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Do you want to have a sustainable marketing strategy for your business?

Entrepreneurs battle challenges from getting funded to hiring the right team to drum up more business. One of the greatest challenges of all is attracting customers.

New startups and established businesses can equally benefit from content marketing. Content marketing will help you establish your brand as the authority in your niche.

Content marketing is not the quick silver bullet of business development. It is more of a strategic commitment to creating awareness while attracting loyal customers.

Apply any of the following content marketing tips to get ahead of your competition.

It is about Them, not You.

Before you even begin content marketing, you have to understand your customer. Know your target market. What do they like? What issues do they care about? What’s important to them? How are their buying decisions are influenced?

Content marketing is not about what you like. It is about what resonates with your customers. What you want to write about is not necessarily what your target market wants to read.

Here are some ideas on what content customers like to see:

  • Customer case study – Case studies help your prospects make up their minds about your products. Show them how your product or service helped another customer. How does your product solve a problem? You could even interview your customers and show the videos. Then, you could have them transcribed. The great thing about content marketing is that you can repurpose most of your content.
  • Product tips – Developing tips on how to use your product or service will create useful and shareable content. It also helps your tips include a call to action, but it is not always necessary.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – If you are interacting with your customers, they are asking you questions. Your responses to FAQs is also a great opportunity to share throughout social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube.
  • Customer product interaction – You can show how your customers interact with your product. Photos would work really well. The photos will engage your prospects.
  • Testimonials – Your customers will tell you when they love what you do for them. Testimonials make for great content. The best thing about testimonials is that they are an instant credibility builder.

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Spy on your competition.

There are many reasons you should study your competition. One of them is to improve your content marketing. Whatever your competitors do, you have to do it better. You can get a clear understanding of your competition by spying on them. The first step in becoming the best content marketer within your niche is by learning about how your competitors do it.

Here are some great tools to spy on your competition:

  • A great way to monitor mentions is through “Google Alerts”. With this tool, you can find out every time a competitor is mentioned online. You can also monitor keywords with this tool.
  • Do advanced Google searches. Search competitors using advanced queries
  • SocialMention can help you focus on blogs, video and social.
  • Use Topsy to learn about your competitors’ tweets. You can learn how many tweets they had all the way to 2006.
  • SpyFu is a great tool to find out which keywords your competitors are targeting.
  • SpyOnWeb is a great tool to enter the URL of a competitor and you get a quick overview of what resources belong to the same business.
  • WhatRunsWhere shows you what ads work for your competitors.
  • Alexa Traffic Rank shows you the popularity of your competitors’ websites. Alexa shows you links, traffic, and keywords. It is also a great tool if you have international competitors.

Better your competition.

Once you have gained the intelligence necessary, it is your turn to do better than your competitors. Find competitor content marketing pieces and improve on them. You won’t win if you create content that is the same quality. You have to do much better.

Here are several ways to come up with better content than your competition:

  • Make your content longer. If the best article on the topic you are targeting is 2000 words long, make yours 4000 words.
  • Research it better. If your competitor has three sources, include five in yours.
  • Quote more influencers.
  • Include better images.
  • Support your argument with more facts.
  • Use data that supports your points.
  • Find examples that illustrate your points.
  • Hire a professional editor to proofread your work.

Be honest about your own brand.

It is important to understand your competition, but it is even more important to have an honest view of your own brand. How does your brand stack up against the rest? What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Have you done a SWOT analysis? If not, you should do it before you take the next step.

Understand your strengths and opportunities and use it in your content marketing. What makes you better? What is unique about your business? What differentiates you from the competition? Use all of this to develop more content.

Develop your content marketing strategy.

You can’t successfully implement your content marketing campaign without a content marketing strategy in place. It is the very foundation of your content marketing.

Your content marketing strategy should include the following:

  • Your content marketing goals, both short and long-term.
  • The exact steps you will take to reach your goals.
  • What tactics will you use?
  • Your KPI, to measure the level of success you are achieving.
  • Who is your target audience? What are their needs?
  • What ideas and messages you want to convey?

Get your website ready for content marketing.

Your website is the central component of your content marketing. You will publish your blog posts on your website. Your visitors will share your content through your website. Your website will also help distribute content to various channels. Your website will also house the landing pages corresponding to new content.

Here are the steps you need to take to get your website ready for content marketing:

  • Have a responsive mobile-friendly website.
  • Include an editorial calendar. Install an editorial calendar like “WordPress Editorial Calendar”.
  • Optimize your pages for your target keywords.
  • Install social sharing buttons. A great WordPress plugin for this is “Share Buttons by AddToAny”.
  • Optimize your images. I recommend the “SEO Friendly Images” WordPress plugin.
  • Keep your website fast. I recommend the “WP Super Cache” plugin.

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Become a guest blogger.

