Launching a new content marketing campaign targeting foreign markets is a great way to boost your website’s inbound traffic and brand recognition abroad. Unfortunately, running a successful content marketing campaign isn’t as simple as tossing up a few blog posts, publishing an infographic and adding new fans to your social profiles. Here is the methodology we follow at Openvalley to run an effective international marketing.
Objectives of your international content marketing campaign
What are the goasl, the end output for your Content Marketing Campaign at an international level ? Content marketing is utilized for lots of objectives, including customer retention, upsell, support and brand awareness. But by far the major objective for most Content Marketers is Lead Generation / Customer Acquisition, which can take the form of adding an item to a shopping cart, filling out a lead-gen form, or signing up for a trial.
The idea is to help your prospect customer through the different stages of the purchasing, making him progress towards your end goal. We present a methodology in general form of a matrix, that we can call The Content Matrix, where one axis lists your customer profiles and the other axis lists your various stages in the buying cycle. We can do a close-up on this part of the machine here:
Then for each cell in this Content Spreadsheet, and each country you are targeting, we have to ascertain what content can attract the customer to that stage and help move them on to the next stage. Specifically each cell should answer the following questions:
• What questions does the customer want to answer at this stage in the process?
• What are the topics and categories that would provide this content and answer these questions?
• What are some sample headlines for content in each cell?
• What formats (blog posts, videos, eBooks, etc.) would this content be delivered through?
Remember, at the top of your buying cycle, the prospect does not care at all about you and your brand. Your content here should be at some intersection between your prospect’s interests and the expertise within your organization for this particular foreign market. The content here at the top should never promote your own products and services. But as you move down the Content Spreadsheet and the prospect has indicated interest in your products and services, your content should provide more information about them.
Creating a team of contributors
Once we have defined the objectives and plan, we now have to figure out who is going to execute it. Having a look at the spreadshseet will tell us who can produce these pieces of content? Is it going to be internal contributors? Will we be using ghost writers ? Guest posters?
Naturally this depends a good amount on your budget. But for most organizations it is a mix of internal and external contributors: you want to utilize your unique internal expertise, but you also use external talents to share the burden, particularly on rich media content like video and infographics. There is also the question of the language and the culture of the country you are targeting that makes it compulsory to use external experts.
While there is a variance in the mix for the set of contributors, there is one consistent, crucial role: the Managing Editor. Many stakeholders will submit ideas and content into the Content Marketing Machine, will turn its Audience Development crank, and will pull leads and reports out of the Machine. But we need at least one person whose primary responsibility is to control the execution of the content marketing campaign at an international level: to plan the editorial calendar, to supervise content production and distribution, to generate traffic and conversions, to monitor metrics and to be accountable for results.
Ideally the Managing Editor should have content experience from a journalism, copy writing or PR background. But the Managing Editor should also know the web and the ways of search, social, analytics and link-building. Lastly the Managing Editor should be familiar with marketing and the end objectives of driving traffic and conversions.
Finding great ideas for your international content
Good ideas can be hard to come up with. We will consistently need producing content 3, 4, 5 times a week, in different languages, and the issue of idea generation is critical. We will have to remember that the bulk of the content that we will be producing is about your foreign customers’ interests, not about your products. Thus the best way to generate content ideas is to understand what your local customers are interested in.
There are two best practices for idea generation. First is online social listening. Dive into the categories you are covering on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, VKontakt etc. See what topics the communities are interested in. Question and Answer sites, forums can also identify the specific questions your prospects want answered.
The other best practice is to listen to your company, in particular the local branch in the country in which you want to launch your international content marketing campaign. Sales, export department, services, support, etc. are talking with local customers every day. We will have to understand customer concern and then submit those information to the Content Marketing team. To give people incentive to participate, we will make sure that their ideas and submissions don’t end up in a black box, and keep them informed of the content produced and how it performed.
Production of the multilingual content
The next stage would be the content production for each market you are targeting. The centerpiece of production is an Editorial Calendar. An editorial calendar is used to control publication of content across different media, for example, newspaper, magazine, blog, email newsletters, and social media outlets. The calendar should specify who is going to create what piece of content, when they will have it submitted, when you plan on publishing it, and to where you plan on publishing it (your site, guest blogging, YouTube, Slideshare, all of the above, etc.).
The Editorial Calendar should look something like this:
In the Editorial Calendar, we will also have to definge the Customer Profile and Buying Stage that the content is intended for. As we look over the Calendar, we will be able to visually see whether or not we are producing the right content mix to cover the various cells in the Content Spreadsheet.
Many stakeholders can be involved in the production stage, including: idea generation, the content creatoion, graphic designers, the Managing Editor, the SEO expert, the social media team, etc. To handle such complexity, we will have to make sure to map out the process involved to get content out the door. Who will submit the content? Who needs to approve it and at what stage of the process? Who is going to be posting messages to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn once the content has been published? We need to identify the required workflows and have a plan to manage them.
