Content marketing can be fantastic for your business, but it’s not always easy to get it right.
Here are some fun facts:
- Only 30 percent of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
- Of those who do have a strategy, only 30 percent feel that their strategy is actually effective.
This means that for every 100 marketers, only nine percent feel their content marketing strategy is working. Wow.
If you’re among the other 91 percent of marketers who feel their strategy needs some polish, or if you want to improve the techniques you’re already using, have a look at this list of techniques we’ve developed and see what new strategies you can put into operation:
Research your audience
One thing we can all universally agree on is that a content marketing campaign can succeed or fail based on how well you connect with your target audience.
In fact, 67 percent of marketers say that identifying and targeting their key audience is the biggest challenge for content marketing.
There’s no shortage of companies that have misunderstood what their customers are looking for—take this Victoria’s Secret ad for instance.
It turns out, many Victoria’s Secret customers felt that the "perfect body" ad was body-shaming young women, and the company had to sheepishly change the wording soon after.
If you’re not already doing so, find out:
- Who your audience is;
- What gets them excited;
- What they want from your content.
This can help you make sure that all your content is perfectly tailored to the appropriate site visitors.
Doing so will help you gain the biggest possible benefit from every piece of content you post.
Keep an eye on your competitors
When it comes to content marketing, there’s no need to constantly reinvent the wheel.
Instead, it’s useful to regularly undertake research into how your competitors are marketing themselves.
This helps for several reasons:
- It can give you a heads up on changes to the industry
- It can inspire creative new ideas on ways you can reach out to customers
- It can help you to make sure that your content marketing is both unique and original
Various available tools can help you get a pretty clear picture of where your competitors are focusing their efforts, what they’re beating you at, and where you’re excelling in relation to them.
Use this data to find out where you might be missing out on customers, and where you should be focusing your efforts to maximize your sales.
Focus on all aspects of the conversion funnel
The sad reality of online marketing is that your efforts are only as good as your successful sales.
In my experience, having huge traffic might sound great, but if you’re seeing low conversion rates, despite high initial interest, you’re likely failing to engage with actual customers.
Alternatively, less well-read content that leads to a higher rate of sales is far more valuable to your brand.
Monitoring site traffic is a good way to test how far your content is reaching, but you also need to pay attention to the number of conversions and sales you’re getting to produce a full picture of your success.
In addition to eyeball-grabbing content that draws in site readers, you’ll also want to focus on content that:
- Explains the need for your product
- Walks potential customers through the sales process
- Addresses concerns that may prevent purchases
- Encourages existing customers to make repeat sales
A strong focus on the entire conversion funnel and the user purchasing experience will ensure your content does more than just attract empty leads.
Target customers, not fans
If your content is of a high quality, you’re going to attract a wide variety of visitors to your site.
That said, I’ve noticed a few common mistakes when it comes to content marketing:
- Marketers try to give their content blanket, generic appeal
- In efforts to engage with everyone, their content doesn’t speak directly to their actual customers
While it’s true that you want to reach out to every available lead, it’s better to focus your attention on the demographics that are most likely to:
- React to your content
- Share it in relevant circles
- Make purchases and encourage others to do similarly.
Consider the high-brow stock trading "Financial Times" newspaper.
The paper deliberately tailors its content to appeal to financial traders, who make up a tiny part of the population.
This means that their readership fits a very specific demographic:
- They’re wealthy
- They care about stock trading
- They have expensive tastes
As a result, the "Financial Times" can sell a small, but very specific readership demographic to advertisers.
Despite reaching fewer consumers—and appealing to fewer advertisers—they come out ahead because those that do fit these demographic criteria relate more strongly to the paper.
Focusing on appealing to those who are most likely to buy from your brand is an important way to get the best possible gains from your content marketing strategy.
Create customer personas
Okay, so not every person who visits your site is going to buy from you.
That said, your product probably appeals to more than one demographic at the same time.
This can make focusing your content difficult, as you need to make sure you’re reaching out to several different types of buyers at once.
So, if you’re going to make the most out of your content, you need to break down your customers into groups and develop a clear idea of what demographics exist within your buyer pool.
This works best by visualizing a single person from each demographic:
- Who are they?
- How old are they?
- What are their interests?
- What job do they do?
- What needs do they have?
- What will they use your product for?
