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Content marketing has experienced exponential popularity growth in just the past few years. Today, more than 500 million blogs populate the internet— about one third of the 1.6 billion websites that are in existence today. However, as is the tendency for any marketing medium, content marketing isn’t immune from saturation. This is why it is less effective today compared to how it used to be even a decade ago.

This is a harsh reality that digital marketers will have to accept. But this doesn’t mean you should halt your efforts altogether. It may be less effective now, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to remedy that. Do know that not putting appropriate leverage in your content marketing efforts can eventually mean missed connections and visitors. Worse, you’ll be easily trampled by your competition, especially if they have worked out a way for leveraging their efforts.

Despite the fact that the “content mill days” have long been gone, there are numerous other ways that content marketing can be leveraged effectively. Read on and find out some useful insider tips that clearly show how content marketing isn’t dead. In fact, despite the evolution that digital marketing has gone through over the years, content marketing continues to remain a huge driving force behind effective website conversions.

In this post, expect to find a list of tips that aren’t just actionable, but have been proven effective for bringing out the best in your content marketing efforts. More importantly, they’ll take your website’s performance much higher.

Gramatical Errors – Find ‘Em, Kill ‘Em

Grammatical errors, typos, and other minor mistakes in your content may seem not a big thing at first, but they can definitely turn potential customers off. These mistakes will make your content marketing efforts look amateurish and potential customers might see this as a sign that you and your team cannot be taken seriously. And let’s face it –  this shouldn’t be that hard to do – spell check tools are everywhere!

There are serious consequences to content pieces with too many spelling and grammatical mistakes. For instance, your rankings can actually suffer in the process. Remember that Google aims to deliver results that are authoritative – grammatical mishaps and spelling errors in your content are definitely going to achieve the exact opposite.

You don’t even need to be a writer to do this correctly. There are many writing services you can find online that should be able to deliver quality content on your behalf. If you have some decent writing chops, there are tools like Grammarly which will help check your content to ensure that it conforms to critical grammatical standards and is free of spelling mistakes.

Keep Content Relevant – And Actionable!

Understanding your customers is crucial if you are to become a successful business owner and accomplished marketer. It doesn’t matter what niche you wish to focus on. It really does matter that you have a good understanding of what your target audiences are. You need to be aware of their pain points and their problems before you can truly come up with an effective digital content marketing effort that will win them over.

Once you’ve determined what your audience’s pain points are, develop content that will address those very issues. You also need your content to be actionable. Give readers specific tools or steps that they will need to consider in order to address that specific pain point. Then, ask yourself if you would be able to replicate the steps you have enumerated in your content as well. It simply doesn’t make sense to dish out advice that you know you wouldn’t be doing in the first place.

Keep That Content High-Value!

If there is one thing that will easily catch the attention of modern consumers, it’s the word “free”. Everybody loves getting something for free, whether the item is big or small. There is a reason that you and your friends seem to love one-upping each other with how great a bargain you got for an item that you recently bought. The same mentality is what grasps many customers today. Many brands and marketers often offer something in exchange for money— you can instead offer something of value in your content without asking for anything in return. This could be in the form of educational and informational instructions as well as free tools that may prove useful to your audience.

Goals Are Real. Make Them Stick

You’d think that most marketers have their goals figured out ahead of time, but this isn’t always actually the case. In fact, a recent study revealed that about a fourth of marketers — 26%, to be exact, have no established marketing goals. Those that do have their goals figured out aren’t as successful at achieving them in the first place. Only half can meet their specific goals often enough.

After you have figured out your company’s content goals, determine why you are trying to create and promote your content next. Some people do this for brand awareness. Others do it to achieve better next quarter sales. Write your goals out now, and you will be able to refer back at any time and track progress.

Your Audience – Do You Know It?

