2015 marked an explosive year for content marketing.
In fact, 90% of B2B marketers said they used content marketing to reach and retain loyal customers last year. It’s undeniably one of the most effective ways for companies to attract qualified prospects, create value for customers, and build an army of brand ambassadors.
That’s why the Brandfolder marketing team decided to prioritize our content marketing strategy in 2015. The result is that our content drove almost 20% of Brandfolder’s overall revenue generated in the second half of the year.
In this post, we’ll share our four most valuable lessons learned in maximizing value from our content. We’ll also reveal the key insights we garnered from listening to Joe Pulizzi (Founder of the Content Marketing Institute) speak at BMA Colorado’s keynote event.
1. Be Strategic and Find a Sweet Spot
Now that the world understands the importance of content marketing, it’s become a very crowded space to play in. So, how do you cut through the noise and differentiate yourself in a saturated market?
The key here is to be strategic about who you are, and what you write about. To do this, define your company’s “sweet spot”— What topic are you both knowledgeable and passionate about? This will ensure that you’re motivated to create stellar content on a consistent basis, and that your customers will receive true value from what you write.
Once you’ve found your sweet spot, you need to “tilt” your content. Figure out how you can spin your topic in a unique way that will set you apart from similar companies.
Take Ann Reardon from “How To Cook That,” as a perfect example. Ann is in the baking industry (a pretty crowded space), yet has over 2 million subscribers on her YouTube channel. Her content tilt? Explaining how to bake impossible, crazy sweet creations like iPad cakes, giant Snickers bars, and handbag cakes.
Lastly, focus on one topic, using one channel, and publish content consistently. Your readers will learn to expect and look forward to your content, paving the way for a loyal customer base. Once you’ve mastered one channel (like a blog), then you can start expanding to other channels (such as webinars, podcasts, and eBooks).
2. Invest in Email
As Joe Pulizzi says, “Don’t build your house on rented land.” What he means is: Don’t rely on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to build your customer base. You can’t control their algorithms, or whether your followers actually see your posts on these platforms. In fact, less that 1% of Facebook posts are actually seen by fans.
Instead, focus on email subscribers as a key metric. Create an engaging e-newsletter that points to your blog, shares subscriber-only content, and creates an exchange of value for your audience. An email newsletter will ensure that you’re in control of your content, and can actually connect with your audience.
A great way to drive email subscribers is to design splash screens and pop-ups for your blog. You can also offer exclusive gated content to collect emails for your newsletter.
Here’s an example of an engaging splash screen from Entrepreneur On Fire:
3. Repurpose Your Most Popular Content
In the second half of 2015, the Brandfolder marketing team focused on a more strategic and thoughtful approach to our content. Instead of pumping out blog posts like a content factory, we devoted more time to transforming our top-performing blog posts that have already achieved a high amount of organic traffic.
We repurposed these blogs into long-form content, new blog posts, shareable graphics for social media, SlideShare posts, and Pinterest pins. This strategy contributed to exponential growth of our blog — over 300 percent in just a year!
Another tactic that helped our blog grow was leveraging social media and industry influencers. Definitely share your content on social channels, but be aware of the “411 Rule”— four posts of your influencers, one post about your brand, and one post about your product or sales.
This will help influencers get to know your brand so that when you finally ask for a co-marketing favor or a partnership, they’re already willing to help.
4. Be Patient
Perhaps the toughest step to follow: Be patient with your content marketing strategy.
Most content success stories take at least 12 months of consistent creation before it’s considered “successful.” This is because it takes time to build trust and grow a loyal audience — but once you do, it’ll definitely be worth it.
After you’ve cultivated this customer base through your amazing newsletter, then you can start promoting your product and monetizing. In fact, it’s even easier this way! Your customers are already interested in what you have to offer because they’ve been reading your content for months.
Once you’re ready to sell, they’re ready to buy.
As Joe Pulizzi says, “You must create value before you extract value.”
Content marketing is no easy feat, but the Brandfolder team has seen some major success with these four strategies. We defined our brand voice and mission, become more efficient about producing and repurposing content, and leveraged social media in a smarter way, leading to a noticeable uptick in traffic and revenue.
Do you have any content marketing tips? We’d love to know! Leave a comment below or tweet us @Brandfolder.