Laying the Foundation for a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

Effective content marketing increases brand awareness, boosts engagement, nurtures leads and feeds the funnel with prospects and customers. This has resulted in the widespread adoption of full-fledged content marketing strategies, flooding the market with blog posts, podcasts, videos, webinars, slideshows, etc. Now more than ever, it is vital to develop strategies and tactics that cut through the noise. 

As marketers, we (and I) are often drawn to the “shiny new toy”. That new killer tactic or channel that our competitors have yet to master. However, time and time again, our analytics at Sherpa indicate that “tried and true” often outperforms “shiny and new”.

Focusing on traditional tactics such as effective email marketing, optimizing content curation strategies and extending the lifespan of each piece of created content are just a few of the ways that you can pump up your content marketing efforts!

Email Marketing Isn’t Dead!

Microsoft Outlook and I have a long-term relationship. We hang out most of the day, share ups and downs, watch Netflix and… ok it’s not that serious, but I do live in the program during the work week – it’s my communication tool, scheduler, address book, organizer and my ‘to do’ list. 

This is the case for nearly every professional, which makes email marketing a great tool to reach individuals who are paying attention. Email marketing is also highly measurable and easy to A/B test to improve your strategy going forward. For years Sherpa has seen blast emails drive desired consumer behaviours and the continually high key performance indicators (KPIs) prove it. 

Below is an infographic defining these metrics and outlining the results of an e-blast that Sherpa recently created for a client. A 59% open rate and a click-through-rate approaching 23% is off the charts! 

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Pro Tip: use an email marketing provider for all of your blast email needs. There are built-in analytics features that track KPIs such as the ones listed above, as well as schedulers and tools to maintain your email subscription list and comply with Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). 

What Should I Include in a Blast Email?

A great starting point is to create a bi-monthly or quarterly digest highlighting your top performing social posts over the time period, fresh content that you’ve created, staff profiles and notable company news. This email maintains engagement between yourself and your target market and keeps your company top-of-mind. People enjoy getting to know the individuals behind the brand and this type of content helps to strengthen the relationship that client stakeholders have with your company. An e-blast that focusses on your company should be used in tandem with the customer-centric blast email described below. 

A customer-centric e-blast involves segmenting your customer base into unique groups within your email marketing software and curating your content to be highly relevant to each segment.

In Sherpa’s case, many of our clients fall into one of three industry verticals: agriculture, financial services and not-for-profit. If we chose to segment our email list by industry, here is an example of a few topics we would include in a blast email to our NFP clients:

  1. The top three insights gained from a recent NFP marketing conference that a Sherpa attended 
  2. A teaser blurb and link to a Sherpa’s blog post that discusses how to create effective leave behinds to drive non-profit donations     
  3. Examples of recent work from influencers in the NFP space to demonstrate industry-leading tactics and strategy

 Note: If you’re sending this to a relatively small number of clients and really want to knock it out of the park, personalize each email with a unique blurb on how similar tactics could be applied to each recipient’s organization!

Creating an email that has this level of personalization adds tremendous value and is a proactive approach to making a meaningful difference in your clients’ businesses.   

Repurposing Created Content for Cross-Channel Distribution

Content is king… sort of. Highly-engaging and relevant content combined with a solid distribution strategy is king. Without a well-thought-out and properly-executed distribution strategy, your content is merely princely!

Anyone who has spent any time writing case studies, shooting videos, recording podcasts or creating any piece of half-decent content knows how much time and effort goes into the process. It is imperative that you get the full lifespan out of each and every piece of content you take the time to create. 

A strategy to extend the shelf life of your content is repurposing it for cross-channel distribution. Instead of creating a blog post, uploading it to your website and simply sending a promotional tweet and Facebook post, spend some time brainstorming ways to get more out of a single piece of content. 

