2,968 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Jo Sabin, marketing communications manager of DesignCrowd, a logo, web and graphic design marketplace. Sabin discusses the ways individuals can make the best use of content marketing — for which brands are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing platforms. As always, guest contributors’ views are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Crowdsourcing.org.
Small and medium-sized businesses need a profitable content marketing strategy if they are to remain competitive. If you have never done so before, though, knowing where to start can be very overwhelming and intimidating, especially in light of Google’s recent, crushing updates.
However, a strong plan will help you overcome the obstacles of digital marketing. The following are tips to get you started with a strong content marketing strategy so you can more easily keep up with (and even surpass) your competitors.
Create Buyer Personas
Most businesses already know their general target audience, but narrowing down to an ideal customer gives you a base from which to create a buyer persona, an audience segmentation model of sorts, around which you can shape your marketing strategy.
To find your ideal customer, start with your general target market, then choose one segmentation, and pick the best customer to build a persona from. For each persona, describe his or her income, goals, problems, home life, education, possibly region, and also why your company would appeal to this persona. Personas work best, too, if you give them a name and image. This helps you and your sales team ‘see’ personas as real people to whom you are trying to relate.
Define Conversion Goals
Before a buyer makes a purchase, he or she goes through several stages and at each point reaches a conversion point before moving to the final conversion of an actual purchase. Most businesses define the conversion process as first awareness of a product, next evaluation and research, and third the purchase. Your goal with content is to figure out how the buyer will move through the purchase process, and this starts with knowing their questions.
Ask Questions for Target Audience
When creating questions your buyer persona may have, start at the very beginning. For instance, let’s say a property management company’s list of personas includes a retired male who owns five or fewer rental properties. What questions may lead him to be aware of the need for property management in the first place? Then, when he is intent in searching for a property manager, what questions may he research?
A newbie rental owner may have no clue about what you offer. So, he may first research how to turn rental properties into passive income. From this search, he may read about property managers. Now he will want to know what services a property manager provides. He will want to know the cost of a property manager, and if the company offers more than one package of services. You can now create content that answers these questions for your target market.
Determine Placement and Promotion
Be sure to consider the best placement for content in each step of the conversion, and how you will promote this content. Placement of content could be on social channels like Facebook and Twitter, third party blogs, your company blog, landing pages, etc. Just make sure to fine tune each placement with the stage of conversion the buyer is at and take advantage of the free targeting tools social media sites offer to ensure your content is posted in the news feeds of the target audience. For instance, emails for those who have voluntarily signed up for your newsletter directly on your blog probably will already be past the awareness stage.
Also, while an audience could just stumble upon your content in a search, this probably won’t be enough. Come up with a plan to direct them to your content with promotional emails, social media, texts, ads, etc. You’ve invested time creating the content and building a business asset, so make sure to invest in distributing the content through relevant channels.
Compile Content List and Timeline
Your entire content marketing strategy will fall apart without cohesiveness and a timeline. Create a list of content for the stage of awareness, for the stage of research, and for the final stage of purchase. You may also have separate content for different personas in each stage. Then create a timeline so that you can keep up momentum and keep track of results. The next level would be to tailor trigger emails to leads you capture via content so they start their journey towards purchase.
Think Scalable and Repackaging
If you are worried about keeping up with the amount of content your target market may require of you, then consider creating scalable content that you can repackage. For instance, a series on a certain topic or even simply a group of articles on a topic could be repurposed in an ebook. Weekly email tips could be made into an article or, vice versa, an ebook could be made into short email tips. In 2015, video’s dominance will solidify as more brands use video to connect with their audiences. Facebook has invested in its video platform so expect to see it compete heavily with YouTube this year. There are lots of video making apps to help you turn your static content into short, low cost, engaging slideshows to drive engagement.
Include Keywords and a Call to Action
Every piece of content you produce should include a keyword related to that specific set of questions you are answering. Make sure you test your visual design content as well as text. When Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer was at Google she was famous for testing every design element, including 40 shades of blue to see what shade made users click the most. This decision generated the company an additional $200M in revenue. Just be sure to write to the buyer persona, not the keyword, and only insert the keyword a few times when it sounds natural. And don’t forget to end with a clear call to action. Ask yourself what you want a reader to do once he or she encounters your content and then make this action clear to the reader.
Once you have your plan in place, you are ready to start writing. Just be sure to use the above tips so that your content marketing strategy effectively turns curious prospects into buyers.