1. What is content marketing exactly?
Content marketing turns traditional marketing on its head. Instead of focusing on a company and its products or services, it focuses on the consumer’s needs first. The goal of content marketing is to provide valuable, genuinely helpful information to consumers for free, in order to create a relationship with them based on trust, which eventually leads them to make a purchase.
2. What qualifies as content?
When most people think of content marketing, they think of a blog. And blogs are certainly one of the easiest and most effective means of content marketing available. But they aren’t the only forms of content that can be employed in a content marketing strategy. Any valuable information, conveyed via any medium, can be considered content. Videos, infographics, slideshares, PDFs, blogs, articles, podcasts, white papers, ebooks, webinars – the list goes on and on.
3. How should I get started with content marketing?
Though it can be tempting to jump right in and start writing a blog without much forethought, the only way to ensure that your content marketing will be effective is to take the time to create a strategy first. Without a clear plan in place, all the time you put into developing content is wasted.
4. What are the steps to developing a content marketing strategy?
First, determine who your target audience is. Develop a customer persona to whom your content should speak. Then, based on that persona and your company’s brand image, decide on your company’s voice, and the type of content you will be creating. Your content needs to be informative and valuable, as well as interesting and engaging, to your target demographic. And once you start producing content, constant tweaking of your strategy is in order, based on how successful each post is.
5. Do I need to constantly create new content?
Yes and no. Content creation does need to be ongoing, but there are ways to streamline and simplify the process. One of the easiest and most effective ways of doing so is to repurpose content. This entails creating content in one form and then reworking it several times in order to utilize that same information in other forms, as well. For example, you might write an ebook about an important topic in your industry. Then, you could take the chapters of that ebook, and edit each one to make them into individual blog posts. Next, you could create an infographic illustrating the statistics mentioned in the ebook. And finally, you could give a webinar discussing the content in that ebook. Not only does this approach lighten the content creation load, but it also allows the same content to be consumed by people with different tastes in content.
6. How often should I post fresh content on my site?
There is still a lot of debate surrounding this question – every industry and every demographic sees different content consumption patterns. But in general, fresh content should be posted no less often than twice a week. As for an upper limit, there is none – studies seem to show that posting once a day, or even several times a day, is a very effective way to drive traffic to a website. It’s just a matter of deciding how much time and effort you can devote to creating content. Google is known to give more prominence to websites that update their data on a frequent basis.
7. How important is it to share my content on social media?
It’s not important – it’s essential. Posting content to a blog and then sitting back and hoping that visitors will find it is an exercise in futility. In fact, some blogging gurus maintain that only 20% of your time should be spent on content creation, and the other 80% on promoting that content via social media! It’s that vital.
8. Is guest blogging part of a content marketing strategy?
Yes! Content creation is content creation, whether it’ll appear on your site or someone else’s. Of course, guest blogging is also an essential part of outreach or digital PR, but the principles of content marketing still apply – you want to create valuable information that will help consumers.
9. Do I need an editorial calendar?
Some businesses swear by them, others not so much. How important an editorial calendar depends on your individual strategy. However, even if you don’t maintain a full-blown, detailed editorial calendar, you should at least plan out your content a month in advance, noting any holidays or promotion dates you want to mark with special content.
10. How important are keywords in content marketing?
Despite the constant changes to Google’s algorithm, keywords are still important in content creation. While the standards have been somewhat relaxed, so that words and phrases that mean approximately the same thing as the exact phrase searched for can now pop up in search results, too, it’s still best to include a few mentions of the exact words and phrases you want to be found for. Just remember that your priority is always to write for humans, not search engines.
11. How do I make my content engaging?
The answer to this question depends a lot on your particular audience. What’s engaging to teens will necessarily differ vastly from what middle-aged business professionals will find engaging. Speak to your target audience’s pain points or interests, let them see that you understand them and want to help them – and then open up the conversation. Ask questions, and invite them to respond. The beauty of content marketing, as opposed to traditional marketing, is that communication is not one-way anymore.
