How to use digital content marketing to grow awareness, trust and sales
When it comes to creating a smart digital marketing strategy, the mantra you’ve heard over and over again is most likely, “Content is King.” This phrase is so widely repeated because the digital content marketing approach really does make sense when you’re talking about how to get the attention you need online.
In a hyper-individualized world where your audience has total control over what they consume when they open their laptops or pick up their phones, you need to create something that encourages people to take action. Most marketing experts will agree that creating content is the best way to achieve this goal.
On the flip side, it can be difficult to figure out how to translate success with digital content marketing efforts into real-world wins. One of the major challenges with the digital space is that you’re competing against endless streams of free content, all jostling for your audience’s attention. Putting up a paywall will only cause people to look elsewhere. Ads will do the same if they’re obnoxious enough, and will often get stymied by now-ubiquitous ad-blocking technology.
Page views, backlinks, bounce rate, comments, social media amplification … at the end of the day all of these metrics mean the same thing — that you’re successfully connecting to the people in your audience. People will spend money if you convince them that you have what they want.
Digital content marketing 101: Find the content that’s right for you
The first thing to realize about content is that it doesn’t have to take only one form. While researching digital content marketing strategies, you might start to get discouraged by advice like “longer content is better,” or, “make sure you write two posts a week at first.”
Some people hate writing. It’s excruciating to squeeze out a few paragraphs of an important email, nevermind cranking out 2,000 words a week. The good news is that while writing is certainly a very powerful medium, it’s not the only form that content takes — and for some businesses, it may not even be the most effective one.
Podcasting, videos, live streaming, images, how-to guides — all of these various forms of content are up for grabs when you’re considering a digital content marketing strategy.
How do you decide what’s best for you?
First, pick a content type that gives you more than a few ideas. Off the top of your head, how many of your friends would make a great guest on a podcast interview? What are some day-to-day things that you do that would be interesting for someone else to watch?
If you’re going to venture into audio podcasting, you’ll probably want to have at least an outline of what you’re going to cover. The audience will be listening for specific information, so it’s important to stay on topic. Video content can come in a variety of forms — from off-the-cuff short video blogging to fully produced and professionally filmed material. When planning for digital content marketing using video, consider:
- What you want to do.
- How your audience wants to consume content.
- How much you’re willing to invest upfront to make sure you’re making something that looks and sounds professional.
The most important thing is to choose something that you’re good at, that you can commit to doing consistently, and hopefully that you’ll enjoy creating.
Give your content time to grow
The power of digital content marketing is that it snowballs. With every new piece of content you create, you increase the overall value of your entire content network. Each piece boosts traffic to everything else as your audience gets sucked in and starts crawling through your older work. I understand that this sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. The only reason it’s so hard to achieve is because it takes time and commitment.
Most experts say that you should be prepared to commit to six months to an entire year to see if your efforts will pay off. This is why it’s so important to pick something that you actually want to make. It’s easy to find the motivation to ramp up once things are going well and you’re starting to see results, but getting to that point in your digital content marketing effort is where most companies have doubts and break that commitment.
Volume is valuable, consistency a key component, but even more vital is quality.
At this early stage, your focus should be on only two things:
- a maniacal obsession with improving the quality of your content.
- an equally fanatical commitment to turning your audience into something you can work with.
Quality content builds trust, but only if it’s useful and not sales-y. The difficulty lies in the fact that, at some point, you do actually need to sell something.
Building your mailing list
As I said earlier, it’s not page views or traffic stats that ultimately matter when you’re trying to turn content into sales. You need to be able to reach people directly, and for that, you need to focus on building an email list.
There are a lot of ways to get people to give you their email address. One of the most simple, but often forgotten things is to make sure that you’re asking clearly. You’d be shocked how much of a difference it can make if you’re careful about tweaking your signup forms and their placement. Make sure that your call-to-action is impossible to miss, and that your signup form is dead simple. Another big boost is to pitch an extra tantalizing piece of free content — an eBook, a whitepaper, or a study — and offer it for free, in exchange for an email address.
Leverage your mailing list
This part is up to you, and it’s almost impossible to give general advice. It depends on the subject matter of the content you’re creating, what your business is selling, and what you’re good at.
If you’re using digital content marketing to drive foot traffic, for example, then you can use your mailing list to augment it by offering a special discount code, or announcing a special event. If it’s about getting people to try your product, then offer them a free trial. Content marketing is a popular strategy because it helps you build awareness and trust. By creating content that people want to engage with — that’s informative, helpful or beautiful — you have a chance to capture your audience’s attention and make the sale.