Content marketing—the strategy of creating and distributing content to a targeted audience—is all the buzz. It can be very effective for your business because it provides valuable information targeted to your prospects’ and customers’ interests and needs. It engages without including a direct marketing message or selling, thereby positioning the company as a thought leader. But if you’re worried that this is just one more project you don’t have time for, fear not. There are some great, free tools to help you succeed at content marketing.
Of course, you’ll first need to create a strategy. Define your voice as well as your goals. Will you be creating original content, curating other people’s content, aggregating content, or some mix of the three? Are you looking to attract new customers, engage deeper and sell more to existing customers, or perhaps enter an entirely new market? Once you have all of the above established, it’s time to turn to these readily accessible tools to get the most out of your content:
Creating this will help you meet your strategic goals and manage your content marketing initiatives. Most of the work here is on the conceptual side, not in the implementation. A simple Excel spreadsheet, online calendar, or plug-in will make it easy to keep a schedule. If you have a content team, then a Google Docs or Google Calendar can allow multi-user access.
—Editorial Calendar Plugin: If your website uses WordPress, this plugin gives you an overview of when your content is scheduled to post. www.wordpress.org/extend/plugins/editorial-calendar/
If you identify and use the correct keywords, your content is more likely to show up online where your audience is spending time, or searching on the topic. Tools to help you this include:
—Google keyword tool: Gives you related terms, how competitive the term is, and how many times the term is searched for in a month. Results are more comprehensive if you are signed into your Google account. adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
—Google auto-complete/suggestion: As you type in the search box on Google, the auto-complete offers searches that are similar to yours based on searches others are doing related to your term.
—Wikipedia: This online encyclopedia’s listings offer related terms and links on a topic, which can be additional keyword suggestions. www.wikipedia.com
Aggregators gather and deliver all the content related to your topic or keyword inputs, from whatever data feeds they use as sources, and compile it in one place.
—Alltop: All the top stories and top headlines on popular topics from around the web. www.alltop.com
—Scoop.it: Aggregator info on a topic or keyword. It crawls the web for you and aggregates content around a topic or keyword you input. It then allows you to select the best content and easily publish in a magazine format. www.scoop.it.
A word, phrase, or topic is trending if it is mentioned online and on social networks multiple times. Trending topics become popular either through a concerted effort by users or because of an event that prompts people to talk about one specific topic. Mentioning what’s trending in your own marketing will potentially give you more exposure, but make sure it’s relevant to what you’re selling. For example, a new product release in your industry is a great opportunity to create content and capture some of the volume of social mentions and searches on the trending topic. Consider writing a product review, a piece on what this new product means for the industry, or a positive personal anecdote related to the product or its creators. It is typically best to steer clear of political or gossipy trends, unless you are in that niche, or can find a way to create related content that won’t be offensive to your audience and can be tied back to your company or product in a way that makes sense.
—What’s Trending: What’s hot in the news, YouTube, and on Twitter. www.whatstrending.com
—Google Trends: Identifies the hottest searches on the internet. www.google.com/trends
This is a recommended strategy to find mentions of your brand, your name, a product name, and news about a competitor in the press and online. You can also use it to find content on your keywords.
—Google Alerts: Monitor the web for interesting new content, delivered to your inbox daily, based on your queries (by keyword or topic). www.google.com/alerts
—Topsy: Real-time search for the social web. Searches content published on Twitter and the web, sorted by relevance or date, and sends daily emails. www.topsy.com
—HootSuite: This social media dashboard monitors social media presence and mentions, and also allows you write one post that will be dispatched to multiple social media platforms. www.hootsuite.com
—TwentyFeet: Social media monitoring for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and bit.ly. www.twentyfeet.com
Clipping is a great way to collect content that is of interest for later use. This is where an editorial calendar comes in handy. When you know in advance what you are going to be creating content about and when, you naturally start to gather background when you find it.
Jane Tabachnick is a digital marketer and content strategist. She works with companies to create lead generation programs. Jane can be reached via her website, www.Web1Ranking.com.