12. How can content marketing make me into an industry thought leader?
There’s a lot of talk about the importance of becoming a thought leader – and with good reason. Getting you known as an expert in your field is exactly what content marketing is meant to do. It’s what creates a sense of trust in consumers, which allows them to feel comfortable making a purchase from you. By creating unique, original content, in which you demonstrate your expertise and answer questions consumers might have, you’ll be on your way to becoming an industry thought leader in no time.
13. Is there a difference between B2C and B2B content marketing?
Yes and no. The purpose of each is the same, but since the audience is different, your content will also vary. B2B content tends to be more professional and businesslike in its voice – though not always – and the topics will, of course, be more business-oriented. B2C content, on the other hand, is usually more conversational, and the topics have a little more free range.
14. Should I create timely content or evergreen content?
The answer here is a definite…both! It’s important to have content addressing current events and new developments in your industry – that’s a great way to draw traffic to your site through social media and online searches. But it’s also important to create evergreen content that will continue to attract visitors for months and even years. Otherwise, your entire library of content will continually lose its relevancy within weeks of its publication.
15. How can I incorporate big content into my content marketing plan?
Big content, such as that contained in white papers and ebooks, is an important part of any content marketing strategy. Not only does it demonstrate to your audience that you are enough of an expert in your field to be able to write an entire ebook or white paper about a subject, as opposed to writing only short and simple blog posts, but it also gives you a tool for attracting email subscribers. By offering a piece of big content as an incentive to join your email list, you ensure that you have access to an audience interested in your content…and your company.
16. Is short-form or long-form content better?
Much debate surrounds this topic. Some studies seem to suggest that short and sweet is best – that consumers want to skim a short blog and be able to get the message quickly. Other research shows that long, in-depth, detailed posts are best at converting. Our answer? Find out what your unique audience prefers through testing. Write some long posts and some short ones, and see which ones are most successful – and then create more like them!
17. How can I create content that converts?
It’s important to remember that content marketing is just one step in the conversion funnel. It’s only through a combination of SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, outreach, email marketing, and website design that prospective customers are led to convert. That said, content marketing is vital in the conversion process since each page of your website and each informative blog post or white paper plays a distinct and definite role in convincing visitors to buy. Craft different content with each step of the conversion funnel in mind and don’t forget to include a solid call to action.
18. What are some common content marketing mistakes?
The most common content marketing mistake is to fall back into the old habits of traditional marketing. Writing blog posts that are overly salesy, or that promote the company and its products excessively, is a big no-no. Content should be valuable to consumers, and sales pitches are not only not valuable – they’re off-putting. There’s a time and a place for sales, and it’s not in your content.
19. How do I get people to read my content?
Promoting your content through email and social media is vital, but even the best promotion efforts can be stalled by a lousy title. Make sure that the headline of your content is intriguing and informative. It should convey an idea of what the content contains, while also hooking people’s interest.
20. How do I measure the success of my content marketing efforts – and my overall digital marketing efforts?
Ultimately, the success of a digital marketing plan can be seen in the number of conversions it creates. But it can be difficult to track exact results, as a consumer needs several “touches” before finally deciding to purchase. A visitor may read a blog post and then see an update on social media, and then read a few emails, before finally deciding to convert. While the blog post wasn’t the immediate cause of the purchase, it was that all-important first touch.
Email marketing can seem like a deceptively simple task at first glance, but once you get into the trenches, it becomes clear that it’s anything but. Luckily, we’re here to help point you in the right direction.
1. Is email marketing still effective?
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways for a business to reach customers directly. Think about it. You’re not posting something on your site and hoping people will visit it. You’re not even posting something on a social media page and hoping fans will see it. You’re sending something directly into each person’s inbox, where they definitely will see it! Even if they don’t open it, they’ll still see the subject line and your company’s name each time you send an email, so you’re always communicating directly with your audience.
