How to Market Your Blog Using Content Marketing
For a word that has a seemingly simple definition, “marketing” is actually quite a broad concept. While it is described as that form of communication between sellers and customers with the ultimate goal of selling products and services to the latter, it is actually much more complex, as it does not just involve sale of physical goods and services.
Marketing may also apply to the acts aimed at raising the profile or increasing the exposure of a company, an individual or a brand in the public’s consciousness.
With the onset of blogging and the ensuing rise of power and influence of blogs and their respective bloggers, it is almost inevitable that the concept of marketing should also expand even wider to accommodate it.
After all, for many, blogs have become a source of livelihood and is often seen as a lucrative business or profession, if done right. In fact, businesses now see blogging as a great marketing tool, both for enhancing branding and increasing sales and revenue margins.
It’s important to note that within this marketing strategy is another marketing strategy, and that pertains to what the blogs have to offer. This is referred to as content marketing.
In this guide, we will 1) define content marketing and differentiate it from other types of marketing, 2) how to do content marketing for blogs, 3) how to develop a content promotional plan, and 4) how to track your content marketing results.
It is not only blogs that are concerned with content marketing. Businesses pour a lot of money in managing the content of their websites, although not strictly blogs. Even the largest marketing firms and institutions in the world such Procter & Gamble, Cisco Systems and Microsoft invest heavily in content marketing. In this discussion, however, we will be focusing on content marketing as a strategy for making a blog successful.
Let us start with defining what “content marketing” is. In general terms, it is the process of creation and distribution of relevant, useful and valuable content in a consistent manner, with the purpose of attracting and engaging the attention of the target audience (or target market).
The end result is to have the target audience take the desired action, whether it is to convince them to purchase a product, buy a service, subscribe to the blog, or whatever other action you would like them to take.
Take note that content marketing primarily involves communicating with the audience without selling anything to them outright. You are not giving them a cut-and-dried call to action, such as “buy this or that” or “get this service today”.
Instead, you are providing them with content that will make them think and ponder on whether to buy a product or get a service. In other words, you are giving the target audience the power to decide whether to take an action or not, by providing them with the information necessary to justify the decision.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive audience or customer action that will be profitable or beneficial. You can actually get a lot more out of content marketing other than just focusing on the bottom line, and this may even have more lasting implications for your blog, business and brand.
- Content marketing builds customer trust and loyalty. Customers or audiences are likely to gravitate towards companies or brands that provide free and relevant information on a regular basis. As a simple example, let us take a look at The Home Depot, a retailer of home improvement and construction products and services in the United States, Canada and some parts of Mexico. The company maintains a blog that publishes source inspirations on DIY home improvement and construction projects. The content provided will inspire customers to purchase the tools that will be used in the various projects from The Home Depot.
- Content marketing improves your brand. If the customers or the target audience trusts you, then they will view your brand as an authority in your chosen niche or field. As a result, everything you say will be taken seriously by customers, hence they will base their decisions on the information. If you do your content marketing right, you do not have to put so much work on product marketing, since the positive associations that your content marketing strategy did for your brand will do most of the work for you.
- Content marketing brings you closer to your target customers or audience. Through providing relevant and useful content, you are opening doors for them to provide feedback that you may also utilize for your marketing and operational strategies. You will be able to get to know them better, so you can make adjustments accordingly.
- Content marketing reaches the target audience faster, and endures longer. Advertisements are mostly seasonal since companies have to develop advertising campaigns from period to period. Content, however, is more enduring, especially if it is good and high quality content. The content you put up today is more likely to still be applicable several years from now.
CONTENT MARKETING VS. OTHER FORMS OF MARKETING
You won’t be wrong if you say that content marketing is similar to advertising, but you won’t be completely right, either. In a 2011 study, 7 out of 10 users rely more on articles and content over advertisements and blurbs provided by companies and corporate entities.
Clearly, content marketing is more than simple and straightforward advertising, and you’ll be able to understand that better if you compare it with other forms of marketing.
Vs. Traditional Marketing
We’ve briefly covered this earlier. In traditional marketing, there is a definite call to action, which is to persuade customers to purchase.
Content marketing, on the other hand, takes a more subtle route, going the roundabout way of providing free articles and multimedia items to do the persuasion.
Traditional marketing involves product pitches; content marketing goes about publishing problem-solving articles and informative narratives to convey pretty much the same message to the audience.
The goal is the same, it’s the execution that is different.
Vs. Traditional Copywriting
These two differ in the tools employed by the marketers. Content marketers make use of podcasts, video, audio, and other multimedia in order to deliver content. Of course, lately, two of the most common and powerful vehicles are social media platforms and blogs.
Traditional copywriters, on the other hand, focus on the creation of headlines and landing pages that are engaging and persuasive enough to spur the audience to do a certain action. They are also primarily responsible for creating emails meant to drive conversion.
Vs. Native Advertising
Technically, content marketing and native advertising, also often called online advertising, are geared towards increasing brand awareness and engagement.
However, content marketing takes it a step further by aiming to drive conversions of leads generated. Content marketing is the one that provides more SEO benefits, which is glaringly lacking in native advertising.
Vs. Social Media Marketing
As the name implies, social media marketing focuses primarily on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and instagram.
Content marketing on the other hard is broad and covers the content on blogs and social platforms alike.
CONTENT MARKETING FOR BLOGS
There are several ways that bloggers can market their blogs, or bring it to a much higher level of awareness to a wider audience. Others adapt social media marketing or the active use of social media sites in order to promote their blogs. Others even submit contributions to other blogs or websites, posting and sharing content as guest bloggers.
