Content Marketing Campaign
I have extensive experience launching digital marketing campaigns. On a routine basis I try to make savvy decisions that prevent unnecessary spending. This article is an attempt to systematize all the tricks and hints I learned through my experience. After reading this post, you’ll know how to boost your content marketing campaign even if you have ZERO ideas and NO budget.
This post is not about how to create content; rather, it is about how to implement it and make sure your content marketing campaign reaches its full potential. I’m sure you have already witnessed at least a dozen content marketing campaign guides that spell out content marketing campaign steps. Just as a refresher, it normally goes through the following stages:
- Preparation – what you need to consider even before creating any content
- Brainstorming for the best ideas and gathering data
So, instead of pedantically handling every stage outlined in this content marketing campaign guide, I will outline how you can significantly improve your campaigns’ effectiveness and save time. By using the hints described below, you can easily avoid the pitfalls that a majority of us struggle with.
Strategic Planning: Boosting Your Campaign from the Very Beginning
You’ll never get the most out of your content if you don’t remain focused on a strategy. Having a solid strategy will help you align all your further activities. In order to create your strategy, you need to focus on these three questions:
1. Will your article be welcomed?
Consider your source – on what platform will your content be published? Will it be in a digital magazine? On your or your partners’ own blog? It is essential to deliver your information using a style and a structure that will be relevant to your chosen source, because only in this case will your content be relevant to your selected audience and perform up to its full potential.
Based on my own mistakes and trials, I can say that you must select a source for your piece beforehand, because all attempts to somehow attach one after it’s finished will end in massive rewrites. Yes, you can produce a piece first and then reach out to blogs, but be prepared to spend twice the amount of time doing so! I rewrote my last post to Entrepreneur three times, as I didn’t consider the proper structure and length to start with. By the way, you can easily check your content’s length using BuzzSumo’s Content Analysis Tool. Here’s a list of issues that I’ve already had the “pleasure” of dealing with:
- “Please make this piece more formal/informal.”
- “It’s too long for us.”
- It’s not structured the right way for us.”
2. Will your article be engaging?
You should consider your target audience’s interests. It goes without saying that you should know your audience, and I highly recommend that you make monitoring your audience a routine practice. Doing audience research before launching a content marketing campaign is different from other routine practices, and it requires the use of special resources. Normally, for audience research, I use a combination of two tools: Followerwonk and BuzzSumo.
Here’s a simple three-step guide to making things happen:
- Using Followerwonk, you can search bios via Twitter and export data.
- Next, create a word cloud based on bios of your followers. Use WordItOut for it.
- Finally, go to BuzzSumo. There you can see exactly what the most desirable content that’s most often shared by users looks like.
Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to check websites like Reddit, Ask, Quora, etc.; on these sites you can discover what users are interested in, or what problems they are facing regarding new technologies, services, etc. You can use this knowledge to create appealing, valuable, and useful content that meets users’ needs.
3. Will your article hit your goal?
Whatever the goal of your content marketing campaign is, there are a couple of tricks that will work in any situation.
First of all, I would advise you to make your campaign co-branded. You can engage other brands from your niche or brands from adjacent industries. Building a co-branded campaign does not require much time or any extra effort, but it will attract a much wider audience and, thus, increase awareness of your brand. The perfect situation is when you engage a brand that is more resourceful and visible than you, but, in any case, a co-branded campaign can create a new audience for you.
The next idea is to attract experts. This idea is not super fresh, but it is easy to realize, and it works. It is important to be ambitious but realistic here. Try to contact the most influential personalities you can reach, but don’t court Bill Gates!
Brainstorming for the Best Idea and Gathering Data
After you are done with strategical planning, it’s time to choose a specific idea to implement during the next step. Here my advice is simple: use a data-driven approach. The most powerful campaigns are based on a data-driven approach, and this type of content is widely broadcasted on the top news sites and earns a great number of citations. Let’s take, for example, Brian Dean’s article in which he presents the results of analyzing quite a large volume of data concerning Google searches. It received more than 5,400 social shares (according to BuzzSumo’s Content Analysis Tool) and almost 3,500 backlinks from 252 domains! The results are impressive.
Let’s consider another example. This article from Similarweb is about the organic traffic Twitter receives. To date it has received 42 live backlinks from 33 domains, including top search marketing resources like Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal. Below you can see a screenshot from Ahrefs showing the backlinks this article received.
As you see, the formula for successful content is simple: topic of the day + data + a well-designed infographic.
By crunching numbers and investigating various data sources, you can create really insightful content. Here’s how you can gather data:
- Create small surveys and polls (including ones for your audience).
As an example, I advise that you take a look at my recent survey of digital marketing supply and demand. [link]. To create this survey, I analyzed more than 112,000 search queries in order to find out what real users’ needs and interests in digital marketing market are. For your own audience research purposes, you can conduct less ambitious and more practically oriented surveys, but the idea of gaining marketing insights through keyword research is still applicable to a wide range of situations.
