A Goliath has risen in inbound marketing over the last several years. In 2018, 56% of B2B marketers have increased their spending on it. 84% of them use social media and 81% of them use email to assist with it. The industry is expected to be worth $412.88 billion by 2021.
It’s content marketing.
You know it, you use it, you love it.
Instagram is on the rise. Facebook is losing ground (and trust). Long-form content – 2000 words or more – gets more engagement than shorter posts. Images are good, video is better (those using it grow revenue 49% faster year-over-year than those who don’t). Live streaming and webinars are increasingly popular. Personalization works. Generic blasts don’t. And promotion is more important than creation.
Maybe you know this, maybe you don’t. Often with success and familiarity comes complacency. Are you still pushing the boundaries and looking for ways to get better at content marketing?
You should be. It’s been around for a while now, and it’s not going anywhere. Content is here to stay.
Try these 5 tips to improve your efforts for 2019.
1. Ask the Right Questions
Too many marketers are making content for content’s sake. It’s not entirely their fault. After all, content is king.
If you fall into that group, you’re doing it wrong. The Harvard Business Review recommends asking yourself 4 important questions as related to content marketing:
- Why do you need content (what are your goals for each piece and campaign)?
- What value are you offering in exchange (if your content doesn’t have at least perceived value, don’t bother)?
- What’s your anchor?
- What type of experience do you want to deliver?
You need to have a concrete and specific answer for each one. Asking and keeping your answers in mind while strategizing will help you deliver a better, more consistent overall content experience.
2. Deliver the Right Content at the Right Time
Too many people treat content marketing as a catch-all, tossing blog posts, videos, or whatever else out there in a misguided “if you build it, they will come” approach. But successful marketing is about getting the right message to the right person at the right time.
To do that, you need to customize content for each stage in your funnel or customer journey.
The content they need at the beginning is very different from what they need at the end. 56% of marketers consider ebooks effective in the awareness/interest stage, but only 6% believe they work at the purchase stage. Case studies at the decision stage? 40% give them a thumbs up. At the top of your funnel? Only 18% would try that.
“The buyer’s journey should inform everything from keyword and topic selection to execution.” ~Joshua Nite, Content Marketing Lead, TopRank Marketing
This leads us to …
3. Have a Concrete Content Plan
Write it down, map it out, and know exactly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it for. Ensure everyone involved has access to your plan.
Additionally, your plan should include guidance on writing style, posting frequency, visual aspects, and so on. You want to deliver a consistent content experience to your prospects, leads, and customers.
- Your One “Thing” (what makes you stand out?)
- Audience Needs
- Content Executions
- Content Amplification
Explore, discuss, debate, and write it down. 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy compared to only 14% of the least successful.
On the subject of planning, topic pillars and clusters better reflect the changing way search engines rank content and how people find it.
A pillar page is a central topic. It’s a big, broad subject with a lot of moving parts – like content marketing, for example.
The cluster topics surround it. To continue with our example, cluster topics might be guest blogging, live streams, email newsletters, analytics, and so forth. Each piece is connected to the pillar via hyperlinks, making it easy for users to find everything they need to know (to say nothing of letting the search engines get a better idea of what your content is trying to provide).
If you’re not using pillars and clusters yet, add it to your plan immediately.
4. Mix It Up
Do you lean heavily on one type of content? If so, you’re not alone. But consider: blog output by brands has increased over 800% in the past five years, and organic social share of blogs has decreased by 89%.
The takeaway? Blogging and sharing on social media alone will not make you stand out, spread awareness, or generate traffic to your site or landing pages. You’ve got to mix it up.
Launch a podcast or video series. Get active on Instagram. Create infographics. Share how-tos, listicles, expert roundups, why pieces, think pieces, profiles, interviews, Q&As, behind-the-scenes, surveys, and more.
Try different forms and distribution channels. Explore paid promotion. Identify the influencers in your niche and establish a relationship with them using tools like Voila Norbert and Mailshake to automate email outreach. Earn links to your best foundational content.
Mix. It. Up.
5. Create with Behavior in Mind
Humans are complex, but we’re also remarkably similar. If you understand even a little about human behaviour, you can give yourself an edge.
Take the Fogg Behavior Model, for example. It states that motivation, ability, and trigger must occur at the same time for someone to take action. Miss just one – or even not enough of one – and your content won’t convert.
Explore Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion. A little social proof – the number of subscribers, famous clients, social media engagement – can make us more likely to take the requested action (canned laughter on a sitcom is an example of this at work — we laugh because others laughed).
Persuade better, convert better.
Content marketing has survived because of lower associated costs and higher performance than more traditional tactics. But that’s not to say it hasn’t evolved over the years, or that it won’t continue to change going forward.
Video, AI, and Instagram are on the rise. Tomorrow may bring completely new formats, channels, and tactics. Are you ready?