Check out our guide with expert content marketing tips you can apply today to increase the success of your campaigns.
Do you want an engaged audience who likes and wants to do business with your brand? That’s a rhetorical question because any hopeful business owner would say an emotion-packed “Yes!” So how can you do this? Through content marketing.
Content marketing uses content you create, publish and distribute to engage with and build an audience of potential customers and clients. In the modern social media marketing world, being able to create and distribute content people want to read is one of the most important ways to grow an online business. If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll enjoy our guide to content marketing for beginners!
7 out of every 10 marketers in 2023 focused strongly on content marketing for their clients, and for good reason. It’s an effective option that costs less than traditional marketing venues. It costs 62% less than other types of marketing yet brings in 3x the number of leads. You lose potential money and leads if you don’t engage in content marketing.
- 1. Define Your Audience
- 2. Use Data and Analytics Well
- 3. Create a Content Calendar To Keep Work Consistent
- 4. Utilize Social Media Platforms
- 5. Collaborate with Influencers in Your Niche
- 6. Use Visuals for Engaging, Memorable Content
- 7. Optimize Content for Search Engines
- 8. Create and Use Long-Form Content
- 9. Repurpose Existing Content in Different Formats
- 10. Incorporate Storytelling for Relatable Content
- 11. Monitor and Respond to Comments
- 12. Use Email Marketing Effectively
- 13. Build User-Generated Content
- 14. Use Humor and Personality To Make Entertaining, Shareable Content
- 15. Create Timeless, Evergreen Content
- 16. Use Trending Topics or Current Events
- 17. Conduct Surveys and Polls To Discover Audience Needs
- 18. Offer Content Upgrades
- 19. Collaborate and Cross-Promote with Other Businesses and Brands
- 20. Stay Up-to-Date with Industry Trends and Changes
- Why You Must Create a Content Strategy
- How To Measure the Success of Your Content Marketing Efforts
- Content Marketing’s Here To Stay, Are You Using It Well?
1. Define Your Audience
To write content well, you need to define your audience. Who is the target audience of your website or business? What is it they need from your business? Create detailed buyer personas that help you get to know your ideal audience member as you answer these questions, and be detailed.
List features like age, income level, interests and needs. Then, focus your content creation efforts to hit these points. If a piece of content meets the needs and interests of your audience, they’ll be more engaged with it.
2. Use Data and Analytics Well
As you create and use your content, don’t just guess if your marketing efforts are reaching consumers. You must have facts to analyze the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.
Use analytics tools to measure your success through factual data, and choose that data carefully. Google Analytics is a great tool for obtaining this data. Let’s look at some of the data categories you can analyze.
Traffic is important, and it’s a great starting place when assessing your content marketing effectiveness. Find out how many people visit your digital marketing channels and decide if you need to improve those metrics.
Conversion rate is more valuable than traffic numbers. If you have a high conversion rate with fewer followers on one channel and a large amount of traffic but minimal conversions on the other, the one that’s bringing in more contacts or business is probably the one that’s working best.
The bounce rate measures how quickly a site visitor leaves your site. If people leave quickly without engaging, then you should take a closer look at the types of content you offer and make sure it’s meeting the needs of your target audience.
Average Session Duration
Finally, take a look at the average session duration. If people aren’t staying on your site long enough to do any business with you or read our content, you may want to adjust your content marketing strategy to keep them on the page longer.
3. Create a Content Calendar To Keep Work Consistent
Consistency is key to using content well and engaging with your audience, and a content calendar will help you keep your content consistent. Use the content calendar to map out an entire month or two of your content marketing.
This plan will prevent creativity stalls and writer’s block and build consistency, with regular posts at routine intervals, while reducing the gaps between posts your readers have to deal with. For each entry, be specific about what you’ll be sharing. Include information about:
- Due date
- Graphics or images
4. Utilize Social Media Platforms
Social media is the magic of making content marketing work. As a marketing channel, social media is growing by 25% per year, and it’s now more effective than paid search in generating traffic. In addition, people spend time on social media, so using it will get your content in front of more potential audience members. Forbes estimates that people spend 145 minutes on social media each day and have an average of 7.1 social media accounts each, so this is a wealth of opportunities to reach your target audience.
