If you’ve spent any time reading about online marketing over the last few years, you’ll have heard about content marketing. But what exactly is content marketing?
‘Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. Content marketing is also defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action’ – Wikipedia
Done right, content marketing can be a very effective way of building trust, demonstrating your expertise and ultimately attracting and converting clients. But without a solid plan you could end up doing a lot of writing or recording, editing and formatting, but not get any real business benefits.
Making sure you plan your content effectively from the beginning is crucial
So exactly what kind of content should you create? The trick is to listen hard and to really understand your target audience. And you may be surprised at just how many opportunities you have to do that. Here are some ideas:
Ask them for their questions
A dead simple way to find content ideas is to simply ask your readers what questions they have on a particular topic. Not only do you get great content ideas, it helps your readers feel involved in the process. You could set up a simple survey using Google Forms or Survey Monkey, or you could simply drop people you know well an email or give them a call.
Track your links
If you send a link to content or a product in an email, track it. Do the same on your websites. Pay attention to what interests them and what they just pass by and modify your content plan accordingly. An email marketing service such as Aweber will allow you to track how many clicks an email gets.
Tip: Don’t just track product sales… gauge interest in the content you provide as well. By doing this, you’ll learn what types of information your readers are interested in (ie – articles, PDFs, videos, etc). You’ll also learn what format they like and whose information they respond to best. For example, if you’re promoting products as an affiliate, promote products from different vendors and note who gets the best response.
Observe your audience on ‘your patch’
If you have a blog, forum, Facebook group or some other type of interactive site, you have a lot of research opportunities right there. Pay attention to your reader comments, the questions they have and click through to their websites to see what their interests are and what problems they might need help with. Spending just a little time doing this on a regular basis can be a real eye-opener.
Observe your audience in their natural habitat
If you don’t have a blog, forum, etc, you can go elsewhere to observe your market. But keep in mind that if you watch the response of people who already know and like what you do, you will get the best picture of what your particular audience wants. The risk with with going outside your own network is that we all attract a particular type of person and we may get slightly different impressions by observing our intended targets elsewhere.
Try out new ideas with affiliate offers or PLR
If you’re considering creating a digital product (e.g. an information product), test your idea out first by offering similar products using affiliate links. There is no sense in creating something your readers have no interest in buying. Knowing exactly what your audience will buy is priceless marketing information. You can also create a small product quickly using PLR content.
Watch your competitors
Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. What types of content do they give their readers and what do their readers respond to? Again, your audience may be slightly different from theirs but look for competitors who share a similar style and focus to you and you’ll get some great ideas.
The more observant you are, the more likely you are to deliver what your readers – and buyers – really want.
How do you research what your audience really wants? Leave me a comment and let me know!