Content is what drives the world. It brings visitors to your website, social media platforms, and blogs. It’s also what helps you convert those visitors into paying users. So, how to create content that delivers should be a top priority for all businesses.
No one is accessing the internet anymore. Everyone’s consuming content. This is true whether you’re using it for personal or professional reasons. Even those who diligently consume content may not be aware of its power or how much they depend on it.
If you’ve ever seen a karaoke version of a popular song on YouTube, you’ve just enjoyed someone’s content. If you’ve ever read about gardening hacks or gone through a travel newsletter or seen a video of dogfights during World War II, you’ve consumed content.
Brands that manage to keep audiences interested are the brands good at creating content. Whether you’re in the business of supplying office stationery or veterinary services or wedding photography, great content is what will set you apart. It will raise your brand awareness, get you customers, and enable you to scale at speed.
Those who prioritize content creation will have an unmissable edge over others. This also means that if you neglect content creation, you’re opening up the space for someone else to move in and walk away with your customers and clients.
What is content creation?
It’s the act of creating content through text, images, infographics, white papers, audio, or video around ideas developed in sync with your brand character, keeping in mind behaviors and insights about your target audience.
Content creation also involves delivering those ideas to your existing and future consumer groups through platforms easily accessible to them. It scores above traditional methods because it doesn’t have the usual problems associated with them.
The disadvantages of old advertising models
Prohibitively expensive. The traditional method of influencing customers was through mainstream advertising. Businesses would spend millions of dollars in the form of television commercials, newspaper ads, radio spots, or hoardings. That was the way to get their message across to audiences, increase brand awareness, and influence people to buy their products or services.
But this is a massively expensive exercise. Only businesses with millions of dollars of marketing budgets could roll out these campaigns. Small and medium enterprises were kept out of it and had to rely on regional campaigns or smarter use of mass platforms.
No accountability. Along with the entry barrier due to budgets, there was a significant problem associated with the traditional models of audience acquisition. There was no accountability. Companies that spent all that money on big-budget campaigns had no way to track whether those ideas influenced customers into taking any action.
There are certain tools that measure the number of people who may have seen the television commercial or to analyze the reach of newspaper ads but beyond that, there was nothing to understand the persuasiveness of the message or what could be corrected.
How content creation differs
It’s participatory. Content creation isn’t about creating a single piece of communication to entice consumers. It’s about developing a strategy to continuously roll out engaging ideas that will get audiences interested. It’s also about learning from audience reactions and improvising your ideas.
So, content creation also involves audiences. Businesses that get it right learn from user behaviors to fine-tune their ideas. Without overt focus group discussions or market surveys, creators involve audiences in content creation because there is immense competition among content creators.
It’s dynamic. One reason why content consumption has been rising among all sections of audiences is that it’s versatile. You can write blogs, share images, start a podcast, make videos, or create dynamic infographics. There’s a world of opportunities out there for a savvy content creator.
A business can share all these forms of content to engage with its users. This eclectic mix ensures that consumers will not be easily bored. There won’t be fatigue because each piece of content while coming from the same brand and carrying the same focus and aesthetic, can be different.
It’s inexpensive. Importantly, it’s nowhere as expensive as traditional advertising. This means that the former entry barriers are gone now. The smallest of businesses can make their presence felt through interesting content. Content makes customer acquisition democratic.
It’s open to all. You needn’t even be a business to become a brand. That’s the power of content. Any individual without any previous experience in mass communication can become a brand through great content. YouTube has shown how amateurs and housewives and college students can become content creators.
Anyone can compete with anyone. All that matters is the quality of what you deliver and how you can keep your audience interested. An idea is all it takes.
Why is content important to businesses?
Content creation is the most effective way to bring audiences to you in the digital world. When you deliver relevant and free content, you’re encouraging them to visit your website and social media handles. You’re acquiring customers without having to needlessly spend on mainstream or digital campaigns.
You’re also gaining audiences who’re interested in what you offer. As they consume more of your content, they will be more encouraged to try your products or services. Great content brings in audiences which will bring in growth. The statistics support it:
• Compared to conventional marketing methods, content marketing is 62 percent less expensive while delivering three times the leads • No wonder then, 90 percent of all organizations are now using content marketing • Compared to their counterparts who don’t use it, small businesses that use content marketing get 126 percent more leads • The future of marketing will be customized content, according to 78 percent of CMOs
In other words, no matter what business you’re in, content creation can deliver demonstrable results. But the biggest reason of all has to do with what your content will help you build.
