65% of B2B companies found their content marketing increase over the past year. That’s not a random number. It’s a study from the Content Marketing Institute.
Now for the dilemma: If everyone else is improving, what are you doing to stay ahead of the curve?
There are numerous ways you can improve your content marketing, but with plenty of advice out there, sifting through to find the most valuable can be tough.
These tips will set you on the path the content marketing excellence, and drive your business to the next level.
The Art of Content Marketing
Rarely is content marketing looked at as an art. Still, if you want to reach the highest levels of performance, that’s how you’ll need to treat it. Like any professional, you should be striving to achieve that peak-level.
With content marketing, here's how you get there.
1. Create Effective Content
I know. It's no surprise that creating robust and useful content is essential. This is what makes your marketing stand out against the competition. It's the lifeblood of your strategy, but ineffective content can drive people away, just as fast as it can suck them in.
The simplest (but not easiest) technique to making your content marketing extraordinary is to keep it customer-centric (more on this later) and to provide as much value as humanly possible. You want to create something that leaves them satisfied and puts your company's name at the top of the list when they're looking for more info.
Because of the beast that creating content is, I've broken it down for you:
First, how you prepare and treat your headline is pivotal to the content. Garrett Moon, of CoSchedule, recommends writing 25 versions to find the right fit. Headlines provide a promise that drives someone to click on your material, and the expectation is that you'll deliver.
What you also need to acknowledge is that the headline creates a scope for that material. It's a contract that says, "I'll provide you with everything you need to answer this question."
When you start straying from that scope, you also start losing your viewer. This is where internal links save you. They allow your content to stay sharp and on point while offering additional information if the customer chooses to follow that route.
Along with the added "link juice" you get for your site, you'll also gain more insight into what types of material people are interested in. This can be especially useful for your content that's positioned further in the buyer's journey, creating an actual path for customers to get there.
Your pieces need to carry a uniqueness viewers can't find elsewhere. Whether it's through perspectives, tone of voice, or format, you want to be distinct from everywhere else. This may turn some away, but those who appreciate it will be more apt to keep coming back.
Don't get wrapped up in providing the same type of content. As you level up, it's important to find new mediums. Videos and podcasts are growing ever-popular and could be the best pivot you execute in your marketing. Once you start creating them, focus on the intricacies of each and making the most of the features.
A point sometimes missed: if you're making claims, be sure to have proof to back it up. Whether this is from external links to research, or links to your own material, make sure it proves your point.
Finally, and this should go without saying, proofread your content. There is no room for mistakes when it comes to spelling and grammar. In today's fast-paced marketing climate, many move from creating, directly to publishing.
Plan your strategy far enough out that you have time for edits. Apps like Grammarly and the Hemingway App are free and useful. They could save you much embarrassment later, and keep potential customers, who may have left.
2. Track Your Efforts for the Long Haul
Another simple one, or so you'd think. Data collection and analysis is the obvious method to see how your content is performing. What too many get hung up on is the speed the see growth.
To be effective as a content marketer, you need to be in for the long haul, and your data will reflect why that's important.
A small dip in performance doesn't mean your content is failing, but for many less experienced marketers, that's enough to alter the course of the strategy, especially when pressure from higher arrives.
Plan out the specific key performance indicators (KPI) you want to watch depending on the goals of your content. This is important, as the same data may not be relevant to different mediums, even if the overarching goal is the same.
3. Create a Distribution Plan
Content marketing isn’t just about producing content and waiting for people to come to it. Sharing your material on social channels will increase the odds of others finding it through search engines.
By sharing on other platforms, you’re amplifying your content. You’re giving it chances to reach more people, providing answers to questions they haven’t asked yet.
When more people go to your site, no matter how they found it, it increases the potential for search rankings to rise, because people are seeing value on your site. Now, rather than relying solely on specific keyword results, you’re drawing in traffic from other areas to climb the search engine results.
The most important thing is to select which platforms are best for your business. Not every social platform fits each company. LinkedIn promotes the business world, Instagram shows off spur-of-the-moment videos, and Twitter is made of fast-paced news and conversation.
Once you have the channels you want to promote on, you need to share in the best manner for that platform. This usually means repurposing content to earn the response you're looking from with that audience.
4. Focus on Being Customer Centric
You didn't think we'd forget, did you?
Everything above is important to level up your content marketing. They're essential, even. But customer-centric content is what sets the market leaders ahead of the rest.
To be customer-centric, you need to nail down your buyer personas. While this can be as extensive as you want, you should ask these 5 important questions to ensure you're moving in the right direction.
The persona should define everything you need in order for marketers to provide the most value in their content. And when you make your strategy, don't neglect an opportunity to walk that persona through every stage of the buyer's journey. Too often are personas locked into a single form of content while those pieces aren't matched to the right step of the process.
What happens when Marketing Margaret finds her answer and is aware of your product? Do you have content to foster her movement into the Consideration Stage?
Align all of your content with personas, their goals, and then deliver for each stage of the journey with as much value as you can.
Remember, customer-focused companies care about wants. Customer-centric ones are focused on needs. It's a bold difference, and what will take you to the next level.
Improving Your Content Marketing
As a content marketer, you should constantly strive for greatness. The basic steps to producing content aren't enough anymore. And soon, the bar is going to rise again.
The good news is you can take ownership of your growth as a marketer. In fact, we've created the perfect guide to get you started on the path to greatness. Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain will help you identify the essentials in with your strategy.
Chris is the CEO at Lean Labs. He enjoys strategizing and creating content that drives results. When not typing away, Chris is exploring nature with his two daughters, wife, and dogs.