5 Ways Your Content Marketing Should Grow Up
Content marketing has been mainstream for a couple years now, and mistakes that were commonly made in its infancy are no longer justifiable. Most businesses can’t afford to continually create new content just for the sake of creating content; a mature content strategy will ensure that content is being used effectively as a way to achieve pre-determined business goals.
This article will outline 5 ways businesses can create a mature content strategy that goes beyond the basics.
1. An undocumented content marketing strategy is no longer enough.
In the 2015 edition of their B2B Content Marketing Report (pdf), the Content Marketing Institute found that the #1 key to content marketing success is having a written strategy. While they acknowledge that a verbal strategy is better than nothing, they stress the importance of having a written strategy — and actually letting it guide your efforts.
They found that most B2B content marketers (83%) had a strategy, but that only 35% actually had it documented. But did they find that having a documented strategy actually made a difference? 60% of businesses who had one reported that it was highly effective — of those who only had a verbal strategy, only 32% deemed them effective.
Documenting your strategy is no longer optional if you want to remain competitive. If you need some help creating your own strategy, see my article, How to Build a Kickass Content Strategy.
2. Your strategy must be focused on mobile.
I’m not talking about having a mobile-friendly website, although that’s critically important. In order for your content marketing to grow up, your content strategy should be focused on your mobile visitors. This means going beyond simply having a responsive design or mobile app.
It means asking yourself how, where and when your audience is consuming your content: Are they relaxing at home, or doing research on their commute? What content are they accessing on mobile? What content formats do they prefer? Having a solid understanding of your mobile users’ behaviors and preferences is key.
To ensure your content is fully optimized for mobile, ask yourself the following questions:
· Ensure buttons are as “tappable” as possible on smaller screens, and that font size is easily readable on mobile devices
· Spend time crafting catchy headlines that will entice mobile users to click through
· Consider using geolocation technologies to increase engagement with customers
· Leverage micro-video as a way to tell your story
For more on this, see my post The Key Ingredients to a Winning Mobile Content Strategy.
3. You need to understand the life cycle of your content.
There are many different models that attempt to outline the life cycle of web content. Having a framework in place can allow you to strategically create and use your content most effectively, ensuring your don’t miss any important steps.
Some stages of your content’s life cycle may include:
· Planning your content (format, topic, personas, budget considerations, content-related goals, etc.)
· Content creation
· Promotion and distribution (email, social media, paid media, syndication on other sites, etc.)
· Measuring its effectiveness
· Revising, as necessary
· Retiring content when it’s too outdated to re-use
Having a documented content life cycle means you have a standard, reliable and repeatable process you can follow for each piece of content you produce.
4. You need to know how your customers use your content.
The foundation of any content strategy should be a solid understanding of how your customers read, watch or use your content. I’m not just referring to knowing your readers’ mobile habits (see #2), but to understanding your audience’s motivations and intent.
Each piece of content should have a designated place within the buying cycle of your visitors. Are they using your content to research potential purchases? Have they even identified the need to purchase when they arrive at your site? If they’re at your site with wallets out, is your content acting to confirm their decision and guide them toward a conversion?
It’s also critical to understand their preferences in terms of content format and theme: Do they prefer text, image or video-based content? Which topics are consistently the most popular? How do they find your content (social media, referrals, etc.)? Understanding the connection between your audience and your content is key to increasing relevance and ultimately conversions.
5. Stories are the key to forging a connection between your audience and your brand.
“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the minds stays up all night, telling itself stories.” — Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal
In my article How to Maximize Your Marketing Campaign Through Storytelling, I outline a number of ways marketers should be setting themselves apart through the use of storytelling. Why storytelling? It helps to create an emotional investment. By capturing the attention and interest of our audience, the product is passively sold to the viewer without our having to market it directly.
“Show, don’t tell” is a common motto among writers. Instead of directly stating a fact (“She had never learned to ride a bike”), new authors are often encouraged to show (“She hesitated as she approached the bike; her inexperience clear to all”). Marketing stories can work much the same way: use them to connect your brand with authentic human experiences, rather than simply “telling” the features and benefits of your products.
In a time where consumers are sick and tired of being marketed to, stories have a way of cutting through the noise and getting heard. You can use stories throughout your content as a way to gain attention, form connections and build trust.
With so many tools, data and resources now available to us, our content marketing can be so much more effective than it was just a few years ago. Understanding how to research, plan and distribute content that’s relevant to your business and audience is a sure sign of a mature content marketing strategy.
How mature is your content marketing? Are you using the strategies above? Share below.