Content builds communities
You’re not just acquiring customers with powerful content. You’re also building a community. This is a group of people who like the information you provide and believe that it can add value to their lives. In their hectic lives, they’re taking the time out to regularly read, watch, or hear what you have to say.
That’s how you define a community. One of the greatest advantages of content creation is that you can create a group of like-minded people who will be inclined to buy a product or service from you. They will publicly endorse you and share your content with their family, friends, and colleagues.
The content you create builds your credibility. You don’t have to convince them of your uniqueness or difference. By regularly consuming your content, they have shown that they trust you. But a one-off live video or a blog post doesn’t make business content. It needs to be ideated and executed through a well-defined process that can be replicated.
A step-by-step guide to content creation that delivers results
Content creation doesn’t begin with an article or an Instagram Reel. It begins with a plan and strategy. As a business leader, the focus shouldn’t be to just gain social media visibility with your content. Your content strategy needs to be customized to the needs of your business. It will include your goals, brand character, audience insights, positioning, and promotional tactics.
Step 1: Identify your content goals
You should understand your immediate marketing goals. This may be different from others in your sector and should be developed from your overall business goals.
Do you want to increase brand awareness for a new product or service? Are you looking to increase the number of site visitors? Do you want to be a thought leader in your category? Do you want to feature high in search rankings?
Your goals should also be specific, measurable, attainable, and timely. If you do have access to a content creation team, when you brief them, you should give them the immediate objectives, a timeframe, and how you would analyze their performance.
It may be tempting to immediately start recording a video or write an article. But it needs to serve your goal. Impressions don’t matter unless they serve your purpose.
Step 2: Determine your buyer persona
Whatever content you create should be aimed at a target audience. “Everyone on the internet” is hardly a target group. You should identify who you want to reach, their demographics, and psychographics.
By demographics, we mean identifying the recognizable attributes of your audience. Are you planning to reach college students or suburban housewives or middle-aged corporate executives in IT? Demographics will help you determine the gender, age group, and place of residence among other factors.
Psychographics analyzes people based on their activities, desires, interests, and opinions. For your content strategy to be meaningful, it should be aligned with the insights of your target audiences. More than a general awareness about their preferences, it should be about those insights in the context of your product or service.
Admittedly, it may be difficult to define your audience. One of the easiest ways is to study the audiences of your competitors. Who’re the people who’re reacting to their content online? What’re their comments and reactions all about?
What are the pain points that you’re trying to solve? If you’re selling backpackers to hikers, your insights can’t be about travelers in general. You need to know the problems that hikers face while out in the wilderness and the solutions they seek.
If you don’t develop a specific buyer persona, you might end up talking to everyone and not get the attention of anyone.
Step 3: Map out the buyer’s journey
Defining the consumer is only half the journey. The other part is about knowing where they’re in their buyer journeys. At a basic level, there are three parts to a buyer journey. These are the awareness, consideration, and decision stages.
Awareness: If your computer is slow, you’ll notice that it takes longer to open, edit, or save files. The browser might take a while to load. This is the awareness stage. It may happen slowly or all of a sudden. Either way, you know that there’s a problem.
Consideration: The next stage is when you consider solutions. You could upgrade the RAM, buy a new laptop, or choose something else. If upgrading the RAM is what you want, you might look for IT repair technicians or stores in your vicinity. If you think a new laptop is what you should go for, you might look at several brands.
Decision: Now is the time to decide between all the options, their features, and prices. You would look at what’s easily available, what best suits your budget and usage patterns. You’ll then shortlist your choices and eventually make a decision.
The content you create should be tailored to all three stages. What will entice someone at the awareness stage may be insufficient for someone about to make a decision.
Step 4: Do a content audit
If you’ve been publishing content for a while, you need to analyze its performance. Unless you do it systematically, you would miss out on what would have worked and how certain pieces of content would have performed better than others.
On an Excel sheet, you should tabulate them according to keywords, the stage of the buyer journey, buyer persona, page views, likes, and shares. Now you have a better understanding of your content’s performance.
Step 5: SEO research
For your target audience to find your business, you need to know what they’re searching for. What’s important in SEO research is not to fall for the obvious. You should be aware of the long-tail keywords that may be low in volume but high in intent. You should then design your content as answers to those queries.
