We know that both B2C and B2B buyers now do more research than ever before reaching out to companies. In fact, 70 percent of consumers say they prefer to learn about a product or service through a collection of articles rather than traditional advertising.
Content marketing catches those doing their due diligence. It also engages those who may need your products or services in the future. If you’re not doing it, you may miss the opportunity even with aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns later on.
Content Marketing: What Works
You can spend a lot of time and money trying to put together the puzzle of what works for your organization. What works for one business may be completely different than what works for another.
There are, however, some key things you need to do in order to set the table for content marketing success.
DO: Plan Your Strategy
There has to be an underlying strategy for everything you do. It’s not just about creating random content to attract attention. Whether you want to be recognized as experts, generate quality sales leads, or educate potential customers about your brand, start with the goal and develop content that matches up.
The specific goal you are trying to accomplish is less important than defining the goal up front and then creating content to meet that goal.
DO: Develop Your Target Audience
Successful businesses understand their target customer. They know the demographics, socio-economic status, and psychographics. They use this to develop products, set pricing, and hone their marketing messages. Your content marketing should do the same.
Take the time to understand who you will target with your content and create it with them in mind.
DO: Create Content Value
The bottom line to every piece of content you create is the underlying value. If you are simply rehashing the same information people can find a dozen other places or creating a piece that’s really just a dressed-up sales pitch, it won’t resonate.
DO: Address The Customer Journey
The AIDA purchase funnel is one of the foundational elements of marketing.
As customers (and potential customers) advance through each stage of the AIDA funnel, they are seeking different slightly different information. Content marketing works because you can target your message to each stage. You are also addressing potential customers before they are ready to make a decision. Done right, you will have already established yourself as experts in their minds before they have to start looking.
DO: Promote Your Work
Once you’ve created this great piece of content, you need to work to get people to find it! Use your organization’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database (if you have one) and create email campaigns to target key decision makers.
Consider traditional advertising, word-of-mouth, and social media campaigns to spread the word. Take full advantage of free and paid social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
DO: Keep It Fresh
Creating consistent, fresh content helps with your website’s SEO. Search engines reward websites that have regular content updates by putting those websites higher on the search results page when someone is searching for a term that relates well to your business.
One simple way to keep things fresh is to regularly update content. Freshening up high performing content is an effective way to get “double duty” out of work that resonates.
DO: Measure Against Goals
Measure success not based on so-called vanity metrics, such as Likes and Clicks. Instead, measure success against your goals. If the goal is lead generation, it doesn’t matter how many views the page gets, it matters how many quality leads you get.
Content Marketing: What Doesn’t Work
Avoid the tears. Here are seven things you need to avoid when it comes to content marketing.
DON’T: Be Unrealistic
Creating compelling content that sells your brand and meets your needs can be difficult work. This is especially true if you have constant deadlines and additional work you have to do. Underestimating the amount of time it takes to do a quality job is typical and failing to meet demands can be overwhelming.
Also, recognize content marketing rarely creates an “instant fix.”
DON’T: Confuse Quantity With Quality
It’s more important to have fewer, high-quality pieces than to crank out lots of lower quality content. It may feel good to check five pieces off the list, but one solid piece that captures attention will always outperform five pieces everyone ignores.
DON’T: Push Blatant Sales Pitches
Anything that sounds like a blatant sales pitch will get ignored. Your content marketing has to sell value. Demonstrate your expertise with each piece you produce and show how you can help others achieve their goals. It is OK – and necessary – to showcase what you do, but not at the expense of value.
DON’T: Ignore Visual Content
A strong picture can be as effective or more effective than the written word. Make sure you include visuals. Photos, images, infographics, charts can help make your content more memorable and provide depth. Video is quickly becoming one of the most important formats. 43% of marketers point to video as the most successful marketing content.
Social media posts with visuals perform significantly better than text-only posts.
DON’T: Keep Doing What Doesn’t Work
When you measure your success against your goals, you are going to find out what works and what doesn’t. Ditch the stuff that doesn’t achieve its goals. No matter how much you like the content, how much work went into it, or how much it feels like the right thing to do, stop.
Not everything you create is going to work. Even the good stuff may not get the job done. Don’t be discouraged.
DON’T: Stray From Your Expertise
Stick with what you know and what you stand for. You may have some great insights on certain topics, but if it doesn’t fit your brand or your niche, it’s not going to help.
DON’T: Forget Your Purpose
This circles back to the beginning. Know your strategy and your goals for each piece. After all, you can’t measure success if you don’t know what you want to accomplish. Make sure to incorporate a call-to-action (CTA) for your goal in your content. While the CTA typically feels most natural at the end of the piece, there’s no rule against adding into the body of your copy if it makes sense.
Idea + Plan + Action
It takes consistent attention to turn ideas into plans and motivate others to act.
Content marketing is not about creating instant success. It’s about creating a library of engaging content that will be available when people are searching for insights. It’s about positioning your organization as experts in the field and providing them valuable information. It’s about creating fresh content that drives your website SEO.
Ultimately, it’s about positioning your organization in the best possible light and meeting your underlying goals.