The Ultimate Guide to Fall Planning for Your Content Strategy

How to Improve, Create, Reorganize and Successfully Sell with Your Content for the Rest of 2018

If you want to ensure continued success for your company, you need to employ strategic content marketing. Content marketing is what drives traffic to your website. It’s what gets you new customers. It is how potential customers learn about you. Every year, we see new trends in content marketing. Different marketing gurus predict what strategies will work. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes, they’re not.

For 2018, we have seen some pretty persistent trends in content marketing. Strategies from prior years are becoming stale. Companies need to revamp their marketing protocol. They need to learn how to better target their ideal consumer. The trend of personalized content marketing is going to continue for some time.

If your content marketing tactics are not working, you need to make changes – and fast. Responses to content marketing can make or break your bottom line. You don’t want to wait until next year to make adjustments. That would be a like a football coach waiting until the end of the game to make adjustments. If you do this, you lose the game.

This guide will examine the current trends in content marketing. It will explore what seems to be working in 2018. It will also look at what the future in content marketing holds. We’ll make a few suggestions on how to tweak your current strategies. You don’t want to fall behind – it may be too hard to catch up!

Content Marketing Strategies for 2018

2018 has proven that consumers want information fast and they don’t want to have to work to get it. It is almost as if they expect you to come to them. Therefore, it is important that your content marketing is personalized to your target customer. In fact, 81% of consumers want companies to know how and when to approach them.

Some tips on how to personalize your content marketing for 2018:

  • Don’t rely on massive, impersonal emails. Have an actual person make the first attempt.
  • Use the consumer’s name – don’t send blind invites
  • Track your customer’s interests using automated technology
  • use targeted landing pages

If a consumer feels that you know them, they are more likely to become your customer. You need to show that you made an effort to determine what they need and want. This is even more important for existing customers. They want to know they are appreciated. Personalized content marketing shows that you made this effort.

Another major trend for content marketing in 2018 is social media. Consumers are more reliant on social media than ever before. You need to make sure that your content marketing has a strong social media presence. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Influencer marketing – whether we like it or not, people aren’t looking to hear from experts anymore. Potential customers want to see and hear influencers. This is especially true of the more youthful market. Consumers are more likely to buy something if it is endorsed by social media influencers. It doesn’t even matter if the influencer has anything to do with your field. The bottom line is people want to be like the Kylie Jenners of the world. If a social media influencer says to buy something, they’ll buy it! Yu need to embrace this strategy. It isn’t like before when you needed a household name to back your product or service. Influencers are effective and much cheaper than traditional advertising.
  • Track data – It’s not enough to implement social content marketing. You need to look to see what the data shows. If a certain social strategy isn’t driving in traffic, don’t so it. There needs to be a purpose behind what you do. It’s not enough to increase social content marketing. It has to be thought out and result driven.
  • Hire specialists in social media content marketing – If you don’t already have someone who is an expert in social, hire one. There are people today whose expertise lies solely in social media. It is their job to know who is trending and what is working. They look at all avenues of social, not just Facebook and Twitter. They speak the language of the market you are looking to tap into.
  • Take advantage of social platforms – It used to be enough to use platforms to direct traffic your way. Now, you need to step things up a bit. You need to actually focus on the platform itself. Users are tired and frustrated of click-bait. They don’t want to be redirected to your page. They want it placed squarely in front of them. Again, it is about personalizing your content marketing. You need to know where your target audience is going to be. Then you need to infiltrate that platform.

People turn to Google, Alexa and Siri more today than ever before. Consumers are also relying on voice features more than they were a year or two ago. They

A solid content marketing strategy will account for these changes.

How You can Measure the Success of Your Content Marketing

How do you know if you need a new content marketing strategy? In order to revamp your current strategy, you need to know if it’s working. They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! This is true with content marketing – to an extent. You still need to be ever-growing and adapting to market trends.

You need to be able to measure the success of your content marketing. Look at your sales figures and site traffic. Are your automated blasts working? How effective is your content marketing?

