In last week’s WWWorkshop I looked at why digital content (or content ‘marketing’) is getting so much attention from professional marketers these days.
This week I’ll focus on the tools you need to be able to create your own audience of radio station proportions.
Once you decide that Content Marketing should indeed be part of your Promotional Mix, you need to arm yourself with the following tools. The great news is, most are either free or can be purchased on petty cash.
Your specific tools will depend on the kind of content you will be providing. For example will you offer articles like this, podcasts, webinars, video, eBooks or a combination of these?
Regardless, your tools will essentially comprise:
1. A content strategy
2. A content plan
3. Content creation tools
4. Website and website platform
5. Email Marketing System
6. Social Networking Accounts and Management tools
7. Measurement tools
1. Content Strategy
First cab off the rank is your actual strategy. What is your objective for your content campaign (increase sales, enquiries, subscribers, Likes etc) ? What are your Key Performance Indicators (number of visits, Likes, Shares, signups, subscribers etc)? What sort of content are you going to offer and how will you distribute it? Where is the content going to come from? How long will your campaign last? How will you measure its performance?
Once you have determined these factors, you are ready to create your Content Plan.
2. Content Plan
Now that you have your strategy or roadmap in place, you now need to determine what will be provided, what resources you need to create it and a date for publication/distribution.
This needn’t be terribly elaborate. It may simply be a list of ‘release dates’, a list of topics and some preparatory actions eg: Conduct a survey.
Once done don’t forget to integrate the schedule into your Calendar or favourite time management tool for action.
3. Content Creation Tools
Now you know what content you are going to create and when you need to create it by, you need some good content creation tools. The specific tools depend on the content you intend to create.
For example if its an article, it’s a simple word processing software. For audio, a good microphone, audio recording software and preferably editor. Video is much more complex requiring cameras, mics, probably some lighting and editing software. For eBooks a PDF creator or similar, and so on.
4. Website and website management platform
While you can store and distribute your content on a third party ‘aggregator’ website (eg for video, Youtube), you stand a far better chance of converting your visitor to a subscriber and in turn customer if you offer it from your own website.
To do this your website will require a good Content Management System (CMS) which allows you add unlimited content of most kinds to your website with some basic training and/or guidance. This
CMS should be as fully integrated with as many related features like form/survey builder, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system (integrated subscriber database), eCommerce functionality and more.
The best CMS are ones that provide for a ‘News Feed’ on the front page which will reduce time in adding and editing your content and assist your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
5. Email Marketing System
Whilst ideally your Email Marketing System (EMS) will be integrated with your website platform so as to reduce duplication and (what can be considerable) time involved in synching, cleansing disparate databases, potentially you could still email your content without a website.
But it’s not advised as you don’t really have an all important ‘home’ for your content.
Either way an EMS will allow you to send up to thousands of graphical, personalised and performance-measured emails simultaneously.
6. Social networking accounts and management tools
As the diagram above illustrates, social networking plays a critical role in the promotion and distribution of your content. To tap into this stream, you will need active Accounts and Pages with your chosen social networks.
If there are more than a few of these, you may need to invest in a social networking management platform like Hootsuite. These allow you to distribute your message to multiple social networks simultaneously.
7. Measurement tools
One of the biggest challenges of so many disparate digital marketing tools and campaigns is compiling the various data into a central measurement and reporting hub. A good website management platform will provide many of these tools but often these are less effective at third party measurements like Google position or Friends.
Digital marketing platforms like Hubspot compile all this data effectively but there are lots of free or lower cost tools available as well (just Google search ‘digital campaign measurement tools’).
If you’ve secured all that, you have the bulk of what you need to start your content strategy in earnest.
Next week: Executing your Content Strategy
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond. www.theeteam.com.au