”.

And if you are not on page one, two or even three, it’s very unlikely to get search users clicking on your website.

The numbers has proven that 18% of organic clicks go to search results page one position one, 10% go to position two and 7% go to position three.

If the statistic hasn’t convinced you yet, note this:  75% of the users never click past the first page.

These are, of course, average figures across all industries and doesn’t have 100% accuracy for individual industries.

The main take away from here is, the further you are from page one position one, the lesser clicks you’ll get. So it’s obvious where you want your blog posts to be ranking on.

Furthermore, if you have no plans and timeline, you won’t be able to keep a regular publishing schedule when you get overwhelmed with client work or other activities.

By having a defined timeline, it creates urgency and priority around content creation and publication.

Need for HIGH quality content

Bring along your A-game when creating content. In 2015, blogging statistics show that 2 million blog posts are published daily.

Today, according to Worldometer live blogging tracking, the number is closer to 5 million.

Getting attention from your audience is highly competitive. Your blog title has to be catchy, meta description has to be compelling, and hook in your audience to begin reading.

And at each section of your blog post, you want your reader to think, “oh, this is new! Didn’t know this existed!” or “Ah, this is very useful information to help me make a decision.”

The purpose of content for an individual is to gain knowledge or to find out solutions to make their lives better.

Content for different stages of the buyer’s journey

The buyers’ journey can be narrowed down to four main phases

  1. Research on the causes of the problem
    • Who typically has this problem?
    • What are the symptoms of this problem?
    • What happens if the problem doesn’t get resolved?
  2. How can I solve this problem
    • Is there a solution available?
    • How long does the solution take to become effective?
  3. Which solution is the best for me?
    • How many solutions are available?
    • How much does the solution cost?
    • Are there any side effects?
    • In my scenario, does any specific solution doesn’t work?
  4. Where can I buy the solution?
    • Online or offline?
    • Is there a difference in cost?

The questions themselves are not exhaustive but you get the idea.

Getting on search results page one

Localized content

If you have a physical location for your products and services, guest blogging on complementary local business websites will boost your location authority in the town or city.

Another option is to link to other local website through your content and be associated with “local businesses”. Also cross promoting other local businesses would boost your visibility in local searches.

Getting your business listed in directories and setting up a Google My Business Page and a Bing My Business Page with your local address, contact information and opening hours is also a MUST.

This will increase your chances of your website turning up on page one search results when someone searches for “___ near me”.

A picture says a thousand words

Creating awesome visuals that are in line with your brand falls under part of your content strategy. Sometimes it’s much easier to let your images do the talking.

It could be complex trying to communicate a message using text because text is more singular dimensional and leaves alot of interpretation work to the reader.

Using the most appropriate visuals give the eyes a temporary reprieve and also gives the opportunity for your message to sink in.

According to Psychology Today, visual cues help us to better retrieve and remember information. In fact, the part of the brain used to process words is much smaller in comparison to the part that processes visual images.

And that’s also the reason for the rise of visual tools like Canva.com and photo editing apps like Snapseed & VISCO.

These tools make visuals creation so much easier especially when not all of us are born visual designers. The text alignment, colour combinations, font selection and creating overlays can become overwhelming.

With these user-friendly tools and ready-made templates on hand, it levels the playing field for those who doesn’t have the natural eye for design.

Videos tell a million words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, well – then videos tell 1.8 million words. How the calculation work out:

1 picture = 1,000 words

Video shoots at 30 frames per second

Therefore, 1 second of video = 30,000 words

30,000 words x 60 seconds (let’s say for a 1 minute video) = 1.8 million words.

The pairing of moving visuals and audio makes a greater impact than purely text or still image. If you aren’t convinced, get this straight: almost 50% of all internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store!

A video content strategy to complement your existing blog posts is a must! If you want to stay in competition, make that a priority this year.

Help customers make better decisions with your content

If you have strong competitors, acknowledge them in a blog post. Even better, write a comparison review to help customers make the best choice.

