Even though content marketing has been around for years, there’s still a disconnect between creating content and getting results. Whether it’s because you’re confused by content marketing or using outdated techniques, are here 11 ways that you can step-up your content marketing game so that you can take it to the next level.
1. Lay out your goals and plans.
Even though a majority of brands use content marketing, 88% to be exact, only 32% have a documented content marketing strategy. Why’s that a problem? Because it often appears to me that even though brands are using content marketing, they’re only creating content for the sake of creating content.
Without laying out your goals and plans, you’re essentially driving around in an unfamiliar location without a map or GPS.
We've all heard the adage that an unwritten goal is merely a dream, and this would apply here. Your written goals and plans will guide you in making decisions, direct you where to go, and will quickly inform you whether or not your strategy is effective.
In other words, before you launch a content marketing campaign, write down your content marketing goals and plans. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy document either. If it only takes a couple of pages to lay out these goals or plans, then that’s perfectly acceptable.
2. Focus on one goal per campaign.
Speaking of goals, you should only focus on one goal at a time per campaign. I understand that there are a number of goals that you hope to achieve through content marketing, such as increasing social followers, driving sales and increasing website visitors. Doing too much at one time is ineffective. In fact, when you focus on too many goals at a time, you start neglecting other goals and eventually something important will likely drop through the cracks, and your goals will become more difficult to achieve.
Instead, pick one goal at a time. For example, if you want to increase the opt-ins for your newsletter, then make that your primary goal. You'll then take the appropriate steps to achieve this goal such as generating high-quality content on your blog, engaging your audience on social media, adding sign-up links or buttons on your blog, and maybe email signatures.
As Gary Keller, author of The One Thing, writes, "You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects."
3. Optimize your homepage.
While directing visitors to your homepage is always a good thing, you only have seconds to make a good impression on visitors. For example, if your website isn’t responsive and easy-to-navigate, and you have a lot of people viewing your site on mobile devices, do you think that they’re going to stick around or come back?
Besides having a responsive web design, Nathan Gilmore, co-founder of the web based project scheduling app www.TeamGantt.com, writes that his team was able to increase their sign-up rate by more than 75% by;
- Composing short, bold, and simple headlines.
- Including bright, cheery images.
- Adding social proof -- like testimonials.
- Creating and embedding a brief explanation video.
- Composing a longer tour page so that visitors don’t miss important information, such as your brand’s history.
- A strong call-to-action that is above the fold.
This may also sound obvious, but make-sure that other information, such as your email address or phone number, are all current. It would be terrible if you did all this hard work to to generate leads only to have them being sent to the wrong email address!
4. Boost your SEO.
Optimizing your website isn’t going to help people discover it. That’s why you still need to consider some basic SEO techniques, such as having quality content and a fast loading website, as well as;
- Obtaining backlinks from reputable sites in your industry.
- Optimizing your “title” and “meta” tags by using popular and relevant keywords.
- Sharing your content on social channels.
- Writing, and accepting, guest posts.
- Creating different types of media.
- Thinking local by including your city name in the title tag, adding individual pages for office locations, getting listed on review sites, verifying your business on Google My Business, and making sure that you name, address, phone number, and business hours are accurate.
5. Diversify your content.
You can no longer merely rely on written content. Your audience has preferred types of content based on how they’re able to learn or access information. For example, some of your audience may enjoy listening to podcasts because they’re auditory learners and can listen to the podcast whenever it works for them.
For the most part, we all love visual content. Videos, slide presentations, and infographics are easy-to-consume and are shared on social channels and other websites. This gets your brand in front of a new audience, which can generate leads and sales. While webinars can demonstrate your expertise and authority on a subject.
In other words, create various types of content. Best of all, this content can be repurposed. You can take a blog post and convert that into a graph or video. Your podcast can become a SlideShare presentation.
6. Invest in long-form content.
While there times when shorter content can be effective, just ask Seth Godin, long-form content that provides value by being in-depth is preferred by the search engines and your audience. That’s why it’s worth hiring a skilled writer or taking the time yourself to construct content that is well-written, researched, and accompanied by other types of content, like images.
In other words, if you want results, then don’t skimp on your content. That writer promising an article for $5 on Fiverr sounds appealing, but quality content that delivers something of value to your customers is only going to be created by experienced and talented writers.
7. Understand your audience.
One of the most important questions that you need to ask is what kind of content is going to resonate with my audience? While diversifying your content is a start, you still need to know the exact preferences of your audience by developing a buyer-centric approach.
You can only find this information by understanding what motivates your customer, the channels where they consume content, and by understanding the buyer's’ purchase path and aligning content consumption patterns with insights into the buyer's’ pain and trigger points.
Reviewing your website analytics is a great place to start understanding your audience. You can also email them surveys, conduct polls, and even just talk to them face-to-face if you have the opportunity.
8. Capture leads with lightbox popups and gated content.
I get it. Lightbox popups and gated content are annoying. But, there’s a reason why brands keep using them. They’re both effective in capturing more leads.
Lightboxes, when used correctly, don’t actually irritate your audience as much as you would think. That’s because they actually popup when it appears that your visitor is about to leave. So it’s basically a list ditch effort. Using tools like OptinMonster can help you snag an email before they leave your site. Now that you have a new subscriber, you can keep in touch them and build a relationship until they become a customer.
There’s also gated content where to access content a visitor must first hand-over lead information, like their email address. There’s still a lot of debate over the use of gated content, but if you’re more concerned about gathering leads than you are about page views, then it’s a solid and effective approach.
9. Launch a referral program.
When it comes to making a final sales decision, nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendations. That’s why you should launch and promote a referral program where your current customers are rewarded for referring your brand to others.
Dropbox’s referral program has become legendary. Without much advertising, the company has become worth millions simple because it gave those who referred their business more cloud-storage.
More recently, a friend of mine referred me to Acorns. That simply referral put $5 in both of our accounts. And, you can bet that I’m going to keep referring others so that I can keeping some extra money to my account.
10. Give products or services away.
Who doesn’t enjoy freebies? I’m pretty sure that we all do. When it comes to marketing, giving away a product or service to influencers is one of the best ways to spread brand awareness and receive word-of-mouth recommendations. That’s why so many brands are paying social media influencers to produce original content and share it with their audiences on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
11. Use a consistent ROI calculation.
Tracking metrics like pageviews, downloads, social shares, lead generation, and sales are all important components of effective content marketing. But, you still have to some sort of calculation in place so that you can measure content marketing costs and revenues. Without this information, how can you be certain that your efforts are worth the investment?
There are different ways of calculating your content marketing ROI. You just want to make sure that you find that works for you and that you’re consistent about using the same method.
Whatever method you select, it should include these three components;
- How much it costs to produce, promote, and distribute your content.
- The percent of content that is unused.
- How the content performed in regards to your goals.