Content marketing has almost disappeared. That’s not because it doesn’t work; it’s because it’s mostly just called “marketing” these days. Blogs and social media content have become table stakes, and whitepapers are on their way.
Unfortunately, the sheer number of companies in the content game make differentiation difficult. Audiences can only read so many blog posts about the 37 reasons they need to buy a new kind of cheese grater before they tune out.
To distinguish your content, you need a content strategy that genuinely engages readers. Check out these five best practices to kick your content marketing up a notch:
Without a content calendar, your company doesn’t have a content strategy. While haphazard, when-I-feel-like-it posts might come across as more authentic, they also mean readers don’t know what to expect from your brand or when to expect it. If you want to build and grow an audience, consistency is key.
Practice calendar management in the same way you organize your other projects. Decide how frequently you want to post blog and long-format content, and then stick to that schedule. If you feel overwhelmed, repurpose prior content or rotate blog authorship across the team. Just be sure you edit for a consistent voice, which matters almost as much as a consistent schedule.
Want to streamline your content process with custom editorial calendar? Download your free editorial calendar and content promotion template to get started.
Like it or not, people like to hear from their peers more than they do your brand. Rather than limit your content to your own perspective, invite your top users to contribute. If they don’t want to pen an entire post, consider a collaboration. Ask for a few quotes or results data and then build your post around it.
We’ve used this strategy on our own blog to great effect. In a couple of recent posts, we highlighted eLearning Industry and ProSource, two of our awesome clients, and discussed how we worked with them to strengthen their content and increase their site traffic. Those posts saw high levels of engagement because they provided real-world examples to which other readers could relate.
Blogs are great, but a blog post is far from a content strategy. Content comes in many flavors, including guest-contributed articles on external sites, whitepapers, e-books, videos, podcasts, polls, and more. To show your audience that you really know what you’re talking about, invest in as many formats as your company’s marketing budget allows.
Don’t expect every reader to make it through your entire whitepaper or podcast, but recognize that downloads aren’t the only metric that matters. Data suggests that readers in 2019 prefer quality over quantity. Deep dives showcase your brand’s expertise while providing a resource for other sites to reference and link to — which is great for your SEO goals.
Just because your content is free to read doesn’t always mean it’s free to distribute. In a recent study, Content Marketing Institute found that 68% of respondents use paid channels to promote their content. Sponsored social media posts were the top option (77%), while pay-per-click (63%) came in a close second.
Your content isn’t worth much if no one can find it. Spending a little to get the word-of-mouth ball rolling can generate exponential gains in readership. Once you’ve built a reader base, switch that spend back to content development. If you’re creating truly worthwhile content, your regulars will spread the word for you.
The written word is powerful, but it’s not enough by itself to make you stand out. Use polls, webinars, planning tools, and quizzes to boost engagement. Distribute them on appropriate social channels, such as Facebook for quizzes and LinkedIn for webinars.
Encourage your sales team to use interactive content as well. Quizzes provide a personalized result, which can help salespeople close more deals. Interactive tools like our knowledge management template provide immediate value to prospects, which builds trust.
We’ve created more than our share of content strategies, so we know how tough it is to get noticed. The companies that attract the most attention understand the importance of planned, high-quality, and varied content. They use all the distribution channels available to them to get in front of the right readers. And if their content still falls flat? They keep creating until it connects.