What is digital content marketing? 5 steps to creating a successful strategy

  • 19 February, 2017
  • Sophie Tanner

Sharing content: A strategic approach to creation and distribution will attract your target groups. Photo: Elli O

We know from the Lord Google Almighty that for their websites to thrive and rank highly in search engines, businesses of all sizes must build their online reputation. A great way to do this is by creating original and engaging content that attracts a clearly defined audience, and to share it with online publishers.

By doing this, you’ll earn organic links from quality sources, which will help improve your site’s search ranking.

Your brand will also reap major rewards from having your content shared on social media. Although this activity has no impact on search rankings, it certainly boosts customer advocacy.

Your approach to content marketing should be strategic and focused on creating and distributing relevant information that will attract your target groups. Think of it as pre-empting their questions on a subject – and answering them. And the most important thing to remember is that you’re talking to humans, not robots.

But all the hype around ‘content’ over recent years means some still grapple with what content actually is – many things to many people, is the truth, as this post reveals. Put simply: content is useful or entertaining information – visual, written, audio. We like Scott Hepburn, of Straight North’s, definition: “Information designed for consumption, seasoned for enjoyment and packaged to share”.

Marketing that content is a case of putting it in front of the right people.

Here are five simple steps to successful creation and marketing of content:

1 Make a list of your existing assets

Put on your editor’s hat and do an audit of your website’s content. Do you have interesting information that could make good features or news stories? You may have recipes, how-to guides, blog posts or quirky new services/products.

2 What is missing?

You’ll have an idea of your keyword priorities and which areas of your business offer the biggest potential revenue opportunities. Creating content about these subjects will mean you rank highly when people are searching for them.

3 Do your research

Let’s say, for example, you’re a tour operator and you need more content on Malawi. Spend time checking what people are saying about Malawi on social media, what long-tail search terms they’re using in Google, and what content they’re sharing already. See what your competitors are saying about Malawi and what content they have that’s performing well. Look at your target media publications too – what has The Guardian featured on Malawi in the past year? Some recommended tools for this research include the free keyword-research tool Answer The Public and content-insight tool Buzzsumo.

4 Creative thinking

Your research should throw up some intriguing nuggets about your chosen area. When you have compiled a list of insights, think creatively about what content you could create to join the conversation.

Don’t forget, you have your finger on the pulse of your industry and so can offer new angles; you have access to relevant experts, the capacity to survey your customers, conduct interviews, access studies etc.

The more effort you put into creating unique content that meets a tangible need, the more you will be saving valuable time for journalists. Decide what could work well on your target media’s website when creting the content. You may even want to consult friendly, relevant editorial contacts for feedback during the content-creation stage.

Depending on your production budget, there are many forms of content you could create, including features, blog posts, video, animation, illustration, tools, guides, surveys/studies, ebooks, infographics, FAQs, interviews, product descriptions, case studies, white papers, timelines, glossaries, checklists and quizzes.

For example, if you’ve noticed that UK holidaymakers are looking for free outdoor pursuits, what’s more you’ve identified that dark skies is a subject often returned to by the travel media, why not create a star-gazing guide?

5 PR and outreach

Once you have created original content that you are proud of, you will want people to talk about it.

Send tailored pitches and feature ideas to your editorial media list, highlighting what could particularly interest their readers. Be prepared to repackage your offering if a journalist wants a slightly different angle. Achieving coverage on even just a few high-quality sites will have great SEO results.

Traditional PR is all about nurturing relationships and marketing content is no different. If you can make an editor’s job easier by giving them engaging content, they will be open to further communication.

Working with bloggers will give your brand more reach with specific influencer groups, as well as achieving coverage links. Research the right people to approach with an offer of collaboration and give them a good reason to interact with your content. You might ask them for their feedback or to co-create more content with you.

If you have a budget, consider seeding your content with a paid push – through PPC and social-media ads. You’ve put in a lot of effort to create this content, so give it the best chance to fly.