Once you’ve created a piece of content, post it on your website, blog or social media channel, and then use your other social media platforms to get the word out. Share your blog post on Facebook and LinkedIn, or tweet about the infographic on Twitter. Use YouTube to draw attention to new websites. Don’t forget about running paid ads as you plan to use your social media platforms to get the word out. Running paid ads using effective content will get more eyes on each piece as you publish it.
5. Collaborate with Influencers in Your Niche
Influencers who like your business or product can get it in front of new audiences. Learn the influencers in your niche or the niches your audience members follow and build relationships with them. With their name on your content, you may find it easier to grow your audience and reach others.
Collaboration does two things. First, it builds credibility for your online content. If the influencer is someone people trust, and the influencer recommends your business, then the audience will want to trust you as well. Second, it gets your content in front of a larger audience. The influencer will share the collaborative content with their audience, which can grow your following.
For an influencer to be willing to partner with you, you need to give them an incentive. If you have a product, you could offer a free sample in return for their review. If you have good content or a large audience, you can swap different types of content for each other’s audiences. Get creative here, but know you must give the influencer a reason to work with you.
6. Use Visuals for Engaging, Memorable Content
Visuals drive the reader through your page. An effective page layout will weave photos and infographics among SEO-optimized text to make the content engaging for the reader while also drawing organic traffic from the search engines. Also, visuals give you a place to add tags and keywords to make the content build traffic.
Visuals go beyond just images. Headings, subheadings and bullet points also create visual elements on the page. These can also help readers engage with and remember your content. Videos are also crucial in creating engagement with your readers and visitors. The more visual elements on the page, the better the overall user experience.
7. Optimize Content for Search Engines
Search engine optimization increases your business’s online visibility and organic search results. SEO shouldn’t be your sole focus when creating content, but considering how your content will help reach the top search engine results pages (SERPs) is essential.
Remember, 75% of people never click past the first page of the search results, so you need to rank well. Also, showing up high in the SERPs makes you an authority in your niche and keeps your band visible to more people, even if those people don’t always click.
Content optimized for the search engines must meet the reader’s needs while incorporating keyword strands naturally. Spend some time here as you build your marketing plan because search engines are an excellent source of organic traffic.
8. Create and Use Long-Form Content
Longer guides, whitepapers, eBooks and articles are an important component of content marketing. They can help with search traffic, as long-form content gets 77% more clicks than short articles, and this type of content brands you as an expert. Someone who can create a definitive guide to a topic will be considered knowledgeable. This is a great way to brand yourself as a thought leader in your topic area.
Second, use this type of content to drive people to your site. You can offer a free eBook or guide as a download if someone signs up for your newsletter or subscribes to your social media page. This, in turn, can be a tool to guide the reader to a for-profit product or service you offer.
To write long-form content, consider using a template to fit it all in or contract with a writer who can ghostwrite it for you. You want to have high-quality, helpful content in this piece so that it is effective in helping you with your marketing efforts.
9. Repurpose Existing Content in Different Formats
Repurposing content allows you to get more marketing bang for your buck. For example, consider making the data into an infographic if you write an informative blog post. The infographic can be shared on sites like Facebook or Pinterest, where text may not be as impactful.
Then, use the same information to create a podcast, reaching people who aren’t normally the type to read blog posts. You can even break the article into multiple social media posts, increasing your reach. In addition, consider repurposing old content to make a fresh piece with updated data without writing a new one from scratch.
