For authors and content creators, marketing may seem like a foreign thing. Something that should be done, that could help. I used to feel the same way, then a few years ago, my job shifted to a marketing role, and I learned there are so many interesting ways to do marketing, and that, if done right, marketing (and a marketing funnel) can make a huge difference in whether or not something is successful.
I had a great boss who inspired me and taught me a lot, and over the years, I also found a number of helpful resources online (links at the bottom of this post).
Last year, after nearly 7 years of podcasting and after both of us became full-time podcasters, we decided to launch something new: a comprehensive online course to teach what we’d learned to fellow podcasters and aspiring podcasters.
We didn’t really have an existing audience for our course, so I got to take what I’d learned about marketing in my previous job and experiment with ways to grow our audience and drum up interest.
This is the first in a series of posts about the process I went through, what worked, and how you can apply these techniques to your own course, books, or other type of content you want to sell.
Go To Market
The first thing I want to emphasize is the concept of go-to-market. Having a go-to-market strategy is when you have a plan to engage with people interested in your product (in my case my online course) and show them how your product will help them.
You’ve probably all heard of the marketing funnel. These are the four main stages to reach out to those interested people:
- Attract & Awareness (at the top of the funnel, lets people know your content exists)
- Interest & Engage (let people know what you can do for them)
- Educate & Nurture (get people excited about your product)
- Discovery & Consideration (when people decide to buy your product)
Creating Content for Your Audience / Readers
Before creating any content and reaching out to your audience, you’ll want to figure out your goals. Your big goal is to reach the right people and get them excited about your book or course or product. Therefore, each piece of content should help take people through your funnel.
That means you should have a specific goal for every piece of content you create. For each post or quiz or email, what action would you want a person to take next? Would you want them to subscribe to your podcast? Join your email list? Sign up for your membership site? Read another post?
Planning Your Content
In content marketing, there’s a term called pillar content. These are pieces of content meant to answer a specific question or go in-depth about a specific keyword or phrase, and provide a lot of value.
To figure out your pillar content, you need to know your audience. The biggest question to answer is, what are they searching for?
Then when creating your content (whether in the form of articles, blog posts, videos, or some other form), make sure that you provide something of value that helps you in some way, such as by growing your email list, driving traffic to your site, or finding people who are interested in your product.
When choosing topics to cover, make sure you stand out, by sharing your unique voice and perspective. Also keep in mind these should be topics that interest you, that you can keep covering over an extended period of time.
For Complete Podcasting Course, I built a resource page, with posts and talks around podcasting, building community, and growth and monetization.
You can also plan content in advance, by creating themes for the quarter or the year. As an example, a theme could be monetizing your podcast. Then over the next quarter, you could create blog posts, host online events, and create social media posts and ads around that theme. The key is to focus on your theme and your audience, and tailor it to each channel.
It sounds difficult, but the good news is you can repurpose your content for each channel. For example, maybe you have a blog post about the top 5 ways to monetize a podcast. You could have a webinar where you go into more detail about each way to monetize, then take clips from your webinar and share on social media. Or you could share quotes from your blog post and share on various social media channels. You could also introduce the topic to your email newsletter, and link to the blog post or a recording of the webinar if they want more details.
After you’ve done this once or twice, you can create templates for each channel, and customize them for each theme or piece of content. Just make sure to personalize for each channel.
Once you have an audience, you can refine your pillars. You can do this by checking how much time people spend reading or consuming your content, and compare it to the content that gets you the most traffic. You can also reach out to your audience directly and ask them to fill out a survey, or let you know what type of content they want to see, or questions they want answered.
Tracking Your Content
The key to creating good content consistently is to be able to repeat what works, predict if it will work, and measure (so you can improve). It helps to know how much time and/or money it takes you to create each piece of content, so you can better understand what is sustainable for you.
In addition to checking traffic and how much time people spend consuming your content, it helps to track other aspects. This can include A/B testing landing pages, ads, and even your website (coming up with a version A and version B of both to see which people like better). You can test by changing just one thing, such as a headline, or by changing multiple aspects, such as how people navigate your website.
You’ll also want to look at your email and click-through rates, and how well your content converts. For content on your website, you can set up a dashboard and track conversions such as whether or not someone read one of your blog posts and signed up for your newsletter. This can help tell you how effective your blog post is is speaking to your audience.
And you’ll want to check how people are finding your content. Is it through search, your ads, a referral from a friend, or something else? Knowing how your content is found can help you expand and reach more people. You can also make tweaks to your content as needed, to make it even more successful.
Putting It All Together
Once you have multiple pieces of content, make sure it’s all easy to find on your website, or that it’s linked in a way that your audience can easily access it.If you have enough content and channels, you could even turn your site into an ecosystem of sorts.
An example of this is Product Marketing Alliance, a site that offers online courses, live events, challenges, forums, job boards, and more, all in one space (with a membership).
As promised at the beginning of this post, here are a couple sites that can help you better understand marketing and funnels:
- Christina Del Villar: Helping marketing professionals gain influence and enabling organizations to succeed and grow
- Data Driven Marketing
The Marketing Funnel Series
If you want to read more, here are all the posts in this marketing funnel series:
- Marketing Funnel Part 1: Going to Marketing With an Online Course or Book
- Marketing Funnel Part 2: Lessons Learned Building a Quiz Funnel
- Marketing Funnel Part 3: Driving Traffic to Your Content With SEO
- Marketing Funnel Part 4: Building and Making the Most of Your Email List
- Marketing Funnel Part 5: Driving Traffic to Your Content with Ads
- Marketing Funnel Part 6: Sharing Your Story With a Webinar
*This article originally published May 2022