How can your company improve its content marketing? Columnist Quinn Whissen asks a group of industry mavens to weigh in on their top tips.
We’re at the point in the content marketing adoption cycle when a lot of people have bought into the philosophy but are struggling to see results. That could be for many reasons: lack of executive buy-in, inconsistent publication schedules, loose internal governance processes or a dearth of internal content creators.
Whatever the reason, marketers are still trying to figure out how to get content marketing right.
Who better than to advise us all on how to course-correct our current content marketing than the industry experts who live and breathe content marketing every day? I asked them one simple question that provided a multitude of perspectives:
What’s your number one tip on how most companies can improve their current content marketing?
Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute & Co-Author, “Experiences: The 7th Era Of Marketing,”
Companies should stop looking at content marketing as an alternative form of advertising or marketing collateral. Content marketing is NOT supercharged campaign-based marketing — it is a different activity with a different investment model.
If we can start to look at content marketing as an investment in developing an audience that provides multiple lines of value to the business (including — yes — more and better leads), then we will start to recognize some of the true power that content provides.
CEO of SiteTuners and Author of “Landing Page Optimization”
Instead of pumping out recurring content on an editorial schedule, you should focus on creating useful and durable assets. These downloads, videos or articles should be educating your prospects about things that they care about — not pushing your own agenda.
It is especially important earlier in the customer journey, because downloading your content makes you a thought leader and puts you into the consideration set of products or services that they may consider later.
CEO, Well Planned Web
Companies can improve their current content marketing by being ruthlessly relevant to the customer. This means content owners must hold themselves and others (including execs) accountable to content that actually matters. Period.
VP of Audience and Co-founder, Relevance
The vast majority of brands could vastly improve their content marketing if they changed their mindset. For every dollar spent on content creation for television advertising, five dollars is spent on its distribution. Content marketers are spending $0.15 on distribution for every $0.85 they spend on creation. This fact actually makes me angry.
We content marketers need to demand more budget for promotion. No one bats an eye when a TV commercial executive asks for 5X budget for distribution, but our peers are afraid to ask for a 1:1 budget. This needs to change.
Director of Brand Management at John Wiley & Sons
Try your best to cut out the noise. There are so many articles and philosophies on how to “do content marketing.” If you can stay centered on the idea that your goal is to provide the information that your customers need, then the strategy becomes clear more quickly.
It can be daunting when you read about recommended quantities of content and the wide array of options for where the content “should” live. Just put yourself in the shoes of those you are targeting, and map out some ideas for what would be helpful for them and where they spend their time.
You can always optimize from there and add in various tips and tricks, but this will provide you with a solid foundation.
Editor and Marketing Communications at Microsoft (Disclosure: client)
Companies need to give something in order to get something. Don’t gate everything of value.
Instead, develop some excellent, useful, actionable content that you can simply give away. It helps establish your brand and leadership in a given space, and it leads potential customers to believe that you can probably help them (since you clearly know your stuff).
Senior Site Manager at Microsoft
Know your customer, have empathy for them, and be sure to map your calendar to their rhythm. Don’t create content because you like it, someone higher up demands it, or for content’s sake — content should be based on intent, quality and remarkability, not activity.
Unless your customer needs it, data backs you up and you can measure your macro goals moving, you need to revisit your entire approach.
Native Advertising Consultant & Expert In Residence at BRaVe Ventures
The best way to bring value to your consumers through content is to answer questions they have. Check the comments on your social media posts, get data from your customer service chat box and ask your customer hotline and sales representatives the most common questions they get.
If you create compelling content that answers these questions, you’ll establish your expertise and create great search-optimized content that provides value to your consumers.
Carl Wilhelm Vedvik
Co-founder at Content Marketing Norge
Do the most comprehensive keyword research in your field. This will help you to understand your target audience better than your competitors. The marvelous thing here is that you’ll not only find questions that haven’t been answered, but the content you create will resonate much better.
And if you want to rank higher in organic search, build more high-quality links to each article you publish. A great 500-word article can beat a blog post with 2,000 words if it has more high-quality backlinks. Google has stated that links are the most important ranking factor!
SEO & Web Marketing Consultant at ILoveSEO.net
My best tip is to do a content audit in order to review the same content marketing strategy, or even starting to have a real one, because in many cases, the content marketing strategy many business companies have is more a copycat collage of tactics seen in some marketing blog or something they heard about.
Only through doing an in-depth content audit can we understand what content we already have and if it’s answering the needs/pain points of our audience or if that content needs to be rethought in order to achieve its objectives.
And only with a content audit can we discover what we are not covering and, therefore, losing opportunities.
Content Marketing Consultant, Content Marketing DK
If you can’t beat them — join them! Although, it is easier to measure the impact, it’s not always the best option to build your channel from scratch.
Look around in your niche. If there’s already a ton of sites covering your topics, it is wise to spend less time on content for your own site and more on repurposing your best articles and offering them as contributions to relevant editors.
Senior Content Marketing Strategist, Vertical Measures (Disclosure: Vertical Measures is the author’s employer.)
The best way to improve current content marketing efforts is to look internally! There is a deluge of content living both in your employee emails and in their heads — especially the sales team!
Tap into these subject matter experts, and ask them what questions they are asked, what they would like to see answered, what content already exists in their emails. They’re closest to the end-user and know what content will resonate!
CEO of Curata
The common wisdom is that having a documented content marketing strategy is the single most important thing you can do to improve your content marketing, but most companies are already doing content marketing and doing a decent job.
What almost everyone can do to improve is to measure — not just vanity metrics such as page views and social shares, but everything down to leads and revenue to see how your content is performing, then doubling down on what’s working and dumping what’s not.
CEO of Heinz Marketing
Listen to your customers. Find out what makes your buyers tick. Address issues that they have in their business right now.
Focus on making them smarter, better. Help them reframe questions or issues or challenges they have right now. The more your content directly addresses those issues, the more valuable it will be.
CEO of Marketing Insider Group
My number one tip for companies to improve the current content marketing efforts is to focus on building subscribers. And to optimize their content marketing efforts around that single focus.
Senior Content Manager for UPS (Disclosure: client)
Evaluate your story. As sophisticated content marketers, you’ve already determined the narrative of your company — but how is it working? Dive into the data.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.