Here are three metrics that you need to consider:

  • Reach – are you using the right criteria to select your target market? How many people do you want to reach? Are you reaching the desired number of people? You also need to look at the demographics of your reach. Is your content marketing being received and noticed by the right people?
  • Yield – How many of the people you target are actually responding? For yield, don’t worry about whether they become a customer. Look at whether they notice your content. Did they click on your ad? Did they respond to an email? Did they get redirected to your site?
  • Conversion – Of the people who did respond, how many said yes? What percentage of the targeted audience became a customer? This is the most important metric of all. You can send an email blast to a million people. Half of them may read the email. But if less than 2% actually responded, what was the point?

The results you desire will be unique depending on your niche. If you are selling a product, you can look at sales. If you are boosting a service, you can see who took advantage of a free consultation. You may need to reach 1% of your reach to be successful. You may need 12% conversion to consider it a successful campaign. You need to designate the optimal conversion rate for your company.

How Are Trends in Content Marketing Shifting?

As we mentioned above, trends in content marketing are shifting. You have to presume that the average user is going to spend less than a few seconds reading your content. Your content needs to be short. It needs to be interesting. And it needs to be precise.

Years ago, People magazine kept their articles just long enough to read on the average trip to the toilet. As crude as that may sound, it makes sense. Before we had mobile apps and social media, people read newspapers and magazines. The precursor to content marketers was old-school advertisers. They lived by the KISS rule –  keep it short, stupid.

The same rule is even more true today. Now, you need to get your message across in the time it takes for a user to step out of an Uber. Your next customer is young and on social media. Here are a few statistics to show just how important social media is:

  • Google handles over 91% of all internet searches – SEO optimization is more important than ever before
  • As of Q1 of this year, there were over 2 billion Facebook users and over 3 billion social media users
  • Over 81% of small and medium sized businesses use social marketing
  • Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be viewed and shared than any other type of content
  • 96% of users who follow brands don’t follow the actual brand site – they follow on other platforms and sharing on social media

The bottom line is that you need to do content marketing on social media. You need to focus heavy on visual content more than any other kind. It is the visual content that is going to be shared. People simply don’t spend time reading content anymore. In fact, we’re surprised you’re reading this! Maybe we should have used visual content too, huh?

All jokes, aside visual content sells. Visual content is shared. It is inexpensive and provides the ROI you are looking for. If this content is also short, to the point, and personalized to your consumer, even better.

SEO Content is Key

When it comes to content marketing, SEO is super important. You can have the perfect social influencers. You can analyze all the user statistics you want. If nobody ever gets to read your content, what is the point?

Just a decade ago, it was enough to have someone in advertising know what the term SEO meant. Today, that’s not true. Companies have entire marketing departments who do nothing but SEO.

Most small and medium sized business look to outside help for SEO. You need to know exactly how to craft your keywords. It’s not enough to identify your target audience anymore. You need to predict how they think. You need to know:

  • What search words is your target user likely to use?
  • What calls to action are they going to respond to?
  • How to use your keywords

SEO is as important as advertising. It is more important than the actual content you publish. 2018 has seen some changes in SEO. You need to take advantage of these trends. Your company’s success depends on SEO in our digital marketplace. Here are the SEO tips that are dominating 2018:

  • Voice search – consumers are not typing searches into their laptops anymore. They are relying on voice searches. It is important that you SEO take this into account. The old keyword buckets you’ve been using are not enough.
  • Link-worthy content – It is not enough to just add external links to your content. You need to make sure the content is link worthy. Is it going to answer your customer’s question? Is it going to pique their interest in a meaningful way?
  • You need a secure link – a lot of search engines are starting to block content that doesn’t have an SSL certificate. If you are a small or medium sized business, you can purchase this for less than $50 a year. If you use a web hosting page, they usually offer a free SSL. Don’t have your content blocked or blackballed when there is such a cheap fix!
  • Use video content – We saw that visual content is huge for this year. We expect video content to eclipse even visual content soon. Video search engines are extremely popular. In fact, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine behind Google. That should tell you just how important video content is.
  • Site speed – Speed is as important (or more important) than your keywords. If a user can’t access the information fast, they will leave. They will not waste time waiting for your page to load. Just like the SSL certificate, optimizing your site speed isn’t expensive. It is well worth the money if it increases traffic on your content. Site speed will increase your reach and your yield better than anything else.
  • Mobile Based – People simply aren’t carrying their laptops around anymore. People are relying on mobile devices. You need to make sure your SEO takes this into account.
  • Smart devices – In addition to mobile apps, people are relying on smart devices. This trend is only going to continue through the coming years. Your SEO and your content marketing must be accessible on a smart device. Otherwise, you will be like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest – if nobody hears it, did it fall?