One more idea – using the resources that social networking provides. For example, with the help of recently launched Twitter polls, you can ask your audience direct questions in order to learn their opinions, tastes and preferences. You can get some interesting data, especially if you ask your partner companies, colleagues or influencers to share your quiz in order to gather more answers and make your results more reliable.
This knowledge will give you insights into what content will be potentially interesting and useful for your audience.
Launching a Google Survey is another option to try. The price is cheap and the data you’ll collect is reliable.
- Learn from your competitors – conduct a competitive landscape audit.
The main idea here is not to steal, but to create something new. You can expand upon your competitors’ ideas, visualize them or update them.
Competitive landscape research requires more skills and a stronger command of professional tools. Personally, SEMrush, Serpstat, Ahrefs, BuzzSumo, Searchmetrics and SimilarWeb are the competitive intelligence tools that I prefer.
To learn more about how to discover your competitive landscape, I recommend that you read my recent blog post. In it, I touched on different aspects of competitor landscape auditing, like defining your direct competitors in search, mapping your competitive landscape, tracking your competitors’ performance, defining your SEO presence, and doing keyword research. In complex situations, you need diversified techniques, but the task of choosing the right metrics is difficult per se. Luckily, all of the numerous tools I listed above have a vast number of features that will allow you to pinpoint different aspects of your competitive landscape.
- Conduct general landscape research.
There are at least two reasons you should conduct general market research. Firstly, looking at the big picture is important when building a long-term strategy. It is essential for you to find trustworthy sources of data and analyze general trends. Secondly, general landscape research is a cheap way to gather data and then build content around it.
Here are several examples of internet sources that are able to provide you with such data. Global Web Index is valuable resource that studies digital consumption trends, so you as a marketer or business person can make smarter decisions. For example, it offers a quarterly report on popular trends in smartphone, tablet and other device usage.
- Another resource I love is ComScore.com. This company provides cross-platform measurements of consumer and brand behavior, as well audience behaviour. It can also provide you with measurements and up-to-date information on any industry. Here is an analytical blogpost on issues pertaining to Europe’s digital future at the end of 2015.
- Another resource that offers open statistics is Eurostat. This resource is really valuable, as it provides official statistics on different aspects of European life.
- As for tools, Google’s Consumer Barometer is a useful one that will let you to conduct your own survey of the target audience you are interested in. If you‘ve failed to find relevant ready-to-use data, you can still gather the data you need.
In general, the sources of data you use to do general landscape research will depend on your goals. It is sometimes useful to work with raw survey data and to try to identify trends and correlations between different factors. Such an approach will not only allow you to audit the general landscape, but it will also provide you with ideas for your content.
What your content will look like will depend on all your previous steps. The most important factors are the source you publish your content on, and the data you rely upon. It’s no secret that data visualization will help you attract more attention to your content than simply using all text. Using infographics is not a brand new idea, but it still works. If your data is volumetric and complex, the best choice for you will be to entrust your content’s design to a professional designer.
Remember: never economize on design. It is better to spend an additional hundred dollars than trying to push live poorly designed infographics. A cheap, sloppy design does not inspire anybody to interact with your content. Moreover, making a negative impression can often result in a mistrust of the data presented in your article.
In any case, whatever type content you create, it is essential to bear in mind the principles of user-centered design. You can find plenty of guides that will help you understand and implement these principles for different kinds of content, either textual or visual. For example, I advise you to take a look at this blogpost, which reminds us of the simple rules of organizing content to be more user-friendly. You should also checkout this one, which tackles one of the core principles of user-friendliness – consistency.
UX principles may sound simple, but they are also very hard to realize. Here a Leonardo da Vinci quote comes to my mind: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
When your content finally appears on a blog or digital journal, it’s still not the end of your work. If you are concerned about your article’s destiny, you should help it reach your audience.
This can be frustrating, but it’s a fact that a piece of content’s popularity and success does not correlate with its quality, or, at least, its performance does not solely correlate with its quality. Even awesome content needs proper promotion.
Outreach is an ongoing process. It’s not unusual for this part to take more time than any other content marketing campaign stage. What can make it faster and more effective is involving your partner in the outreach process. It’s a perfect idea to mention other brands in your content – they will be happy to share it, because it is in their interests too.
To achieve the best results when doing outreach, the most important thing to remember is that it’s not quantity that matters, but quality. Outreach brings the best fruits when it is personalized. Recently, I came across a perfect example of personalized outreach. Chris Marr sent me video where he asked me to reach out to ask my colleagues to attend his event. How could I refuse!
Here, I find it extremely useful to take a look at Stephen Kenwrights’ post at Branded3 blog. In it, he discuss the principles of successful outreach.
I hope this post was useful for you. I presented insights that I gained through my own experience so that it will guide you through all your content marketing campaigns, even if you have no ideas and zero budget. Is there anything I missed, or do you have any questions? I would love to see your ideas and inquires in the comments section!