15 TIPS TO BOOST YOUR CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY
Quality content is one of the most effective catalysts for business growth today, thanks especially to advances in digital technology. By banking on content, your company is investing in its visibility and authority, showcasing its expertise and building a sustainable relationship with its current and future clients. But while 82 percent of B2C marketers and 95 percent of B2B enterprise marketers use content marketing, only 32 percent of marketers feel they are executing an effective content strategy, according to a study on kapost.com. That is why we wrote this eBook, to share with you our recipes for content marketing success. Whether you are just starting to implement content marketing in your organization or you are a content marketing veteran, the tips in this eBook will help you improve your content marketing strategy, foster engagement and grow your business.
CREATE CONTENT FOR EVERY STAGE OF THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY The best way to acquire targeted traffic is to provide your visitors with high quality content at the right place and time throughout the customer journey. Your organization should aim to deliver relevant content at each stage of the purchase cycle, also commonly called the sales funnel. Most organizations focus the majority of their content marketing
efforts in the awareness and consideration stages. Suggested content types are provided in the illustration below.
The tips in this eBook focus on content in the awareness stage but you will find many of them applicable to other content types as well.
Itâ€™s worth noting that, depending on the makeup of your marketing team and whether your organization is B2B or B2C, content in the consideration stage might be produced by Product Marketing, not Content Marketing.
blog posts, white papers, eBooks, infographics, byline articles on external sites, educational and thought leadership webinars
website, product microsites, product webinars, product screencasts and company videos, case studies/success stories, video testimonials, data sheets
e-commerce website, special offers, proposals
Support and Retention how-to guides, video tutorials, tip sheets
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND YOUR GOAL Before you start creating a piece of content, you should always identify its audience and its purpose. Are you targeting IT managers or CMOs? Or maybe your audience is new parents or single males between 18 and 25? Clarify your audience and write for them.
marketing should ultimately be about one simple thing: solving your customers’ problems.
conversions on your website? Or are you targeting referral visits, shares and inbound links?
Just like your company’s products and services, high quality content addresses customers’ questions and helps them solve a specific issue or challenge.
Now, when it comes to the purpose of your content, content marketing thought leader Jay Acunzo says it best. Content
It’s also worthwhile to assess the purpose of your content in more specific terms. For example, are you developing an article to drive
Understanding your motives is an important step before you get started, so you can ensure you create content that supports your goals. Of course, a piece of content can serve multiple purposes.
CONTENT MARKETING IS JUST SOLVING THE SAME CUSTOMER PROBLEMS AS YOUR PRODUCT, THROUGH MEDIA YOU CREATE AND DISTRIBUTE. - JAY ACUNZO, CONTENT MARKETING GURU
WHO’S YOUR CUSTOMER AND HOW CAN YOU HELP THEM?
In order to understand how to solve your customers’ problems, interview them, read what they read, talk to the subject matter experts in your company and build buyer and user personas. These are are excellent ways to start understanding the needs of your audience.
VARY THE FORMAT OF YOUR CONTENT There are many ways to format compelling content, and seasoned content marketers take advantage of them all. Here are some content formats we recommend. Try changing formats often to keep your content fresh.
Teach your readers how to do something.
Organize your content in a list.
Compile content on a topic from external sources.
Example: How to write an elevator pitch
Example: Top 7 SaaS solutions for sales execs
Example: Essential advice from 5 B2B sales experts
Explain what something is.
Share your observations and opinions.
Explain why something is.
Example: What is a sales qualified lead (SQL)?
Example: How social media revolutionized selling
Example: Why solution selling is effective
PROFILE / FEATURE
An in-depth look at a person, company or trends.
Poll your readers with an embedded or linked form.
An interview with someone.
Example: CEO John Doe knows how to find top sales talent
Example: What are the essential skills to succeed in sales?
Example: An interview with Sales Exec Jane Doe on managing a global team
Ultimately, well-written, relevant content is valuable regardless of its length. But studies show that longform content (ie. 2,000-3,000 words) which dives deep into a topic tends to generate more shares on social media and higher positions in search results.
