I spend a lot of time consuming online content, often the output is from the content marketing machine every marketing agency and IT brand seems to run these days.  Sadly, it seems to me, that if content is indeed King, he’s become a somewhat overweight and directionless King of late.

I realise the SEO value of content requires volume (as a by-product of freshness), but I do sometimes wonder if the SEO value of content is what drives the content production, rather than what is supposed to happen after someone consumes it?

It’s all very well ranking highly for an interest area, but if the content you create doesn’t inspire action (or at least engage and enthuse your audience) then you’ll either lose your ranking as a result of increasing bounce rates, or more importantly, your sales will not rise due to content marketing efforts.

Content Marketing Strategy

So what can be done?  Firstly, you need a content marketing strategy based on facts about your market, your audience and your goals.  Content marketing needs to take into account:

  • What topics are hot in your market?
  • Who are your audience? How are they split into groups and what is different about their content preferences in each group?
  • What stage of the buying cycle are you targeting?
  • What content formats works best for your audience? Which is most appropriate for the stage and message of your content?
  • What is the action you want to see taken after someone consumes your content?
  • Do you learn anything when people consume your content? Can your audience hand-raise in different ways to indicate specific interest, or sales readiness?

Buyer profiling, and content gap-analysis are valuable steps early in this process, helping you understand what your buyers want to know at each stage in the buying cycle, how best to convey this to them.  Sometimes you may find you already have this information somewhere, and it just needs to be better communicated.

High Quality Content Marketing

Less can actually be more.  I’d sooner listen to a company that takes the time to create a 15-page white paper that tells me something genuinely interesting, relevant and valuable, than one who bleats out 5 tweets an hour driving back to 3 paragraph blog articles which could have been copy-pasted the first page of search results on a given topic.

Higher quality content marketing takes time.  So allow for 25% of any content creation time to be spent on research.  This will provide facts and insight to create a more relevant piece of content.

Make your content shine, spend a little extra time on design and layout.  If you don’t have the skills in house, work with an agency or freelancer to create something that’s a quality product, embodying your brand values and styling.  Make content that people want to share.

Above all, make sure your content answers an audience need.  Help them realise something that makes their lives easier, or improves their performance.  People remember content that makes them feel good, or inspired.

Great content can be used and reused, shattered into smaller content, and promoted effectively for a long time.

Content Marketing Results

Think about what you are setting out to achieve with your content.  How will you calculate the return on investment (ROI) from this?  Attributing value to individual content items can be tricky, but the result of this content in the marketing mix can be analysed over time and value determined.

Set the right metrics, should your content seek to drive a high conversion rate to a specific action, or achieve a significant reach across a relevant market?  Does your content need to be gated, available only to a very specific audience, or does it fulfil an early-stage awareness role of driving the highest volume of relevant traffic to your site?

The Best Content Marketing

The best content marketing is content that delivers value to both audience and the business.  The content should be unique, relevant and supportive of your business message in that area, and leave the audience with the feeling that you have helped them, but could help them even more.

Sometimes you need to give a little value away.  Some of the best content marketing could be actively used by a business’s competitors to do a better job.  But the confidence to give this value away shows there’s plenty more from where it came.

The subtle different between being just in authority, as opposed to being an authority has always made the difference between a King and a great King.  If content is to earn that crown, make sure it’s done right.