Here are some examples of repurposing a blog post and distributing it across multiple channels:

  • Create a SlideShare presentation that breaks up the main highlights of your blog post into digestible chunks – share the deck on your LinkedIn page (make sure your colleagues are “liking” or sharing to increase the post’s reach!)
  • If the topic is relevant to a specific segment of clients or customers, host a lunch-time webinar that uses your SlideShare presentation. If possible, be sure to tailor the topic to be client or industry focussed and include an interactive Q&A session to boost engagement and add value. This is a sure-fire way to establish your company as a thought leader in your space!  
  • Create a quick-hitter video that dives deeper into one of the points made in the post. Overlay the video with other content such as screenshots, evidence from third party sources to back up your points, pieces of related content, case study tidbits, etc. – upload to YouTube and promote across social media channels and your website.
  • Record a podcast of you and a colleague “talking shop” on the subject – check out Sherpas here! – or pick one theme contained in the blog post that you can elaborate on in a podcast. 
  • In a month’s time write a sequel to your post to build off of your initial ideas – be sure to link back to your original piece or any of the items listed above to continue driving additional traffic to your channels. 

Cross-channel distribution gets your content marketing strategy working in a cohesive and unified direction. Furthermore, this approach enables you to cast a wide net on a variety of channels to reach a large number of individuals. 

Content Curation

Content curation is another integral component of a successful content marketing strategy. Curation involves taking content from third-party sources and sharing it on your own channels.  
Pulling posts and articles from well-respected industry leaders and adding your company’s own spin to it establishes your brand as trustworthy and credible. 

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Note: Always make sure you’re adding your own two cents to curated content – this is a must! Tie the article, post, video, etc. back to your company and explicitly state how it relates to your business offering and why it matters to your target audience.

So what are the most effective and efficient ways to find great content? 

  1. Influencers: Influencers are the rock stars in your industry. In the marketing world, a great example is Seth Godin, an author, blogger, entrepreneur and marketing whiz. He posts content that is useful to his audience, has vast knowledge of marketing strategy and tactics and is well respected in the industry.  

    Twitter is a great tool to find these influencers – follow them and learn from them. A quick follow gives you access to their content that you can then repurpose and share on your social media channels. Additionally, following these individuals gives you an inside-look at the approach they are taking with their social platforms/blog/website, which you can then apply to your own content marketing strategy.
  2. Content Aggregators: A content aggregator is a tool that creates a feed of articles that fall under a certain topic. The feed is composed of specific publications, blogs or websites that you choose to subscribe to. 

    For example, using a content aggregator called Feedly, Sherpa has created a number of umbrella topics that are vital components of our service offering: marketing, SEM/SEO and technology. We then subscribe to a number of leading content providers within each of the mentioned parent topics./_uploads/images/contenthub-posts/08-2017/MylesBlogPost3.png

When these influencers publish new content, which happens multiple times per day, the articles automatically populate within our feeds. This gives us up-to-the-minute access to top-notch content and saves us the time and effort involved in visiting many websites to search for relevant articles.

  1. Content Hubs: Content hubs are a fantastic tool to pull created content as well as all of your owned-content (blog posts, podcasts, videos, social media posts, etc.) into one beautifully custom designed hub. Content hubs have a unique feature that allows you to create feeds for certain search phrases or hashtags that are relevant to your target audience. 

    These feeds will populate the posts from social feeds that contain the search term or hashtag, allowing you to quickly sift through the aggregated content to find valuable posts to share to your networks. This can be especially useful if you’re running a social media contest that requires individuals to tag posts with specific hashtags. Hubs have a built-in sharing feature that allow you to add posts to your hub’s feed as well as any of your social media channels directly from the software.    

Recently, I wrote a blog post that dives deeper into the benefits of content hubs, if you’re interested in learning more on the subject please follow the link!  

This article’s purpose was certainly not to deter you from trying out new channels or techniques in your content marketing strategy – that would be grounds for my firing! As marketers we should always be looking to push the envelope to cut through the noise, especially in today’s content saturated world. 

That said, the numbers don’t lie. Perfecting traditional marketing methods such as email and ensuring that your created pieces reach their full potential is a proven compliment to the fun stuff. Mix in some effective curation strategies and you’ll be off to the content marketing races in no time!  

Sources: 
http://info.quintainmarketing.com/blog/ctr-vs-ctor-which-email-marketing-metric-should-you-be-using 

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