Content marketing attracts prospects and transforms prospects into customers by creating and sharing valuable free content. Content marketing helps companies create sustainable brand loyalty, provides valuable information to consumers, and creates a willingness to purchase products from the company in the future. This relatively new form of marketing does not involve direct sales. Instead, it builds trust and rapport with the audience.
Predictably, blog posts are typically written by the bloggers. However, if your team is large enough to have someone dedicated to creating gated assets and premium content -- things like ebooks and tools -- they should also write blog posts to help promote those assets. SEO specialists will also work closely with bloggers, as blog posts are often a company's best opportunity to improve organic search rankings. As such, bloggers should be writing posts that help improve the site's SEO, and drive organic traffic and leads. Their editorial should be informed by keyword research, and optimized for SEO.
Problem: I need to increase the volume of my organic search. Your audience can’t buy from you if they can’t find you, and today up to 93% of buying cycles start from a search engine. Additionally, according to Kuno Creative, 51% of content consumption derives from organic search, so content marketing is a great way to build organic awareness. When your valuable content ranks highly on search engines, or is shared widely on social networks, you’re building brand awareness at no cost, and since your content will only be shared when it’s relevant, your audience will be less inclined to tune it out.
By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the seven most popular ways companies use content marketing. In it, the columnist points out that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped across corporations from 60% a year or so before, to 93% as part of their overall marketing strategy. Despite the fact that 70% of organizations are creating more content, only 21% of marketers think they are successful at tracking return on investment.
I searched for the best way to get started; enter, Elance. It took a while to get that first measly web content contract. But after that project, the client gave me stellar feedback, and my service started to gain speed. I wasn’t making much at all, but the inquiries came rolling in. So much that I neglected to respond to some project invites, which lead to the demise of my Elance profile. Yep, Elance suspended my account that had pretty good potential and creditability. Make sure you read those terms carefully. Lessons learned.
The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.
You may also want to consider doing an internship at a publication you hope to work for full time in the future to make connections with editors and other writers at the publication. Many of these internships will likely not be paid, at least not at first. Be prepared to receive compensation in the form of connections and contacts. But be wary of being taken advantage of as free labor. If you feel uncomfortable working for free, try to find internships that pay.
It’s that, for most of us, the idea of selling something is already unnerving. Who wants to come across as a slimy salesperson? Plus, with writing, there’s a delay between copy being created and the other person reading it. You’re vulnerable without the luxury of self-correcting based on that person’s body language. You have to release your words into the ether and hope that someone receives it and acts upon it.
As a beginner, you want to study the work of other copywriters. Study the master copywriters’ work. You’ll start picking up patterns by studying master copywriters’ work. You’ll notice headlines that work, and note their style and flow. It’s not that you’re copying their work, you’re only learning styles of writing that work and formatting that works.
There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content--far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.
Part of transitioning to a media publishing mindset requires a change in structure and process to create content at the speed of culture. The old model you see on shows like Mad Men is too slow and cumbersome. By the time an idea becomes an ad, it is out of date. Marketers are increasingly co-locating insights, creative, production, legal approval, and placement to increase interaction and speed in producing and distributing content. Marketing content production is transforming from an advertising agency model to a newsroom model.
At this stage of growth, it's also time to assign dedicated leadership to your content marketing team -- unless you want two dozen people reporting to the CMO. Many organizations hire a Director of Content, VP of Content, Chief Content Officer, or Editor-in-Chief to lead the entire content marketing team. This individual sets the vision for the team, secures budget, hires the right talent, contributes content ideas, solves for growth, and helps coordinate with other leaders across the marketing organization so content marketing doesn't become too siloed.
You create a few sample infographics and share them on social media so people see what the tool is capable of doing, and between that and the traffic coming from organic search, you start to get a few hundred people using it every month. A few of them like it so much they provide their name and email address so they can continue using it. Now that you have their contact information, you're able to identify some people that would be a good customer fit and keep in touch with them, nurturing them into customers.
You'll need some analytics for your website and blog so you can measure your content marketing performance against your goals. Some content marketing teams rely on Google Analytics, others rely on more robust closed-loop solutions that make it easy to tie content marketing activities at the top of the funnel to revenue. I recommend the latter if you want to use metrics to prove the success of your content marketing program so you can secure more budget and grow the team. If you're looking for an easy way to share numbers across your organization, look into DataHero. This tool integrates with the HubSpot software and allows you to track, visualize, and share your analytics through customized dashboards and charts.
Customize your resume and cover letter. If you decide to go a more traditional route and apply for a permanent content writing position at a writing based agency or organization, you will need to customize your resume and cover letter to fit the position. This will show your employer that you noted the skills outlined in the job posting and that you can fulfill the expectations of the position.
Let’s be honest– copywriting can be scary. Even for seasoned writers with nothing to prove, writing advertisements or marketing content can be daunting and terrifying. Copywriting is the literary equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, if you can imagine Mount Everest covered in junk mail and sales papers. You know it can be done, you’ve seen it done well, but you’ve also seen a lot of people die trying and you don’t want to be one of those fatalities.
Great stuff Neville! I love what you’ve posted here; I have been searching for information on freelance and copywriting for some time now. Everyone has done an awesome job posting on your site, it only motivates me to keep going. I’m aware of some of the obstacles and aware there will be more for me to cross, but its sites like this that encourage beginners, such as myself, to dive right into the writing world. You pointed out key points: “just start writing”, join groups that are already writing, and read material pertaining to writing. I only did one of the 3, read about copywriting, lol, I know what your thinking, “this guy must have JUST started”, yes, and thankfully, your site has opened a new portal for me. I’ll join a writing group or some writing groups after this post, and I’m taken your advice today by just start writing on your site. I know its a long way up the latter, but I’m determined to use my skills that has been repressed for sometime now. I actually have a great paying job, but, like most writers, I want more time for me; I spend entirely to much time doing someone else work making them rich, when I can use my own skills to make a decent living and have fun while doing it, its a no brainer for me now. Although, I know it will take dedication and consistency, which I know I have, I’m eager and filled with writer passion. Again, thanks to everyone and good luck to all, including myself. “Here we go”!
If I were Forest Gump, then writing would be like my Jenny. Always in and out of my life in some form or another, and just when I think she’s gone for good, there she is floating across a field to me as if in a dream. And when she appears, she always affects me in some good way. Writing for me is like a tiger in a cage, pacing constantly looking for a way to get out and do what God put it here on earth to do, kill. I cut my literary teeth on Stephen King, but I don’t see myself writing blood and guts books. Instead I have an idea for a book that has been done many times over. I have a couple of models in 1/18th scale die cast metal, that when I look at them, all I can think of is being three inches tall and being able to drive them. For years I have tried to weave a story around this image, and it shouldn’t be that hard, but other factors are involved. Your words are encouraging and inspirational. I think I will start hacking out something I can call my own work of art, because like they say, which includes you too by the way, to be a writer you must write. So thank you for helping me get started. And if you have time, you could shoot me a gmail, it would be an honor. Thanks again Bryan Fitzpatrick Thompson
Problem: I need to reach more customers, while keeping my costs low. According to Forrester research, today’s customers distrust and resent marketing that interrupts or intercepts them. Engaging content marketing should be part of a natural conversation with current and potential customers, be relevant to their interests and behaviors, and build a continuous story over time. Content marketing pays dividends for a very long time, and this effect multiplies as you build out your content library.
Go back and read the content marketing definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you “stuff.” Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day.