Is your content marketing not performing as expected? Or are you new to this domain and want to learn more about story-driven marketing? Here are 10 tips that I personally find useful. I probably should have made that 11 tips, because they say odd numbers make people click more, but breaking rules also make you stand out, right? Here we go.
THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
1. PICK THE BEST BRAINS
A professional sailing friend of mine once told me it is easy to become the best racing sailor. “Just find the top dog sailor in your vicinity and ask him how to sail. He will be happy to tell you all secrets until the day he realizes you have become better than him”.
As a content marketer – novice or experienced – take a rest from Google and invite the heads of content marketing at the most inspiring companies for lunch. Flatter them and ask them all the things you want to know. You will learn a lot and get soft information that is never shared in keynotes at conferences.
2. MAKE A PLAN
I am saying this because it is actually very tempting for hi-octane people to just get going. Fast-moving people are great, but you may end up at very strange places if you have no clue where you are going. It is not rocket science and does not take much time to define your goals, decide who you should address, how often, with what content etc.
There are tons of results for “Content Marketing Plan” on Google, but a lot of it is just bad content marketing (ironically). The most comprehensive and useful resource I have found is Content Marketing Framework: Plan Download it today!
3. TELL STORIES FROM AN OUTSIDE-IN PERSPECTIVE
No one likes people who just talk about themselves. So why should we like companies who just talk about their products and services? Great content marketers understand that they must tell stories answering questions their audience has. They have to be relevant to deserve people’s engagement.
The best way to align your content production with your audience’s interest is to create personas. Who are these people you are writing for? Demographics, needs, interests motivations, frustrations etc. Create one or many such fictional persons and use these profiles to make sure you address at least one of them every time you produce content.
4. BE CONSISTENT
Content Marketing is not a campaign, it is a long-term commitment to serving your audience with high quality content and building relationships. Some like to call this “always on”. For a multitude of reasons this is the best way to make a good ROI on your content marketing
- Building reach and engagement takes time. Ask an owner of an established media company. Giving up early is like sowing the seeds but skipping the harvest.
- Google rewards sustained publishing of quality content with better ranking.
- Consistency allows you to establish a proper sales funnel.
- Knowledge + time = authority. And that is want you want.
5. ALLOCATE HALF YOUR BUDGET TO DISTRIBUTION.
Some people still think online distribution is free, because “people will always find good content”. Such statements are typically made by production companies wanting to grab the lion’s share of your content marketing budget for themselves”. But the reality is that even the best content competes with a gazillion other pieces of great content. So if you want to give your article or video a chance to do its job, you have to add paid distribution. Make sure you know the characteristics of the four leading distribution channels, and understand how to combine them: a) social media, b) search, c) native ads and d) content recommendations (like Strossle).
AND THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO:
1. DON’T LET CRAPPY CONTENT SLIP THROUGH
Producing quality content takes time. Your boss might not understand that. And if you are expected to deliver a certain amount of videos or blog posts per week, chances are you will lower your standards over time. This is a worse alternative than reducing the release rate, since people are happier to wait a bit for good stuff, than to spend time with crap.
2. DON’T FORGET ABOUT MEASURING
Some creative people are afraid of numbers, or they find them complicated. That is a pity, not only because their bosses normally respect numbers more than perceptions, but also because it is very rewarding to know when you have reached your goals.
Hence, please prepare a scorecard for your content marketing activities, with Key Performance Indicators such as: number of visitors, time on page, shares, CPC etc. Here is a good post from Inbound marketing experts Pardot: 14 Content Marketing KPIs You Should Be Tracking. It is from 2014 but still valid (and demonstrates the value of evergreen content).
3. DON’T EXPECT IMMEDIATE CONVERSIONS TO SALES
Content marketing is great for catching people at the early stages of the buying process. Potential customers start searching for information to learn more about that destination, car or banking service (less so if they are going to buy candy). Read more about high involvement and low involvement products in relation to content marketing here. If they find and like your content you certainly have a good lead. But you cannot expect people to immediately buy a car after reading one blog post about it. Intelligent content marketing should guide your leads with more relevant content as they progress through their buyer’s journey. Inspiring content in the beginning. More educational content later on.
4. DON’T DO IT HALF-HEARTED
An all too common case is that a company decide to start a blog – because that is what “everyone seems to do” – and then ask someone in marcomms to manage it, on top of their existing workload. This will not work. That person will probably be ambitious at first and deliver a number of decent posts, but soon enough he or she will run out of ideas and only have time to produce lame content. And your customers will know, and they will think your company is lame.
5. DON’T CHANGE EVERYTHING
When your content marketing is not delivering according to your KPIs, please do not panic and start adjusting all controls at the same time: longer articles, more Facebook distribution, new target groups etc. Because if you change everything simultaneously, you will never know what really made a difference. Act as a scientist: change one thing at the time, and measure carefully what happens. Apply the most efficient measures.
Strossle has helped thousands of brands to leverage their content marketing. See some of our live examples here.