In my experience with louder online customers, I’ve seen how crucial creating detailed buyer personas is to helping you get clear on exactly what your buyers are looking to get from your products, as well as how you can communicate with them through your content.
Use adaptive content to deliver a personalized experience
Once you’ve created your buyer personas, you’ll need to produce content that directly appeals to their particular interests.
In fact, 94 percent of businesses agree that personalization is the key to sales success.
The problem is, not all customers have the same needs.
This is where adaptive content comes in:
- Adaptive content is personalizable to reflect a particular user’s interests and needs.
- It’s also optimized for delivery over a variety of platforms.
Among the many ways adaptive content can be used, you can vary your content presentation depending on:
- Physical location (this is the most common use of adaptive content)
- What site led visitors to your content
- How often they’ve visited your site in the past
Adaptive content can help each visitor feel like you’re addressing their personal needs, and ensures site visitors get the best possible treatment—wherever they are in your conversion funnel.
Just be careful: Too much personalization can end up coming across as creepy.
Create omnichannel content to suit all platforms
The other side of adaptive content is its ability to reach a variety of different platforms and devices.
Our lives are full of a variety of different devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
A good omnichannel approach to content allows site users to seamlessly pick up where they left off—no matter which device they’re using.
Research has shown that customers often take a multidevice attitude to purchases, shifting between devices depending on what’s convenient for them:
- 65 percent of customers who start with a smartphone end up making a purchase on a tablet or PC
- 24 percent of those who start with a laptop will move to another device
- 10 percent of customers who first start looking at your site on a tablet will instead choose to make the purchase on a laptop or PC
To get the most out of your content marketing strategy, you need to make sure users get a tailored, personal experience, no matter what device they pick up throughout the conversion process.
Send out consistent messages
Nothing’s more confusing for site visitors than an inconsistent message, which is why I always recommend that you ensure your brand’s voice is the same throughout all your content.
This benefits you in several ways:
- It helps establish your brand’s unique image
- It leads visitors easily from one piece of content to the next, keeping them on your site longer
- It builds up your reputation as an authority on the subjects you’re discussing
Consistency means making sure that all your messages are in tune in a variety of ways.
Do the following to make sure all your content feels the same:
- Text should all have a matching tone and style
- Images shouldn’t feel out of place
- Colors used throughout content should reflect your brand’s logo and web design
While there’s room to be a bit flexible on different channels, keeping all your content’s style similar helps to establish your brand power and relevance.
I’m a big believer in the importance of regular, consistent testing.
Time and again, it’s been proven that you can’t trust anything in online marketing.
In fact, one A/B test looked at the impact of changing of a single word in a call to action:
- The test compared the phrases "get information" and "order information."
- "Get information" lead to 38 percent more conversions.
That such a small change made such a big difference just goes to show that you should be testing every element of your site constantly to make sure that the content you’re displaying is as effective as possible.
Develop reusable and recyclable content
One of the biggest challenges facing content marketing is the difficulty of producing consistently high quality content:
- 60 percent of B2B marketers report that producing engaging content is the greatest challenge they face
- 51 percent of marketers say they struggle to create enough content
The solution to this problem, in many cases, is to design content that it can be used for a variety of different purposes.
You want to make sure that your content can be reused and reworked in as many ways as possible:
- Blog posts can become the transcripts for podcasts and videos
- White papers can become promotional e-books
- Older content can be updated with new information to become fresh
Making your content as versatile as possible helps give it the biggest reach possible.
Focus on quality first, and quantity second
As I mentioned above, it’s not always easy to create quality content on a regular basis.
The balance between quality and quantity of content can be difficult to get right, but the following are two things you don’t want to do:
- Put out regular content frequently without focusing on quality
- Worry about quality of work so much that your frequency suffers
Let me be clear: you should absolutely, definitely be focusing on producing high quality content. But, you also want to make sure your content release schedule isn’t crippled by perfectionism.
The perfect frequency balance is going to be different for every content marketing effort, and it might take a little work to find a compromise between the two.
- Rushing content production helps nobody
- Frequent content is important to brand identity and connecting with site users
Create (and stick to) an editorial calendar
The trick to balancing quality and quantity is to create a solid schedule for publishing new content, and sticking to it no matter what.