A guest blogging or guest posting is the practice of writing blog posts with the intention to post it a blog other than your own. There are two major benefits of guest blogging. First, it gives you access to an audience you wouldn’t have access otherwise. The bigger audience helps to spread the word about your own brand. Second, you can interact with the readers through commenting. Popular blogs receive multiple comments for their posts. Commenting helps you network with more people.

Here is what you need to do to be a successful guest blogger:

  • Target blogs that have a similar audience to your own.
  • Understand what the blog is about. Read several blog posts, to get a feel for the format and style.
  • Approach blogs that are more established than your own.
  • Network with the blogger before you ask to become a guest blogger. Try to build a relationship with the editor of the blog before you ask to become a guest blogger.
  • Only submit excellent work. Your best work should be reserved for guest posts. Don’t waste anyone’s time with fluff.
  • Follow the submission guidelines. If there is a minimum word count, make sure your post meets the requirement.
  • Carefully proofread and edit before submission.

Include calls to action.

All the hard work you put into creating great content will be in vain without a call to action. The right call to action will move your visitors through your marketing funnel from visitor to lead to prospect to customer, etc.

Here are a few common calls to action to consider:

  • Event Promotion – Are you organizing a seminar, webinar, or another event? Ask people to register now. It is great to introduce a deadline and scarcity.
  • Lead Generation – Perhaps the most common call to action. You are trying to turn a visitor into a lead. The end of a blog post or the sidebar would be a great place for a lead generation call to action button.
  • Social Sharing – When people find something they like they are open to sharing it with their friends. Why not encourage them to share your content?
  • Form Submission – Do you have a special report, a book, or some other content to give away? Use the form submission call to action. Companies usually ask for a name, email address in return for receiving the download.
  • Read More – You might show a summary of an excellent piece of content, but you could require an email subscription to view the entire document.
  • Closing – The ultimate goal is to get the sale. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale at the appropriate time.

Create landing pages.

Inexperienced content marketers tend to drive all traffic to the homepage. But, that is a huge mistake. If you want to have great conversions, you have to create custom landing pages with the appropriate call to action.

There are many ways to optimize a landing page, but here are the most important ones:

  • Hide the navigation. Do not give people the option to navigate away from your landing page.
  • There should be only one form of action. The more options you give people the lower rate of conversion you can expect.
  • Have an attention grabbing headline. The headline should help visitors understand what the landing page is about in 5 seconds.
  • The landing page copy should really speak to its intended target audience.
  • Use bullet points. They make reading easier.
  • Include relevant graphics.
  • Keep your forms simple. I know that it is tempting to ask for as much information as possible, but the more you ask the lower rate of conversion you can expect.
  • Show testimonials. People want to see social proof. Show what other people think about your product or service.
  • Kick it up a notch, after conversion. Instead of showing a boring “Thank you” page. Give people a second opportunity to convert, again. You could offer an additional download or an upsell item.

Stay social network active.

Most companies create social network accounts but drop the ball right after. The key to social media is interaction. It is a huge turnoff to see the Facebook icon on a website, click on it, then find an inactive Facebook page. That just tells the world that you stopped caring.

Content marketing demands active social accounts. All of the content you create must be shared throughout your social profiles. Keep your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social accounts active.

Be interactive.

If you promote your content, people will want to interact with you. There will be comments, questions, and even challenges to your content. Be active. Stay part of the conversation. Never ignore customer input. Encourage it. Respond. Follow up. Stay active.

The best content marketers build relationships with their audience. The stronger relationship you build with your customers the more loyalty you can expect.

Repurpose your content.

Great content comes in many forms. If you have done a 2000 word blog post on a topic, you could turn it into a presentation. Then, you could turn the presentation into a video. You could, then, create an audio podcast explaining your findings further. Based on the data, you could design an infographic.

It takes a lot of work to develop great content. Repurposing content is an excellent way to optimize your content marketing efforts.

Involve influencers.

There are experts and influencers in every niche. Reach out to them and ask their input on whatever topic you are writing about. You will be surprised how ready influencers are to share their knowledge. Once you publish your content email the influencers. They might even share it with their audience.

Pay for traffic to increase awareness.

It is great to get free traffic through SEO, but if you want instant traffic you will have to buy it. The great thing about Facebook, Twitter, and Adwords traffic is that it is immediate. If you have a deadline, paying for traffic might be your best bet. To make sure you don’t burn through too much money, it is best to start small. Test. Experiment. Once you see which ads work best, you are ready to step it up.

Promote offline.

Sometimes we tend to forget that there is a whole world of opportunities offline to promote your content. Reference your content on your business card or printed brochures. Promote your content at seminars and trade shows. Are you doing any public speaking? Share your content with the audience.

Adjust as needed.

Your content marketing strategy should be adjusted as needed. After you have tried and tested various content marketing tactics, you might find better ways. The key is to stay open to new ideas and be ready to change as needed.

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photo credit: Polace Croatia Mljet 1