A marketing campaign needs a target audience if you want it to achieve the specific goals it is intended for. Whether it is a marketing effort for social media, search engine, or simple providing content to visitors, it matters that you know who the audience is and that you get a good grasp of your target buyer persona. Some people often assume that anybody can be a potential customer, but the reality is that your products and services will appeal to certain demographics only. Before launching whatever marketing efforts you have in mind, make it a point to determine which specific customers your content is geared towards. This makes it easier to tweak your writing and style so it becomes easier to sell them anything.

While this may sound obvious, more than a few digital marketers often forget to incorporate this into their content marketing offers. When you fail to determine who your target buyer is or fail to understand their specific buyer persona, your content marketing efforts can just end up becoming a waste of money, energy and time.

Optimize Those Headlines

The headline is what will catch the eyes of your readers and it needs to be a well-written one, as much as possible. Cookie cutter, generic headlines, unfortunately, aren’t going to catch the eyes of readers. Let’s be real – it doesn’t really matter if you have the best content to offer your readers. If your headline isn’t convincing enough for them to actually want to click on and visit it, then your efforts are wasted.

Besides, Google considered CTR or click-through rate a crucial factor when ranking your site. If people aren’t clicking through, this can be a strike against you which could lead to a lower ranking status. Always remember that user intent has to be deeply understood in order to get on the good side of the search engines. Find out what your main keyword is and try to have it incorporated into your title. Just remember not to overdo it. The last thing you want is an over-optimized stuffy headline that will have the opposite effect to what you’re hoping for.

Use The Content Trap To Pull Leads Into Your Sales Funnel

Implementing a truly effective sales funnel will require the proper application of content marketing. From getting customers pulled into the first stage using specific content, to directing them to click that “buy” when they get to the sales page, content— the right content — is critical.

Content should be amazing in a way that will create awareness. It can be a blog post, an infographic or a video— and it needs to be enticing so the reader will be encouraged to get to the next step in the funnel. There are many ways that this can be executed. Asking the readers to put in their email address so they can get access to the actual content is one. Make sure that you take into account whatever your readers are feeling as they go through every stage. This will help you position your content for exactly what you want it to do.

Long Content = Google Love

If you want to catch Google’s attention, try developing and publishing longer content. The same thing goes true for readers, too. There just seems to be more authority attached to longer write-ups, so people tend to pay more attention to it. Since Google loves longer content, you’ll be rewarded with a higher ranking— and the better ranking you get, the better conversion rate you’ll have as well. More importantly, it’s the longer landing pages that get higher numbers of qualified leads. If you’re wondering how long is long enough, content of about 2,500 words or more should get the job done. Here are the reasons why:

  • Longer content catches the reader’s attention since it offers more useful information
  • It helps you improve SEO optimization better since more keywords can be addressed
  • It develops site authority

Guest Posting

A great way to create rock solid brand awareness is through guest posting. It works almost the same as a personal recommendation or referral. For instance, your friend Tom has another friend whom you’ve ever met yet named Stuart. Being friends with Tom doesn’t mean you’re automatically friends with Stuart too. However, when you get introduced to Stuart via Tom, you’re no longer a stranger. More importantly, since you’re friends with Tom, he’ll likely have preconceived impressions of who you are and these would likely be positive ones since you’re connected to his friend Tom.\

The same is true for guest posting. When you guest post, you are using the whole network of your host’s blog while also promoting your brand. If you post in a host blog that has a considerable number of loyal followers, it can lead to some really great ROI. It is easy and it is cheap too but the rewards you get in terms of prequalified leads that will have their eyes onto your website will be more than plenty.

Sharing – Make It Easy!

Perhaps the easiest out of all of these hacks, placing attractive sharing buttons within your content can be huge. Make the button a one-click, easy share one or it dilutes the purpose of actually including it. You want people to use the sharing function, not ignore it because it is too much trouble to use properly. A floating column that allows readers to share a page as they scroll down is one good way. Adding a call to action button at the end of an article so readers will be encouraged to share what they have just read to their social media accounts is another. Including tweetable quotes inside your content also works wonders.

