Imagine you’re going to travel from Chicago to New York. You book your tickets in advance — luckily with a huge discount — and wait for the upcoming flight. You’re a planner, so you’ve looked into the community, places to eat, and the public transportation infrastructure. You figure that the more accurate your plan is, the better your experience will be.
We feel the exact same way about content marketing in IT. If you have a step-by-step guide handy, you don’t need to stress about potential challenges. In this article, we’re going to lay out a detailed plan for our content marketing journey and move from point A (having heard about CM but not sure how to implement it correctly) to point B (being a content marketing genius). Let’s break down the route.
Content marketing is a subcategory of inbound marketing — a technique to draw customers’ attention through mechanisms such as content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing (see the picture below). Unlike other forms of inbound marketing, however, content marketing follows a multichannel approach, so it uses every possible channel to spread your story throughout the digital world.
This makes content marketing an effective way to build community with your audience, generate leads, and increase sales. The initial goal of content marketing is to build strong relationships in which you educate your reader and offer help as your potential customers find an appropriate service or product. By building lasting relationships, you help your company build brand awareness and trust.
According to content marketing statistics, 85% of B2B marketers saw promising results from their content marketing campaigns.
Now more than half of marketers are investing in a content marketing strategy, and 44% of them say their content marketing budgets will increase in 2021. Sounds convincing, doesn’t it? But if that’s still not enough, there are even more reasons for you to invest in content marketing.
Increased traffic to your website. Providing valuable content to your target audience gradually increases your website traffic. And if you spend more time creating the right content, you’ll gradually drive more traffic and leads. Additionally, guest posts and native advertising that use content from your website navigate potential customers through educational articles and organically lead them to your websites. By using backlinks and CTAs, you increase your chances of attracting more readers.
Better SEO results. The quantity of articles that your company publishes doesn’t actually matter; quality is a king. Quality content and creative content marketing ideas can dramatically improve search engine visibility. However, there’s no point in creating a sea of articles if they are not useful to your readers. The best practice is to find out what your readers like and how they usually search for answers. With this information in mind, you should create pages that Google is going to index. Another (chronically undervalued) way of getting better rankings is by including graphics and images on your page. It’s less competitive in comparison with articles/blog posts and drives traffic just as well. In 2020, Google added a feature that allows content creators to add more context to photos in image search results. Now it’s possible to add information about what’s being shown in photos.
Positioning your business as an expert in your industry. If you demonstrate your expertise in different areas of the IT industry, your potential customers will naturally turn to your company to find answers to their burning questions. The best way to do so is to create a series of articles regarding a specific topic. Whether you’re a full-fledged expert in QA solutions or well-equipped in providing artificial intelligence services, you can release regular articles that attract relevant audiences.
Generating qualified leads. One of the main content marketing goals is to draw qualified leads. According to Hubspot, IT companies with a corporate blog generate 67% more leads than companies without content. By content, we mean everything from blogs and articles to downloadable PDF files and ebooks. You can include a space for the reader to fill out a form and leave their email address as part of any of these types of content. By gathering contact details, you can nurture your leads by sending them newsletters, important announcements, and discounts.
Another source of qualified leads is your old blog posts and articles. It’s a good idea to go back to them and refresh, updating the services, solutions, or versions of a product. Even old posts can attract a new wave of readers if the topic is still relevant.
It’s clear that content marketing is an essential part of IT in 2021 and that it helps companies emerge from the shadows and thrive. High-quality content marketing is a worthy destination for our marketing journey. Now that we’ve got that down, let’s talk about the full range of types of content marketing.
There’s no use choosing a great destination if you don’t have a way to get there, which is where different types of content marketing come in. IT companies use a lot of types of content marketing, but we’d like to draw your attention to the most popular and efficient content marketing trends and tools of 2021.
Blog content marketing
Statistics show that 53% of marketers consider blogging their top priority. B2B marketers who have blogs get 67% more leads than those who don’t, and 57% of those marketers say they’ve gained customers specifically through blogging.
With a blog, you can promote your content both internally and externally and add links and CTAs that lead your readers to certain pages. The challenge is that blog-based content marketing is always changing. Blog posts are becoming longer and super-personalized. In 2020, the average length of a top-ranking blog post was 1447 words, while in 2021 the best blog length for SEO is 1760 - 2400 words.
Video content marketing
Online video statistics show that users are more likely to choose video content over blogs. According to Wyzowl, 66% of consumers prefer watching a video to reading about a product or service. Video content is easy to stay engaged with and digest. The rise of video content marketing is largely due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
Consumers started to spend more time on videos, with 74% of them saying they were more likely to use video.
In 2021, videos should be no longer than two minutes to get the most engagement. The most popular types of videos include explainers, presentations, testimonials, sales, and video ads. Visual content, if created and produced correctly, can be a powerful tool for engaging new users and converting them into leads. It can also make a significant impact on your SEO.
