According to the report “Content Marketing Market- Forecast and Analysis Report 2021-2025“, the content marketing industry was expected to have a year-over-year growth rate of 15.73% in 2021, with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 16% from 2021–2025.
There are many reasons for this rapid growth — mainly because of the increase in marketers’ desire to increase brand awareness for their products or services, and the lucrative ROI of content marketing.
Sometimes, content marketing strategies start off well but then seem to stagnate. If you’re worried your content plan may not be working as effectively as it could be, it’s time to reassess it.
Here are 18 content marketing tips to help you grow better.
Above everything else, it’s all about the user.
“Great marketers have immense empathy for their audience. They can put themselves in their shoes, live their lives, feel what they feel, go where they go, and respond how they’d respond. That empathy comes out in content that resonates with your audience.”
– Rand Fishkin
From the keywords you research to the titles you craft, the best content marketing always comes back to doing what’s best for the user. Never forget that. When you decide on a course of action, think to yourself – “how will this affect the user?”, and “is this better or worse for the user?” When you make decisions based on the users’ best intentions, you will undoubtedly get better results. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and consider if you would actually engage with the content you’re creating.
Content strategy must address several quantifiable and separate goals. A wider strategy’s goal can be simply defined, but when broken down must address smaller measurable goals.
Ultimately, increasing sales and retention is the top strategic goal. But with that aim, some companies don’t break down the important factors that lead to a purchase. Worse yet, simply getting “more views”, or “more clicks” are common goals that ultimately don’t help. So, the first actionable tip for content marketing is to break down how all content channels serve your content marketing strategy. Each channel should address specific goals which fit into the buyer’s journey:
When you compartmentalize your content channels as such, you can address each stage of the buyer’s journey. Then, you can ensure your content is supporting their journey.
Understanding the buyer’s journey is the key to content strategy. Proficient content marketers understand that their content is meant to engage with customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey. For the most part, people don’t jump from being completely uninterested in your industry to become buyers in a single step. So, content strategy must be directed at both gaining new customers and coaxing interested followers who are slow or reluctant to make a purchase.
A good example of this is concerns about buying a product online which you haven’t seen in person. You may have a product that offers good value and will address your customers’ concerns. But if they can’t really see it in action, can you blame them for hesitating to make a purchase?
In the above case, surface-level images and blog posts won’t suffice. But a video tutorial where the product is being used will more likely provide the complete picture that the viewer will need to feel comfortable buying. Detailed images with instructional text and imagery-rich how-to guides also help address this specific kind of concern.
At this point, it’s important to point out that this is the importance of mapping the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey will certainly have its delays and barriers. It’s the job of a content marketer to address those causes for pause and allow customers to rest easy with the knowledge they need to make the decision to buy.
It’s critical to understand your audience. The buyer’s journey is based on the:
The need to understand your audience will likely seem obvious, but what exactly that entails is less clear. A simplified breakdown of what should be included in the buyer persona would be:
The latter 2 factors are the focal point of your content.
Beyond basic information such as the factors listed above, buyer personas include information that addresses how the personas interact with content:
These simplified checklists alone provide enough of a glimpse to start drafting a content strategy. The information you gather will be used to enable content creators to speak directly to the personas, which represent actual buyers.
If you’re inexperienced with creating and working with buyer personas, that’s fine. There are many templates available online through digital marketing websites. You can simply take the template and fill the slots in with the research your marketing team acquires about your buyers.
Content produced as part of a content marketing strategy is meant to:
The information you’ve collected so far enables your content creators to address a certain kind of person. The more reliable your buyer personas are, the more personalized your content will appear to viewers.
In addition, the buyer persona research you’ve done will point you in the content direction your company should take. It will let you know how you should split up your content creation between videos, blogs, and so forth.
This is the part where content creators focus on individual content pieces. Each piece of content should solve one problem for the viewer/reader. This is done by focusing each piece of content on:
Every piece of content must genuinely speak to the customer (vis-à-vis buyer personas or any other research you have) and their problems. They should offer knowledge that eases the customer’s worries and other resources or tips to acquaint them with your brand and its solutions.