Don’t Be the Tree That Falls in the Forest

What you don’t want to do is waste time and money. If your content marketing isn’t achieving results, it is pointless. It is not enough to say you’re doing content marketing. You need to use effective content marketing. Otherwise, you are that proverbial tree – nobody will hear you fall.

A lot of companies aren’t even sure how to tell. Here are signs that you need to revamp your content marketing:

  • You don’t have a blog – successful content marketing requires daily or hourly blogs. Your customers and potential customers want to see a blog. They want to know you are in tune with the world. They want to read your opinions. They want answers to questions they have. A blog accomplishes these things.
  • Your audience is bored – Is your audience getting smaller or not growing? If you aren’t getting more followers, you are losing business. There is a reason social influencers brag about their followers – it proves to the world that they exist! If you don’t constantly increase your number of followers, you are not moving forward.
  • Sales are down – the most obvious sign that you need to revamp your content marketing is poor sales. If sales are down or your average sale is lower, you’re in trouble. You need to maintain and grow your customer base. At the same time, you need to increase overall sales. You also need to increase the amount of each sale. This is how you grow vertically and horizontally.
  • You don’t have a social presence – If you don’t exist on social media, you don’t exist – period. We’ve already discussed how important social media is to content marketing. You need to have a presence on the following social media sites:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Snapchat
    • LinkedIn

If you aren’t on at least these sites, you have some work to do. It used to be safe to presume that the generation with the buying power didn’t follow social media. This is no longer true. First, the buying generation has shifted. And, second, all generations are now vocal on social media.

If any of these signs apply to you, it is time to revamp your content marketing. If you need to do research, do research. If you need to hire content marketing gurus, hire them. You need to invest in SEO and content marketing if you want to remain viable.

Areas Your Company Should Consider for Content Marketing

There are a few important areas you should consider for content marketing. This is true whether you’re just starting out or revamping your content marketing.

We are changing the way we do things. You have to constantly look at your results. Determine every day if you need to make more changes. Here are some areas to keep in mind:

  • Stop telling your customers information – engage with them
  • Define who your target should be based on actual data – don’t assume
  • Shift from brand awareness to brand loyalty – yes, you need new customers but you also need to keep the ones you have
  • Move away from being product centric to buyer centric – it’s about the buyer, not what you are selling. If you sell yourself, you will sell your product and service.

These are just some of the ways in which content marketing is changing. These are more about how to do content marketing, not just what to do. An effective content marketing strategy combines both. You want to do the right things in the right way!

The Verdict

Effective content marketing is vital to your company. You need to constantly generate traffic to your website. You need to bring in new customers every day. You need to keep the customers you have.

When it comes to social media, you need to be present. You need to infiltrate social media platforms. You need to be visible. A content marketing strategy without social media is not a strategy at all.

In order to be successful, your content marketing needs to do the following:

  • Include a social media presence
  • Embrace social influencers
  • Use visual content
  • Use heavy video content
  • Be short and simple

How can you tell if you need to revamp your content marketing? Take a look at the following:

  • Are your sales down?
  • Is your customer base stagnant or decreasing?
  • Do you have an active blog?
  • Are you targeting the right audience?
  • Is your content marketing personalized?

If you decide that you need to revamp your content marketing, don’t panic. There are people who specialize in SEO and content marketing who can help. You need to look at data to see where you need to make changes. You have to identify the best approach for your business.

The investment you make now to optimize your content marketing will be money well spent. There are a few things you can do that are not expensive:

  • Increase site speed
  • Get SSL certificate
  • Add video content
  • Get on social media
  • Look at what your competitors are doing.

The large corporations have teams who work on content marketing all day. They have real-time data. They can look at results and ROI on an hourly or second-by-second basis. You don’t really need this for a smaller business. You need to measure your current strategy. Identify the areas you need to fix. Then, fix it!

Visit iriscontent.com to read more on SEO and content marketing. We are experts in content marketing. Contact them today to learn how they can help your business in 2018.

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