Content Marketing is a central part of a complete digital marketing strategy. It’s your opportunity to educate, entertain and share your perspective with your target audience during their buying journey.
But if you are just getting started developing content, there are some key points to remember that will maximise your chances of success.
1. You need a Content Calendar – it will really help your content development stay on track
Content Marketing is one of those activities that can easily get pushed down the urgency ladder. Just when you’ve got a few hours to write, something comes along that steals your time and attention.
Let this happen long enough and next thing you know, the company blog starts to look desolate and unloved. When someone does have time for a post, it can read like a ‘random act of marketing’ relating to a short-term campaign objective rather than a long-term strategy, often rushed out the door and haphazardly published without edits.
Enter the Content Calendar, your neatly structured plan outlining what’s going to be written about, when and why. With flexibility too, of course, should you feel inspired one day.
If you’re time poor already, creating a Content Calendar can feel like an extra process and yet another hurdle but it’s a huge help that will save you in the long run.
Mapping your posts in advance grants a bigger picture perspective to view your efforts from and if you have multiple content contributors as most organisations do, everyone involved will know what’s going on.
It’s your way of transforming chaos into order.
When that happens, you can begin to benefit from stats like these:
- B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month
- B2C companies that blogged 11+ times per month got more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only 4-5 times per month
- 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep
(Sources: HubSpot study How often should companies blog?, 2015, and Demand Gen Report, 2016)
Should you like to create a Content Calendar, check out this Content Calendar template from HubSpot.
And speaking of HubSpot, if you’re looking for some inspiration in relation to strategic content planning, download this companion 2017 Content Planning Template which will help you:
- Complete a SWOT analysis on your content marketing
- Define the right objectives and KPIs for that plan
- Brainstorm content ideas and map these across your funnel
- Create a timeline for your content plans
2. Well-researched – if you’re going to cover something, make sure it’s accurate and thorough
There is an adage about good writing: “write about what you know”.
In our view, this saying doubles in value online.
Ultimately, well-researched content makes an impact on the metrics that really matter while poorly researched content falls flat.
So when does this really apply? When agencies and clients collaborate to produce content together.
Magic happens when a subject matter specialist and a content producer combine talents. Disaster ensues when an agency rushes ahead without input from people who really know a topic.
The necessary ingredient to making this partnership work is a process for knowledgeable people to feed into the information and story behind the finished article.
When done well, your audience receives the depth of insight and practical value only available from a specialist matched with the articulation and delivery method of a skilled content creator.
And it applies whether for a blog post, video or some other piece of multimedia.
Note: If you’re an SEO agency like us, we’ve found it very helpful to advise clients of their input requirements for content creation during the pitching process.
3. Promotion – kindling for your content marketing fire
This is probably the one that most brands, in our experience, overlook.
With millions of blog posts and articles going live daily, content has a near zero chance of getting traction without a promotion strategy.
The sad part is that a great piece of content can never really see the light of day because this one vital aspect, promotion, wasn’t accounted for.
So how do you promote a post? This depends on the type of post and your business but to give you some ideas, check out:
- How to promote your blog by CoSchedule
- 17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content by KissMetrics
- How Content Promotion Works for Blogs Big and Small: Our 11 Favorite Content Distribution Strategies by Buffer App
4. Intuitive – Choose how best to say it
There are better ways to tell a story than dense paragraphs of text.
If you can get the message across in a way that doesn’t get someone straining to understand what you’re trying to say then, of course, you’ll get more impact and better results.
Nonetheless, it can be overwhelming (and expensive) creating a kaleidoscopic infographic, or a broadcast-quality video.
Normally, we find that text content is just fine for most situations. But make sure that this content is visual (e.g. includes images) and scannable.
Brevity can be beautiful! So get the point across in a succinct, logical way.
Then, if you can, occasionally mix it up a bit with some sophisticated stuff like infographics. If you have complex data to show, then even better.
But bear in mind that you need to get everything around the content right to get good ROI from an increased investment.
If you’re thinking about design and want to do something really sophisticated, having a go-to professional designer is your best bet.
If, however, you’re one of the lucky few with design skills, there are an increasing breadth and depth of apps and tools available so it’s not always necessary to get an expert involved, at least not to begin with.
- Canva: helps to create various content formats and social media updates that have a slick, ‘graphic design’ look – with some elegant modern fonts.
- Venngage: helps to create slick infographics – with some great looking templates. Various pricing plans but they’re all pretty affordable compared to hiring a data-visualisation specialist.
- Visme: whip up infographics, charts, reports and presentations using an impressive template library. Free and paid plans available.
5. Distinctive – be worth noticing
Great creativity and content is distinctive and doesn’t just follow the herd.
A distinctive take can be made from a non-creative topic and vice versa. A blandly-executed but zany idea is worse than a highly creative take on an established topic.
Creative execution can be worth just as much as a new idea when it comes to content marketing.
SEO and content research tool BuzzSumo is very useful here. BuzzSumo will show you the most shared content for any keyword and the people who’ve shared it, ideal for generating your own ideas for a distinctive take on your topic based on proven winners.
If you’re new to BuzzSumo, check out these guides:
- Find the most shared content and influential authors
- See who shared a popular article
- Identify influencers for a topic
- Identify the links shared by an influencer
6. Optimised – help Google know what to rank your content for
On-Site SEO is a high-value activity that makes a huge difference to the amount of visibility your content marketing receives. It’s also completely under your control.
Before you publish your next piece of content, make sure you do the following to help people easily find it:
- Research: what search terms and phrases could this content appear for? There are many tools to help, including but not limited to Google’s Keyword Planner.
- Tags: critical for search visibility! Mainly meta description and page title tags, and including identified search terms
- Content keywords: if there’s space, add some keywords and search phrases to the actual content – but don’t ruin things by overdoing it!
Also, remember optimisation isn’t just about making content more visible and fit for search engines. Content can also be designed to be optimised for particular social media channels.
Then there’s the device that your content will likely be consumed on. Make sure your mobile, tablet and desktop user experiences are all up to scratch – particularly mobile!
According to 8 trends that will shape content marketing in 2017, there are more people accessing content on mobile than desktop, especially true for blogs and articles which are often consumed outside of the office and discovered via social media.
And so there we have it. I hope you find these tips useful and should you like to add more of your own, feel free to share in the comments.