10. Incorporate Storytelling for Relatable Content
The content that gets the most social shares and organic traffic is content that tells a story. Whenever possible, incorporate storytelling into your content. Some of the most viral ads of all time have done this. Consider the ever-popular Dollar Shave Club prescription box service for razors and grooming products. They launched their service with a hilarious but informative video and have succeeded greatly. They continue to incorporate storytelling into their advertising as they move forward.
Nike is another brand that does this well. They tell the stories of athletes and the challenges they face and feature their branded merchandise prominently in the videos. Using stories in this way makes your content feel more human and relatable to your audience, and it can be an effective marketing strategy for many different content formats.
11. Monitor and Respond to Comments
When marketing online, you’ll end up with comments and feedback. Sometimes these will be positive, but sometimes they won’t be. Either way, monitor the feedback and comment threads and respond to them, which helps you build relationships and grow your audience.
Don’t get defensive When you need to handle a negative review. Instead, offer an apology and review your commitment to excellent service. For example, if a hotel gets a negative review from a guest, they could respond like this: “I am sorry to hear about your challenging stay. Our goal is to exceed our guest’s expectations every time they visit, and it sounds like we failed to do that. Please reach out to our customer service team, so we can resolve this quickly.”
If the review is unfounded, the same hotel could say: “We are sorry to hear about your disappointment. Our team notes that during your stay, we addressed your concerns with two extra housekeeping visits and a discounted stay for future stays. If there’s any additional way we can help, please let us know.”
12. Use Email Marketing Effectively
Email marketing is a powerful part of a successful content marketing strategy. Find ways to create a mailing list by asking consumers to subscribe through eBook giveaways, free webinars and coupon codes. Then, create an email marketing campaign that will slowly but steadily build relationships with potential customers to the point of making a purchase.
You can also use this email newsletter list to inform your audience about new content when you post it, alert them to sales or tell them when you launch a new product or service. The key is to keep the information in the emails informative and helpful, not too focused on marketing, so people stay subscribed to the list.
13. Build User-Generated Content
There are two types of user-generated content that are particularly helpful in your content marketing: reviews and testimonies. Reviews showcase what you are doing well and allow you to engage if you’re doing something poorly. They also provide valuable social proof that you’re a legitimate business that delivers what you say you will. And they’re usually free.
Testimonies can be harder to get because you have to ask for them, but they can also be powerful if they are from people you can prove to be actual customers. The more of these you have, the more new customers will see you as a valid option for their purchase choice.
Imagine being tasked with selling a product that makes going to the bathroom less embarrassing. That’s precisely what the brand Poo-Pourri had to do. This product is an odor-eliminating toilet spray, and it decided to take on the humor of the bathroom and create a working marketing plan from it.
This started with the Girls Don’t Poo viral YouTube clip, and the marketing brilliance has continued since this humorous launch. Today, it’s a multimillion-dollar company due to its cheeky marketing ploys. You can weave your sense of humor and personality into the content you create to increase social shares and keep the entire process entertaining for you and your audience.
15. Create Timeless, Evergreen Content
On one hand, you want to create funny content that people want to share. However, one of the reasons that the Poo-Pourri original ad is so effective is that it’s still funny nine years after it was originally posted. There’s nothing in the ad that makes it go out of style. This is what’s known as evergreen content; you need to create it.
Evergreen content stays relevant or can be revamped to include current information without completely reinventing the wheel, so it keeps working for your marketing efforts, even after your initial launch and marketing push.
16. Use Trending Topics or Current Events
As you look for ideas for your content, don’t neglect trending topics or current events. Weaving these into your content will grab attention and make you look current and modern. The trending topic hooks the reader into visiting your page, and quality content will keep them engaged once they’re there. Current events are also timely to your audience and make your content feel relevant to where they are in their decision-making.
Dunkin’ Donuts did this well in 2015 when a meme started circling asking people if a dress was white and gold or black and blue. The donut chain created a social media post to match, drawing effectively on a trending topic to generate interest in their popular pastries.