Social media content marketing
With the growing popularity of social networks and online communication, social media content marketing has been shaking up the content marketing world. The most popular platforms for the past few years have been Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, and TikTok. You can use them to build and share content and attract attention to your brand. Live formats are also popular, so it’s a great idea for businesses to use them for product releases and webinars. There are a few interesting directions in social media content marketing that you may want to choose, including communities. This aspect of many social media platforms unites groups of like-minded people that can share information about their interests. These communities can be used to release new products, find customer feedback, and get valuable insights – a great point to start.
Infographics content marketing
Infographics are the representation of data, content, and information in an easy-to-understand graphic format. They’re a great way to communicate your content and engage customers. Infographics are especially useful for educational content or complex topics you’re trying to explain to your audience. There are multiple ways to use infographics in your content marketing. You can spice up your blog posts with fresh visual elements, explain complex concepts with the help of visual chunks, or highlight statistics, your achievements, and results. It’s also a good idea to share infographic snippets on all your social media channels.
Podcast content marketing
In 2021, podcast consumption has significantly increased. For this reason, many businesses have begun creating their own. If your content lacks creativity or you are searching for new ways to attract audiences, podcasts can be a new way to boost creativity and raise new topics. You can take advantage of a range of options on podcasts, like guests, cadence, hosts, advertising, and length.
A case study breaks down a project to show how you helped a client achieve their goals and solve their problems. This is proof for other consumers that your product or service works. Usually, case studies include quantitative and qualitative data that logically explain how and why you helped someone and what progress you made.
Once you’ve chosen the right transportation, it’s time to plan the next aspect of your journey.
Once you understand what content is, what channels can be used to distribute it, and why it is important, it’s time to cross-check plans with your content marketing plan or (if you don’t have one) create one from scratch. We’ve already published a step-by-step guide on how to develop a CM strategy for your blog, but we’ll run through the basics again here. If we imagine a content marketing plan as the voice of a GPS (but not the annoying kind), its instructions would be:
Define your goal. In order to create a strategy that brings results, you need to identify what you need, what your story is, and why you’re trying to achieve this goal. The SMART goals framework is a great way to do that.
Define your target audience. It’s not enough to set a goal. To reach it, you need to convey the right message at the right time. Ideally, you should understand and guide your customers at each stage of the buyers’ journey. You don’t necessarily need to narrow down to a hyper-specific audience; just think about all the layers you’re going to cover and problems you want to solve.
Run a content audit. Look at your content marketing strategy from different angles and try to identify whether it’s effective, what should be added, and what can be improved. Don’t forget to return to your content strategy regularly and analyze whether it is aligned with your ongoing tasks.
Define content type and format. When choosing your content type, don’t underestimate the importance of keyword research. Identify which topic and keywords users are looking for. When you’re ready, think about the appropriate format. Is it a podcast with full-fledged developers or educational blog posts with catching infographics? Find your format (see step 2) and investigate it. Note: you don’t need to stick to a particular format forever, but choosing strong content types will help you stand out from competitors.
Choose the right distribution channels. It’s better to distribute your content across multiple channels to reach a wider audience. You can choose between your own website, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms such as Reddit and question-and-answer websites. You should not copy your content and post it on every channel; the best practice is to rephrase/reshape it and adjust to each platform you’re going to use. Another great idea is to focus on guest blogging and pitch your content to different websites and forums to engage your audience for discussion. The most important thing is to remember your content marketing goals and choose a platform accordingly.
Choose your content management system. All the above-mentioned points don’t matter if you don’t publish content on a regular basis. It’s best to be consistent in delivering your content so your readers stay engaged. This is where a content marketing calendar can be useful. It will help you track your content and schedule posts. If you want to have everything in one place, choose Content Management System tools like Wordpress or Hubspot.
With all these points implemented, you can create an effective, understandable, and traceable content marketing strategy, which can help you boost your content and turn it into a lead generation tool.
We’re almost to the end of our journey, but before we wrap up, it’s important to look back at its effectiveness and make any necessary changes
Trips shouldn’t end when you’ve wrapped up your last day of sightseeing. It can be just as fun to look back at a vacation and see how far you went, what aspects of the trip went well, and how you can plan your next outing even better. These are some key points to explain the concept.
To start measuring results, you need to go back to your goals and see what went well and what didn’t. To do this effectively, you should measure content all the way down the content marketing funnel. You might have a well-researched and excellently-written piece of content, but if it’s not connected with the right stage of the buying journey, it probably won’t be successful.
But having metrics just to say you have them isn’t enough; you have to choose actionable metrics that show you how repetitive actions lead to significant results.
According to Lars Lofgren, “actionable” metrics should answer the questions:
How do you gain or lose revenue?
How do you gain or lose customers?
What are the key functions and benefits that people are coming to you for?
Examples of actionable metrics include revenue, account sign-ups, conversion rates, A/B tests, funnels, cohorts, and marketing campaigns. In the beginning, you may want to pick 1-5 metrics that correlate with your business goals. You can expand from there as needed.
In this article, we’ve highlighted the most important steps you should take when you think about content marketing in 2021. To wrap up, we’d like to share with you a short checklist that will help you make sure that you’re going in the right direction:
Some of you have already gone on a fantastic content marketing journey, while others are still packing their bags. No matter what stage you are in, we hope our step-by-step guide to content marketing will help you with your content marketing strategy.