As an example, imagine a small hotel chain. The content should include information on the locations surrounding each hotel. The hotel’s content strategy addresses the issues of accommodation and of things to do while customers are on vacation or business trips. For example, the content strategy research could recommend:
Most kinds of businesses sell products and services that fit into the customer’s wider experiences. Hotel stays imply unfamiliar environments for customers, for example. This is why content research and creation must be considerate of the context of the buyer’s journey.
Good content strategy involves a web of content, with each connection between different content pieces highlighted. For both SEO and buyer journey purposes, the pillar-cluster model addresses the relationships between content pieces and their subject matter.
Back to the hotel example, imagine the restaurant blog also ends up touching on restaurants along a famous, attractive beach boardwalk. This provides the opportunity to:
Pillar-clusters are umbrellas covering connected topics. As a part of the strategy, content pieces should connect to several of your other content pieces. For written content, there should be several internal links. For videos, there should be prompts to watch other videos, visit a webpage, or other actions. This strategy:
In another of our guides, we covered how long blog posts should be. The research points to the conclusion that longer blog entries are better. The only catch is that the content must remain relevant and engaging the entire way through.
When it comes to the decision to buy, the more positive information potential buyers take in, the better. If you’re selling anything with a higher price tag, long-form content, long video guides, and other in-depth content, when done well, will serve to:
Providing such comprehensive content pieces takes more time and thus expends more resources. In terms of quality video content, it can be more expensive, too. But where the research justifies it, there is no reason to shy away from longer-form content. Comprehensive content that covers a given subtopic from all angles can be invaluable. It also establishes your brand as a more serious one that understands your industry well.
You’ve heard the phrase “quality over quantity” before, and for content marketing specifically, this is concept becoming increasingly important. For example, with the growing popularity of AI writing tools, the quantity of content being published on the internet is increasing. Therefore, to stand out, the quality of content you create must also improve in order to cut through the noise and engage users.
The takeaway? Focus on quality. But, also remember that quantity is still important, especially if you want to penetrate a competitive market and scale quickly. First, aim to establish quality standards and processes that ensure these standards are consistently met, and only then, seek to scale the output of content.
This tip particularly applies to content that is evergreen and that you have the ability to go and re-edit. Video, not so much. Blog content, most definitely.
If you have content that has been performing worse over time but used to perform well, it’s worth doing an SEO blog content audit (great guide by Supermetrics) to better understand which content needs to be re-optimized (or in some cases, deleted).
Re-optimizing content may include:
Re-optimizing old content can be an easy way to get a quicker return, instead of investing all your resources into developing new content.
The written word is powerful. There’s no denying that. But, video is not going away.
According to Cisco, in 2022, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be video. This is 15 times higher than it was in 2017. In fact, as of January 2018, 85% of internet users in the U.S. watched online video content monthly on any of their devices, and this number is predicted to increase.
If it makes sense to create video content for your brand, then it’s worth investing in due to its popularity and trajectory. But there are other content types other than written content too, such as infographics, podcasts, and more. The point is that you’re not solely relying on written content, as many people enjoy visual and audio experiences more.
Written website content is a great starting point, but to scale, think about how you can reach and engage your audience from multiple angles.
User experience is incredibly important. You could have the most well-written content in the entire world, but if your website loads too slow, you are going to lose out on a considerable amount of users accessing your content and converting from it.
According to Portent, website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each subsequent second of load time (between 0–5 seconds).
Website speed is only one aspect of user experience. There’s website design, font size, and much more. Creating high-quality content is essential, but ensuring it’s accessible and easy to digest is just as important. Don’t forget to prioritize providing the best user experience possible.
Understanding the data behind your content marketing campaigns is crucial. Let’s say you get a lead through your website for the “website design services” that you offer.
Do you know where that specific converting visitor came from? If not, it’s important to figure that out. Did they initially come to your website via a blog article about the “10 best website design practices”? To figure this out, you would want to set up first touch attribution goal tracking in Google Analytics so that you can know the first page that converted lead visited on your website.