For example, if you offer Japanese language lessons, instead of focusing on “Japanese lessons,” you could try “learning Japanese for IT sector” or “basic Japanese for business tractions.” Your content then should feature those keywords and offer solutions.
Step 6: Ideation
With your keywords, it’s time to think of ideas to create content. From the above example, your content should be tailored to the needs of either IT professionals, traders, or business people who want to learn Japanese in America.
Now you can develop a series of content across media under the umbrella, “A guide to basic Japanese for IT professionals” or “How to learn Japanese for business transactions.” Remember that your ideas will also depend on your content goal.
Ideation should be open-ended where you create as many ideas as possible. Even if you don’t end up using them at the moment, they might come in handy later.
Step 7: Writing and editing
Don’t worry about other businesses or content creators as you sit down to write. This is your brand - or you as a brand - and it needs to have your voice. It may take a while to develop your distinct tone and manner but it would be worth it as you would look original and unique.
You don’t have to be proficient in all forms of content. If you’re good at writing blogs, start with those and then branch out to videos.
Here’s the key to writing. Write freely but edit carefully. While writing, you don’t have to plug in your keywords everywhere. Stay focused on one topic and develop your unique take on it. Be funny, be irreverent, or be serious if that’s your desired brand character.
When you edit, include both short and long-tail keywords, meta titles, etc. For your writing to be effective, don’t use complex words or long sentences. Keep it simple and divide it into easily readable paragraphs.
Step 8: Creating platform-specific content
Website: Once you have your buyer persona and your solution, you should develop your website content focusing on your keywords. The difference between website content and content on other platforms is that it needs to direct the visitor to your product or service through an easy-to-use interface. Make it easy for them to take the desired action.
Blogs: This is your opportunity to showcase your expertise and attract visitors who may be at different stages of buyer journeys or who may not have thought about your product or service. Your blog posts shouldn’t directly ask visitors to buy from you but should portray you as an authoritative and credible solution provider. Remember to use the keywords in your titles and effectively in your posts.
Facebook: The world’s biggest social media platform allows you to share content with a large audience. A major advantage is that you can also build communities. Videos and questions work the best on Facebook. You can also share long-form articles or share snippets of your blog posts to direct audiences to your blog or website.
Instagram: For images and videos, nothing beats Instagram. But just because it’s an imagery-led platform doesn’t mean that it has restrictive use. No matter what industry you’re in, with some imagination, you’ll be able to find photos and videos to share. With the right high-quality photos, videos, and relevant hashtags, you can build an audience on the platform.
YouTube: Other than being the world’s biggest video platform, it’s also the world’s second-largest search engine. How-to guides, short tutorials, unboxing videos, and travel vlogs are some of the most popular content on YouTube. Importantly, you don’t need any expertise to create or edit videos. All you need is a smartphone and through trial and error, you’ll be able to make interesting videos.
Newsletters: One of the most underrated forms of content is a business newsletter. You can start slow and share short articles and other interesting pieces of content. By promoting it through your social media handles and an opt-in form on your website, you can slowly build an audience and thereby, a community.
Digital signages: Even if you’ve never used digital signages to engage with your audiences, you would have certainly consumed their content. Digital signage is a cost-effective, flexible, dynamic, and exceptionally user-friendly medium to engage with audiences in pre-determined locations.
You can share posters, videos, infographics, charts, and sales messages through digital signages. Using them inside your premises will also help you communicate to a captive audience. Since a digital signage provider like EasySignage comes with integrated apps, content creation is also easy.
Step 9: Uploading and publishing
All your energy should be spent on creating content and developing topic clusters for the future. Uploading and publishing should be automated to the extent possible, especially when you have several platforms to manage. What will come to your rescue is a content management system (CMS).
With a CMS, you’ll be able to manage all your content from one place. Unifying your content management and publishing saves you valuable time. It will also give you the performance statistics of all your content, which will help you when doing your periodical content audit.
Step 10: Promoting your content
You can cross-promote your content without having to spend anything. You can use your newsletters to encourage readers to visit your blog, YouTube channel, website, or social media handles. You can use your social media handles to encourage users to subscribe to your newsletter or visit your Instagram handle.
Along with organic promotion, you can use pay-per-click or PPC campaigns to promote your content to relevant audiences. This is why it’s important to define your target audience and identify their stage of buyer journeys.
Content creation isn’t the exclusive privilege of established agencies. With a bit of practice, discipline, and routine, anyone can get started. The results will take time but once you start growing your audience, you’ll also be growing your business effortlessly.