5 Keys to Effective Content Marketing

One of my favourite parts of business is content creation. I love writing, I love sharing really actionable strategies and I love how good content can dramatically increase sales. So needless to say, I always cringe a little when I see a business that is just not getting the whole content marketing thing as it’s such a wasted opportunity on so many levels.

Maybe they’re sending out sales email after sales email (and then wondering why their list is tanking), or maybe they’ve got a lot of great content ideas, but they just can’t figure out how to pull it all together. Or, worst of all, maybe they know they should be creating content because everyone talks about it all the time, but they don’t really know why or how. Either they don’t think it’s important or they just haven’t found their voice, but something holds them back.

If any of that sounds uncomfortably familiar, don’t worry — great content marketing doesn’t have to be hard. You just need to remember a few key rules:

Give, give, give, ask.

This is so key for content marketing — you’ve got to give people valuable content much more than you send them sales content. While making sales is fundamental to a businesses survival, let alone success, you can’t just spring a product or service on people and expect them to buy it. You’ve got to build a relationship with them first, understand what they want, what they need and figure out how you can help them. The best way to do this is by giving them interesting, helpful and engaging content for free.

You should also create content that’s specifically designed to complement not just current products or services, but also ones that you’re planning on launching in the future, so that you can seed the idea of the product or service with them and get them excited about it before you launch. It’s also a great way to test if the idea is viable.

Mix up your formats.

A lot of people get stuck creating the type of content they’re most comfortable with, whether that’s blog posts or webinars or whatever else. But you should provide your target market with content in a variety of formats. That way you can appeal to a wider range of people — after all, some people are more visual, and so prefer video, some are more audio-focused, and so prefer podcasts, etc. I know, I know … we don’t all love doing video, but here’s the thing … we’ve got this crazy notion that we’re supposed to be ‘perfect’ before we go on camera, that’s simply NOT true. Look at all the most popular You Tube ‘stars’ – they are all people that are just like you and me – people that other people can relate to. Even the top make up artists start by showing you what they really look like when they wake up!

Working like this also means that you can save time on content creation. By repurposing the same basic content into different formats, you don’t have to be constantly coming up with new things. Repackage one great piece of content into multiple mediums.

Have a purpose and plan ahead.

There’s no point creating content in a vacuum. Your content is a tool, so you should make sure that whatever you create is geared towards a specific purpose, whether that’s engagement, sales, or something else.

You really need to plan ahead with your content too — that way you can create series of content that complements your marketing strategy instead of just a string of unconnected posts, podcasts, or videos.

Test, test, test.

There’s no way to know what’s going to land really well with your audience and what will pass them by, so you’ve got to test different things to find out what your particular target market likes.

This is easier than you think: install Google Analytics on your webpage to track your traffic, and run A/B tests with Facebook ads to see what kind of phrasing and visuals work. The most important thing is to track whatever you’re sending out — that way you won’t waste time and money on content that’s not performing.

Don’t try to hack it…

At least not too much. I’m not saying that you should ignore all of the research about phrases, words, and topics that tend to perform well, or that you shouldn’t try to tweak your content to get better results. But don’t forget that creativity and relating to your target market person to person (instead of seller to buyers) is much more powerful for long term success than any algorithm or buzzword.