Avg Content Length of Top 100 Results
Long-form articles aren’t easy to pull off, and they tend to require plenty of research, so start small and aim to produce one each month.
Avg Content Length
Avg Content Length
EXPERIMENT WITH LONG-FORM ARTICLES
Position A study by serpIQ involving more than 20,000 keywords showed that the average content length of each of the top 10 results in Google was more than 2,000 words.
SHARE YOUR POINT OF VIEW The best content marketers aren’t just good writers who do solid research - they have a point of view and they produce original thought leadership content. Now, we’re not saying you should form an opinion on every matter you write about, or that you should go out of your way to get a rise out of your audience. But sharing a point of view on occasion will enage readers and
help differentiate your content from all the other blog posts, articles and web pages produced every minute of the day. When you’re brainstorming possible topics for your next thought leadership piece, think about the position you - and your company - would take on the matter. If you have a clear stance, that’s a signal to move forward. If you aren’t sure, talk to your
supervisor and your colleagues. In many cases, there’s a point of view brewing under the surface. Of course, be prepared to respond to comments, defend your position and treat all opinions respectfully. We recommend enabling comments on your blog to generate an open environment for discussion.
SHARING A POINT OF VIEW ON OCCASION WILL ENGAGE READERS AND HELP DIFFERENTIATE YOUR CONTENT FROM ALL THE OTHER BLOG POSTS, ARTICLES AND WEB PAGES PRODUCED EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY.
STYLE YOUR CONTENT SO IT’S EASY TO READ Reading content online can tire the eyes so be sure to take the extra steps to format your articles effectively.
present content as a list. Your readers’ eyes will be drawn to the bulleted text so be sure to include key points.
Divide sections of text with concise, compelling headings and subheadings and keep your paragraphs brief. Use bullets to
Have a compelling quote you want to emphasize? Your content management system (CMS) should have a default quote style but
if not, create one using some special styling, such as a larger font size, colored and/or italicized text and perhaps a lightly colored background. We did something like this for this very eBook, which you may have noticed on the previous page.
A/B TESTING 101 You might not be testing anything at the moment, especially if your marketing team is small and you have lots of activites on your plate. But trust us, A/B split testing is worth the effort and the results will pay off.
A/B testing, you test a single variable at a time and send a different version of the email to one of two identically sized groups. You then identify the winning version and send it to the rest of your segment.
Start small by testing email campaigns, especially subject lines and calls-to-action, to optimize open rates and clicks. With basic
Many marketing automation systems, email service providers and landing page optimizers provide A/B testing functionality
out-of-the-box. If you want to get more advanced, consider multivariate testing, where you test multiple variables at the same time. Remember: the larger your sample sizes, the more statistically significant your results, so if you’re only sending your email to 20 people total, it’s probably not worth testing it.
A PICTURE SAYS A THOUSAND WORDS According to Xerox, colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% so if you haven’t enhanced your content with colorful photos, illustrations, videos and infographics, now’s the time to
start. In fact, for some content visuals may be your primary element and text may play a secondary role. Experiment with different approaches and see what works
best for your brand and your audience. Try to incorporate at least one visual element in each blog post you publish, and be sure to share posts with imagery in your social media channels.
REUSE YOUR CONTENT Even the best and most prolific content marketers find creative ways to repurpose and reuse their content. In fact, this is part of what makes them so great. Developing new content is critical to your content marketing strategy but almost as important is finding smart ways to maximize the value of your existing content. You know all those blog posts you wrote on that one topic area? Combine them into an eBook or create a webinar presentation from them. Or, take the most buzzworthy facts and quotes from your posts and tweet them throughout the month. You can also incorporate existing content into your next byline article.
KEEP OLDER CONTENT FRESH Google and other search engines give preference to fresh content so you should get in the habit of updating older content, especially if it still gets some traffic.
Revitalizing your content with even just a couple new sentences or changes to existing text should help with SEO. But don’t simply phrase a sentence differently -
take the opportunity to add more value to each piece of content by incorporating new insights, statistics and links.
