If you’re providing PR and Marketing services in the B2B space then the chances are you’ll have a good idea of what content marketing is. If not, then the Content Marketing Institute defines it as follows:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
To further your knowledge, here’s a handy A-Z of content marketing that will give you a good introduction to the key terms used in content marketing.
A – Authenticity
Perhaps the clearest defining factor of any kind of content marketing is to avoid sales patter and good old BS. This generally means writing in a trusting tone of voice and our number one rule is to avoid being self referential. It stands to reason that if you can exhibit knowledge and expertise in an area that you are someone to look to for helping solve a problem. This isn’t about you or your company but about the customer and how their problem can be solved. Be authentic in everything that you do and you’ll engender trust in people who will want to keep listening to you
B – Budget
Making content isn’t cheap. If you’re going to undertake a piece of research then you’ll need to pay someone to manage it, undertake the research itself, write it up in a suggestible form and then make it look nice. If you’re going to undertake a content- led approach then you’ll need to factor in the cost of producing it. Even if it seems expensive, it’s ultimately an investment in your brand and credibility. It also means that you’ll hopefully be creating ‘long form’ content that can be used over a longer period of time that some other more throw away marketing initiatives. Also, if you create a piece of content then it can be distributed through multiple channels. The great thing about a well designed guides or piece of research is that it can exist in digital and physical forms, further opening up your distribution channels.
C – Channels
Once you’ve created your content then you need to have a strategy for distributing it – websites, social media, email blasts, podcasts, events and many more outlets exist to distribute your content depending on its form. When you’re creating your content, be sure to map out the places where it can be disseminated. Ken Krogue created an excellent illustration of what forms content can take and where it can be distributed
D – Data / proof points
Content is largely going to be about best practice, solving a problem or insight. The latter part usually relies on data or numbers to help substantiate a claim or idea. Whether it’s a survey or analysis of trends, data and proof points help lend real weight to a good piece of content and original data means that your stats or numbers can be quoted by others through different channels. It may even be that interesting data sparks the interest of the media who will then amplify something you have found.
E – Evergreen
If you develop content around areas and topics that people are always looking for then you have a higher chance of appearing in search results and you’ve also invested in something that has a much longer shelf life. Evergreen content will last months and even years beyond its publishing date. To focus your content you can even use Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner to research specific words and phrases people are searching for in order to tailor your title and content to more popular searches
F – Form
Content is essentially about what form it will take and the distribution channels that you’re going to push it through. Much like the diagram above, you my have a core idea but then you have the ability to turn the idea into multiple forms. Take this blogpost. of course, it’s a blog, but I could just as easily put this into a Slideshare presentation, a podcast and even a video if I wanted, thereby retaining a ‘core’ idea but ensuring that it take on several different forms that are then promoted through numerous channels.
G – Google
Perhaps the biggest change in this desire to produce more and more content is Google and its ever-changing search algorithm. In the last few years, Google has wised up to people trying to trick its algorithm and notoriously issues their ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’ updates to try and wipe out nefarious practices. The main thrust of this change was to place a much bigger recognition on authentic and genuine websites that were producing genuine content that people wanted to read and also engage with – such as sharing it via social media. Google also introduced the notion of Google Authorship to try to increase this, but at the time of writing this, Google just announced that they are abolishing Google Authorship and so articles no longer had to be linked to a Google Author profile or pages tagged in a certain way. Ultimately, this really boils down to Google trying to recognize genuine, insightful content that people really want to read and share which is no bad thing. if you want to know more about the history of Google authorship and its demise then look here
H – Headlines
A great headline can make or break a piece of content and whether people will click or download it. That’s why you really need to spend time refining your headline. A good headline can make or break whether someone bothers with your content.
I – Independence (tone of voice)
It’s incredibly important that your content sounds independent. Any whiff of it being self-serving or about you and your company is a big no-no and will turn people off. By all means have an opinion which is derived from data or experience but just retain a strong voice of independence at all times.
J – Jargon
Nobody like a smartypants that baths their writing in jargon and TLA’s (three-letter acronyms). Keep it nice and clear and simple and accessible and people will like it. If your potential customer likes what you’ve written then they will persevere otherwise what you’re saying will just be thrown away.
K – Keywords
SEO is an incredibly sophisticated subject and a dark art for most of us, but much of what Google bases its search on is the importance of keywords inside your text that can be indexed and recognised. SEO is an artform and is constantly changing due to Google’s algorithm. If you build your site in WordPress then the guys over at Yoast have published an excellent beginners book on SEO and optimizing your WordPress site. In fact, those guys are also a great example of how to create good content on your site as well.
