Content marketing is becoming an increasingly sought after skill in the world of online marketing. Traditional link building for SEO purposes is becoming a riskier business, and with the amount of online noise, it is harder than ever for your content to stand out from everything else that is happening on the internet.
From 6 second vines to 30,000 word guides, content marketing principles can be applied to just about anything that you need to promote online, regardless of the medium.
Inbound.org has some of the best online marketing related content around, shared by some of the best online marketers around. I asked 17 of the top rated members of inbound.org this question: What is your best content marketing tip? And here’s what they had to say…
All the great stuff on the web these days have one thing in common – they all offer a unique value that you won’t see elsewhere. I believe that’s the one element that unexpectedly hooks and compels people to sharing them. The uniqueness/rareness of the information/idea/concept provided by a content helps trigger different sets of emotions to its readers (ex: awe, fear, sympathy, etc…), which somehow influences them or directly impacts their decisions on how they’ll further consume the content (like taking more action).
Don’t write or create content just to fill the page. START with something that your audience needs to know. And then, if we are talking about a strategy, content that delivers value requires answering two questions:
1) Why do you write or create this content (your identity) and
2) Who do you write for or produce your content for? (your audience)
You filter content through your experience (so that it’s not empty talk and something out-of-touch with you) and then you filter it again through what your audience wants to hear to figure out the voice of your writing or your content. Figuring it out will help you build awareness to your brand and community of people passionate about your content.
When creating content, be empathetic above all else. Try to live the lives of your audience – think about what influences them, what drives their passions, what makes them want to share, and how they consume content, too. The ability to empathize with content consumers is, in my opinion, what separates great content creators from mediocre ones. And in the world we live in, content is ubiquitous, which means the value of mediocre content is steadily approaching zero.
Spend more time promoting your content than you ever did creating it. A lot of bloggers/marketers worry about coming up with new formats or new topics but fail to make sure that their existing content has reached all the people it possibly could. As a secondary tip people aim too hard at influencing thought leaders (influencers) in there niche but research shows it’s better to reach out to more susceptible individuals, so try using paid amplification.
- Younger users are more susceptible to influence than older users.
- Men are more influential than woman.
- Women influence men more than they influence other women.
- Married people are the least susceptible to influence in the decision to adopt products.
When creating content, people often try to create something that has mass appeal within a target market, and as counterintuitive as it may sound, doing the opposite could actually work better for you especially if you have a limited budget.
Next time you are planning to create a piece of content forget about what your ‘average customer’ might want and create something that appeals to the types of people who have large social followings, popular blogs or are a part of an online community that is known for being a good place to seed content.
The content may not have instant mass-market appeal, but if you target influencers at the top of the online food chain, your content will eventually reach regular users. Take image style memes for example, a lot of those start on niche community sites such as 4chan and reddit but they eventually work their way down the chain and become popular among regular users.
This blog post is an example of how this concept works, it was created by reaching out to influential members of inbound.org meaning that the people that helped out with this blog post are likely to be extremely active online due to their line of work and will probably share the content with their followers. [sws_divider_basic]
When sharing links to your content on Twitter, use a tool such as Followerwonk to determine what time of day your followers are most active. I used to post tweets linking to new blog posts around lunchtimes GMT, thinking that most of my UK-based followers would pick it up then. However, Followerwonk highlighted to me that my followers are most active around 4-6pm GMT – not only when UK folk are winding down for the day and maybe heading home on their commute, but also when the US is awake and active in the late morning/lunchtime. So I now make more of an effort to publish and tweet content later in the day (GMT) instead.
My tip is quite simple really. Remember that content marketing isn’t about writing the most words, or making the best infographics, it’s about creating content your community/audience cares about. This means, it’s not just your blog or big articles, it’s what you share on Twitter, the images you post on Facebook, and how you describe something on Google+. The content you put out there for your community to consume and hopefully reshare, should be valuable no matter how large or small the piece. Every message you make is content, make sure it’s saying the right thing.
Understanding who the key influencers are within an industry is something that I spend a huge amount of my time doing. All of the content marketing campaigns that I run will be focused around engaging with influencers and authors alike – there is where a few tools come in handy.
One tool that I’m a big fan of is BuzzSumo (you can see a full BuzzSumo tutorial here). Using this free tool, you’ll be able to find popular content within any niche, and more importantly, find out who is actually producing this content.
Once I have this data, I will start adding the influencers into BuzzStream to gather contact information around them. Once I have this data, I’ll start an outreach campaign focused around building relationships with these influencers – simply engaging with them through social media and sharing relevant content with them can be enough here. The goal is to build as many relationships as possible so that you’re expanding your potential content distribution routes online.
