Content marketing is any strategy focused on creating and distributing content for the purpose of driving traffic or getting users to take a desired action—whether that’s to read more, click, like, share or purchase. But savvy content marketers need to be trend focused, always looking for new and creative ways to expand and adapt their playbooks. Here are 7 techniques to help you become a better, smarter content marketer.
Putting together the best possible content marketing team will depend on a number of variables—the size of your organization, your resources, even your goals. If you’re running your business solo, then you’ll be in charge of everything: content creation, optimization and managing social distribution. As your business or content needs grow, don’t be afraid to consider adding supporting players to your team—supplementing your skills with the right creative or technical talent.
Content marketers cannot operate on intuition alone. Whether you’re performing keyword research, interviewing audience members or just keeping tabs on your competitors, arm yourself with the data points necessary to make your campaigns smarter and stronger. Research doesn’t have to be costly to be effective. Start with free market research tools (Think with Google’s Marketer’s Almanac offers some interesting data on consumer browsing and shopping behavior, American Fact Finder surfaces U.S. census data, and Nielsen’s MyBestSegments provides location-based demographic and lifestyle insights) and see where the facts take you.
Everything from newsletters to emails to web content vastly improve personalization and personalized emails deliver 6 times the transaction rates, yet 70% of brands still don’t use them. New technologies have made it possible to develop highly relevant, quality content delivered dynamically (and in real-time) based on user behaviors. Although content marketers who embrace personalization may have to find an outside technology or ESP partner to implement data collection, tracking and delivery— it’s worth it. Personalization improves just about everything from an ROI standpoint, from open and click-rates to opt-ins.
The numbers don’t lie. Visual content performs better than any other content type, period. Pairing blog articles, tweets and posts with relevant images or visual assets boosts pass-along rates and overall engagement. From photos, video, charts, memes, illustrations and infographics, graphical content outpaces text in everything from engagement to shares to sales to memory retention. This is especially true on social channels like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, where visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared than its text-only counterparts.
Creating amazing, targeted content is only one part of the total content marketing equation. With mobile devices now driving more than half of all Internet traffic (to top sites) and some 80% of American adults qualifying as smartphone owners, creating content that’s not just mobile optimized, but mobile-first is non-negotiable. Research shows that non-mobile optimized content suffers from increased bounce rates and losses in traffic and organic search rankings. To combat this, content creators must consider things like mobile design best practices (think about page load speed, image compression, legible font sizes and simplified navigation) and mobile user behaviors (mobile users generally have shorter attention spans). Be sure to preview all content on a mobile device before it goes live and assess the experience. Did the content load quickly? Was it easy to read? Did sentences or headlines break in awkward places on a mobile browser? Were you able to easily navigate through content, or were the buttons to small to use? Be ready to adapt your content according to your experience or other user feedback and adjust future output with all learnings.
Don’t just create content and drop it like a hot potato. Good content marketing goes hand-in-hand with a clearly defined channel strategy. Think carefully about the content you’re developing, the story you’re telling, and where (and when) it makes the most sense to publish. Not all channels are created equal—a blog post that might be perfect for LinkedIn might under perform on Facebook. A great explainer video might have its permanent home on YouTube, but could also be excerpted and featured on Instagram. In addition to focusing on the biggest four social distribution channels (generally: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube) consider other up-and-coming, fringe or niche channels like when it makes strategic sense for your business. Have a great presentation from an industry event? Think about publishing on SlideShare. Have great visual content and a need to grow awareness in the under 25 category? Think about Snapchat. Learn from your audience and involve them in your process, looking at their consumption habits, polling and asking them for feedback, and adapting your channel content accordingly.
Search-friendly, keyword focused, easily shared and relatively inexpensive to create, host and manage blogs are still one of the most effective forms of content marketing in the game. But the most successful bloggers will tell you: in order to be effective and maintain readership you need a steady stream of new, compelling content. Blogging sporadically (even monthly) won’t get you the same results as a blog with daily updates. (One Hubspot survey reported 82% of marketers who blogged daily outperformed monthly bloggers when it came to customer acquisition). Think about ways to diversify your blog offerings. Thought leadership and how-to articles are great (and perform really well in organic search), while list posts and infographics perform especially well on mobile and as shareable nuggets on social channels. Don’t approach blogging with a “set it and forget it” attitude. Be ready to adjust your strategy and always be thinking about ways to improve your offering.Staying ahead of the curve these days requires a flexible approach, an open mind, and a willingness to adapt and fine-tune your approach to get the very best results.