Every year, there is a content marketing conference held in Cleveland that attracts over 4,000 attendees from some of the largest companies around the world. This is just one of the indicators of the growing importance of content marketing for marketers and brands.
With so much information available on content marketing best practices, why are companies still having difficulty achieving success?
Here’s the truth: Attracting, engaging and converting an audience through delivery of strategic content is not easy. Brands spend huge amounts of time and money creating quality content, and yet the vast majority of it never gets shared and ends up buried far below the first page of Google’s search results.
Following are some practical tips for achieving more success with your content marketing.
1. Create a plan.
An annual research report by Content Marketing Institute found that the majority of B2B marketers have a content marketing plan, but only 35% of them have documented it.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that a documented plan makes all the difference between succeeding and failing with content marketing. If you write down a plan, revisit it periodically and adapt it based on relevant data — you’ll be more successful than two-thirds of your peers.
In short, here’s what your content marketing plan needs to entail:
• Clearly defined goals
• Detailed profiles of your target audience (e.g. customer personas)
• Who will do what? (allocate resources)
• Map of the content creation process
• Main content theme, topics and formats
• Content promotion strategy (paid/organic)
• Define how you will convert visitors to sales (content conversion funnels)
• How you’ll measure content marketing success (define KPIs and success metrics)
2. Become known for something.
Mark Schaefer is a world renowned marketer who recently wrote a book called Known: The handbook for building and unleashing your brand in the digital age, which outlines how you become known as an expert in a particular area. As you become known, you gain more influence, and with influence, you get more attention. When you have attention, more people will want to read and share your content. This makes it a lot easier to have content marketing success.
3. Create better content than your competitors.
If you want to rank on page one of Google for any keyword, you’re competing against an ever-growing list of websites and blogs targeting the same keyword.
Brian Dean of Backlinko is an SEO specialist. As you may already know, ranking content for SEO-related keywords is extremely difficult — mainly because you’re competing against people who are good at SEO. Still, Brian managed to get 100,000 unique monthly visitors from Google in a very short time, and he has fewer than 50 articles on his site.
How did he do that? Well, if you go to his website and read his content you’ll see that his articles are better than anyone else’s in SEO. For example, he recently wrote an article about SEO tools (an extremely popular term) and he is ranking for it in the top search results on Google. If you look at his article you can easily see why: It’s the most definitive list of SEO tools you’ll find anywhere.
The best way to create the type of content that will get onto page one on Google is to do your research and see what’s coming up on the results page when you search for your keyword. Explore the top five results, and start creating better content than your competitors!
4. Promote your content.
This is where a lot of companies fail. They create content (and some of it is great) but don’t promote the content sufficiently, so it never gets any traction. If you want your content to reach the right audiences, you need to spend more time promoting the content than you did writing it.
Here are three content promotion tactics that can help serious results:
• Social media (paid and unpaid): Promoting your content through social media is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your blog. This may sound too obvious, but a large majority of people don’t know how to properly use social media as a content promotion channel. The most common mistake people make is sharing content on their social media channels only once. Organic social media reach has declined significantly in the past couple of years, and unless you share a piece of content several times, only a small percentage of your audience will see it. With tools like AgoraPulse, you can create an optimal social media posting schedule and automate this process entirely. If you have a budget to spend on social, you can use paid promotion to drive more relevant traffic to your content. Social ads are highly targeted and measurable, and they typically work well for content promotion.
• Outreach: Another tactic you can use to promote your content is reaching out to people who could amplify its reach. You can find influential people who shared similar content using a tool called BuzzSumo, where you enter the main keyword for your article in the search box of BuzzSumo’s content research tool to view the most popular content related to that keyword. You’ll also see the most influential people who shared those articles on Twitter. Identify the people you should reach out to: They are influential and they already shared content similar to yours.
• Email marketing: Promoting content to your email subscribers is one of the most effective ways to get more social shares, engagement and traffic on your blog. Your subscribers are already interested in what you have to offer and they’re most likely to take action and share your content.
If you want to get better results from your content marketing efforts, you’ll need a documented plan, better content than anyone else in your niche and a strong focus on amplification and promotion. Use these tips to master all three.