By CATH DICKINSON
Like the plot of a Jane Austen novel, content marketing is a long courtship, full of subtlety, passion, dedication and consistency.
Questions abound with content marketing. When will I see results? How do I measure success? What’s my return on investment?
Yes, we’d all love instant gratification for our efforts. But, when it comes to content marketing, results take patience, time and effort. It’s a complicated journey.
The goal of content marketing is to secure more business. For you, that may mean more sales. For others, more properties under management. But no one can guarantee when or if this will happen.
The ideal content marketing journey is rather like the plot of a Jane Austen novel:
- Awareness: He knows I exist
- Intrigue: He’s taking an interest in me
- Proposition: A declaration of love
- Engagement: The real relationship begins.
But, while this is the way we’d like content marketing to play out, in reality the journey is often more complicated and full of twists and turns. Much like Pride and Prejudice. Consider the delightful Elizabeth Bennet. Her parents wanted her to settle for the uninspiring Mr Collins. But she was looking for true love, though she did not warm to Mr Darcy when they first met.
“Content marketing is a slow burn. Its real value is only seen as time goes by. It’s a love story. It’s your Mr Darcy.”
Revel in the courtship
So does content marketing give you anything you can measure?
Yes, of course it does. Just as a Jane Austen heroine receives love letters, you have access to analytics.
Your website, email and social media analytics will tell you both the size of the audience you’re reaching and how engaged they are. Tools like Google Analytics can give you rich insights into key statistics.
But don’t get bogged down. Your metrics are evidence that a courtship is underway – but they’re not the entire love story.
The key thing is to make sure you’re acting on insights you gain from these metrics. If something is not working, change it. If you’re attracting Mr Collins instead of Mr Darcy, don’t settle! Find out why and try something new.
Don’t be shy to ask your audience why they liked a particular piece of content or how it helped them. Then work out what you can do to replicate it.
When love derails
Sometimes, content marketing can go instantly viral and create a huge marketing buzz. It’s what we all dream of, but it’s rare.
While it’s possible to become an overnight success and have the phone ring off the hook after posting a blog article to your website or adding a video to your Facebook feed, it’s not likely. Today Jane Austen’s novels are exceedingly well-known and loved the world over, but she received little fame and fortune during her lifetime – not to suggest, though, that you’ll have to wait quite as long for your content marketing efforts to take effect.
Remember, becoming an overnight success can lead to trouble – especially if it’s achieved off-the-cuff or due to luck and without the backing of a cohesive long-term strategy. Look no further than the scandal that ensued when an impulsive Lydia Bennet and Mr Wickham ran off together!
It’s a love story
At its core, content marketing is a way to tell your story. And, by its very nature, storytelling relies upon shades of grey and requires you to lead your audience on a journey.
Yes, there are certainly best practice rules for you to follow, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Your content marketing efforts need to be targeted, strategic and customised. Even though there are some general rules, what works for one audience won’t necessarily appeal to another.
The flipside is that content marketing gives you the advantage of creative freedom and the opportunity to innovate.
Content marketing is a slow burn. Its real value is only seen as time goes by.
It’s a love story. It’s your Mr Darcy.
Content marketing tips
While there’s a lot of content out there, much of it is mediocre. You need to create content that’s better, more engaging and more informative than the next agent. Here’s how you can create content that rises above the noise and speaks to your audience.
Speak with authority
Become a local expert. You know your local area and can speak with authority about it. As well as market data and trends, fill your website and social media channels with practical information about your area and community. If you’re providing the right information regularly and with authority, people will come to expect it and look to you as the go-to local expert.
Provide something valuable
To stand out and differentiate yourself from your competitors, you need to go above and beyond to provide value. This means spending some time and energy developing resources that you can include on your website, link to in your blog posts and emails, and share via social media. Think about checklists, ‘how to’ guides and e-books. The best way to offer these value-add resources is by giving them away for free to readers in exchange for their email address.
Offering the same point of view as everyone else won’t cut it. Your content needs to be original and thought-provoking. Even if you’re talking about the same topic or issue as others, make sure you provide insight and analysis that they haven’t or can’t. You need to show your audience why they should care about what you’re saying right from the outset.
Talk to the right people
If you’re not reaching the people you want to reach, ask yourself why. What’s your social media presence like? Who’s on your mailing list? Have you segmented them? Is it easy to subscribe via your website? And what keywords are you writing into your content, so the right audience finds you online? All of this helps the right people find your content.
You won’t stand out in a sea of mediocre content if your content is mediocre too. Don’t just think about what you’re saying. Also think about how you’re saying it. Your audience needs to be able to distinguish your content from that of your competitors. If you write like every other agent, you’re basically saying: “I’m no different to that other agent down the road”.