Five ways to get started with content marketing

Getting started with content marketing can be a struggle for many companies. They’re familiar with the concept and its benefits, but lack an understanding of how to do it right—and where to begin. How do you manage several topics, stay ahead of deadlines, and maintain quality, all while keeping your audience engaged and achieving your goals? In this post, we’ll cover five simple steps companies can take as they begin their journey into content marketing.

Define your goals

Before you begin drafting content, clearly define your company goals. Think about what you want to achieve by adding content marketing to your company. Are you hoping to increase sales or brand awareness? Act as a thought leader? Generate more leads?

When it comes to producing each piece of content, thinking about the goals you’re trying to achieve guides your efforts and determines the value of each piece you produce. If the content doesn’t fit your goals, you should redefine it, or reconsider your end-goals.

Identify content opportunities: Serve, don’t sell

After clearly defining your goals, identify the best content opportunities for your customers. Keep in mind that the content you provide should be used to serve your customers, not as a platform to sell to them.

Determine what issues your customers face and questions that they ask. From there, craft your content to directly address and solve those issues. Understanding your customers and their interests increases engagement and shares amongst your audience.

The good news is that inspiration for new content can come from a variety of places. If you’re stuck, begin by identifying industry-wide questions. Monitoring Q&A websites like Quora is a great way to determine what others in your industry are curious about. Directly answer those questions and solve challenges via your blog.

Social media allows you to actively follow conversations, keywords, and hashtags that can lead to a deeper understanding of industry-related trends. Following popular industry accounts will not only keep you up-to-date on the news, but will provide an opportunity to discuss timely, key topics.

Tracking other industry thought-leaders can be as simple as setting up Google Alerts or monitoring RSS feeds. Real-time notifications and resources such as BuzzSumo and Ninja Outreach will allow you to follow which types of content receive the most shares and generate the most interest.

In addition, your customer support team can provide great insights into pressing and frequently asked questions. It’s another great channel to find content opportunities.

Write for each of your personas

Segmenting your customers and prospects into different personas will help narrow down the interests of each unique group you’re addressing. Since it can be daunting to try and tackle an issue that fits everyone’s needs, writing targeted, tailored blog posts attracts and engages the individual interests of each persona.

Think about what would appeal most to each persona and the types of problems that they face. Ask yourself: Is your content relevant to them? Will it make their jobs easier? This strategy not only narrows the focus of the content, but makes promotion efforts much clearer when targeting paid advertising opportunities.

Determine the proper format

Now that you have a better understanding of who your audience is and what content to produce, you’ll need to decide which format works best for your content pieces. Today, content marketing doesn’t only mean blogging. Webinars, podcasts, ebooks, reports, and whitepapers all constitute content marketing. Determining which format or combination of formats work best can help amplify the impact and effectiveness of your piece.

Switching formats can also be another option for repurposing and extending the value of existing content. For example, if you write an ebook, you can break it down into numerous blog posts, a Slideshare of takeaways, and a podcast -- helping give new life to old content.

Set goals and metrics to track

Matching metrics with the goals you initially set is a great way to monitor your progress and determine which content performs best.

For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, tracking new visits and inbound links can help determine if the content you’re releasing is successful. Tracking the number and quality of new leads can determine if you’re reaching the right audience. If your goals include increasing sales, watch your conversion rates to see which pieces of content drive purchases.

Content marketing is an effective way to serve your customers and build new interest about what your organization is doing. While building a loyal audience takes time, it’s important to stick to your goals and consider the interests of your audience in order to become a useful and valuable resource within your community.