Content marketing is the top inbound marketing priority for 53 percent of marketers in 2017, and for good reason. In fact, companies who publish new content three to four times per week typically get 3.5X the traffic of those who only publish new content once per week.
It’s been said that content marketing is the new SEO, and with good reason. But content marketing isn’t a panacea. Some businesses fill their websites with content and have nothing to show for it — no bump in traffic and no increase in sales.
That’s because content marketing, like most everything else in business, is a science. It only works when you find the winning formula. Consumers hire you because they trust you have the winning formula.
So what’s the secret to succeeding and not failing at content marketing? It isn’t any one thing alone, but these three tips provide a good place to start:
Know Your Audience
If you were giving a presentation to a group of surfers, you wouldn’t show up wearing an Italian suit. Likewise, if you were presenting to investment bankers, you’d leave the flip flops and Hawaiian shirt at home.
For content marketing to work, you have to know your audience. Before you produce a single piece of content, ask yourself a few questions about your intended audience:
- What is their age, gender, location and level of education?
- Why are they on your page? What are they looking for?
- If you were meeting these customers in person, how would you approach the conversation? Would you be casual? Formal? Would you simply provide information or try to engage in a back-and-forth?
Before you do anything with your content, take the time to craft one (or more) buyer personas so that it’s clear exactly who you are talking to. Whether you’re doing the writing or you’re outsourcing the job, a comprehensive buyer persona ensures that everyone knows who your target audience is and how to engage them.
RELATED: 5 Reasons Content Marketing Fails
Invest in Quality
Content is like food — it’s available at many price points and quality levels. But that $3.99 lunch special with the mystery meat and processed sides, while cheap, probably isn’t your best option if you’re concerned about long-term health.
Just as you can find cheap food, you can find so-called marketers who’ll promise loads of content for next to nothing. But remember what your mother told you — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
A 2016 Content Marketing Institute study found that content marketing leaders who publish quality content that’s compelling and valuable to the readers reported 7.8 more times the site traffic than those who didn’t quite meet the quality mark.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”Fr8q3″ via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Before you touch the keyboard, make sure you know who your audience is. #ContentMarketing #BuyerPersonas[/ctt]
What is quality content?
The debate over what quality content is will probably never end, but most people will agree that it meets these criteria at minimum:
- It exudes thought leadership: Telling people that the sky is blue or that dogs bark isn’t going to win you any awards – or loyal readers. Make sure the topics you choose are relevant to your audience and that you’ve put your own unique spin on them.
- It uses proper SEO: I like peanut butter sandwiches because peanut butter sandwiches have so much peanut butter on the sandwich. If you surf the web at all, you’ve seen posts like this and probably hit the browser’s back button quicker than you can say “keyword stuffing.” Keywords are important, but work them into the text naturally or don’t use them at all.
- It educates, informs or entertains: Make sure your posts have a purpose. Whether you create a How To that teaches the reader something or a listicle that’s just for fun, set a goal for that post and run with it.
- It’s coherent: A misplaced comma isn’t going to lose you sales or readers, but proper grammar, spelling and punctuation can put you in a more trustworthy and reputable light to your readers. Quality content also has a good flow, is organized in a logical manner and is factually correct.
- It gets the job done: No matter how “good” you think your content is, if it doesn’t push your content marketing needle and engage the readers, then it’s not very good at all.
Invest in content marketers who take the time to understand what your clients are looking for and can deliver high-quality content tailored specifically to them.
Inform, Don’t Sell
Content writing and copywriting are two different things. Copywriting is purely promotional. There’s a time and place for it, but it isn’t when you’re trying to inform and engage your audience.
The purpose of content marketing is to build relationships and establish trust. Promoting a particular product or service is secondary. Focus on giving your audience something of value. Remember they’re on your customer’s website for a reason. Figure out what that reason is, and give them what they want.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”uwe3R” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Content marketers who publish content that’s compelling and valuable see 7.8 more times the site traffic. #HighQualityContent[/ctt]
If you do this properly, you can position your customer’s product or service as a logical solution. Let’s pretend your client sells nutritional supplements to weight lifters. You produce a content marketing piece on how to increase strength. If it’s well-written and offers value to the reader, it provides a natural opening for positioning your client’s products as part of a broader solution.
Content marketing has a lot of moving parts, but if you get these three areas right before you start, you’ll be on the road to success.