Reaching an international audience
Creating the adequate content for an international audience is just half of the job. The other half needs to be around getting visitors to that content, which is the Audience Development component of the Content Marketing strategy. Audience Development breaks down into 4 major parts:
– Reach the influencers. Influencers are the most important component of Audience Development. Begin by identifying the influencers in the foreign marketg you are targetin: the individuals and organizations in your topic that have lots of visitors to their sites, followers to their Twitter accounts, etc. In other words, these are the places on the web where the prospects who you want to read your content hang out.
– Our objective is to win links from these Influencers to your content. Get started by building relationships with these Influencers. Retweet their tweets. Comment on their blogs. Follow them on Facebook. Get into a dialog.
Once you’ve gotten on the influencer’s radar, craft content with the end objective–the Influencer link–in mind. Ask yourself: What content would be of enough interest to this Influencer that they would want to share it with their audience? Or try to bring the Influencer into the process from the start: tell them that you are working on a piece of content and would appreciate their feedback or a quote.
– International search. Winning these Influencer links is the key to getting referral traffic to your content. It is also the biggest way that you can improve search traffic. Win links from authoritative local influencers, the Search Engines will improve your rank in the countries you are targeting, driving more traffic. Of course you need to be deliberate about this process: identify the search keywords that your foreign customers will search for; target and optimize your content for local keyword; and track how your content efforts, keyword by keyword, are effecting your search ranking.
– Paid Search and International PPC. Despite all of the inbound, organic goodness that Content Marketing centers on, Paid traffic does have a place in the mix. Whether it is SEM, or Facebook ads, or sponsored Tweets, or paid Email newsletter distribution, using paid tactics to drive content is a very useful tactic to strengthen your international presence. It can be very useful to use paid to drive traffic to the content pages (i.e. about the prospect’s interests) instead of the product pages (about the marketer’s products). The process of developing a relationship with a prospect built on informative content is so powerful that it can be very useful to take the more patient but more effective approach of buying traffic to their content.
– Syndication. Finally, the content you produce need not be limited to your own properties, whether your site, YouTube account, Slideshare account, etc. The most straightforward way to earn a link from a site where your prospects frequent is to give that site quality content. Syndicating your content earns at least one link to your site through your author bio, but also begins to develop a relationship between you and your prospects before they have ever visited your site. Particularly at the beginning, others sites have a lot more traffic than yours does, so syndicating content there is a great way to get your traffic off the ground.
Analytics: measuring results at an international level
Once we have content being produced, and visitors coming for that content, we need to keep an eye on a set of gauges for each part of this content marketing machine so that we can learn how it’s running and continue to tune it and optimize performance.
– Ideas & Production. Keep an eye on the mix of content you are producing. Do you have the right distribution across the personas from your Content Spreadsheet? Are you hitting the relevant categories?
– Audience Development. What Influencers are sending you the most traffic? You should be sure to express your gratitude to these Influencers and link back to them. What types of content are succeeding in generating the most valuable links? You need to double down on that content. What keywords have high search volumes but fail to drive you much traffic? You need to improve your production of content around these keywords to improve your rank. Which paid channels are proving the most cost effective traffic?
– Traffic & Conversion. This is the major objective as it gets to our end goal of the conversion. All of the content produced needs to be assessed for how it is performing in bringing first time visitors to your site, bringing back returning visitors, and moving them down the buying cycle, particularly to the conversion event (e.g. form submission; add to cart; start a trial. We will have to score all of the content produced on these objectives, and look for the trends: which content types (e.g. blog post, eBook, video) are pulling in the most new visitors? Which categories of content are leading to the most conversion events ?
Every initial content strategy is a best guess. Only by operating and monitoring your metrics we will understand what’s working and what’s not working and improve your performance over time.
Content Marketing takes longer, particularly because, when we start, we have no audience!
You have to recognize that the results of Content Marketing accrue over time. Traditional marketing tactics, i.e. advertising, involve the Marketer renting the attention of someone else’s audience: the marketer pays the media to be able to put the marketer’s message in front of the media’s audience. Despite the problems of advertising, this renting has immediate effects, because the media already has an audience.
However, we should bear in mind that with Content Marketing, we are building your brand equity as we build your audience. Over time, your audience becomes an incredible asset: a perpetual source of leads / trials / new customers at extremely low cost relative to traditional marketing. The final objectif is to make your site becoming such an authority on your topic, that your audience, will begin to supply the inputs, the content .
Contact Openvalley. A well-executed content marketing campaign can result in a steady stream of website visitors who arrive regularly on your site’s pages for months following the launch of each new content piece.