17. Conduct Surveys and Polls To Discover Audience Needs
If your buyer personas and market research aren’t giving you enough information, use surveys and polls to help gather insight into what your audience needs. Build surveys and polls into your marketing strategy, and use the data and responses you get to understand what your audience truly needs from you and your website.
Then, adjust your content marketing to meet that need. This will guide you to relevant, timely topics that generate organic traffic.
18. Offer Content Upgrades
Entice people to give you their email address or start a conversation with you with content upgrades, such as free downloads, free product giveaways through a drawing or VIP access to a special sale before the general public gets the discount.
Tap into the data, surveys and poll responses you have to find exactly what type of content upgrade will work for your business’s customers, and then use that information to choose the content upgrade you’ll offer.
19. Collaborate and Cross-Promote with Other Businesses and Brands
Cross-promotion is slightly different from collaborating with influencers. With cross-promotion, two brands or businesses with products that complement each other will work together to promote each other’s products. The key to using this strategy is to collaborate, which means you promote their product and vice versa and to choose products that aren’t competitors.
20. Stay Up-to-Date with Industry Trends and Changes
Finally, stay up-to-date with changes in the online marketing industry. When search engine algorithms change, have a way to pivot your efforts to adjust accordingly. Similarly, if your industry or niche is facing changes or your audience demographics change, consider adjusting your content to better reach them. This may mean choosing a new media outlet to market through or repurposing content to reach a new type of customer. By staying up-to-date with changes, you can stay ahead of your competition.
Why You Must Create a Content Strategy
According to the Search Engine Journal, 83% of brands say that having effective content is more important than frequent content, and the only way to do this is with a plan. You can’t neglect having a content marketing strategy if you’re going to be effective in marketing online.
In contrast, you lose a considerable portion of your target audience if you don’t have a strategy. So, how can you make a plan that works? Consider these ideas:
Set goals that follow the SMART acronym: simple, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Setting goals for your overall marketing will guide your content creation and give you something you can measure to ensure it’s working. Great content is essential, but you need a way to measure the success of that content.
Determining Content Types and Topics
Next, list potential topics you could cover through your content. Then, determine the content types you can use. Create various posts, including videos, articles, press releases, long-form content, infographics, memes and social media posts. Use your buyer personas to guide the topics and content type selection.
Creating a Content Calendar
As previously discussed, use a content calendar to plan your content distribution. Consider spacing your content out by two to three days between posts. Watch your traffic statistics to determine the days of the week that give you the best engagement, and schedule your calendar around those days.
Implementing Your Plan
Using your lists and your content calendar, create and launch your content. The right plan will likely lead to success, but always test the content to ensure it reaches your audience. Tweak and adjust your plan as needed.
How To Measure the Success of Your Content Marketing Efforts
Simply engaging in content creation and launching your content is not enough. You need to know that your content marketing efforts are working. Here are some specific things to measure:
- Website traffic: Use Google Analytics for this metric. Click “Acquisition,” “All Traffic,” “Source/Medium,” or “Channels” to find it.
- User behavior: Look at the metrics for bounce rate, time on page, pages or sessions per visit and new vs. returning visitors. This is found under the Google Analytics “Behavior” panel.
- Impressions and CTR: Use the Google Search Console under “Performance,” “Search Results,” and “Queries” to find your total number of impressions and click-throughs, which will tell you if the content on a specific page is working.
- Shares and backlinks: Good content will get shares, so track this metric to see if your content is resonating. Use BuzzSumo and search by URL to see this data.
- Conversions: Finally, track conversions or lead generation in Google Analytics. This metric is found under “Conversions,” “Goals,” and “Overview.” The more leads or conversions you get with a piece of content, the more effective it is.
Content Marketing’s Here To Stay, Are You Using It Well?
Content marketing isn’t going anywhere. Sure, the methods may evolve and change with time, but the heart of it remains constant: content marketing is about the reader and what they need, not about your brand. As you work on your contact marketing plan and create high-quality content for your channels, these tips will help you reach success.
Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best content marketing books!
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