Have Exclusive Content – Keep It For Your Email Subs!

Email has remained a crucially powerful tool when it comes to digital marketing. Most companies should definitely be paying it more attention, as its ROI tends to be unmatched. Remember, the people on the email list already know you, your brand, your products and services and they already like you. It makes sense that you leverage this as best as you can.

You’re missing out a lot if you still aren’t offering your subscribers content bonuses that are exclusive to them. You want these people to know you value them. Making them feel special can be achieved by only giving them the best information— not some generic content. When you make them feel valued via the type and quality of content that you extend to them, it will be easier to nudge them towards opting in.

It doesn’t stop there, either. If you want to take it a bit further, you can get your emails segmented. Adding more personalization to your email campaign can really go a long way.

Design A “Content Calendar”

Consistency is crucial if your content marketing efforts are to succeed. In a way, this is very much like a fitness plan that needs to be followed on schedule or all your previous efforts will just go down the drain the moment you stop. If you want to build the reputation of your brand, make it a point to come up with qualitative and valuable content that you share consistently. If you find this task a bit taxing, you can always utilize an editorial calendar to make this easier to do. If your budget or the small number of people in your team is making this challenging, even a simple Sheets or Excel spreadsheet will do. You can also maximize the tools that are available online today such as:

  • CoSchedule
  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Buffer
  • MeetEdgar

Add All Your Posts To Medium.com

Many digital marketers overlook this, but Medium is a great tool that will help add more traffic to your site. Posting is free on Medium and it is a great site that provides a ton of information on a wide range of topics.

If you want to optimize your website for the highest click-through rate possible, make sure to post a few paragraphs of your article so readers will have to click on something to see the rest of the content. You can even take this to a new level by getting your dated posts optimized. This means that whatever ideas, screenshots, images, and stats you have featured on your dated posts should be refreshed and updated so they remain relevant. Don’t forget to check your keywords, too. If you’re trying to rank for specific topics and keywords but they aren’t really found anywhere in the content, make sure to add a section about these topics.

Leverage Those Channels!

If you have a video content that you have spent a great deal of time and effort creating, it doesn’t make sense to just leave it at that. You’ll be surprised at the number of opportunities out there that enable you to use it. You already have a great content piece – feel free to use it to create a number of others. This is where Content Repurposing comes in.

With this method, you don’t need to come up with millions of other different content pieces on top of the video which you have just produced. What you can do instead is have the video transcribed and make the transcription into a blog post. Make use of the audio for a podcast. All the stats and other processes you describe in the video can also be compiled into a single, vibrant Infographic. The list of things you can do with one content piece is just endless.

This method works because different people tend to have a preferred medium in terms of content consumption. Some people enjoy reading more than watching a video. Others prefer listening to audio and some people are more impressed with infographics due to the presence of both visual and written content in a single piece. Making sure that your content marketing efforts are tweaked to meet the different preferences of your audience will make it more effective as well.

Educate First, Sell Later

Content, when done right, can become an effective indirect selling machine. However, in the event that you offer free content as part of your strategy, see to it that each newsletter, social media post, or blog post has a specific purpose for its creation. Make it your goal to get your prospects from the point where they’re not interested to a stage where they become very interested. This last stage is when they become a customer. To do this, you must first educate your prospect if you want to start introducing products and services that are relevant to their current pain points.

Different Platforms, Different Content Forms

Every social media channel differs in terms of the content form that should be featured. For instance, YouTube is more about video content, while Twitter is most ideal for teasing content with a limited message. Instagram and Pinterest, meanwhile, are more on the visual side of things. As a result, coming up with content that is appropriate for the platform that they are posted on is essential.

