Katy Cesarotti | Gallery Design Studio Editor + Copywriter
By now, content marketing is a popular buzzword around the internet, and for good reason: one study found that content marketing costs 62% less and delivers three times the results of traditional advertising.
But most marketers know from experience that it’s not enough to publish lots of content. In the avalanche of stuff on the internet, it’s easy for your message to get buried.
In this article have a couple of tips to deliver a steady stream of fresh, engaging content that your audience will actually care about.
Too much information everywhere
The sheer number of available options makes today’s customers anxious. Bombarded by so many sources of information, customers look for the companies that best understand their needs. A survey found that 69% of business buyers expect brands to anticipate their needs.
How can businesses emerge from the clutter and actually reach their audience?
Solution: Talk to your customer, not at them
Seventy percent of buyers return to Google at least 2-3 times to learn more about how a company’s specific offerings address their needs. Content should help answer customer questions in the language they speak. Listen to customers through surveys, Quora, LinkedIn, or Facebook groups, and build content based on answering their questions. Focus on specific, real problems your customers encounter regularly.
Be aware of objections, and write to resolve them: is your product expensive? Are customers worried it will be difficult to learn how to use?
Over half of visitors spend less than 15 seconds actively reading text on your pages. Make it easier for their brain to process information, build connections, and engage emotionally through strategic visuals. Break down complicated ideas into infographics, or deploy important data in animated charts.
Blogposts can demonstrate expertise, and at the same time, boost traffic and search engine visibility with 97% more inbound links. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to determine effective headlines, and capture the words and phrases your customers use to find solutions. Try to understand intent behind keywords: what are customers looking for when they find you? What’s their thought process as they search for solutions?
More than stuffing a document with keywords, effective content marketing is built on creating quality materials that visitors will want to share on social or link to. Provide a fresh take or valuable insight that people will be interested in sharing with their own audiences.
Not enough ideas
Search engines favor website pages that are frequently updated and relevant. There’s just one problem: writer’s block. That blank page and blinking cursor, hours before a deadline.
You know all about what you should be posting—innovative, surprising, thought-provoking, funny, relevant content. How can you not only come up with that great idea once—but over and over?
Solution: Get Inspired
Over time, it’s natural to run out of topics. Check out these options to get inspiration.
Still out of ideas? Hubspot’s content generator can help you come up with new blogpost topics or social media posts that will connect with your audience.
No consistent content strategy
It’s easy to get into a habit of creating content at random: posting when you get to it or have the time. Maybe you post a bunch of photos to Twitter and update the website right before a big event, and then content dwindles when you have other priorities.
Maybe different members of the team are working on similar projects without talking to each other—the materials your sales team uses don’t match up with the language of your marketing team, or each account manager pitches your business a little differently.
Solution: Integrate strategy
Get everyone on the same page with a simple content plan to connect your day-to-day creation back to a greater purpose or objective. A marketing playbook can help you lay out the basics: how often you post, what you’re posting, how you measure success. An editorial calendar can list all the content you’re posting in a period of time.
Keep it simple and big picture: do you want to tackle one topic in a series of short posts, and accumulate into a long-form series or guide? Do you have a couple of main pillars of content that should be regularly maintained? Do you want to publish a little piece of content for each stage of the customer journey?
Consider what business goal each piece of content should address: start with your business needs, then work backwards to find the best creative solution. Are people reading your content, but not contacting sales or signing up for your newsletter? You could either work on lead-generating content (like gated downloads) or try to up web traffic. Are not enough people visiting your website? Revisit content headlines for SEO or network with other experts to increase link authority.
The good news: one piece of content doesn’t have to do all the work to persuade your audience. You have many chances to nudge customers a little closer to a purchase decision. Each piece of content can work together for different stages of the customer journey.
Sure, you’d love to publish a steady stream of visually appealing, insightful content. You’ve got the expertise, forged from experience in your industry. You’ve even got the jokes.
But who has the time?
One survey of bloggers found that the average blogpost takes three and a half hours to write. On top of other pressing deadlines, projects your client or team needed yesterday, your team might already be squeezed for time in the present, much less to plan a month of content ahead of time.
Solution: Create shortcuts
Organized processes, collaboration, and focused goals can trim away tasks that take up valuable time, and help you deal with looming deadlines.
Don’t reinvent the wheel every time: create a standard outline or guidelines for the whole team. Think about what forms of content you use most regularly, and create an easy-to-follow template. What form does your most popular content take—how-to videos? FAQs? Interactive decks on Slideshare?
Headline formulas are especially useful to deliver predictable results.
Don’t be afraid to reuse and recycle. Collect related blogposts into a whitepaper or eBook, and offer it for download as a lead generation tactic. Turn company presentations into social media images or blogposts. If you target several customer verticals, adapt content for one vertical to appeal to another. It’s totally okay to update old blogposts with fresh insight or updated statistics, then repost them for your audience.
Infographics are liked and shared three times more on social media than plain text. They’re reusables piece of content that you can easily drop into social, blogposts or on your website.
It’s a cliche by now that “content is king.” But for companies seeking to engage meaningfully with customers, there’s more to the process than churning out post after post. A strategic, integrated content strategy can ensure that your content marketing initiatives will actually deliver results.
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About the Writer
Katy Cesarotti is a copywriter at Gallery Design Studio. Katy believes that, with clear and concise copy, innovators can spark emotion and drive action in their readers. She’s written for magazines, blogs and cutting-edge startups.