Content Marketing 101: Back to Basics

Today, I began my training period for the consultants of Xight Interactive. Talking to an audience is nothing new to me, so I generally felt comfortable with the team. They were very receptive, which made my talk a lot easier. It’s so much harder to connect with an audience when they’re hostile in the first place.

NOTE (8/1/2012): Continuing with my lecture series, I finished up with my lessons about email outreach and its parts.

So I’m going to share with you guys my notes here about the basics of content marketing:

So what is content marketing? We’ve been hearing about it time and again: content marketing is the backbone of a good campaign; content marketing is THE way

According to its Wikipedia entry:

That’s right: I think it’s too long. However, several words jumped out at me which I believe summarizes the whole point of CM:

  1. “Umbrella” Term: It’s an all-encompassing, motherhood term which takes into consideration all marketing formats. It’s kind of using the term “content marketing” very loosely. In other words, as long as you’re creating, sharing and manipulating content, it’s content marketing.
  2. Attract, acquire, engage: These are the main agenda of content marketing. You do not create content merely for viewing. If likened to eating, these contents or “food” should be digested and turned into energy, so to speak. Your contents should be relevant and useful for your audience base. Which brings me to my next point…
  3. Clear and defined audience base: In order for a campaign to succeed, you should first put clear boundaries on who you want to cater to. Failing to do so will result in what we call “chopsuey brand“. You try to cater to everyone, try to please everyone, and then you end up flat on your face. (Also, on another note, that’s the problem with most of the recent Filipino movies. Especially the ones nominated for the Metro Manila Film Festival. They put a “moral lesson ending” to a supposedly thriller/scary flick. What is that? Anyway, I digress.)
  4. Retain reader attention: We live in a fast, consumerist world, where anything that takes more than 10 seconds (5 for anything related to the Internet) is considered to something that “needs patience” (and is stated with an eyeroll). This is one of the biggest problems of content developers: How do we hold their attention? Many of us, sadly, turn to the cheap and easy answers: sex and violence. This should not be the case. Your readership should come in for the value they get in your articles and/or stories.
  5. Brand loyalty: Ultimately, you want your readers to become your evangelists. You want them to writes praises for you, even without your slight nudge. That is the aim of content marketing. While you want them to enjoy what you offer now, you also want them to keep on coming back for more.

Now that we have an idea of what content marketing is, we shall look at how we can make it work for us in the SEO industry.

  • SEO Strategies: Prospecting

This part, I didn’t delve much into since this is out of my arena. So I just proceeded with the next part:

  • SEO Strategies: Outreach

Generally, when you’re out for a kill (that is, looking for a website where you can guest blog) what you first check is if it accepts guest posts. So we do that, right?

NO. We push for it.

How? Create relationships. Rarely do I see people who cultivate lively, business relationships with their prospects. I believe we should take time and do this, especially if your prospects are thought leaders in the industry you’re working on. Research on the industry and learn them. Being part of the SEO community requires you to put in a lot of hours into research!

Once you’ve established a good relationship with your prospect (and hopefully, said person is a thought leader), you may 1) be lucky enough to be invited to write for them or 2) be able to pitch easily to them. This is, of course, with the guarantee that you’re going to produce an article that is worthy of their space.

This is challenging and time-consuming. But just so you know, this can be done. This was how Jason Acidre (former tambay and all-around bum, believe it or not) became Kaiser the Sage. He started out from being a nobody to becoming one of the most sought-after SEO strategists from the Philippines.

  • SEO Strategies: Article Pitching

Most link building efforts die at this stage. Your email is your first step into the realm of your prospect. These six categories, which you can control freely, may spell the difference between a pitch success or flop.

    • Name: Believe it or not, your (account) name says a lot about your pitch. Aside from the subject, this is the first thing that your prospects see from your email.
      Take my name, for example. When I am creating a business-type composition, I use my full first name. “Beverly” sounds mature and professional as compared to the other name I use. The image of “Bev” and/or “Bevie” is for lighter subjects. “Bevie” would write about cats and bacon while “Beverly” would be writing about banking and finance.
    • Email Subject: This is simple. Do not use something generic. When pitching, avoid using “Guest Post Pitch” as your subject line. These emails tend to be overlooked as something spammy, and you don’t want that.  Use something more targeted, more specific for your prospect. Try this: [Topic of the Article] via [Website Title or URL] (e.g. Improving Your Guest Blogging Chances via Under the Moonlight) or Guest Article Pitch for [Website Title or URL] (e.g. Guest Article Pitch for Under the Moonlight).
      These email subjects could change the perception of your prospects. Of course, this is also advantageous on your end, since you don’t have to consult your prospect tracker every now and then just to see who/which website owner replied to your email.
    • Greeting / Opening Statement: Webmasters get easily annoyed at very non-personalized email pitches. This is especially true for blogs and/or websites who actually let people know who to contact in case they would like to pitch an article.
      This is akin to someone shouting “Good evening, ma’am sir!” when it’s obvious that you are a male or a female. Here in the Philippines, department store salesmen and salesladies are very prone to doing this, and sound very annoying when they start greeting EVERYONE who passes their way. They go, “Hi sir ma’m, try niyo po tong bagong produkto namin! (Hi sir ma’am, please try out this new product we have.)” This is very unprofessional in my opinion. First, I am not a “sir”. Second, if I was a “sir” my name is not “Ma’am”.
      Granted, it would be better if the front liners could greet you by name at the door. This is a tactic used by baristas at Starbucks. When you come in your favorite store, they greet you with a warm, “Good morning, Bev! What can I get you today?” Once they start with that, you feel a certain affinity for them. The same goes for webmasters. They like it if you dealt with them as business peers, instead of some nameless robot.
      If no amount of research can give you the exact names of your prospects, at least address them to the staff of the website. Not just ma’am sir.
    • Body: The most valuable part of your email pitch, undoubtedly, is the body. You may have wooed them with your teasers, but this is the actual make or break point.
      In crafting your email, make sure that you introduce yourself and your affiliation first. Next, give your prospect an idea about what your company/brand/service is about. From here, you have two choices: either you make the actual guest post pitch or just keep the conversation going with the webmaster in order to cultivate a relationship with them. Before writing down anything, however, I suggest that you keep these three things in mind:
      1. No ass-kissing.
      2. No lies.
      3. No BS.
    • Closing / Parting Statement: You have two ways of closing out your email. You may choose the common route (“Regards”, “Cheers”, “Sincerely”, etc. fall under this category) or you may choose to use an action closer. “Hope to talk to you soon”, “We look forward to working with you in this project”, etc. can move your prospect to a more positive response. Of course, I still suggest doing split tests in order for you to see which templates work well for you.
    • Signature: Here, make sure that your name is clearly stated, along with your affiliation (yes, again), position (if any) and information links or contact details (your LinkedIn profile would be a good start).

Disclosure: I work for Xight Interactive.

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