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content-marketing

How to win over customers and grow your startup through content

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Marketing is perceived as an art by many. Yet it is a strategy; one that can be designed through powerful techniques, practiced, and mastered. And among such techniques lies content marketing: the most modern and effective online storytelling and inbound marketing approach for all types of organizations.

According to Content Marketing Institute, Content Marketing is “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action”.

What does this mean for your startup? Practicing content marketing requires that you think and act literally as a typical publishing company. If you do this right, people are bound to deeply appreciate what you are doing.

Unknowingly, the average person receives an average of 360 commercial messages on a daily basis. In the era of the social media domination we don’t appreciate advertising any more. We appreciate organizations that tell nice stories, that provide us with knowledge, that entertain us.

Getting started with content marketing

Startups capture and produce a wealth of fascinating and valuable information on a daily basis. From market insights to user analytics, these young and dynamic companies build a content goldmine as their work and business development progresses.

To begin, you can publish this material on a company blog and on the social media in order to engage with a relevant community of potential customers, partners, and even investors. Your target audience can indeed be quite diverse. You thus need to identify the “personas” you address, know where they “live” on the web, and make sure you use each different social media platform the way it is supposed to be used.

Mastering this process is not easy. Remember that each social media channel is completely different than the other. On the various platforms out there people don’t “talk” the same way. For example, they don’t use Facebook for the same reason and the same way as they use Linkedin. Or, they don’t use Twitter at the same time as Google+.

If at a certain point you feel confident with the above, you can then go into more advanced ways of distributing and curating your content, such as using bookmarking sites, forums, targeted email newsletters, and campaigns.

What mediums can be used

The core platforms for organisations to implement a content marketing strategy, apart from their website itself, are the corporate blog and the social media channels.

And the forms that can be used are limitless. Startups can publish: Blogposts, Social media specific posts (comments, images etc), eBooks, Newsletters, Infographics, White Papers, interviews, Press Releases, Videos, Surveys, Webinars, Podcasts.

What should you write about

There are hundreds of content ideas startups can write about and produce real value for their audience. Make sure you publish information about the work you do, how you do it, what results you reach. In other words you must make sure your startup becomes “transparent”. You should focus on existing company & product values and advantages and share them with your audience through creating rich and educational content.

You can start with focusing on things like:

  • “How To’s” for your product or service
  • Talk about the way you work
  • Talk about who you and your team
  • Express opinion on industry trends
  • Answer customer questions
  • Raise new industry issues
  • Explain your future plans
  • Provide useful product or industry insights
  • Give your partners a voice (through guest blogging)
  • Hijack news articles

Tools for content marketing

Thankfully there are hundreds of web applications and useful tools that can help you with content marketing.

As previously mentioned, it all starts with having a company blog, so you will need some sort of software that lets you create a blog in addition to your company’s homepage or typical landing page. A popular for its ease of use choice is the widespread WordPress platform. It is fairly simple to set up, straightforward to use, and the available plugins will help you keep it “fit”.

To deliver your content, you will need email marketing services – so try Moosend or Mailchimp. On the social media side, Hootsuite will help you manage and leverage your efforts across multiple channels.

Some other useful online tools are:

Visual.ly – Browse infographics and data visualizations and create your own to drive traffic to your brand’s website and amplify your social media presence.

Storify – Collect social media mentions on a chosen topic, trend, or event and curate the best social media elements in one place.

SEOmoz – Enables users to monitor social media, manage SEO campaigns, and more.

Click here to find out more resources.

A most effective and unique tool to build your customer base

Content marketing helps startups:

  • Build an active online community
  • Establish brand + product/service awareness
  • Build a trustworthy profile (so important for startups looking for investment)
  • Become opinion leaders
  • Engage with prospects
  • “Listen” to their market through their social media and make a product or service more competitive

What sets content & inbound marketing apart?

  • It is a lot cheaper than native advertising.

  • Content is the new SEO. Original and informative content with careful keyword selection together with “white hat” approach to SEO make the webpages (+ blog) of a startup extremely friendly towards Google search engine. The updated Google Panda algorithm is there to make sure that only this type of organic content “survives” now on the search results.

  • It is the best way to generate organic leads and thus, increase traction and income.

  • It allows modern customer service operations

  • It helps companies increase customer loyalty

 

Always optimize your approach – There is no specific recipe for success

Your efforts with content marketing will never be successful unless you learn how to monitor, evaluate and optimize your approach. Make sure you continously monitor analytics across all channels. Use the data to understand what works for you and for your audience and what does not work. Find out which posts bring you the most traffic. Check whether the landing pages of your website need revamp so that inbound prospects are converted to actual customers. Compare and evaluate data and always optimize your strategy accordingly. It will take sometime until things work out and there is no magic recipe. If someone tells you there is one, simply don’t take him/her seriously.

What are some good examples? Startups with killer content marketing strategies include Prezi and Infogram – head to their websites and social media to get a better idea of what and how they go about it. Now should you wish to see how giants are dealing with content marketing take a look at what Cisco, Coca Cola and IBM are doing.

Just remember: Visitors you can buy for your website. Customers and partners you can never buy. You earn them!

This post is simply an introduction to content and inbound marketing for startups. If you have any questions email us on connect(at)metavallon (dot)org

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