Creating and executing an effective content marketing strategy is no walk in the park. Following these guidelines will help your company avoid pitfalls and focus its energy.

As a strategy, content marketing is relatively young. Over the years, consumers adjusted to the barrage of advertising and grew desensitized to the traditional tactics. Without trying to sell any goods, content marketing engages potential customers while simultaneously building trust and loyalty. But a company can’t rope in customers with just any old content.

Know What You’re Doing

AnnaRachel1/flickr

AnnaRachel1/flickr

 

Like most strategies, an effective content marketing strategy is a written one. In their 2015 B2B Content Marketing Report, the Content Marketing Institute discovered that the simple act of writing down one’s content marketing strategy makes all the difference.

Their research showed that 60% of businesses deemed their written strategy highly effective, while a mere 32% of businesses with a verbal strategy believed theirs was effective.

Comprehending the lifecycle of content provides fruitful insight into a company’s strategy. In Forbes, Jayson DeMers suggests the following stages: “planning your content… content creation, publication, promotion and distribution… measuring its effectiveness, revising as necessary, reusing, retiring the content when it’s too outdated to reuse.”

With a solid understanding of the lifecycle, a company can deploy content more effectively and track its productivity.

Knowledge of how customers engage with content must be the basis for any promising content strategy. Through studying an audience’s intentions and drive, a company can better connect with their customers. In turn, grasping what connects your audience to your content can boost relevance and bring about conversions.

Create Good Content

Search Engine People Blog/flickr

Search Engine People Blog/flickr

The strongest content contains a narrative, so it’s best to tell your audience a story. By focusing on a human experience rather than sellability, stories heighten a brand’s reputation among prospective customers. Storytelling sparks emotional investment while naturally garnering interest and engagement.

When marketing to an audience accustomed to advertising, a good story exhibits a brand’s trustworthiness and inspires loyalty.

Compelling content must be both original and topical. On the internet, the shelf life for news keeps shortening, as new content is continually regurgitated by multiple sources. In order to be noticed, content must be cutting-edge and interesting.

Be on the lookout for the newest developments in your industry and put them on the page in a unique way — a creative and current piece sets your company above others.

A topical, unique piece naturally incorporates another key component of content: shareability. A study by AOL and Nielsen found that 27 million pieces of content buzz around the web on the daily. According to Ben Wittams-Smith, shareability is linked to the “quality and relevance” of the content.

High-quality, relevant content must appeal to the largest swath of your audience, be useful to them in some way, and if all goes well, engage readers through a smidgen of shock value or intrigue.

Avoid at All Costs

Since the audience is the focal point of all content, forgetting this fact leads to a big no-no in content creation: failing to target the intended audience. To avoid this egregious error, consider the content format, comprehension level, and interest of your readers.

Companies must pay attention to their posts’ performance over time — failing to track your content’s lifecycle is almost as bad for your brand as issuing bad content in the first place. In order to improve content, companies must track and measure their efforts.

Another source of curtailing your own content is poor distribution. Lazy distribution, whether it’s through pushing an article only once, using only one social media channel, or presenting the content in an unattractive way, only depreciates the numbers a company must track.

A transparent company is a trustworthy one. In the words of DeMers, “Blog readers and social media followers know you’re running a business, and that your ultimate goal is to make sales. There’s no need to hide or sugarcoat this fact.” Since cultivating a brand persona is the crux of content marketing, honesty builds the trust that keeps customers coming back.

The Takeaway

Content marketing is a delicate and, if approached patiently, productive endeavor. Given the surplus of content on the web, it’s best not to treat your strategy lightly. A solid, written-out plan for your content marketing can yield measurable results that set your company up for success.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer content marketing services and strategies to transform your company blog into an authoritative trade publication. Click to learn more about how to produce great content and prove ROI on your marketing efforts.

(Main image credit: mkhmarketing/flickr)