In my experience, I’ve seen that some times are better for uploading than others:
- Facebook engagement rates are 18 percent higher on Thursdays and Fridays
- 70 percent of users read blogs in the morning, compared with 40 percent at night.
An editorial calendar can help you to make the most of your content:
- You want to make sure that you always take advantage of the peak times for attracting site visitors
- You also want to ensure that your content is coming out regularly enough to make a difference
Having a solid plan for content publishing times helps make sure that you get the most out of your content by uploading at a regular pace.
Build a community around your content
To help lead your site visitors naturally into becoming customers, you’ll want to encourage them to develop a personal relationship with your brand.
One of the best ways to do this is to inspire camaraderie among fellow customers.
A community of site users can lead to:
- Veteran regular customers providing insights into why new customers need your product
- Potential customers making repeat visits to the site, increasing their likelihood of making a purchase
- An increased sense of brand trust and familiarity as customers associate your product with the online community that develops around it
Social encouragement can be crucial in helping would-be customers make their first purchase.
While the most traditional space that friendships develop is through blog comments sections, it also helps to give users a dedicated space, such as a forum, to express themselves.
Always invite to act
Every single piece of content you produce should encourage site users to do something.
These calls to action can include:
- Signing up for the email newsletter
- Sharing content on social media
- Inquiring directly about your products
- Commenting on content
- Leave feedback
If someone reads your content, there’s a chance they’ll choose to engage with it—but most probably won’t, unless they’re encouraged.
A little extra prodding won’t guarantee that all visitors will engage in the way you want them to, but it will prompt them in the right direction.
Make it difficult to say no
As a general rule, people tend to follow the path of least resistance.
So even if your content is challenging people to engage, if they’re able to easily ignore you, they will.
This doesn’t mean they’re not interested in your products: they’re just so used to getting sales pitches thrown at them that they won’t always notice what yours says.
I’ve found that the trick to overcoming this is making site visitors think for a second before they’re able to click away from your offer to engage.
This pop up draws attention to the call to action, while making users think before they can reject it. It does so through:
- Making the ‘Yes’ option stand out through colors and text size.
- Using evocative language on the "No" button to draw attention to what users are missing out on.
By making your customers think a little before they reject a call to action, you give them the opportunity to really consider whether or not your product will benefit them.
Lead visitors on a journey
Charles de Lint once said, "We’re all made of stories."
This is true: the human brain prefers information in story form. We like information to have an easy narrative to follow.
- It’s how we process information
- It’s also a much more entertaining way of learning
Even marketing materials work best when there’s a story to them. Through your content, you can create a narrative that appeals to users and encourages them to take action.
Storytelling through your content can help site visitors invest emotionally in your product:
- Focus your content on the human element: how does your product help enrich people’s lives?
- Talk audiences through the story of how to use your products: planting the idea in their heads will encourage action.
- Show audiences what the sales process looks like: once they’ve seen the conversion process, it’ll feel less abstract.
When you make an effort to lead website visitors into your company’s story, you’ll encourage greater conversions.
Write engaging titles and headings
You only get one chance to grab potential site visitors’ attentions.
For this reason, it pays to make sure that your headings are snappy, eye-catching, and will lead the reader to want to know more.
According to research, the optimum length for a title is around 100 characters (this is long enough to give readers a good idea of what they’ll be getting, without making it too difficult to figure out the article’s topic).
What’s more, it’s been found that article headings containing hyphens encourage 9 percent more engagement—through offering clarity on the subject matter, article headings can draw in more readers.
Nothing catches the eye more than a compelling, unique image.
Visual content performs exceptionally well—in one poll, over half of marketers said that visual content is between twice as effective and five times as effective as text content.
You can take advantage of the power of images in two specific ways:
- Create solely visual content such as infographics or videos
- Use images to supplement your text articles
Images can make your work stand out and appear unique, memorable and worthwhile. I can’t recommend visual content enough.
One final thing I want you to remember is that, no matter how well developed your content marketing strategy is, it needs a bit of wiggle room.
- Different ideas and concepts will occur to you as you develop your content.
- Similarly, you’ll find that some ideas don’t work as well as expected and need to be shelved or reworked.
Always make sure that you have the opportunity to experiment, try new ideas, and rework things.
After all, without a bit of experimentation, there’s no way of knowing what new idea could lead to a eureka moment for your content marketing efforts.
This article was written by Aaron Agius from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.