Content marketing is all about getting more attention from customers.
Instead of interrupting them with ads, the goal is to provide free content in exchange for attention. This creates a positive interaction where customers receive something of value for free, and it makes them more receptive to future offerings and pitches.
In short, content marketing is an awesome way to capture customers’ attention and create more awareness and interest for your brand.
But how do you do it? What are the easiest types of content to create in order to gain attention and interest from customers? To help, this post covers five easy ideas for effective content marketing.
Content Idea #1: Blog Posts
One of the primary tools for a content marketing strategy that works is a blog that provides value to potential customers. Businesses like Copyblogger, KISSmetrics, and Crazy Egg all use popular blogs to gain more customers.
So how do they do it?
First, they write content that provides value to their customers. They write about topics that get attention from the people who will buy their products, and they teach lessons from their industry that benefit the people who will buy what they sell.
With the KISSmetrics blog as an example, they write blog posts that provide internet marketing advice for their audience. This attracts people who are interested in internet marketing, which is exactly the target market that KISSmetrics wants to attract to their website. Each new blog post becomes another opportunity to create awareness and interest for their products.
When it comes to this kind of strategy, there’s a common mistake that can be made: some businesses make the mistake of writing for industry peers. Instead of writing for their customers, they write posts to impress peers within their industry. This is a bad idea because the whole point of blog posts as content marketing is to attract more customers to the company’s website.
Instead of writing for industry peers, businesses should write their for their customers. This creates value, attracts attention, and draws traffic from the people who ultimately will purchase products. It’s important to remember that customers are the ones who will eventually pay the business’s bills.
Always remember, in order to use a blog effectively for content marketing, you need to do two things: first, write blog posts that provide value to customers, and second, write for your customers. This is a sure-fire formula for blog post content marketing success.
Content Idea #2: Video Tutorials
Another type of content you can create are video tutorials. Videos are a great way to connect with customers, and tutorial videos provide value to a business’s target customers. This type of content works better for some businesses than others, but it can work for almost anyone.
Let’s consider an example.
A fishing lure company traditionally would rely on advertisements to gain attention from customers, but if they wanted to do something different, they could give content marketing a try. In this scenario, tutorial videos are a great place to start.
Tutorial videos are great for a fishing lure company because every fisherman wants to get better at their craft. Every fisherman wants to catch more (and bigger) fish, but not every fisherman knows how.
Instead of coming up with another ad, a lure company could come up with a series of tutorial videos for Youtube. These videos would teach fishermen not only how to become better at fishing, but also how to use the company’s lures more effectively. Instead of paying for an ad that gets customers’ attention, the company provides value to the customer in exchange for attention. Eventually, when the customer goes to the store to buy more lures, who do you think they’re going to buy from? There’s a good chance they’ll buy lures from the company that spent time teaching them how to become better at fishing.
Tutorial videos can be used in this way by many different companies. It just comes down to being creative and learning how to apply this effectively to each individual business.
Idea #3: E-mail Newsletters
Another way to provide content for customers is through e-mail newsletters. With an e-mail newsletter, instead of providing content through a blog, businesses give customers a way to sign up for a pre-written e-mail newsletter that gets sent out through an autoresponder.
In this format, each new customer receives the same information whenever they’re ready for it. The content can be a 5 part, 10 part, or 20 part series of e-mails, and each e-mail provides value for the customer.
One of the great things about e-mail newsletters is that they provide useful content to customers over an extended period of time, and they begins every visitor at the same starting point. Instead of jumping into a blog in the middle of a content cycle, every visitor can start with beginner content at the beginning of the newsletter series.
Also, instead of only hearing from you whenever you write a blog post, customers are sent a pre-determined number of e-mails that have been written ahead of time. This is great for businesses who may not be able to maintain a blog but would still like to keep up with customers over an extended period of time. If you’re not able to maintain a blog, a 20 part e-mail series sent once per week for 20 weeks is a great way to stay in touch with customers and keep them around until they’re ready to buy.
Idea #4: Free Reports
Free reports are another way to effectively use content marketing. With this type of content, instead of providing content over a period of time, a valuable free report is offered as a one-time download in exchange for the customer’s contact information.
Even though you aren’t able to keep in touch with customers for weeks or months on end, free reports are useful because they’re excellent for getting contact information from customers and they provide incredible value. Customers happily exchange contact information for a free report that’s helpful to them.
So how do you do this effectively?
First, write a report that’s super valuable for customers. Figure out what problems they have and what difficulties they face. With an internet marketing company as an example, write a free report on how to more effectively use Facebook for marketing. This is something that 99% of customers will be interested in.
Next, after coming up with the content idea and writing a super helpful report, offer the report on your website in exchange for contact information. Provide a sign up form where customers give their e-mail address in exchange for the free report.
It’s important to note here that you want to provide something really valuable to customers so that they will not only read it but they’ll also be interested in hearing from you. If the free report ends up being lame, they aren’t going to feel very confident in the other services or goods you are hoping to provide. So make sure to write a report that’s useful, easy to read, and incredibly helpful.
Idea #5: SlideShare Presentations
For those who don’t know how to write blog posts, don’t know how to create tutorial videos, but do know how to create Powerpoint presentations, SlideShare provides a great content marketing platform.
With SlideShare, anyone who can create a Powerpoint presentation can upload a presentation that shows off their knowledge and expertise. Each presentation can be uploaded and shared with thousands of viewers in a visually-appealing format.
In fact, instead of just using your Powerpoint for your latest presentation, you can upload it to SlideShare and get more mileage for any presentation you give. Once you sign up and upload your first presentation, you can share the link with anyone at any time. You can share it with potential customers, you can share it on Facebook, and you can share it on Twitter. Each person who views the presentation will be more impressed with your expertise and will potentially become more interested in your service or product.
So again, instead of creating content in a format you are unfamiliar with or filing away your latest presentation, give SlideShare a try, and learn how to extend the valuable information from your slides.
No matter what content marketing idea you decide to pursue, if you do it properly by providing value to potential customers, and then you do a good job of promoting the content, you can create an incredible amount of awareness and interest for your business. Not only so, but unlike with advertisements where you have to pay for each additional view (think Google ads where you pay per click), every content marketing piece becomes an asset in your balance book. You don’t have to keep paying for more and more ads, you can simply continue directing people to your free content, creating unlimited mileage from your content marketing efforts.
If you’re thinking about getting started with content marketing, consider which of these five ideas is right for you, and then take some time to get started. There’s a good chance you’ll be happy with the results.
About the author: Joseph Putnam is a freelance copywriter and digital marketing consultant from Orange County. He helps businesses create effective content marketing strategies. He also writes highly shareable and compelling blog content. You can follow him on Twitter and keep up with him on Google+.