2. Isn’t social media marketing taking the place of email marketing?
Actually, statistics show that email reaches three times more people than Facebook and Twitter combined. That’s a significant difference. Social media marketing is wildly popular and becoming even more so every day, but it is definitely not taking the place of social media marketing any time soon. On Facebook, for example, each post only reaches a small portion of your users. If you have users opted into your email list, however, everyone on that list will receive that message.
3. Can I buy a list when I’m just starting out with email marketing?
It can be tempting, but you’ve got to resist that temptation. The only way to get an email subscriber list that will be beneficial to your company is to grow it organically. First of all, many email service providers won’t even allow you to use purchased lists. And secondly, the email addresses found on lists like those are not high-quality leads, to say the least. They will not contain people truly interested in your products or services, since these people didn’t opt-in to your specific email list, so they’ll also be much more likely to mark your emails as spam.
4. How should I grow my subscriber list?
The best way to grow an email subscriber list is to offer your audience an incentive in exchange for signing up to receive your emails. You can put this offer on your site, on your social media pages, on landing pages you create to get people excited – just get the word out, and your leads will automatically qualify themselves by opting in.
5. What makes a good incentive?
Any kind of content that will be seen as valuable by your particular audience. It can be an eBook, a white paper, a video, a webinar, even a coupon – anything that is attractive enough to potential customers that they are willing to give up their email address in order to get it.
6. Do I need to send an email newsletter?
For some businesses, a newsletter is the way to go. For others, a different approach works better. Newsletters usually feature several different pieces of content, such as recent blog posts and current specials. But it’s also perfectly fine to send an email featuring only one piece of content, or an individual marketing message. Tailor your email structure to your unique audience, and see what works best through experimentation.
7. How often should I send marketing emails?
As often as you can, without getting annoying. How’s that for a vague answer? But it’s true – you want to send frequent emails, but not so frequent that people start unsubscribing or worse, marking them as spam. Where’s the happy medium? Unfortunately, it’s different for each business. For some, once a month is plenty, while for others, daily emails are just fine. Again, it’s a matter of experimentation and testing to see what your particular audience responds best to.
8. What is the best day and time to send my marketing emails?
Once again, the answer to this question differs from business to business. And once again, testing is the way to find out what works best. As a general rule, weekends and mornings seem to be the times when more emails are opened – but since your audience may have different habits, it’s best to experiment and then use your own data to decide.
9. How can I make sure my emails don’t end up in the spam folder?
There are certain obvious email marketing no-nos to avoid, if you want to stay out of the spam folder – things like mentioning Viagra or writing in all caps. But spam filters are much more sophisticated now than they used to be, so one or two trip-ups usually won’t mean the end for you. The best way to stay out of the dreaded spam folder is to write not like a salesperson, but like a friend – the tone of your emails, and even the vocabulary you use, will automatically be different.
10. Should I use HTML or plain text-based emails?
This is another case for A/B testing. There’s no one right answer, even though some people swear by the gorgeous, eye-catching images of HTML emails, and others maintain that simple text looks best in every email program and is never blocked like an image can be. Once again, it all depends on your particular audience and their preferences, so try both and see which one is most successful.
11. How long should my emails be?
The average person will only spend about 20 seconds reading an email, so use that as a guideline. If your email will take longer than 20 seconds to read, make sure that the most important information, as well as your call to action and links, are located near the top, where they can be seen without having to scroll down.
12. How do I write a great marketing email?
The single best piece of advice we can give when it comes to writing a marketing email is to keep the following in mind: The purpose of every email you write is to deepen your relationship with each individual subscriber. That means writing to them as if they were a friend, or at least a real-life person, rather than sounding like a used car salesman.
13. Should I segment my email lists?
If you have the resources to write that extra content, and the flexibility within your niche to divvy your subject matter up into segments, then by all means, yes! Segmenting your email list is a great way to personalize marketing messages according to subscribers’ individual interests, making them that much more effective.