L – Lead Generation
Good content nicely bridges the gap between PR and lead generation. On the one hand, a good piece of content based around research can often be worth of a press release or a headline, and on the other, the content itself is a valuable tool to attract traffic and inbound links to your site. A download page that requires some basic registration for someone to obtain content is a great way to capture customer data that can be used for future emails or other sales initiatives.
M – Measurement and metrics
Content is a God send for PR agencies. Plagued for many years with questions over measurement and having to resort to Add Equivalency Values (which is now outmoded), agencies that create good content can now accurately measure its impact. As long as the content is digital then there are a host of tools out there to measure social shares, engagement, reach, downloads, dwell time, impressions and many other metrics. There is no longer any excuse to say a campaign cannot be measured – in fact, be sure to have some established KPI’s for your content so you can give it a measure of success or failure.
There’s a good article here from Econsultancy on tools to increase your content marketing effectiveness
N – Native Content
If you want to be perceived as being authoritative or possessing expertise then you need to develop your own content which is known as native content. There’s a lot of merit in creating blog posts that curate content from others but ultimately you will be rewarded for sharing your own insight and expertise.
O – Organisation
Getting your organisation bought into the content roadmap and coordinated behind it is key. If you are creating a guide then you’ll need web landing pages, social media push, internal promotion and many other things to maximise your investment. Content needs multiple stakeholders to create it an amplify it as well as engage with customers afterwards.So, don’ just leave one person in charge of creating and then distributing the content because it may well lead to less success than you had envisaged. Once again, it’s an investment, an investment in resources and manpower but ultimately, it should be worth it.
P – Partnership
You don’t have to create content alone. Often companies will pay respected companies, such as a research house to co-create a piece of research or content for them that is then published under both names. The addition of a respected name or brand on your content can add significant credibility as well as hep with the amplification through the partner channels
Q – Quality
Like we’ve already said, producing content is not cheap. Sure, you can cut corners and try to design it yourself or even make your own Surveymonkey survey but ultimately the results will speak for themselves. Creating something that reads well and looks good engenders a greater sense of trust and the likelihood that it will be shared.
R – Reach
If you really want to get your content to fly then it needs reach and the best way to do this is via the media grabbing some insight or a headline. Alternatively, you can expand your reach via influencers on social media, just see below.
S – Social Media
The big daddy of getting your content out there, social media is incredibly important for spreading your content. Of course, what platform you use completely depends on what is right for your content and your business. More visually led consumer-centric content campaigns will lend themselves very well to Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook whereas B2B content may work much better on Slideshare, Linkedin and Twitter. The utilisation and tracking of social media is a complex subject all in itself. The great thing about content for many companies is what we’ve said earlier about it being evergreen, that it can be used (but not overused) time and time again via social media channels because you’ll always be hitting new people. There are some great, affordable tools out there such as Socialbro or Twitonomy.
T – Twitter
Twitter is an incredibly powerful social platform for real-time engagement. If you don’t know your hashtags from your retweets then we’ve put together some handy pointers here
U – Uniqueness
How is what you’re saying unique? Don’t just regurgitate things other people have been saying. Find a unique angle or way of presenting information otherwise people just wont engage.
V – Value
It’s often hard for companies to perceive the true value of creating content. After all, we’ve already said that it can be expensive in terms of time and manpower to create and distribute it BUT there is nothing like genuine and engaging content to cut through the noise and go straight to your target customer. In a world where getting any kind of media is increasingly harder, you need to find new and engaging ways to reach your customer and content can do this. More so, it establishes credibility, builds trust, has a long shelf life and best of all can create a direct engagement with your target customer.
W – Webinars
Webinars are a great way to engage with users and get your content across in a more exciting way. There are also inexpensive ways to run webinars from Google Hangouts on Air which is free through to Adobe Connect which you’ll have to pay for. Not only are webinars effective tools but you can also record them and distribute a link afterwards for anyone who missed it. The key thing about a webinar is the real-time interaction and the ability for customers there and then to ask you questions which won’t happen with SlideShare or a white paper.
X is always such a hard one to do in a list like this. I mean, how many useful words actually begin with X? I’m not going to try and shoehorn X-Ray into here when I’ve spoken so much about content being useful so let’s just move on.
Y – YouTube
Did you know that YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world and that tweet containing video gets a 28% retweet boost? Video may not be the right form factor for some pieces of content, but video can often make content might more easily digestible and people want to share it more.
Z – Zulu
OK, bear with me here. If you’re a fan of the classic movie Zulu then you’ll recall how a tiny but determined army garrison manage to hold off thousands of Zulu warriors attacking their outpost? Well, content marketing is a bit like that because it’s also about the clever use of small resources to create noise and ultimately triumph. Phew. I knew I had a Z in me somewhere.
If you like this article then be sure to check out The Ultimate Content Launch Check list that we created to help make your content marketing launches a lot easier!