Don’t Let Content “Get Old”

Never forget to continually optimize your older posts. It is easy for content to become outdated because of the rapid pace that certain industries evolve. There may also be instances when you were ranking now irrelevant keywords with older content. Since you already have a post up with the necessary content, instead of starting from scratch and writing a whole new piece of content, just update the old one and make sure that it is in keeping with the times. Besides, the old post has a URL with relevant juice on it and you don’t want to lose that.

To update a well-performing piece of older content, do the following:

  • Do some research to find out if there have been changes to the topic
  • Rewrite certain parts of the piece to make sure these updates are reflected
  • Cite new sources and make sure they are authoritative ones
  • See to it that links aren’t broken and update them if they are
  • Get outdated images changed
  • Update your introduction and conclusion.

To make sure that your blog has kept up with the times, conduct audits on your content annually to get insights into how it has been performing.

Get Influencers In On The Action

If it’s possible, contact an influencer to have your content promoted to his or her respective audience. Do some research and analyze the influencer’s audience, engagement rate, and overall trustworthiness. These factors can make a whole world of difference in the results you get and will help you determine whether the investment is going to be a good or a bad one. Remember that for Influencer marketing to work, it needs to be a two-way street. Both of you must benefit from this strategy, or the partnership might not last for long. So, make sure that you also have something good to offer.

Influencers on YouTube are probably the most sought after. But you also have other options including:

  • Celebrity influencers
  • Social media stars
  • Authority influencers
  • Bloggers
  • Micro-influencers

Note that about half of influencers these days feel that the companies and brands they are promoting aren’t really extending them the appropriate compensation for their efforts. So, stand out from the rest by making sure that you treat these influencers right and they will treat you well right back.

Assessing Your Content – Is It Evergreen? Trending?

Creating content that is evergreen and trending should be paid attention to for a successful campaign. If there is a new topic that seems to be all the rage on the web, make sure to write about it. Just see to it that the content you have produced isn’t mirroring what others have already come up with. Consider a different angle, use research, and maximize statistics to make your content stand out from the rest. About 30% of your content should be focused on what’s trending and the rest should be about evergreen topics. What’s good about evergreen content is that it is easy to keep them updated year after year, allowing you to earn better mileage for less overall effort.

Keyword Research Is Key!

This is crucial mainly because getting a better ranking for certain keywords can translate to better overall site performance. Many marketers make the mistake of not paying the keyword research process enough attention. While most do it, many aren’t able to really identify which specific keyword combinations will work best for the purposes of their content marketing efforts.

The right keywords are crucial for attracting the right people. When you have the right audience reading your content, it can help transform your content marketing efforts into the most crucial driving force for directing new customers towards your business.

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Complicated content isn’t good content. Most readers won’t want to read a piece that feels like it’s from a dusty textbook. This is why making your piece more conversational is the way to go. You want to make your reader feel like they are chatting with a friend when reading what you’re writing. Also, you want to keep it friendly, so monotone style is definitely something you should avoid.

This is also a great chance for you to create brand differentiation by using a voice that is unique to your brand. A hip startup can pursue a chatty approach, whereas industry jargon can be added into the piece to customize the content to make it sound more like the personality of your brand. Meanwhile, if you offer accounting services, then your tone needs some professionalism. Just make your topics very readable with language that is easy to understand.

Take Note Of Analytics

Analytics matter. Your content marketing efforts will require a reliance on understanding visitor behavior. Make sure to take note of analytics because this is how you can tell where people are falling out of your funnel. You should be able to use Google Analytics for tracking, but there are other trackers such as Clicky.com and Piwik. When you pay enough attention to Analytics, you’ll start to see patterns in winning content which will make it easier for you to determine what works and what doesn’t in your content marketing. This way, you can easily avoid strategies that don’t deliver while you can double or even triple your efforts with those that actually work.

Leverage Your Data To Optimize Content

These days, data collection has become a huge industry. Companies are constantly acquiring leads and asking for personal information – anything from names and addresses to favorite foods or preferred restaurants. These details may seem trivial, but when they are combined together, they build a description of the kind of buyer a certain individual is likely to be. This allows marketers to personalize their product offers to meet the audience requirements.

