Content revolves around an assortment of web pages, blogs and Tweets that work in tandem with the objectives of a business. Well, that’s what most people think, and it’s partly right. Even though quality content, branding and social media outreach are the fundamentals of content management, when you put things into perspective, you’ll realise there’s a lot more to it.
Often, content marketers go straight to implementation without carrying out the basics of developing a strategy. Without a clear-cut vision and direction for how the content is supposed to drive results, marketers have nothing more than content that is at best disorganised – it might drive some traffic, but it won’t engage the audience in a meaningful way.
If you’re a digital marketer or on your way to being one, it would be best for you to have a good understanding of what it takes to develop a successful content marketing strategy. Let’s outline seven key insights that any content manager or strategist can leverage to create more effective content.
1. Ungated Content
This is a simple technique that allows you to build stronger relationships with your audience. When you gate your content you inadvertently throw your chances of converting prospects out of the window.
Let’s consider this scenario:
- You’ve just generated a valuable report which is gated by the marketing department.
- 90 people arrive at your landing page to get the report. 60 of them leave almost immediately because they have to fill out a form that requires details such as their email addresses. 30 people fill out the form.
- The contact info of those 30 people is passed on to the sales team.
- The sales team harass them with emails and cold calls that are at best passive-aggressive, even though they didn’t do more than just download some content.
- The 30 people now regret downloading your report, and they end up hating your company.
Having said that, there are situations where you can gate your content. For instance, educational courses, webinars, product-qualified lead projects and exclusive subscription content can be gated, but you need to have a well-thought-out follow-up strategy.
Ultimately, when you make it easy to access your content, you end up gaining more customers than when you hide it behind a form and drive people away.
2. Increased multimedia content
Over the years, marketers have been lethargic about investing in video and infographics, but we’re beginning to see a gradual change, and you need to keep up with the times.
It’s not enough to just make any old video. Instead, spend some money on educational series and animated explainers targeted at the top of the funnel, while the middle and bottom of the funnel should feature case studies and product videos.
3. Work with compliance
When marketers have to find a way to work in highly regulated environments, it usually gets their creative juices flowing.
In sectors such as healthcare, financial services, oil and gas, and other highly regulated environments, a bad working relationship with compliance can hurt a content strategy. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as you can try out these tactics:
- Write out a shortlist of the company’s unique content requirements
- Collaborate with the legal department during the creative process
- Train your team on compliance standards
- Agree on a deadline for particular types of content
- Make friends
- Always communicate with the compliance department
You should also invest in workflow technologies that can track audits, record-keeping, provide off-platform approvals, and flexible workflows. This allows you to easily incorporate compliance into the content creation process without getting drowned by loads of emails and spreadsheets.
4. Produce data-driven content
When it comes to content, brands have one advantage over media companies; having access to proprietary data and research.
Original research is easily the best means of driving social engagement, press, and backlinks. All you need to do is take a closer look and try to find newsworthy data in your company that can be turned into a great piece of content.
5. Be brighter with your distribution
Most marketers fail to spend money on content distribution – that is a big mistake. Paid media is the best means of building an audience, especially Facebook, which is still regarded as one of the most cost-efficient content distribution channels. If you spend good money producing top-quality content, you should be able to spend a little bit more to ensure you get three times as many people reading that content.
Paid distribution has a remarkable trickle-down effect for excellent content. You can generate an increased number of email subscribers and social followers while driving a boost for your SEO at the same time.
A good place to start investing is the search budget. Consider Facebook, which is five to 10 times cheaper than Google when it comes to CPC for comparable topics and industries.
6. Adopt in-depth relationship metrics
Content marketing has evolved to become more targeted at ROI over the past couple of years. Initially, it used to be all about reach metrics like impressions, followers, and page views. Then, in 2016, focus turned to engagement metrics like return visitors, time on site, and shares.
2018 saw a shift towards last-click attribution, a ‘transactional’ metric, which was very limited when it came to measuring the value of content.
Marketers will adopt a more refined tactic in 2020 by making the relationships they build with people the priority, and linking those relationships to revenue. The key KPIs will be a focus on return visitors and newsletter subscriptions, while they use the attribution modelling from Google Analytics to track audience conversions within 90 days.
7. Impart through content
The best way to build relationships with people is through content that teaches something new and assists them to make smart decisions. Communication is key. Here are a few tips you can use:
- Understand where your audience is, knowledge-wise. Meet them on their terms and at that level of knowledge. Use simple language and try to break down complex concepts
- You can always use a ghostwriter. You could be an expert of a particular topic, but being an expert writer is totally different
- A lot of people are visual learners, that is why effective teachers make use of PowerPoint slides, physical objects, and whiteboards in their lessons. Ensure that your content is created in various formats and use visuals as much as possible.
Content marketing is not difficult to do or understand, but it does take creativity, patience and an analytical outlook. Even though an effective content strategy requires logical thinking, it’s not that clear-cut or rigid, so there’s plenty of room for flexibility and creativity.
What you really need is a clear vision of your objectives so you can think ahead to come up with new solutions and tools that you can apply to constantly refine your strategy towards meeting new goals.