The concept of content marketing seems straightforward- the process involves the frequent production and distribution of valuable, applicable, and genuine media content with the underlying intention of attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. According to Demand Metric, a research and advisory firm that assists B2B marketing departments in improving their marketing capabilities, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing mediums and generates approximately three times as many leads, making it an incredibly profitable, cost-effective, and time-efficient advertising medium. Although the end goal here is of course to facilitate sales, at its core, content marketing is a practice of engaging in communication with your target audience without solicitation or invasiveness. By providing potential and existing clients with practical and functional information that renders them more knowledgeable about the industry your business operates in, expectantly, they will reciprocate the favor with their business and ongoing devotion to your brand.
Unfortunately for us marketers, it isn’t as unequivocal as the name suggests; it is a process of trial and error and often takes many failures to realize what is not working in order to modify efforts and maximize what is. Regardless of which digital advertising efforts you use, whether it be email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, PPC, a combination of all, etc., the quality of your content needs to maintain a high level of consistency. Content marketing is not and should not be viewed as guaranteed success for your business, but following these do’s and don’ts you will put your business in a much more advantageous position than abandoning the process altogether.
1. Do post content that addresses the issues and interests of your clientele
In other words, your content has to be fresh, insightful, and pertinent to current industry trends. The goal here is to deliver consumers of published content with useful information that educates them about the realm your business operates within, in turn establishing your business as a credible resource that they may resort to when seeking authentic knowledge of your industry. If customers are skeptical about an aspect or two of your business, use content to your advantage by disbanding their apprehensions and engaging with what may be worrisome to them. Instead of concealing or disregarding customer comments that may present your business in an unfavorable fashion, addressing them exhibits that their opinions are valued. After all, chances are if one customer vocalizes their concerns, there are many more thinking it.
2. Don't publish content for the sole endorsement of your business
Promoting your business’ product in your content is deterring to customers, and will offer the impression that you’re indifferent towards their concerns and are merely exploiting them to open their wallets. We tend to see this with internally published blogs- companies will often craft up a post about the benefits of products or services in their respective industry, and then dive into a sales pitch at the end as to why you should go with them. Don’t do that. Rather, be transparent, intriguing, and stimulating- customers aren’t stupid and know that it’s your job to sell them something, so accept this while giving them the knowledge they’re looking for.
3. Do coordinate your brand values with the principles of your customers
A simple way to go about establishing brand value is by stating your brand philosophy and principles outlining what you want people to understand about your brand in accordance with who you are, what it is you do, and why it is you do it. Keep these five things in mind when demonstrating brand value:
Brand Promise- what your business entrusts to those who engage with it and what they should expect from you
Brand Personality- the personality characteristics your business wants to be known for and elements of which your audience can relate to
Brand Position- highlights the unparalleled aspects of your business and what sets you apart from competing brands in your industry
Brand Authority- what your business has done to earn credibility within your respective industry
Brand Connection- answers questions of how customers feel about your business, as well as how your business connects and communicates with them
4) Don't disregard the significance of user-friendly navigation or layout design
As previously mentioned, producing strong content is imperative to the success of your content marketing initiatives, but that will be compromised if your website, blog, social media platforms, or whichever medium that showcases your content is aesthetically displeasing or difficult to navigate, leaving visitors with a disgruntled impression of your business. Strong, well-written content will quickly and certainly become worthless if viewers cannot find it. Successful web design funnels visitors from one section of a site to the next, while emphasizing fundamental take-away points in the process. To add to that, 55% of Internet users are operating on their cell phones in 2015, so ensuring that your content is mobile-friendly and responsive is crucial to its reach and overall effectiveness.
5) Do measure the success of your content marketing campaigns
One thing that traditional advertisers lack that content marketers have the immense benefit of utilizing; analytical metric software systems that make it convenient to track the performance of content marketing campaigns. Traditional advertising’s efficacy (i.e. TV commercials, radio ads, print ads, etc.) can only be measured by sales at the end of a fiscal quarter, and even then, sales increases do not necessarily reflect the success of an ad campaign. As digital marketers, employing analytics trackers like Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, and HubSpot (a few of many) are exceptionally valuable when it comes to assessing the following valuable information:
Consumption Metrics- measures how many people are consuming your content, the regularity of their consumption, and the channels which they use to consume it
Sharing Metrics- indicate which facets of your content is being shared, who is doing the sharing, and how and where they are sharing it
Lead Metrics- assess how effective a piece of content is in converting those who are consuming it into new leads, as well as existing leads that content is reaching
Sales Metrics- look at how successful your content is in generating revenue, and ultimately, how frequently do consumers of your content convert into customers
6) Don't overwhelm content with keywords
If executed correctly, SEO can be a pivotal practice for increasing your brand’s digital presence, but as search engines have refined their algorithms in recent years, quality content has shown to trump more antiquated keyword stuffing tactics. Now I’m not saying that implementing relevant keywords into content has become obsolete by any means, but the practice of stuffing content with a horde of keywords has; keyword stuffing content is dismally repetitious, impersonal, robotic, and above all and unbeknownst to many, counterproductive to search engine rankings. About four months ago Google released Hummingbird, their new search engine algorithm that values content relevancy and ideas represented by keywords, rather than the keywords themselves. Hummingbird rewards pages with greater content relevance, while punishing pages that are abundant with keywords that bear little practical information.
Successful content marketers recognize that all of their digital efforts factor into cultivating a sense of community for potential and existing customers alike. This is done by engaging in conversation with them, delivering practical, relevant, and informative content that educates them about your industry and business, and establishes your business as a credible and authoritative one within your industry. Ultimately, as is the case with all marketing mediums, the end goal here is to ascertain new customers while maintaining the loyalty of existing ones.