This type of data is so valuable to know, as you can then decide with accuracy what type of content to re-invest in. To re-invest into a stock, you’d want to know which stock gave you a return in the first place (and what the return was). The same principle applies to content you invest in creating.
When you create a video or a blog article, you must know, with clarity, the specific purpose of that content piece. Ideally, each piece of content should be tied to one specific priority goal.
Is the goal of a specific blog article to lead users to download a white paper in exchange for their email, to inquire about your services, or sign up for a free demo of your SaaS?
It’s important to have a specific goal rather than publishing content and hoping it will somehow convert into a lead, sale, etc. Establishing clarity is key as you will more easily be able to track your results and adjust what you do in the future for better results.
It sounds cheesy, but it’s true — consistency is key. The perfect example is SEO-focused content. If you have a new website in a competitive market and you publish 5 x blog articles per week, you may very well not get any significant traction in SERPs for 3, 6, 12 + months.
Keeping consistent is what separates those who succeed and “snowball” their growth, and those who fail to see short-term results, give up and waste the initial investment into the content. This isn’t to say you should blindly stay consistent without monitoring results and adjusting based on data, but going the distance is key, as content marketing is more of a long-term game, unlike an initiative such as PPC.
Content that you’ve already created and which has already proven successful can often be repurposed. High-quality videos, blogs, and other formats can be reformatted to get a greater ROI.
As a good example of this, imagine you have a high-quality video guide about a niche topic in your industry. The video has done well, attracted new viewers, established a stronger reputation, and led to more sales. One cost-effective choice you could make would be to:
Now, you’ve turned your most successful video into what is likely one of the best high-quality written guides on the niche topic.
Repurposing successful content in a way similar to what is described above can help you:
This tip can be applied in many different ways. The key is simply to recognize which content you’ve produced that resonated with audiences. Then, apply the same concepts in a different format to amplify the positive results at a relatively low cost.
If you don’t currently use SEO tools, start using them. If you do already use SEO tools, perhaps experiment with other tools as well.
SEO is a boring concept and one that takes any semblance of romanticism from content creation. This is perhaps why some “keyword-less” approaches to content strategy are attractive to some content creators. They are certainly more genuine. However, to forgo SEO is to cede viewership to your competition and to reduce your organic reach.
To maximize your reach, increase your content strategy’s application of SEO tools and methods.
It’s important to keep in mind that the older unethical SEO practices are not only unethical but increasingly counter-productive. Google in particular has taken a progressively more ethical approach to SEO. Bad practices like keyword stuffing and duplicate content will in fact lead to worse performance.
By using professional SEO tools, you can produce optimized content that is more genuine and effective.
You may not capture a wide audience with highly specific content. But for the audience you do capture, you’ll be one of fewer sources of information.
People often type in highly specific questions into their browsers’ search bars. If you use keyword tools, these will be the phrases that come up low on the lists sorted by search volume. But low search volume can present an opportunity. If there is low search volume and little competition, you have an opportunity to corner a small share of the online market.
Another way to take advantage of SEO in a similar manner is a detailed FAQs section. If you have a long list of specific keywords and can’t pump out much content, try putting those keywords into FAQs questions. When people ask Google a question, you have a better chance of your content being the answer to their question.
Lastly, while we’ve gone over a lot about the diversity of the content world, consistency is still key. It’s important to stay on message throughout all your content channels. If your industry has a unique vocabulary, it’s also worth inserting that into your content.
Like the earlier points covered in this list, your brand’s voice should be based on buyer personas. Buyer personas are in turn based on customer research.
Establishing a consistent brand voice, with some research-based alterations along the way, makes your content more unique. The more competitive your market is, the more valuable novelty and uniqueness become.
Content can be the gateway to success for your business. It’s that impactful. But, one can also waste a lot of resources by approaching things the wrong way. If you take anything away from this article, remember the following:
With some effort, you can apply these tips to any content marketing strategy. By applying them and moving forward with the changes that prove most effective, you can progressively increase your content marketing performance.
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