This is effective at boosting your sales because you’re not just pushing random product suggestions to people on the web. Instead, the offers are targeted to specific demographics, age groups or whatever audience characteristic you determine improves the chances of getting a sale. Content marketing should be the same. Whatever information you have gathered about your target audience, use it so you will have an easier time satisfying their problems and their needs.

Engagement Is Absolutely Critical

Interact with your prospects. Engage with them. Just like any friendship, communication is the key to strengthening the relationship. How often you connect with your customers matters, so make it a point to engage with them as often as you can.

Address your audience directly so they will feel that you are a personality talking to them, calling for their attention. Ask them questions. Encourage comments and see to it that your responses are quick. Also, if you are on YouTube and want to encourage comments from your viewers, try to make your requests subtle, as the platform doesn’t seem to like direct comment requests from video producers.

Beef Up Those Calls To Action!

Calls to action are crucial when it comes to content marketing. Generally, people will not do anything unless they are told to do so. This is why if you need likes on your social media, make sure to ask for a page like. If you want more subscribers, encourage them to subscribe and sign up via appropriately and strategically placed call to action buttons. Outline why these actions are beneficial to the user, and it’s likely they’ll follow through with your request.

Test, Test And Test Again

Content marketers often overlook this step. However, if you really want to see if a strategy is doing what it is meant to, the only way to find out is to test. Numbers will always tell the true story. So, when A/B testing, make sure to include the following:

  • Headlines and title tags
  • Content formats
  • Various CTAs and opt-ins
  • Content length
  • Image types

There is a free testing software you can use via Google Now or you can also tap paid online tools such as Crazy Egg. Make sure to give your A/B test enough time to collect a good data sample for more reliable results. Also, try not to change too many things all at once so you are confident of the accuracy of the results.

Optimize Your Content Marketing To The 80/20 Rule

Also known as Pareto’s Principle, it states that 80% of results of are based on 20% of your work. In content marketing, this rule means figuring out which 20% of the content you have produced is generating 80% of the overall results you are getting. This is something you can apply when testing a variety of mediums, topic clusters and blog post formats. Once you have identified what your magic 20% is, it becomes easier to focus your attention on it. The rest of your work will then be focused on promoting this particular content type.

Identify Worthwhile (And Garbage) Traffic Channels

Although you probably want to have your content posted on as many channels as possible, not every medium is really worth your attention. You’ll find that there are channels that may be more difficult to leverage and you’ll want to put your time, energy, and funds towards those where you can actually get some tangible results.

You can always look at channels that your competitors are investing in. That is always a great starting point. But remember that just because these channels work for them, it doesn’t mean they’ll deliver the same results for you. This is why you have to test regularly to figure out the best medium for featuring your brand and your products.

Stay Up To Date!

There is simply no slowing down the pace of change in the digital environment. It is the job of every online marketer to keep up, or theyll fall behind and soon find that all their efforts have become outdated. Some people often have a hard time adapting to change. There are those who just insist on doing the things that they have gotten used to, despite the fact that it doesn’t produce the results they want. With advances in technology, there will always be fluctuations in the marketplace. The people who have the ability to move with the trends and tweak their content marketing approach to accommodate what’s in and what’s not are those that will make it in the long run. Always spend time to determine what the current marketplace wants in terms of rules, trends, technologies, and topics, and your content marketing efforts will never go to waste.

What To Take Away From This Article

Put simply, content marketing matters and it works. This is evidenced by the number of people that still use it today. How effective it is will depend on how well you leverage it with innovative tactics. When you take the time to set clear goals and make the effort to A/B test your content, it becomes easier to step out of the content mill while transforming your strategy into one that is more customer-focused. These steps can make content marketing one of the most valuable tasks for your business.