It seems like every time you turn around, marketing departments are talking about content marketing, inbound marketing, and many of the elements that go with it. However, there are some aspects that seem to often be left out of the discussion, whether because they are forgotten or because they are considered to be outside the scope of content marketing.
Here are seven of those forgotten elements, and what you can do to make each a part of your content strategy.
#1. Domain Names
Believe it or not, your content marketing strategy begins with your domain name. While this is often thought to be a part of web development, it directly relates to content marketing because the domain name must be relevant to the content placed there.
Even big brands have made errors in this area, and there are countless examples of domain names that have been registered and the websites populated before anyone realized how bad the name was.
Domain names should incorporate several factors.
- They should be easy to spell.
- They should be easy to say.
- They should be short. (No longer than 16 characters)
- They should be relevant.
- They should end in .com (unless you are a non-profit, educational Institution, or government agency)
- They should be aesthetically pleasing.
Where many businesses get in trouble is they settle for a domain name when they cannot get the one they want, and try to fit the domain name into their business “as they go.”
The website for IT Scrap, domain name, itscrap.com.
Domain names should be chosen carefully. The first step is to open a domain name search tool, so ideas can be checked to see if the URL is available. To adhere to the above factors, the name can be the business name, a person’s name, an abbreviation or shortening of the name, or a combination of descriptive words.
When shortening or running names together, it is a good idea to have the ideas vetted by someone outside your company. Many domain names can be taken more than one way. For instance the Wisconsin Tourism Federation had to reconsider wtf.com and no one wants the website inspired by the initials of the American Ski Society.
A domain name is the first impression a customer has of your company, and you should ensure that it meets all of the criteria above before ever embarking on a content marketing campaign.
#2. Landing Pages
No one actually forgets landing pages, but they do forget that they are a part of content marketing. The words on those pages should still resonate with the rest of your content message, even though these are typically separate from your actual website and are more of a call to action.
However, whatever that call to action is will (you hope) eventually lead them to your website, and it is important that customers receive the same message both places, and that the call to action is relevant to what you actually do.
This sounds simple, and it should be, but it is often screwed up by businesses. One example was a website for an attorney that was filled with recipes designed solely to get website traffic. A landing page for his website directed users to download a free cookbook in ebook format.
While the cookbook did get attention, because it lacked relevance to the actual website and what an attorney does, it did not result in more customers.
#3. Updates to Online Customer Personas
Once upon a time, in the very beginning of a marketing campaign, a persona was created. Maybe even more than one.
A lot has happened since then, and the business has new followers on social media and a lot more data about their customers. So, why haven’t the marketing personas been updated based on that data?
The answer is that personas are often forgotten or old ones are just reused for different campaigns, even though goals and the actual business customers may have changed significantly since then.
There are a few simple steps to updating customer personas:
Social Listening. Using tools like Tweepsmap to analyze your followers on Twitter and other similar tools for other social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat allows you to learn a great deal about your customers.
Customer Surveys. Utilize tools like Survey Monkey to learn who your customers really are, and how that aligns with the personas you have created.
Email Lists. Analyze the followers of your email list, and examine the demographics of your subscribers. This can reveal a great deal about your target audience.
Once you have done this, take a look at updating your customer personas. Who are they and how do they align with your ideal customer. If they do not line up, you have a couple of simple choices:
- Redefine your target customer
- Refine your marketing strategy to reach your target customer.
The customer persona then informs the next part of the often forgotten elements of content marketing.
#4. The Customer Journey Map
The marketing funnel is a part of common marketing “buzzword” language, but often neglected is the actual customer journey map: how will the customer get from various parts of your content to your conversion pages?
This can, of course, happen a variety of ways, from internal linking to customer sign-up forms to pop up ads on your site that lead to various landing or product pages.
The most important thing to note is that this must be predetermined as a site is being created or revised. There is sufficient data out there to help determine what a majority of customer’s behavior will be when presented with certain options.
It is up to each marketer to analyze that data and use it accordingly to shape and map the customer journey, leading them from top of the funnel content like blogs, webinars, and video to conversion.
Great conversion rates are not an accident. They are orchestrated by appealing to the specific personas created in the step above.
What do you write about? This is one of the most common questions businesses ask, and it can be answered in a pretty simple manner: what is your brand’s story? Why do you do what you do?
Most brands have more material than they think. Going back to the example of the attorney: the law itself is complex, and most attorneys specialize in one way or another. There is no reason for him to put recipes on his blog instead of more relevant information.
It is the same with your blog. Whether you sell telephone systems or provide a cleaning service, there are things you have to share with your users. They are informed by the personas you have created and the customer journey map,
How would a customer get from recipes to legal advice? The leap would be significant and the customer journey a long one. Which persona, searching for a good attorney, will choose the one that has a great crock pot brisket recipe?
Topics must be relevant, at least tangentially, to what you do and your website. Everything fits together, and a sporadic mix of random topics will do nothing for your web traffic or conversion rates.
#6. Media Mix
Often businesses or even marketers tend to project our learning style on others, but there are at least four types of internet users, and you need to have content and media that appeals to all of them.
- Streakers: These are users looking for fast answers.
- Strollers: These are a little more casual users, looking for a little more detailed answer
- Studiers: These users want extensive answers to questions, and perform multi-thread searches.
- Researchers: These users study extensively and look for white papers, case studies, and in-depth articles.
These types of users mean that you need to have many different media:
- Articles, both short and long form
- Video, both short and long
- Webinars, both audio and video
- Podcasts, for audio learners
- White Papers
- Case Studies
The mix of this media is often debatable as far as exactly what percentage of each type of content you should have. Knowing that streakers and strollers make up the majority of searches does inform this somewhat, although long form, evergreen content tends to earn more links and shares, as this is a more common behavior for studiers and researchers.
The most neglected of content marketing elements is actually having a process in place for content to be regularly created, how it gets edited, reviewed, and posted, and who does what aspect of each element.
This is important because the need for collaboration between departments is essential for this to go smoothly. There are a number of ways to achieve this communication.
There are computer programs to help companies accomplish this. BugHerd, a bug reporting and web development program can be used for content creation and marketing as well. Infiniti Telecommunications of Australia uses the program to coordinate web development with content creation. “BugHerd helps me be able to work with our content and graphics teams, giving them more context around their work to draft and finalize content and media before passing it over to the development team,” says Henry Reith, a marketer for Infiniti.
The program is just a tool in the overall process which allows content to be vetted before it is posted, and modified as needed by marketing, sales, and finally web development.
The key is that there is a clear process that is well defined and helps coordinate efforts between departments so that content marketing and web development are not isolated, but rather work together to achieve common goals.
Content marketing is one of the most important elements of any company’s marketing strategy. There are so many aspects it is easy to forget or neglect some of them. It is important to look at strategy from the choosing of a domain name to the process content is completed by, and make sure that no steps are neglected or missed.