Lately there has been a lot of buzz around the content marketing, which involves distributing free content to capture the interest of leads, prospects and clients. There are hundreds of ways to curate and distribute content; if you're feeling a bit confused by all the options, what follows is a cheat sheet to the most effective strategies to add to your marketing plans.
1. Free Content
One popular option is to give away something for free, like a special report, white paper or audio recording. For example, if you are a health coach specializing in weight loss, you could offer a downloadable report called “50 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.” You would set this up on a landing page on your website that invites visitors to input their name and email address in exchange for the download. This not only helps to grow your mailing list, but it provides a tremendous opportunity to dazzle your prospects and inspire them to do business with you.
In the spirit of inspiring people with free content, you can’t go wrong with a blog. When you update a blog on a regular basis (at least twice per week), you attract traffic from Google—which can lead to many new prospects. For best results, update your blog consistently and provide compelling content that your target audience wants. Then, share new posts across your social networks. Stick with this for six months and watch your website traffic numbers grow.
One of my favorite sites, and one that hasn’t received nearly enough attention, is SlideShare.net. With SlideShare you can upload your PowerPoint presentations and make them available for all to see. In addition, you can grab HTML code and embed a slide-viewer widget on your site and social media networks like Facebook. Talk about a great way to dazzle people with content. Share presentations you already have in your files and create compelling new slide decks. You could feature your company capabilities in a presentation widget on your “About Us” page or load up a series of customer testimonials and case studies.
4. Email Newsletter
While some have speculated that email marketing is dead, those of us still reaping its rewards can tell you that is absolutely not true. Email marketing isn’t as easy as it once was because we’re all much more guarded with our email addresses, but once someone gives you an email address, you should consider it gold. Those on your mailing list have given you permission to market to them, so put considerable thought and effort into providing exceptional content. Pay close attention to the statistics generated by your efforts. If you send out too much email, you risk people unsubscribing. But if you strike the right balance of useful content and frequency, that mailing list can be one of your biggest assets.
Google owns YouTube, which means that videos can help you generate more website traffic. Keep in mind that most people want to view short videos online—four minutes or less. For best results, produce videos that are content-rich or entertaining. Load them up on YouTube, add them to your site and share them via social media.
6. Guest Blogging
One powerful way to expand your reach is to write for sites that cater to your target audience. Many websites welcome guest content, so search for “submission guidelines” or get in touch with the site editor. You may need to start by writing for smaller niche websites and then work your way up to larger media sites, but if you like to write, this can be a powerful way to build a loyal audience.
With the rise in e-book sales in recent years, e-books have become a surprisingly effective marketing option. You can compile a series of articles or write a short e-book from scratch (10,000+ words is ideal), then have it formatted and loaded to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, which distributes e-books for the Nook and iPad. Don’t forget to participate in periodic free giveaways of your e-book, since content marketing is largely about free content, and people love to load up freebies on their digital devices.
8. Online Communities
Online forums and message boards aren’t new, but they’ve gotten much better in recent years. Seek out groups that reach your target audience through sites like LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups or Ning.com. Or, better yet, start your own group. Become a resource for members by answering questions, sharing industry news and giving away free content. Many businesses have flourished as a result of participating in niche online groups.
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