Content Marketing: The Truth About the Biggest Marketing Trend

The great news about marketing trends is that experts seem to agree on what’s most important. In fact, you won’t be able to find a single marketing expert who is not saying it’s all about content, content, content. The challenge? Doing content marketing well.

The problem is that sometimes it’s easier said than done. So, we’re diving deeper into the “big one” and focusing on how to think about content for greater success from your effort.

We’re also revealing the dirty secret that no one wants to talk about, so let’s start there.

The Dirty Secret About Content Marketing

There’s no doubt that today, content drives marketing. Marketing has become more of a conversation than a sales pitch – and as a result, rather than sell, sell, sell, it’s much smarter to help, educate and share.

But here’s the problem: doing content right is difficult. It’s difficult to make time to create it, and it’s even more difficult to get results from it.

To start, content takes a lot of thinking and planning – not only about what content to publish, but also about how to use this content to move prospects from simply consuming content to taking action.

What adds to the challenge is the fact that prospects don’t move en masse. Every prospective customer who shows interest in your content is going to be at a different place in their buyer journey.

So, if you’re struggling to keep up with the trend of focusing on content, the following strategies will make your content marketing program much easier to implement and much more successful (and, yes, much better).

Think of Content as the New SEO

Today, search engine rankings are based on how much or how little search engines view your organization as being an expert in the areas and topics it claims as its “expert position.”

This means that every piece of content you post online (whether it’s a new case study on your website, a blog post or a news release) is going to influence how high or low you rank in searches for the topics of your stated expertise.

Viewing content as the main SEO driver helps define what your content should be about – just think about the keywords, for which you are trying to outrank your competitors. All of a sudden, content is not “just another article we need to get up on our blog because we haven’t posted in awhile,” but instead, it’s “another article that’s going to prove to Google that we know what we’re talking about.”

Thinking about content from the perspective of claiming your expert position makes you focus your content around topics that showcase your organization and its expertise.

Once you have the mindset that content = SEO, follow these few tips for getting it right:

  • You must write high-quality content. The search engines know. Even more so, the prospects seeking your expertise do. Write content that’s relevant to the search terms, but most importantly, write it for the user.
  • Your must build content around targeted keyword phrases. This means you’ll need to spend time thinking upfront about what your prospects are actually searching for, how competitive those keywords are, and where you can make the most improvement in rankings. For example, are there lots of searches for a certain keyword or phrase, but not a lot of companies creating content around that keyword or phrase? You can use tools like SEMrush, Google Search Console or Answer the Public to help you with the keyword research.
  • You must optimize everything you publish online. This means that everything from your website copy and images to online press releases to social media posts and more should incorporate your targeted keywords.

Make Your Content Relevant

Studies show that the number one source of customer disengagement is irrelevant content.

Relevance is about offering something of value, something that will help your customers do their jobs, achieve their goals and advance their personal agendas.

Immediate relevance is key to engaging both Millennials and Gen Zers. These generations of customers and employees are adept not only at finding the information they need but also at instantly recognizing whether or not something is relevant to them.

Being relevant requires not only understanding your customers but also understanding their decision making context.

Context is typically defined as the combination of a customer persona, a marketing channel ecosystem and a point in time in the customer’s journey.

How do we make our customers’ lives easier and better? The answer to this question should guide everything your company does, including its content marketing.

To be relevant, companies need to start looking at the engagement process through the eyes of customers, not the company. Think about what your website visitors want. For example:

  • To find useful information relevant to their specific problem
  • To get answers quickly and efficiently
  • To get what they need, when they need it – not when a business development team gets back to the office on Monday morning
  • To have more human-like interactions without picking up the phone or filling out generic contact forms

Stop Sharing Just to Share

While it’s important to keep a consistent flow of content across your company’s social media networks, we’ve hit a point of content overload, and much of that content is not very good. Pick quality over quantity – create and share only what would be of great interest to your audiences and in alignment with your brand and expertise. And when curating relevant industry content, consider writing a good commentary that reflects your unique point of view.

Put the bulk of your effort toward developing a few key original pieces, and then focus on getting the most mileage out of each piece.

Don’t forget that “content” doesn’t have to be words alone. Add quality audio and visual content into the mix in order to increase engagement.

Keep Sharing What You’ve Already Shared

The final takeaway is that to make content marketing easier, don’t let what you’ve already created go to waste. Due to the short lifespan of social media posts, the limited exposure of your blog and the relatively low email open rates, it’s likely that only a small fraction of your audience will see any single piece of content when you first share it. Also, it’s very likely that much of what you’ve written could still be relevant as is or with a few tweaks (evergreen content) months and even years after you’ve first shared it.

Repurpose your larger pieces by splitting them it into several smaller posts and different formats that can be delivered across a variety of communication channels.

For example, you can take an e-book or a whitepaper and:

  • Develop an infographic that highlights data and stats used in the original piece
  • Create a webinar on the same topic
  • Spin a number of blog posts using major points covered
  • Create a series of social media posts and campaigns
  • Create a short video or audio to promote the e-book and/or each chapter
  • Create versions that are more tailored to specific buyer personas (sometimes it’s as simple as tailoring the headers, images, callouts and stats)

Create a database of all existing content, including articles, case studies, project photos, presentations, etc., and map out how often to re-share each piece on your editorial calendar.

There are many content and social media scheduling platforms available (Hootsuite, Edgar, CoSchedule and more) that make this process easy and efficient.

Additional Resources

Aligning Content and Context
Context Marketing: The Next Frontier
5 Questions and 10 Ideas for Making Content Work

Let’s make sure that the effort your company puts into content pays off. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about your content strategy, planning or implementation. Contact us to start a conversation or email