Content marketing is essentially a strategy that fills the digital world with lots of useful content owned by your own brand.
Content isn’t self-promotional or advertorial.
This content simply serves a purpose greater than product or service promotion such as providing an educational resource, spreading new ideas or even entertaining people.
That said, the content marketing space has changed dramatically over the past few years.
It has gone far beyond just the creation and publishing of content to a full-funnel and full-fledged marketing program.
Marketers and companies are looking ahead to supply prospects who are in various different stages of the buyers journey with their own unique demands, requirements and needs with dedicated, targeted and tailored content marketing strategies.
In this blog, we take a closer look at some of the best practices to help you learn to become a better and even more effective at content strategy and creation.
1. Strategy First
We all have a clear idea of our goals: business goals, life goals, campaign goals and marketing goals.
However, if they aren’t written down and detailed in a plan they aren't really goals are they, more like notions or aspirations.
Successful content marketers should understand the significance of a documented strategy to set and then guide them towards achieving these staged goals.
This strategy document should lay out the fundamentals of your content roadmap including aspects like buyer personas profiles, competitive analysis, social media analysis, positioning etc.
It should also lay down some high level goals to strive towards, for example, top line traffic growth, attainment of a 3-5% visitor to lead conversion rate, X number of leads per month by Y etc etc.
2. Write for People and Not Search Engines
Don't keyword stuff. Simple. Your readers can see through that and while its important to create relevant content that can be ranked by Google, overdoing it with keyword repetition defeats the purpose of creating content for your relevant audience.
Search engines are now smart enough to identify quality content that has great click through rates and engagement by their audience. Content which has real empathy for readers matters a lot more than the articles that usually aim for the search rank only.
Write for your reader, not for the robots.
3. Understand Your Audience
Content marketing is not all about selling. It is about entertaining, informing and educating your readers so as to earn their trust with time.
To be successful as a content marketer, you should to understand your audience – and what they need and want from you. This will enable you to gauge the viable content that you already have and what content you will need to create.
4. Premium Content Should Be Valuable
The easiest way to get a return on a content marketing strategy is to ensure that it results in leads. The best way to generate leads is to offer your readers something of value at the point of interaction, i.e a blog for example.
Its essential to provide exclusive information that your target audience will not find elsewhere that is valuable enough to merit your visitor exchanging their contact details for by filling out a form.
There are many types of premium content that you can invest in producing, tipsheets, checklists, templates, ebooks, free tools are all examples that are generally easy to create.
5. Get Stakeholder Support
Content marketing is not an instant fix.
In fact, it is a long-term commitment that requires continual engagement and collaboration to succeed.
This means that you will most likely have to sell the idea to your executive team, as well as other key departments or people in your organisation.
6. Identify the Right Content Formula
Content marketing is all about helping your future and current customers solve issues that are important to them. How can you make them look better by helping them solve a problem through your content?
In order for you to do this, your content should facilitate conversations among stakeholders, decision makers and influencers, giving them confidence to take another step.
In case it doesn’t, then your content marketing strategy will ultimately fail. (Or under-achieve its set goal at the very least)
Its essential that from the outset you understand where and how your buyer personas consume information. Perhaps they prefer podcasts over reading blogs, videos over ebooks, tools versus templates. Understanding this will help you hit the mark and dramatically improve your results.
7. Create an Editorial Calendar
Every good content marketing program begins with a carefully planned, proactive editorial calendar.
It’s the execution plan for integrating content into a cohesive story that you want your audience to see.
You probably won’t follow it verbatim, but if it exists up front you’ll be far more consistent and successful at publishing the content you need and generating the results you want
8. Always Be Teaching (not closing)
While generally your content will resonate with your ideal persona, do not assume that your audiences will be familiar with all the details of your chosen topic.
Instead, create content that will deliver the information that they need to self-educate on new concepts, topics and issues in your industry and bring them along on your journey by encouraging dialogue through comments, social engagement and feedback channels.
This not only provides additional perspective to your readers, this guidance gives added value each step of the way.
Great content marketing usually establishes long-term and trusted relationships with both current and future clients by regularly delivering relevant, valuable and high-quality information.
Furthermore it should as a by product also bolster your brand positioning and SEO.
By leveraging the above listed best practices, you will be able to create a very effective content marketing strategy and fine-tune your existing strategy for maximum impact.