A Guide to Creating Content for the Cycle Industry
What content should you create?
As someone who has sold content marketing for years, this is not a simple answer. I would normally be delving deep into understanding who you are as a brand and what your goal is for the piece of content you are creating. I’d then be looking at the competition, tools that tell me what sort of articles and videos that have been shared lots online and then formulate a strategic plan to create content to ‘wow’ your customers.
However, not everyone has access to these tools and even then, they are not a guarantee of success. Deep down, I believe that if the content is interesting to you and you are the target audience, the chances are it will resonate with your audience. What it needs to be is either timely, talking about something happening in the industry at the moment, or be a classic piece of content that people will be looking for year on year. These are often ‘list posts’ which can be updated each year. For example “The 7 best places to mountain bike in the UK” (there is my next blog post idea, lol!). Or something that answers a question that every cyclist will have like “How do I stay warm on a bike in the winter?”
Content with Value
Creating content for the cycle industry and outdoors market that has some sort of value is something I just don’t see enough of. There are a couple of stand-out brands for me. One of them is Endura. Whenever I get an email from Endura, it more often than not has a piece of content they have created which has had real thought and effort put into it. Take this story for example where Endura partnered with Graeme Obree to look into whether he was just a super-talent or his crazy position on a bike enabled him to achieve the hour record. The video is also excellent, being very careful to not over-brand the video.
It made for great watching and, of course, I then visited the rest of their website afterward and had a mooch at their lovely products. Above all, I shared it with my cycling friends; I’m even talking about it now!!
So this is what I mean about providing value rather than asking for my business. This has built loyalty with me, I am unlikely to unsubscribe to their emails, I am definitely going to open them and now I follow their social media too. It also influenced a decision to buy some gloves a few months back too.
Think about the last time you got an email from a big cycle brand. Was it just ramming discount offers down your throat? Did you automatically delete it before reading? Is that all they have sent you in recent months? I rest my case.
This leads me on to thinking about how to make your content shareable. Starting by making it easy for you to share the content from your website is a no-brainer, sending it out via email to your database with a good email header, also a given. The place you are most likely to get organic reach with your content is on social media. So my advice would be, put yourself in the shoes of the cyclist, what would she/he want to see and would react to?
This is how social platforms work, they look for engagement (shares, comments, likes etc). If the platform sees your post getting lots of engagement, it will show it to more people. It then starts to gather momentum. The same is true for if a post has zero engagement; eventually, the platform will decide the content isn’t great and so will stop showing it in people’s feeds. It’s that simple.
A trick to getting content to work organically is to ask a question like:
“Is this the most technical descent in the Peak District?” –
I’d say the one at about 5min in in this video is 😉
This will encourage people to say “Nay, Jacobs ladder is faaaaar more technical and what about….”. You get the picture.
What brands do too often is forget to put a decent budget behind the content to promote it. If you have spent thousands creating content, then don’t spend any money promoting it, you are missing a trick. The reason John Lewis’s Christmas advert cost £7m is because £6m goes into ad-buying and placements. The advert itself is a mere £1m to make.
This isn’t to say you need to spend thousands if you are smart. This same video above was boosted on Facebook for £4 and reached 14.5k mountain bikers, gained loads of reactions and had lots of shares and comments. It is a case of working with the platform algorithm and what your audience actually want to see.
I could have put £40 behind an advert that said, “Buy this bike t-shirt 20% off!!” and it would have reached a fraction of that audience. This is because people on Facebook are looking at bike videos (well I am) and cats that are scared of cucumbers.
Now, there is very little point in spending 3 days in the Lake district filming an epic piece of content, writing a blog post about it, creating lots of photography etc if you are going to promote it to a generic cycling audience anywhere in the world. You really need to think about who will be interested in the content, pick those people from the audiences feature and layer it with more information.
So think about:
- Are they mountain bikers or road riders? Cross? Enduro? Downhill?
- Where do your customers live?
- Have you uploaded the email addresses you have from past customers to create an audience?
- Have you got a Facebook pixel running on your website to target visitors?
- Are you targeting those that have interacted with your content before?
- What age are the people that follow you in social? Tools like Facebook insights, Google analytics, etc will tell you
- What other interests does your audience have?
- What magazines do they read?
Layer all these variables and try and get that audience as relevant to the content as possible. Between 35,000 and 75,000 on Facebook is ideal, don’t be fooled into thinking because Facebook is telling you, you could reach 3 million people, that you actually will reach that many. And even if you do, they won’t be a relevant audience. Vanity metrics don’t sell products.
Finally, think about what you could do for others. I am hoping that someone from a cycling brand may actually find this useful. Expect nothing in return, but you may just find that your latest blog post about the bike packing tips you created may want to be shared by publications, bloggers and fans that have found your content useful, insightful or entertaining.
If this happens, awesome! Perhaps you can offer to write something for them in return for a link back to your site. High-value back-links will be great to help your own site/blog/channel rank in search engines and ultimately will help build domain authority.
Goodness me, I was just going to say, cool bike videos are far better than continuous discount sale offers but I seemed to let my mind wander a bit!
In simple terms, create content that has a story, that is entertaining, that is shareable and make sure you tell people about it. It may not have an immediate ROI, but play the long game and you will create a foundation of loyal fans who want to see you succeed.
If you need help with content creation or strategy, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.