For instance, the email software Drip has done a great job in this article by writing a comprehensive breakdown between themselves and Mailchimp. For a prospective customer who is unsure if they wanted to go for MailChimp or Drip, this would be a useful piece of material for them.

Or you can follow what social media scheduling tool, SocialReport did – they wrote an article about the 12 best Instagram scheduling tools in 2018.

If a prospect was researching for “the best Instagram scheduling tools in 2018”, they would likely stumble upon this article and try to find out more about what SocialReport does.

The above two are great examples that will help prospective customers know more about your product and give them the opportunity to make the comparison and come to a natural conclusion.

Clients often ask me, if I list down my competition, wouldn’t I be pushing my prospective customers away?

Of course not!

Even if you don’t talk about it, your potential customers will still find out about your competition through other channels. With the abundance of online information, nothing is ever a secret.

Rather than avoid talking about the white elephant in the room, why don’t you be upfront about it and explain why your product is better, offers more value and why it’s more suitable for the customer.

Problem solver

Be discoverable on Google

Google is the modern Yellow pages.  In the past, you can look for a supplier from Yellow pages using the A-Z directory or under the category of products and services.

In either case, a business has the option to buy an advertising space either on the front few pages or a larger space to more likely grab a prospect’s attention.

However, Google works differently. These are two ways you can use Google to your advantage and get customers who have never heard of you before to stumble onto your presence.

  • Google My Business listing
  • Search engine results page

Google My Business

If your business has a physical presence, Google My Business is a must for your business! You want to be located on Google maps so people can find your shop and is aware of your operating hours.

And the more positive ratings you have for your business, the more likely people would decide to buy from you. And of course if you have a listing with Google, you are more likely to show up in a local search.

Create niche content to rank

However, getting an impressive ranking on Google’s search results page is becoming increasingly challenging.

Whatever you want to write about, there are likely existing blog posts online.

Google’s search algorithm is made up of over 200 ranking signals. The two most important signals are high quality (legit) backlinks to your website and publishing high quality content better than your competitors!

Research on the keywords you want your business to be ranking for. Identify the number of competitors you have to outrank or if the competition is strong.

Let me describe the picture for you if you have a new-ish website.

You are late for your marathon race. The other runners have started on their journey and you want to start overtaking them.

You would be able to overtake the slower (than you) runners and get a good position!

However, you stand no chance against the much-faster-than-you runners. There is no way you can catch up.

If there are many runners and most of them are better runners, your results would be even way off!

So if you want to get a trophy for your display cabinet, you probably want to join a race with less people who are likely slower runners! 😉

The same goes for publishing a piece of article. Aim for topics that are less written about and you’ve to write an article that is more comprehensive and ideally longer than the existing best articles for that topic.

In this way, you stand a higher chance of overtaking those blog posts and start ranking on page one!

If you already have a content strategy but still not getting Google traffic, check out my article: 7 top reasons why you are not getting Google traffic – to make sure you’ve covered all angles.

outrank your competitors on Google

Engagement is the currency for relationships

Pictures, video and blog posts – they are the starting point of your relationships with your customers or clients.

Through those content, you hook them in and educate them on the usefulness of your products and services.

Each like, comment and share on the online platforms – whether it’s on your website or on your social media accounts – each interaction commits your brand to their mind.

If they enjoy your content and find it extremely beneficial in their day to day, it accumulates trust. This in turn, cements the seller and buyer relationship.

As the saying goes, human buys from human. And human usually buys based on an emotional impulses. If you create a trusting emotional bond, that’s potentially your customer for life.

Create the right content strategy to top Google rankings in 2019

Creating the right content strategy plan is challenging but not impossible.

It just need a dose of strategic thinking and planning so you maximize your digital footprint for your time spent on producing those content. And this would translate into more leads and customers for your business.

If you are committed to getting Google (and other search engine) traffic to your website within the shortest amount of time, check out my bespoke content planning package where we work out an actionable plan for you to top Google rankings in 2019.

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