Creating content where any general search in Google produces over 51 million results in less than 0.5 seconds can be challenging. Writers are constantly brainstorming how to ensure their content is meaningful, discoverable, and educating readers. How then as a marketer can you ensure you’re creating relevant content that’s going to be discovered, read, and is making an impact in your marketing strategy?
Start brainstorming by looking to your own habits: What are you searching for?
Content uniquely attracts people to your business. Content should create natural interest in your brand, problem space, and company to eventually warm convert your readers into leads. Content helps people grow, identify a need they may have but not be aware of, and help them realize that you’re the right solution.
As a writer, one way to get started during the content creation process is to think to your own habits. When you want to learn about something new, what do you do? For example, you might have stumbled upon this by searching, “how do I write lead generating blog posts?” Your readers and customers have similar questions that lead them to reach you.
- Attract your target audience by mapping out potential searches your prospects are looking answers for.
- Head to community question forums like LinkedIn groups or Quora to see what people are asking. Map your campaigns and content to questions already being asked. Then, tie your content directly back to your value proposition.
Don’t shy away from “selling a product” in favor of just pitching a solution
Content marketing is full of people pitching that you have to sell a solution, fix a need, tackle a challenge… but the reality is that you have a target goal to sell a product, a service, or an offering. Depending on your industry you could simply be educating a community; however, it’s important to realize that it’s also okay to tie your solution to your product.
People care about what features and workflows will help them get to their end goals. Leverage the power of your tangible resources, product, features, etc. when discussing your solution. Just because your solution can solve their business challenge, it doesn’t mean you have the only solution that’s available. It’s important to be forthcoming about what exactly you offer that helps. Content marketing helps engage and inform, not just engage or inform.
You need to be able to position yourself against your competitors. Highlight what workflows within your offerings solve the need your audience is engaging you for. Convince the prospect that your solution is the best one. Be sure to highlight how you can help and be specific. Don’t use overused statements like “best in the market” “the first of it’s kind.” These statements are over-stated and subjective without getting to the point of what it is that makes you the right fit.
Ensure your marketing efforts aren’t disruptive
Recall the last time a mysterious number called your phone and you had that cock-eyed skepticism as you read the unknown number questioning, “Ugh, who’s trying to sell me something…”?
You download content all the time, you subscribe to blogs to learn more, or signup for trials to see what’s right for you. But then you get calls at the weirdest time.. lunch, end of the day when you’re ready to head home, within 5 minutes of requesting a resource before you’ve even received the follow-up download. You hate it, so what would make things any different for your own readers?
- Schedule distribution of your content at a time your target audience is consuming information. Perhaps it’s over lunch when they’re catching up on Twitter, or on the commute home. If the content you’re creating is something that be sent to your readers, send it out or engage in active outbound reach when your least likely to illicit an annoyed reaction. If someone’s annoyed, even if they view your content or product helpful, they might have only associate your disruptive habits with your brand.
- Do you actually have to engage in outbound efforts to distribute your content? Not everything needs to be pushed out to your readers. Analyze what’s getting the most traction, why it’s helpful, and in what ways it’s being re-distributed by your audience. This ensures your outbound efforts aren’t spammy, but focused on the right content.
- Does everything need a call to action? Having buttons, links, getting started, or demo requests on every page your viewers interact with can be disruptive. In some cases, your readers want to learn, not act. Figure out where in your buyer cycle those actions are most relevant. Target content that speaks to the conversion stage of your cycle and engage those call to actions in the appropriate locations.
Photos and testimonials humanize your brand—Readers want to be inspired by more than just your own words
Content created only by you can sometimes come across as too sales-oriented, one-sided, or repetitive. People care what others who have invested time into your brand have to say about their experience. Testimonials provide peace of mind that a regular person will be supported along their journey with you.
Simply adding a stock image isn’t what’s going to resonate. Your customers can speak to your audience in words and ways that are less “pitched.” Where your brand tone might be to say “eliminate the headache of lost drafts and hours in emails” your customers might say “a whole mess of content transformed to something manageable.”
Testimonials and real-life examples speak to different ways of thinking within the same audience. This increases the likelihood that more readers will care what you have to say.
Writing “how-to’s, FAQs, tips and tricks, or list” content well
Quality before quantity. Having a 600 page how-to article that isn’t in-depth can serve to generate quick buzz on social media and is great to link your readers to others’ content… but it doesn’t keep them engaged for long periods of time on your blog.
Make your brand and content keep your readers around, not send them away. This type of content is actually helpful, so it’s worth sharing more than just a list of other products that may or may not get the job done. You chance sending your target audience away to a product or solution that doesn’t help them, making their perceived reliability in you as the referring source, drop.
The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings page, the more content each web page has. (QuickSprout)
If a post is greater than 1,500 words, on average it receives 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes than a post that is under 1,500 words. (QuickSprout)
Content marketing is about consistency
Create a cadence and rhythm that works not only with how your audience consumes content, but with what is sustainable with your resources and internal operations.
82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013)
While monthly may work with certain content deliverables like Webinars or eBooks, your audience may expect weekly educational pieces on how to improve their operations and workflows before jumping into your solution. Staying top-of-mind is important for any great content marketing effort, but you can’t do it at the expense of producing boring, or meaningless content.
Document your goals to create the foundation of your content marketing strategy
Creating stellar content, delivering it to your audience at the right time, and providing meaningful educational pieces that convert readers into buyers is one small piece of creating a content marketing strategy. To put this knowledge into practice, it’s important that you also define your content marketing goals. Here’s a few to get you started:
- Increase brand awareness and educate the community
- Drive more traffic to your website and trial sign-ups
- Generate a sales funnel
- Convert more leads into customers
- Improve retention
With each of these goals comes different approaches to communicating and reaching your target audience. However, regardless of the approach you take there’s a few fundamental content creation steps that can be leveraged to get you started.
Put structure around your creative brief process
It’s important to add structure to your content marketing efforts to ensure you are not leaving out opportunities to speak to your audience or concentrating efforts too much in one area, leaving gaps in another. An easy way to get started is by adding structure to the creative brief. Creative briefs help focus a wild idea into an actionable, audience-specific content plan. It also ensures each content created is tied to an overlapping marketing goal.