GET ORGANIZED When it comes to managing and executing a content marketing strategy, you have to be organized. There are many moving parts and managing an editorial calendar is key. Use your calendar to bring your
team and other stakeholders together around a single timeline, and be sure everyone involved is aware of their contributions, interviews, deadlines and promotional plans. Be sure to align your content calendar with your Digital Marketing Manager’s
promotional activities to maximize the reach of your content. Make the calendar available as read-only to your sales reps so they can stay current on the content marketing plan and will know when to expect your next eBook.
THINK LIKE A PUBLISHER
Let’s face it, the volume of data on the Internet is immense and everyone is suffering from information overload. Want your content strategy to generate better results? The best way to do this is by focusing on producing relevant, quality content. It takes a bit of a mental shift but you should start thinking more like a publisher, not a marketer. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Economist to offer engaging content. With content marketing, your objective is to provide added value to your clients. After all, customers today no longer buy your products or services but your ability to solve their problems.
FOLLOW THESE SEO BEST PRACTICES Organic traffic - ie. traffic to your site as a result of unpaid search results - is not only the least expensive traffic source, it is also the most likely to convert. With a good content marketing strategy, organic traffic can represent 40% to 70% (or even more) of your site’s traffic.
Content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) work in synergy, and high quality content should naturally secure strong positioning in search engine results, which will help you attract potential customers who don’t necessarily know your brand - or only very little.
While search rankings depend on many factors, one important area to invest time and energy into is keyword optimization. Before you develop a piece of content, identify the relevant keyword(s) you want to rank for in search engines. By targeting these keywords in your content, you’ll increase the discoverability of your content.
A FEW SEO TIPS WE RECOMMEND
Include your keyword(s) in your page titles, URLs, and headers
Put your keyword(s) in the alt text for your graphics, banners and buttons, to make your content more visible in image search results
Incorporate your keywords in the first 200 words of your content, and one time within the first 160 characters of the meta description of the page
Keyword rankings are a living, breathing thing, so to do this right you should use a keyword tool such as Google Keyword Planner to evaluate individual keywords on an ongoing basis and find out what your target audience is searching. SEO can
be overwhelming but every step counts, so if you don’t have an SEO specialist onboard or a consultant helping you out, start with tip #1 above. All that said, while following these best practices will help improve
your SEO, we recommend you put top priority on developing content that solves your customers’ problems. In other words, if it doesn’t make sense to put a certain keyword in the first 200 words of your content, don’t force it.
PROMOTE YOUR CONTENT TO INFLUENCERS It’s easy to fall in a trap where you spend all your time creating new content, and not enough time being smart about how and where you promote it.
spend 20 hours a week on content creation and promotion, you should instead spend 4 hours creating content, and 16 hours promoting it.
Derek Halpern of Social Triggers swears by a 20/80 split: 20% creation and 80% promotion. This may seem extreme, but it underscores something we’ve found to be a universal truth: it’s easier for a business to create content than to get people to consume and share it. Derek recommends that, if you currently
How do I do a better job promoting my content, you ask? Build relationships with your social connects, especially tastemakers and thought leaders. Share your best content with them and contact anyone you mention in your posts and tweets. Be sure your best, most timely content is readily accessible on your website,
either from your home page, a resources section or other key landing pages. And believe it or not, sending your content out by email may prove to be one of your most effective strategies. Just keep in mind that different types of content do better in different platforms. You should experiment to figure out which content types perform best on each channel, whether it be Twitter, Slideshare, a LinkedIn group or a listserv.
DELIVER YOUR CONTENT ACROSS CHANNELS Imagine being able to create content once and publish it on desktops, tablets, mobile, smart TVs, digital kiosks, smart watches and even print media. It may sound like icing on the cake now, but the reality is multichannel marketing is a requirement if you want to build your brand, products and services in today’s digital landscape. Your users are everywhere and you need to be able to reach them across channels, devices and platforms. Some of today’s CMSs provide you with multichannel content delivery out-of-the-box. Be sure to evaluate providers by this important requirement.
CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS Social media is essential to the success of your content marketing strategy. In fact, there really is no content marketing strategy without a social media strategy, whether your organization is B2B or B2C. Conversely, there is no social media strategy without content. According to Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of social media management platform Hootsuite, there are now more than 2
billion active social media users worldwide, and nine out of 10 U.S. companies are now active on social networks. If you’re not on social, now is the time to start!
other platforms, which have proven valuable, especially for B2C marketing. And don’t forget to post content on SlideShare, especially if your company is B2B.
