Understanding what great content is and how best to gain coverage for it are important lessons for anyone new to the world of content marketing.
We work with a lot of clients who approach content marketing from an SEO background, with SEO KPIs in mind. Sometimes this can have a siloing effect, where content is produced outside of the brand’s core strategy, guided solely by a very singular aim: build links. This is a mistake.
All the content you create, regardless of the KPIs used to measure its performance, should be guided by the people most important to your business: your audience and customer-base.
Making Great Content
Who are you targeting?
Content marketing isn’t just about creating things that will get shares or links. You need content that fits in with your overall brand mission and for this, you need to know exactly who you are targeting.
Who are your current customers and how do they differ from your target customers and audience? How would you like to tackle any discrepancies between them? Are there any new audiences you’d like to conquer?
Segment your target audience into groups of people with shared values and interests.
As audience gatekeepers, bloggers and publishers will play pivotal roles across all of your segments, and should always be taken into account when crafting new content aimed at driving awareness.
What do they like to do, and where?
Once you’ve identified the segments of your target audience, discover where they hang out and what they like to do online.
They might like to chat about technology on forums, look at puppies on Buzzfeed, take part in every twitter competition ever or spend hours browsing Pinterest for DIY ideas.
It’s incredibly important to look at this objectively – get out of your own shoes – it’s the only way can you produce content that works in the digital environments relevant to your target audience. Meet them where they’re at.
Document your findings so you can continuously refer back to your audience research and where you can find them as you develop new content ideas.
How do you want your brand to make people feel?
Think about the central sentiment your brand tries to evoke in a customer across your communications and marketing efforts and take note. Does your brand look to instil feelings of happiness? health? pride? intimacy? achievement?
Apply your brand sentiment to the knowledge you have of your target audience and you should start to get a picture of the ideas and types of content likely to work.
When developing these ideas into stories, be sure to fit these into the overall story your brand is looking to tell. For example, a piece on the evolution of self-esteem issues wouldn’t make a lot of sense for Nivea, but would make an awful lot of sense for Dove, because it fits into their brand story.
Be useful to your audience
Think about how your content offering could make your customers’ lives easier/funnier/more interesting or educate them (if that’s what you find they’re seeking).
Find a good yardstick to measure the quality of your work against; is your latest infographic useful and visually appealing enough for customers to want to save it, or print it off? Will they want to tell their friends about it down the pub?
How to Position your Content to Publishers
If you make great content with these aims in mind, the relationships you build with influencers and publishers who are central to reaching your target audience will become a lot more mutually beneficial.
They might even start coming to you for new content, saving you masses of effort. But in the many instances where that doesn’t happen, where do you go after you’ve created your great, share-worthy content?
Think about positioning, it will help you with your outreach and hence with promoting your content. Let’s throw in some good old marketing theory: Feature versus Benefit.
To promote your content successfully, you need to know exactly why it would make sense for the publishers you approach to post it. Don’t just point out what the content covers — all those stats you’ve dug out or illustrations you’ve made are great, but what can readers take away from it all? How do readers benefit? That’s your selling point.
The piece of content you’ve produced in its totality might only be a perfect fit for a handful of people but different sections could be highly beneficial to numerous publishers and influencers.
Point out which element or section of your content you think is particularly useful to the publisher your contacting, it shows you’ve done your homework.
Write down an overview of your content’s sections and specify exactly how people will be able to use that section to their own advantage, whether that’s a matter of learning about X or how to do Y. This will help you to get an understanding of who to outreach to, whilst keeping your communication targeted and securing the attention you need.
The people you’re approaching receive hundreds of emails a day and don’t have the time or motivation to work out why your content might be of interest to them. You, however, know exactly why, so tell them!
Research your contact
You can use Twitter to research common ground between yourself and a potential influencer – a basis for building rapport with the person – but it can also be incredibly helpful when choosing an email style.
The tool Allmytweets allows you to view a list of all of the past tweets of whichever twitter handle you enter. It sounds creepy, I know, but if you can put that aside, this is a wildly useful tool. Not only can it help you find email addresses, but by searching for ‘email’ or ‘PR’ in the list of tweets, you can often discover what the individual deems good email etiquette and what really annoys them – assuming they’ve tweeted on the topic at some point, which a surprising number have.
Some want emails to be personalised, others hate anything besides the core message, and some get offended if you say “I hope you’re well”.
Don’t fake your style, but be mindful of who you are writing to and what their interests and preferences are. Even if you love pizza, you’re probably not going to go on about it to your gluten intolerant friend. Be attentive, relevant and sincere.