14. Which metrics should I be looking at?
The two most important metrics for email marketing are the open rate and the click-through rate. If your emails aren’t getting opened, subscribers will never see your full marketing message – and if they’re opening them, but not clicking through to your site, your emails aren’t converting.
15. How can I get subscribers to open my emails?
The key to getting subscribers to open your emails is by writing a stellar subject line every time. Other than your company name, that’s all they have to help them make that split-second decision when they see your email in their inbox.
16. How do I write a good subject line?
The best subject lines are short and to the point, accurately describing what’s in the email – but also catchy and intriguing, so the reader wants to know more. Once again, this is the perfect place for some A/B testing, to see which types of subject lines work best with your audience.
17. How can I increase my click-through rate?
Amazingly, people are much more likely to do something if you simply ask them to. By placing a call to action in your email, specifically asking subscribers to “click here” or “shop now,” you’ll see a boost in your click-through rate.
18. How do I write a great call to action?
Your call to action should be very clear, and very simple. It should be somewhere towards the top of your email for those who won’t finish reading the whole email and then repeated again at the end for those who do read all the way through. It should spell out exactly what you want subscribers to do, such as, “Click here to download our report.”
19. What should my From line say?
The most important thing to remember about your From email address is to make it recognizable. If subscribers see an unfamiliar name on the From line, they might just mark the email as spam. Your From line should either feature your company’s name, or an individual’s name, if you want to make it more personal – but it needs to be clear which company that individual is a part of, or subscribers will again be confused.
20. What does the CAN-SPAM law say?
This law requires anyone sending commercial emails to include an unsubscribe link within each one, include the company’s physical address or P.O. Box as well, and to honor any subscriber’s request to unsubscribe by never emailing them again. Noncompliance with this law can be as high as $300 per email recipient.
Social Media FAQ
1. Can social media marketing really help my business?
Most definitely! It’s been proven again and again by business after business. In fact, not utilizing social media marketing can actually harm your business, since having an online presence on social media is simply expected of any reputable firm these days.
2. What are the benefits of social media marketing for my company?
Whether your business is taking advantage of it or not, social media has forever changed the way that consumers communicate with businesses, and vice versa. Being accessible to your customers – and your prospective clients – via social media is a vital means of developing relationships with them and helping them through the sales funnel.
3. How should companies measure their social media marketing success?
Success is measured using the same metrics you use for any other marketing activity: traffic, leads, and customers. Counting the number of fans or followers you have can help you understand your social media reach, but the bottom line that determines its success is how many people it drives to your site, how many of them are qualified leads, and how many of them actually become customers.
4. How much does social media marketing cost? What’s the ROI?
One thing is for certain – social media marketing is never free. Whether you’re spending your own valuable time on it, asking an employee to add it to their workload, hiring a social media employee, or outsourcing to a marketing firm, there is always a cost. The key is to get the maximum ROI out of the time or money you put into it. It’s important to remember, however, that ROI doesn’t have to mean revenue. It can, but it can also mean meeting other objectives, such as getting new leads, increasing email subscriptions, or even boosting customer satisfaction. The ROI you end up with is the direct result of how focused your social media marketing strategy is.
5. Which social media platforms should my business have a presence on?
There is no set answer to this question because you need to have a presence wherever your customers are – and different businesses have different audiences. One demographic spends most of their time on Facebook, while another really only engages on LinkedIn, and some divide their time equally between three or more sites. Find out where your customers are, and follow them there.
6. Does my company really need a blog for social media marketing?
Yes! A blog is one of those non-negotiables. Apart from all of the benefits it provides on its own, such as increasing your credibility as an industry expert and providing fresh, keyword-rich content on a regular basis to please the search engines, a blog is a vital component of social media marketing. One of the most effective types of content to post on social media is a link to a blog post. Without fresh blog posts being shared on a regular basis, you won’t have nearly as much to talk about with your fans, and you won’t be driving as much traffic to your site, either.