I’ve found that simply spending a couple of hours a week talking with influencers and building relationships with them will be more than enough to pay huge dividends in your long-term content marketing campaign. This will eliminate the need to be constantly spending money on pushing your content via paid ads, etc. and will actually help build brand advocates. If I had to give one piece of advice then it would be to do as much of this as possible!
When content marketing do not focus on the content size or quantity. Even content quality or depth as I like to call it will not suffice. Don’t concentrate on the things you want to market with the content either. Focus on your audience first and foremost.
– Who are they? – What do they want? – What problems do they face? The content should be adapted to the user needs. For example I have been searching for a fix for a WordPress error I faced. The best piece of content was a blog post consisting of just one short paragraph. The fix for the problem I wasted hours prior to reading the post worked in a minute. Of course I gave the page and site a +1 from my power account. So despite not resulting in a sale this page converted me to a supporter very quickly.
Use Evernote (or Google Docs) to curate content (e.g. images, links, quotes, charts, videos, etc) as you discover this information across the web. Organize this content by topic (e.g. On-Page SEO, Web Design, etc) and make sure to include and associate the source (author name, twitter handle and source URL) to each content piece.
Not only will this help you build a library of great source material, but you will also have helpful content ready to curate into shareable list-type posts. Don’t forget to notify the original author / source that you’ve included them in your curated piece to get some extra, influential shares and possibly even some backlinks.
Your content marketing should consist of more than just list posts of course, but these quick, go-to content pieces can be really helpful for digging your slumping content development efforts out of the mud.
One big push I’ve had lately is letting your content work for you. Too many digital marketers place too much emphasis on guest posting. Sure, getting the occasional link on high authority sites can be beneficial, but the real success comes when you shift your focus to creating awesome content, and becoming that authority that people naturally link to. You’ll get 3x the results for your website and your job suddenly isn’t this miserable link building job.
One content marketing secret to higher rankings is to answer more questions completely. If you think about it, Google sends folks to your page because people are searching for something in that search box. Supposedly, your page contains the answer. The more questions you can answer with your content, the better the user experience will be and the more searchers Google will likely connect with you.
Think about product pages like Amazon or movie pages such as Rotton Tomatoes or IMDB. Those pages literally answer every question I could have about whatever product or movie I’m researching. When creating your own blog posts or product pages, ask yourself “What questions will people have about this thing?”
That’s it. That’s the secret.
My biggest content marketing tip is to connect with people based on emotion.
Forget word count.
Forget meta tags.
Forget keyword density.
Think about your target audience and about ways that you can connect with them on an emotional level. Look at some of the top posts on the internet that have the most comments and interaction (positive or negative.)
What do the majority of these posts have in common? These posts hit close to home with people which causes them to become very passionate about the matter at hand, and do something about it!
That is what the goal of content marketing is. You want people to do something. You want them to comment. You want them to Tweet about it. You want them to write a letter to their Congressman or to sign a petition.
The best marketers know exactly who their audience is, and understand which buttons to press in order to activate their emotional triggers, which will impact them in a much more meaningful way than simply ‘solving a problem’.
These marketers are neither selling drill bits nor holes (features or benefits), they are selling pride, ego and the sense of accomplishment you get from completing whichever job required the drill bit to make the holes. On the emotional plane is where all the real decisions are made – we are dealing with people of emotion, not logic.
Content marketing is no different – if you are looking to actually empathise with your audience then you need to understand them and their (emotional) needs. Build these considerations into your content strategy and you will achieve something far more powerful than links and social shares – brand empathy.
As you are ramping up your content marketing efforts this year, please keep this one important tip in mind: In a battle between quality and quantity – quality content wins by a landslide. On my own blog, 50 out of a total of 2000 blog articles (just 2.5%) generates half of the traffic and over 90% of the content engagement (e.g.: shares on social media, links from other influential sites, blog comments, total time spent on site, etc.). If you could choose between writing an article every day, vs. writing just one truly amazing article per month, I know that you’d get way more benefit to your business by pursuing the latter option. What specifically is awesome, quality content? It’s content that contains original data (not just dopey tips “because I say so”), is aligned with trending news topics, provides detailed analysis and/or non-obvious point of view, is illustrated with beautiful figures and charts, and provides actionable key takeaways!
Thanks to everyone who took part, it’s been fun to create this post. Big shout out to Gordon Campbell who helped me put this post together.
Which tip do you like the best? Do you have any other tips you would like to share in the comments below?
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