Content marketing is hard work. You have to be a bit of everything to do it well – a marketing pro, a psychologist, an excellent writer, a solid researcher, an expert on all social media platforms, a creative, and a quick study, in order to keep up with the rapidly changing environment of all things digital. Balancing all of these personas may make you feel like you have multiple personality disorders at times, but take heart. Perhaps these 10 keys for content marketing will help.
- Write for Your Audience, not Yourself
There are several things you must do here, but many only one time, so that’s a good thing.
- Develop your customer persona. This does not mean just taking a look at general characteristics of your target audience. It means digging much deeper and asking yourself some very detailed questions about that person. Of course you want the basic demographics – gender, age, income level, and such. But you want much more information than that. What type of job might s/he have? How about educational level? What does a typical day in the life of this person look liked? Where does s/he hang out online, with what devices, and when? You must develop a fully detailed persona before you write your first word.
- Identify the types of content your persona will most relate to. This will determine the balance of text, images, length, and platforms you will use
- Develop a style and tone of content that matches your persona. There is a big difference between a conservative baby boomer and a young millennial
- Keep it simple and clear. No long, complicated sentences and $20 vocabulary words. Use a readability tool to determine reading level of what you write (you want about 7th grade in most instances).
- Get the grammar right. Use a tool to check it – there are plenty out there and they are free.
- Consistency is Critical
Followers expect consistency from you. There are two aspects to this:
- Style and Tone: Yes, this was mentioned above, but it bears mentioning again. Once you have a following and it is growing, understand that they return because they like your style and tone. Switching it out is jarring to them.
- Publish Consistently: This is something else your followers expect. If you drop off, they will begin to drop off too. Have a content publishing calendar and stick to it as if it were a bible. One way you can help yourself is to create content in advance for publishing on your blog or on social media platforms and then stack it up with an automated publishing tool. You can set your own schedule, dependent upon what is best for each platform. But don’t let your followers down.
- SEO: Yes, it is still important and it is constantly changing, so you have to keep on top of it. Fortunately, it has become easier and more automated, but it still requires some work.
- Use keywords that are currently the most popular. There are paid and free sources for these, so you can operate within your budget. And look for long-tail keywords as well – people are getting far more specific with their searches these days.
- Use your keywords in your title, a couple of times in the body, and in your metadescription. You want Google to find you. Just don’t “stuff” – that’s worth a penalty.
- Include ALT text: Images are also optimized, and the alt text needs to match the image as closely as possible. Be precise and brief.
- Outbound links are important: You will look far more credible as a source of information if you link out to reputable, expert, expert and well-known. And if you add research data, be sure you link to it.
- Use internal links too. When you link to other posts on your blog, you look like you have expertise on more than just the topic at hand. It also keeps visitors there longer. All of this linking is picked up by search engines.
- Creative Content: One of the best ways to engage readers and to get them involved in conversations with you is to tell great stories. It humanizes your company, and everyone likes stories. And as those great stories are read and viewed, they will be shared with other communities. Sharing means that others are spreading your brand for you – what could be better? Think about starting your blog posts with a story. Add visuals to those stories and you will have a winning post. Stories can be told in pictures too. Many companies use Instagram carousels to feature photos of their customers with their products. Stories don’t have to be long and they don’t always have to be in text form. Videos are great too.
- Socialize: If you have developed an accurate persona, you know where your audience is on social media. Focus on the most popular platforms for your audience first. You can always add more channels later. 2-3 to start is about as much as you want to handle, unless you have the staff for more. And here’s why. When you post, you will get comments. And you will need to respond to those comments as soon as possible so that you can keep the conversations going. This means you will have a schedule of checking your posts at least twice a day. And, when you receive notification from Facebook that someone has included your name in a comment, you will need to go there and find out what was said. You don’t want complaints hanging out there without addressing them and resolving them happily for the customer.
Social media is a huge source of information for people today. Many use it exclusively. Think of your presence on social media as a “command performance.”
- Keep Those Visuals Coming
Never publish a piece of content without at least one visual. Research clearly shows that visuals not only engage and entice readers to stay but that the likelihood of that content getting shared is sometimes 4X greater than content with no visuals. One of the reasons Instagram and SlideShare have become so popular is because they are primarily visual platforms. And content with visuals is 94% more viewed.
Use a variety of visual media – photos, images, infographics, slides, and videos. And if you can make that visual interactive, all the better. Think about the quizzes, polls and surveys that are all over social media. And video has become interactive too. Check out Phillips Razors Facebook page and create our own ending to one of their videos.
If you can replace text with visuals at any time, do it.
- Keep Track of Your Competitors’ Activities: they are certainly keeping track of you. Read their blogs; access their social media pages and accounts. What are they talking about that you are not? What conversations are going on that you want to encourage yourself? What questions are their customers asking that you can address in your next blog post? You will get some great topic ideas and see what is working best for you target audience. Caution: don’t steal content. But, if you can take a topic and make it better, go for it.
- Offer Content Upgrades: You don’t have to give away all of your expertise in a post. You can hold some back and offer it as an “upgrade” when someone is reading a post. It might be a set of slides, a PDF version of your post, a list of valuable resources, or a cheat sheet of some type. Make sure it relates directly to the topic of your post, offer it a few times in the post, and gate it by asking for an email address. You can increase your email, and thus your lead, list by having these in all of your posts. And you can advertise these upgrades as posts on social media, with a link to that blog or directly to the upgrade.
- Repurposing and Curating: Periodically, you need to go back through your old posts. If there were highly popular ones, they should be updated and re-posted. And there may be old ones that didn’t receive much attention that you can now re-visit with some great visuals. You might even take the content of an old post and turn it into a slide show or an infographic.
Be on the lookout for content that relates to your niche that has been published by others. Can you take the topic ideas and the points and create your own piece, perhaps improving it a bit?
Anytime you can re-purpose and curate, you have saved yourself the time of coming up with new topics. And there are so many tools out there for creating visuals, you can make pretty rapid work of re-formatting great content.
- The Attention Grabbers
The importance of titles, headlines, and captions cannot be overstated. Think about this. If you have recently been to a brick and mortar bookstore, perhaps looking for a self-help book or something on personal finance and investing, how do you pick books off the shelves to look at more in depth? You go for intriguing titles. That’s why there are titles like “Who Stole My Cheese?”, “Pack Your Own Parachute,” and “The Millionaire Next Door.” What will make a potential viewer link to you post from Twitter or Facebook? And what will make a visitor decide to take a closer look at your blog post? It will be the title or headline you have used. If you are not creative with a headline, use a good title generator tool and find someone who is great at it.
Content marketing is hard. And you will not an instant success. But over time, and by using these 10 tactics, you will spread your brand, develop good relationships with your customers and visitors, and impact your profits.