7. Is social media marketing better for B2C or B2B businesses?
It’s important for both, but in different ways. While B2C businesses can focus on more light-hearted, fun social media posts, B2B businesses need to use social media to share valuable industry content. As a tool for connecting a business with its customers, however, social media is vital to both.
8. How should we be using Facebook for marketing?
Facebook is the social media platform of choice for over a billion people worldwide. Use it to connect and interact with your audience, and to share your content in a way that encourages your fans to share it as well.
9. How should we be using Twitter for marketing?
Twitter has over 313 million users and is ideal for sharing your content and connecting with other influencers in your industry.
10. How should we be using LinkedIn for marketing?
LinkedIn has over 467 million users. It is a great place to share your credentials with the world, but more importantly, it’s the perfect place to interact with your audience online. Using LinkedIn Groups, you can answer questions and contribute to discussions in order to demonstrate your industry thought leadership as well as your willingness to help others generously.
11. Should we be using Google+ for marketing?
Though it started out looking promising, Google+ is one platform we don’t recommend using for marketing purposes anymore.
12. Is YouTube important for marketing?
Videos are becoming more and more important in the world of social media marketing. YouTube gets over 4 billion views per day! Promote your brand’s image through a video, let your audience have a peek behind the scenes at your business, or make a how-to video.
13. Is outreach an important part of social media marketing?
Guest blogging is one of the most effective and widely discussed methods of outreach, but social media can help your outreach efforts significantly, as well. Connect with other influencers in your industry via social media, and then build relationships with them through conversations and helping them to promote their content. Building a relationship in this way before reaching out to ask for a guest blogging opportunity can boost your chances of success greatly – and when your audience sees that you regularly converse with other experts via social media, they’ll see you as an expert, too!
14. How can I take control of my brand online through social media marketing?
Taking “control” of your brand isn’t really possible anymore, thanks to social media. Whether you’re in the conversation or not, people will talk about you online, and there’s no way for you to “control” what they say. But what you can do is join in those conversations, and influence them by being a part of them. From negative reviews on Yelp to customer complaints on Twitter, the way to influence your audience’s perception of your brand is to participate in the conversations and steer them in a direction you’re happy with.
15. Should each department in my company have its own social media initiatives?
A company’s social media activities don’t have to all come from the same place – but they do need to be coordinated, and that can be hard to do when each department is doing their own thing. Sending differing messages causes more confusion to customers than anything else – consistency is key.
16. What type of social media content converts best?
Just like question #5, this one depends on your audience. The best way to find out what type of content converts most effectively for you is to test, tweak, and test again until you find the right fit.
17. How much time should social media marketing take each week?
Timing is everything in social media marketing. The good news is, by using social media you have the opportunity to reach your specific audience in real-time. But even though there are many tools you can use to schedule and automate posts to save some time, you’ll also want to keep track of the activity on your social media accounts throughout the day, so that you can provide timely responses to audience questions and comments. Between strategizing, creating and posting content and images, responding to your audience, and checking analytics, social media done right can be a full-time job.
18. How long does it take before I’ll start seeing results from social media marketing?
With social media constantly evolving, this depends on variables such as the time and effort you’re putting into social media marketing management, your budget, your audience, your strategy, and whether you’re using paid ads or not. Regardless, it’s important to remember that social media is a marathon and not a race.
19. What are some common social media marketing mistakes business make?
One of the worst mistakes is inconsistency – only posting sporadically, and not responding when consumers reach out to engage. Another biggie is using social media as a place to announce your own content and nothing more, without ever engaging in discussions or adding comments to the post that make your audience want to click or like or share.
20. What are some general tips for social media success?
Post consistently. Let your passion and personality shine through. Engage in conversations. Answer questions. Encourage audience engagement. Provide valuable content freely, without getting salesy. And be creative.