Content Marketing Boot Camp: Mastering the Fundamentals
If you are new to content marketing or are looking for ways to improve your game, you've come to the right place.
Today, we are going to examine some the key areas of content creation, optimization, and promotion that will give you a leg up on even some of your most fierce competitors.
The biggest and best-kept secret in the world of content marketing is in remaining ahead of the wave with market trends. Our hope is to arm you with information that you can use long-term but frame it in the context of an evolving and ongoing effort.
Too many marketers settle into a routine that places static practices in the middle of an ever-changing market, then have the nerve to wonder why things they implemented a year ago aren't getting the same results now.
In other words, don't ever put your marketing on auto-pilot.
Even processes that you can automate will need examining and tweaking to be effective long-term.
With all that in mind, let's dive in and talk about how the pieces of a successful content marketing campaign all fit together.
Content Development and Creation
Since our focus with this piece is on affiliate marketing, all comments going forward will assume that you are attempting to market an existing product.
We can examine all the facets of a major product launch in another piece. The reason we mention that here is because we don't want to appear to be skipping steps. The product exists. It's time to develop content around it.
Whether your affiliate program centers on information products, physical products, or specific online or offline services, the way you deliver and promote content will be about the same.
Online audiences use many of the same resources to find every type of product and it is your job to meet them where they are.
With that in mind, here are the things you should be considering when developing content:
The way your site is formatted and designed matters.
Responsiveness is mandatory in today's mobile-driven marketplace.Page formatting, file sizes, keyword density in your written content, and mobile-friendly user interfaces are all vital for good SEO and a superior user experience.
If you aren't sure how well-optimized your site is right now, you need to reach out to your hosting company or IT manager and ask them to run an SEO audit.
You might even want to hire an outside SEO firm to do this since some hosting companies aren't quick to point out flaws in their own design practices.
On - and Off - Page Written Content
Once you have had a chance to examine the problem areas of your website and make changes (it is inevitable that there will be at least a few), it's time to start populating your site with fresh, relevant content.
Your written content is the most important element for SEO. The words you use and how you use them matter. In articles and blog posts, you want to maintain a 1.5 percent density of relevant keywords and you want to present text in short paragraphs.
Separating ideas into their own segments with sub-headings is also a good strategy. Longer-form content tends to rank better than a 350-word blog post, but shorter articles can still work to your advantage if the information presented is substantive and well-written.
Good use of keywords ensures that the search engines at least acknowledge your content and examine it further. Smaller chunks of text allow site visitors to spot key terms and ideas easily when casually scrolling through your pages.
Segment headings help fine tune the process even further and allow you to steer the reader directly to the concepts you wish to convey.
Everything from long-form blog content to the way you describe your videos on YouTube matter. Don't neglect quality in any of these areas.
If you're not sure how to proceed with written content or you are finding that your own efforts aren't yielding favorable results, seek the help of a professional copywriter or copy-writing agency.
You'll be amazed how much you can learn just by examining how someone else presents your business on paper.
Visuals and Multimedia
Original, branded content is always going to be preferred by search engines over curated content and stock media, but using existing content is not necessarily a bad thing.
Any content that gets people's attention will aid in good rankings and increase site traffic.
With that in mind, always select images that reflect the tone and message of your written content. Visuals will almost always be spotted faster than words, especially when scrolling through on a small screen, so take the time (and spend the money) to deliver quality.
All visuals should also be optimized to decrease page load times. If you download a stock image that is 5000x3000 with a file size of 8MB, you do not want to simply upload that file to your site as is.
Even though WordPress and other web development platforms can automatically resize an image, it is still serving the original. There are loads of free tools you can use to resize and compress both images and video so they open quickly while maintaining their visual appeal.
Optimize before you upload.
You might also want to consider cloud hosting for your multimedia files if you use a lot of them. This takes the strain off your local web server and allows pages to load faster. You also won't usurp too much bandwidth on a shared hosting server.
Doing that can get your site temporarily shut down and lead to fees that will far outweigh what you will spend on a cloud hosting plan.
Promoting Your Content
How you present content is every bit as important as paying attention to quality.
There are two highly effective avenues through which we recommend developing a solid advertising strategy: CPC/PPC ads and social media.
Cost-per-click and pay-per-click ads are an easy way to enhance your SEO efforts. They generate the traffic necessary to get your leads to your website or landing pages. At that point, it is your job to engage your audience with quality content.
Be certain that the tone of your ads matches the messaging in the content to which they point. Any lack of congruity in this area will result in a high bounce rate and a loss of trust in your brand.
People might still click on your ads, but clicks are useless without at least a small percentage of conversions. People also don't follow brands on social media that they don't trust.
If you find it necessary to choose between CPC/PPC and social media advertising in the beginning, we recommend that you opt for the latter. Social media is the single most powerful online marketing platform there is.
The key players in particular (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) all make it easy to define specific audiences. This allows you to split test and target the exact audience that will be most likely to respond to your content in a positive way.
Begin by defining a broader cross section and then examine your metrics:
Who is commenting and sharing?
What conversions are you targeting and how effective are your efforts in those areas?
Are you making effective use of pixels?
How many distinct pixels are you using to drive conversions?
Once you have a clearer picture of who is responding and how, you can narrow the scope until you find your most responsive audience. Then, develop and promote content that appeals mostly to that cross-section.
Nurturing Leads and Customers
Once you know who your prime audience is, you can develop an ideal avatar that drives all of your content creation strategies going forward. Keep in mind, however, that even though that avatar might not change, the way that ideal customer consumes and engages with content over time almost certainly will.
This goes back to keeping things fresh and relevant.
New content should always be optimized with current trending keywords and you should constantly track how certain types of content perform over time. If, for example, your videos start getting less engagement, it might be time to move in a different direction with them.
If no one is clicking on your blogs or links to landing pages, it's time to examine how you are promoting them and what details they cover.
Remember, this is an evolving process; you cannot let your attention wander if you want to stay on top of current trends.
Content marketing is an intricate, involved, and ongoing process, but your committed effort to it has the potential to reap incredible rewards.
Even if it takes time to really find your groove, once you know your audience well, it becomes much easier to engage with them and motivate them to trust you and do business with you.
As a final note, we would like to urge you to properly vet any and all affiliate programs you decide to promote. The last thing you want is to watch all of your efforts crumble because someone else can't be bothered to keep their business above board.
Be sure to work with affiliates who will lend credibility to your brand, boost your reputation, and grow your business into a strong, profitable enterprise.
Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!
Updated: Originally published February 26th 2018