In last week’s blog post, I talked about how challenging the digital world’s new river of gold, the creation and publication of compelling content, was for the smaller business operator.
This week, I’ll shed some light on how to go about tapping into this rich vein of online lead generation.
For best results, you need to create an ‘online content funnel’ which allows your piece to take best advantage of the viral capabilities of the web, as illustrated here.
You will need to tool up for your online journey. First you’ll need a website with a good Content Management System that feeds news items to the front page of the website. Next you’ll need an email broadcast system, ideally integrated with said CMS. This system should be populated with your list of recipients, which you can garner from all kinds of Spam Act compliant sources.
You will also need active accounts with your chosen social networks, usually one or more of the main players Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and potentially some niche players like Pinterest or YouTube. Better still, join as many special interest groups that reside within social networks as possible.
Finally you need to decide on the medium you want to deliver your content in. For most, it will be text and images; for others, video or audio will be their medium of choice. Once these are all in place, we can turn to programming your content rollout.
By ‘programming’ I mean developing a rollout schedule, not computer programming (to the relief of many of you). The regularity of your program depends on two key factors: how much your recipients can bear and how often you can come up with some decent content.
In my case, it’s weekly and this is for a third reason. The kind folk who publish my blogs demand it! If not, I may do it just once a month.
The key to programming your content is to come up with a fail-safe time that you can produce said content. For me, it’s later on a Monday night which is relatively free of distractions.
3. Create your content
Probably the hardest part. I’m somewhat prolific, so I don’t have any trouble banging out the requisite 1000-odd words every week. But most others complain of having neither the subject matter nor the creative spark to do this regularly.
When it comes to content creation, all I can say is practice makes perfect. Keep chipping away and getting feedback until you come up with something you are happy with. As far as content ideas, keep a list of potential topics in a place that is convenient to you, like the Notes app on your smartphone.
Remember, the blogosphere is often all about commenting on the work of others, so putting forward your views on another’s article may be a good starting point.
4. Post it on your own and/or or a third party website
Once you are happy with your newly created content, add it to your website or, better still, a well-visited third party website. Best of all, do both. While search engines won’t yield both articles in their search results, you get the benefit of reaching both of your own visitors and the visitors of the third party website. I’ve had up to five or six major websites republish my articles and each only raises my own profile.
5. Email it to your list
Once it’s on your website you can either email it to your list in full or, better still, create a brief synopsis with other content and link to the story on your website.
Many consider email ‘old-hat’ compared to sexier social networking, but it continues to be the mainstay of most professional marketing efforts. What’s more, it sits in the recipient’s inbox till they move it, unlike posts in social networks that are reliant on regular checking in and perusal, which means your post may be missed altogether.
6. Announce on social networks
Next, announce the publication of your post or article to your social networks and in turn link to the version on your (or a third party) website. Because the language of social networks is usually different to your ‘author’ language, re-phrase your article premise to be more conversational. For example, for the piece you are reading I might post a headline like: Tips towards creating killer online content.
Where your content will gain the biggest boost is by posting it into special interest groups within your chosen social networks. This can turn your audience from hundreds to tens of thousands with just a few clicks.
7. Repeat, stir and measure
The rest is all about perfecting both the creation of your content and growing your various recipient lists. Remember, the more content you have out there, the more search engines will associate you and your business with that topic, giving you a massive boost in the search engine results for your category of interest.
So go forth and multiply your audience with your own content strategy. You should soon see measurable improvements in all of your website visits, email recipients, social network connections, search engine prominence and, ultimately, sales – all of which you should habitually record for ROI reporting.
Whilst it would be unusual to not get some pretty satisfactory results out of such an approach, success rates will vary from industry to industry, so don’t be disappointed if it can take some time in your particular line of business.
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.