Nearly every company will benefit by publishing content on the top social platforms Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But depending on your target audience, you may also want to experiment with Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Snapchat and
Google+ may not have as much value as it used to since Google no longer rewards Google+ content in search engine results pages (SERPs). But it still may be worth experimenting with this channel to reach your target audience.
A FEW SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES WE RECOMMEND
Be conversational but listen more, talk less
Don’t spread yourself thin across too many social channels - find your audience and focus
Deliver relevant content consistently
FIND YOUR BRAND’S VOICE Defining your brand’s voice may seem like an abstract assignment but it’s worth exploring this with your team. Think of your company’s mission and its values. How does your brand’s voice reflect the qualities of the organization? You may want to think outside of the box and have some fun with this. Imagine your brand as a person walking into a room and joining a conversation with some
new faces. What kind of clothes is your brand wearing? What is its body language? Is your brand a bit assertive or casual? Start connecting the dots between your answers to these rhetorical questions and how you write your content. Should your blog be written in the first person? Should you speak to the reader in the second person? How casual should your tone be? All of this depends, and there’s no right or
wrong answer. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but be smart about it. If you’re representing a company, this is quite different from a personal blog. As you better define your brand voice, start to evangelize it internally and help everyone else get aligned to ensure greater consistency across your external communication.
OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE’S DESIGN AND YOUR INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE Your website plays a huge role in the success of your content marketing strategy. A clean interface design is crucial, but even more important than your site’s design is its content architecture. A thoughfully designed information architecture, like a well designed interface, facilitates the user’s
navigation and helps the user access the information they need. Put yourself in the position of your user, and design both from their perspective. Also make sure to provide clear paths to your target landing pages based on expected user behavior. Structure your content in a way that is user centric, and define key
pages that will allow you to target the visitor better in terms of their interests and expected on-site behavior. By creating conversion pages (ie. contact forms, download pages, appointment request forms, purchase pages, etc), you will accelerate your customers’ progress through the purchase cycle, as we mapped out in the beginning of this eBook.
RALLY UP CONTRIBUTORS Content marketing is a team effort and it’s important to engage your company’s resident experts and motivate them to contribute. This might mean rallying up support from Product Management, Product Marketing or even Engineering for your next white paper, eBook or video.
Find the resident experts on specific topics and encourage them to participate. Remind them of the value it will bring your company and their own personal brand. And if they say they don’t have the time, offer to interview them instead. Make it so easy for them they can’t say ‘no.’
Does your company have a partner channel? If so, speak with your sales and partner marketing teams to identify partners who may be interested in blogging or contributing in another way. Make the results tangible by showing them posts written by other partners and tell them about the traffic each post generated.
CONTENT MANAGEMENT MADE SIMPLE Featuring in-page editing, landing page management and automated scheduling, eZ Studio puts you in control of your content. DISCOVER MORE AT EZSTUDIO.COM
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Kross is Director of Marketing at eZ Systems. As manager of eZ’s Global Marketing team, David leads marketing strategy and execution across product, content and digital marketing. He has 12 years of B2B marketing experience with a focus on enterprise software and SaaS.
eZ in Brief eZ Systems is a global content management platform provider that is dedicated to helping businesses maximize the value of their content. Our software simplifies the way enterprises create, deliver and optimize their content in order to engage customers. Thousands of organizations rely on eZ to deliver digital experiences that foster business growth.
eZ Facts » eZ Systems AS was founded in 1999 in Norway » 15+ years experience as a commercial open source provider » Supports 500+ enterprise customers in 25+ countries » Ecosystem contains 80+ business partners and a community of 45,000+ members » Over 5 million downloads and 250,000 installations
eZ Links » Corporate Website: www.ez.no » Blog: www.ez.no/blog » Case Studies: www.ez.no/Resources/Case-Studies
© 2016 eZ Systems and the eZ logo are registered trademarks of eZ Systems AS
Download the ebook: http://goo.gl/4SK5Ky