Most bloggers know for a fact that the core of content marketing is the content itself: it must be relevant, it must be useful, and it must be something of value to the target audience. Otherwise, your content marketing strategy is a bust from the start. But how do we make use of content marketing in order to market our blogs?
Have your own identity, and be familiar with it
Know what you want
You can start by setting a goal and coming up with a mission statement. Others may say that they are just a bunch of words but hey, we are talking about a blog here, and words are very powerful. Therefore, you should make use of them as much as you can.
You have to have a clear idea what you want your blog to become in the future, or how you want your brand to grow and evolve. To make things easier, you can look at the other, more successful, blogs. List them down and study what made them successful. You can then go right ahead and model your content marketing strategy after them.
Know your target audience
Your target audience includes the people who will be visiting your blog. They are the ones that you will be catering to as you create content. When you started your blog, you chose a specific topic or subject matter.
As much as you want to cover pretty much everything, that is just not feasible, especially when you are just starting out.
Therefore, you have to narrow things down a bit. Within that scope that you chose, you are supposed to know who you will be creating content for and providing value to.
Develop your own content marketing strategy
Here’s some good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) news: there is no template for a content marketing strategy. You can be as flexible with it as you want, taking into consideration your specific circumstances and personal preferences. As you develop your strategy, never lose sight of the core or key point: the content.
Create a marketing strategy checklist
Put it in writing, it will help you stay accountable. Write down your goals – both short-term and long-term – with respect to your blog, and everything that you plan to do.
Check and recheck them every once in a while in order to see if you missed anything. All the items subsequently discussed in this article should appear on your checklist.
Build a content calendar
Content marketing puts emphasis on creating content consistently and regularly.
Therefore, you should come up with a calendar or a schedule for when to put up content on your blog. This is to avoid long “dry spells” or silences in your blog.
You should have clearly identified the types of information that your content will cover. Again, never lose sight of what your blog is about, and how it will relate to your brand.
You have picked a specific subject matter; be consistent and create content that falls under that category. It is all right to veer away from time to time, but do not do this so often that it will threaten your blog’s overall identity.
Use content creation and management tools
Lucky for you and other bloggers out there, there are now a myriad of tools that you can use to create content, manage and optimize it, and even track the results of your content marketing strategy. You should also choose the distribution channels for your content, particularly the ones that will give your blog the most benefit.
Here are some tools that you can use in order to create quality content.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer: this aids in coming up with better headlines or content titles.
- Hemingway app: a tool that analyzes the readability, density and complexity of your blog content text.
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner: a tool that helps you choose keywords that improve your SEO.
- Cliché Finder: a tool that helps you spin words in your content so they can be more unique and, consequently, have more impact.
- Google Trends: Want to be ranked high on Google? Find out what keywords and topics are trending, so you can create your content around them.
Find even more social media and content marketing tools for you to use.
Develop a content promotion plan
Content promotion means you have to optimize content you put in your blog. When creating content, remember the following:
Content must be high quality
When determining the quality of content, take note of the following:
- The topic or subject must be relevant. It must provide something of value to those who read it, otherwise they will move on to something else.
- It should be well-written and error-free, particularly with respect to grammar and syntax. Many readers will give up reading a blog post halfway through if there are too many errors, and this means your content just failed to do what it is supposed to.
- It should be written in a way that is readable by everyone. Compare a blog with single large blocks of text and a blog with articles separated accordingly by topic and thought. It is safe to say that the latter is the more reader-friendly and, consequently, will encourage more engagement.
Content must be unique
The main reason why content is encouraged to be unique is so that your blog’s search engine ranking will go up. Imagine having the same content as a dozen or even a hundred other blogs within the same niche. You just lowered your chances of being seen by many people when they do a search on the internet, because there are more than several others with the same topic.
Copying content is a no-no. Aside from the fact that this is morally wrong and unethical, it will not do anything for your search engine rankings. Worse, it will also put you in a bad light when readers realize that you just copied content on your blog from another blog.
Content must be target-specific
From the beginning, you already have a specific target audience in mind. You should create content that is specifically aimed for them. It does not make sense to create content on five-star hotels when your blog is directed towards budget travelers and backpackers.
Content must be search engine optimized
It is not enough that you have unique and well-written content. The content must also be optimized to rank higher on search engines.
This can be accomplished through the use of useful and relevant links, as well as unique keywords. Choose the words that you use on your headlines and titles, and even in the file names that you assign to images and other multimedia files that you include in your content.
All these seemingly trivial and little things will actually help your search engine optimization efforts.
Integrate social media into your content marketing strategy
Social media is very effective as a channel for promoting your content. A word of caution, though: if you are going to build social media into your content marketing strategy, make sure that you are consistent about it. Be active; make sure that your online presence is not intermittent.
Track results of your content marketing strategy
Naturally, you have to stay in the loop on how your strategy is working. This is so that you can make the necessary adjustments.
If the content does not seem to be getting the response you expected or hoped for, you will have the chance to revisit your strategy and figure out where you went wrong. In contrast, you will also be able to clearly pinpoint the tactics that are working, and put more effort into them.
There are several key metrics that you can rely on to track your content marketing results. They include figures and percentages relating to traffic, leads generated, conversions, and even simple page views.
Put content marketing at the center of your strategy to market your blog and promote your brand. It may look like it takes a lot of work, but the fruits and returns will definitely be very much worth all the effort you put into it.