The field of content marketing is riddled with issues and difficulties along the road to success. Often marketers can be discouraged by the problems that arise. In order to avoid pitfalls along the way, and to take steps in the direction of success, I interviewed Rick Ramos to see what insights I could gain from him.
Rick is an online marketing professional with over 18 years of experience. He is the author of Amazon.com’s #1 rated best seller in advertising – “Content Marketing: Insider’s Secret to Online Sales & Lead Generation.” Rick is also the Chief Marketing Officer at HealthJoy.
1) Where should marketers focus when they have insufficient resources for bigger campaigns?
In 2015 I went from working as one of the largest media buyers on the Internet, when I ran marketing for a top 50 web property, to serving as CMO for an early-stage startup. HealthJoy.com, an enterprise healthcare engagement solution, has since raised $3 million in seed funding (April 2016), but prior to that I had to make do with almost no budget. I’ve seen the company grow from 10 people to almost 100 employees and thousands of business customers.
When you don’t have the cash for larger campaigns, you need to focus and grind a little. Put your energies into projects where you spend time, not money. Here’s a few places I would focus on:
- Publish high quality content – Many of you know me as the author of “Content Marketing,” and I’m still a strong advocate for that marketing strategy. Writing sticky content only costs time. Remember to write to your ideal audience.
- Social Media – The amazing thing about developing a social audience is that it stays with you for a long time. You can work on both a corporate and personal strategy. At HealthJoy I was able to lean on my personal following until I built up a corporate presence. Developing a social following isn’t as easy as it was a few years ago but is still a worthy pursuit. I’m personally lucky because my wife runs one of the top social media agencies MicroMediaMarketing.com and is constantly helping me.
- Giveaways – People love free stuff, enough said. I’ve used tools like https://www.rafflecopter.com/ with great effect.
- PR – When you don’t have your own audience, you should focus most of your energy on PR. It’s always nice to get huge coverage for your company but focused niche coverage. It’s usually easier to get and many times has greater impact.
- Promote customer referrals – The best marketing is always word of mouth, so try and foster it. Add a viral component to your product or service if possible. Think about having a paid referral reward program.
- Email – Since the beginning of my marketing career 20 years ago, email has had the highest ROI. Your house list is crucial.
- Re-targeting Ads – If I only had a small budget to use on ads, I would always start with re-targeting ads through either Google or Adroll. This is some of the best value out there.
I could go all day on marketing advice, but I think that’s a good list to start.
2) How do you ensure that your content is being seen by the right people?
One of the first things you should do as a marketer is define your buyer persona. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give one of your best customers a call. Ask them questions and find out when they decided to solve the problem that your product solves. All of your content should address this and other needs they might have.
At HealthJoy, one of our target audiences is HR department heads who are adding our product to their employers’ offering. Our product saves these companies thousands of dollars on healthcare and has a huge ROI, so we just need to build awareness for our product. Making your content relevant to your target buyer is the best way to make sure your content will be seen by the right person. Afterwards it’s about distribution, both paid and organic.
3) How can content marketers establish themselves as influencers in their own field?
Start by opening your personal social account and asking what compelled you to share your last few articles. The New York Times did an amazing study – “The Psychology of Sharing” – that goes in depth into this phenomenon. After you understand why you and others share, it’s a matter of just producing great content on a consistent and frequent basis. It takes time, but it will happen.
Another approach if you have the time is to write a book. I know it sounds like a daunting task, but it’s doable. It took me about 6 months of writing an hour a day after work and on weekends to finish. I don’t know of a faster way to become an influencer on a subject.
4) What are some of the main misconceptions out there surrounding content marketing?
I think the biggest misconception about content marketing is that you’re trying to attract as many people as possible to your website. You’re not looking for a huge audience; you’re looking for the right audience. You don’t need people who will kick the tires, but people who will buy the product. I’m sure you can get a ton of general traffic with clickbait headlines about sexy topics, but in the long run a bunch of random likes isn’t going to get you anywhere.
5) Creating an eye-catching headline is of great importance. What differentiates the headlines that get clicked on and the ones that do not?
Here’s a few quick tips:
- Keep them short
- Ask questions
- Promise to solve problems and deliver
- List posts are always winners
- Don’t be afraid to go negative
- Guides do very well
Some people recommend newsjacking, but I almost always strive for evergreen content and avoid going too topical.
It was really an honor and a pleasure for me to interview Rick, I was really able to learn a lot from our interview and I hope you are able to gain as much from him as I was. If you have any suggestions for who I should interview next on the blog, be sure to let me know on Twitter.