Content Marketing is a great way to drive brand awareness and attract new customers. In this day and age, it’s essential you make it a pillar in your digital marketing strategy. That said, you need to be sure you’re approaching it the right way and to help you on that path, we’ve compiled six of what we feel are the most critical elements you’ll need—regardless of your industry sector and/or product offering—in order to be successful in Content Marketing.
1. Earning Their Trust
Earning trust is the ultimate goal of content marketing but that’s not easy to do. Here are some ways you should approach it:
- Understand Your Customers’ Problems First
Start by understanding your customers problems so you can supply practical solutions to them, and that process begins by first asking them questions and then listening intently to their answers.
- Avoid Pitching
Talking too much about your company or product is guaranteed to turn off customers and prospects. The reason they’re online reading and/or searching is to SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM NOT TO BUY YOUR PRODUCT. Give them educational content without the marketing spin and you’ll earn their trust.
- Provide Relevant Direction
Your content must provide good, practical advice if you want it to position you as a trusted expert.
- Be Solution-Oriented
Products are static, solutions are dynamic—you want to provide the latter. Solutions provide answers to the real challenges your prospective customers care about. If you offer content showing how your product can solve those problems (without the hard sell), you will build trust and reach prospects in context, that is, when they’re actually considering purchasing something to solve a problem.
2. Define Your Tone and Style
A style guide is an essential tool for establishing brand continuity, including tone and voice. There are a few ways you can approach developing the right tone and voice for your brand. Which approach is the correct one really depends on two critical considerations:
- Who you are
- What place you want to inhabit in the minds of your customers.
Here are a few ways to look at those questions:
- Use an authoritative tone if you want to solidify a leadership position
- Use an innovative and cutting edge tone to come across as energetic and exciting
- Use a direct and instructional tone when approaching a time strapped target customer who needs quick and directly applicable expertise
In any event, you always need to be entertaining and be able to tell a story if you expect readers to come back. Some other things to consider along with tone and voice are things like: fonts, colors, use of imagery etc. Done well, a brand style can serve to connect you deeply with your customer and position you as the solution of choice. So be thoughtful when outlining these types of standards for your brand, it’ll go a long way towards defining who you are and what you stand for, to distinguish you from your competition.
3. Find Great Writers with The Right Expertise
When it comes to Content Marketing, if you’re looking to develop great content that outperforms, you’d be hard pressed to match the combination of utility and entertainment. Great writing always includes a compelling narrative, the challenge, however, is often how to also make it useful. To succeed, you must strive to develop content that entertains, feels genuine and provides your customers good answers. Of course, the tricky part can often be in finding writers that possess a balance of the right skills—facility with words and subject matter expertise. If that’s you, then hats off. But for the rest of us, we generally need to outsource. When interviewing writers for full time or freelance engagements, be sure to ask them to show you examples that adequately meet that criteria (i.e. the “balance”). If they don’t have any samples, ask them to write up something short for your review.
4. Quality is Your Only “Real” Option
Great content is clear, simple and easy to understand and as we’ve mentioned, you have an obligation to deliver quality content that provides utility to your target market readers. Fat and fluff just won’t cut it. When your site provides quality information, guidance, advice and/or solves a problem pertinent to your customer, your traffic will invariably increase. So to be clear, content quality is imperative. Search engines are no longer tricked by shady SEO strategies only geared towards increasing search rank by stuffing sites with subpar content. Know that Google is getting better and better at detecting and penalizing that approach, not to mention, it’ll do nothing to keep your readers engaged. Bottomline, your goal is to impress your readers first and foremost by your quality, and the rest will take care of itself.
5. Mediocrity is Expensive
Keeping with the previous theme…you get what you pay for. Yes, you can buy inexpensive content from a million providers online but will it actually do anything for your real business metrics—leads, sales, profit, etc? Keep in mind, your content needs to:
- Represent your brand well
- Resonate with your target
- Drive action
- Sell product
So go out and find the talent you need to be able to deliver a quality, professional experience.
6. Shorter is Better Online
These days, everyone is time-constrained and your content needs to take this into account if you want to build strong readership. Easy-to-read content will keep visitors interested and returning. Short paragraphs and bulleted lists are ideal. Remember the general rule, online readers are usually looking for quick information which is why longer paragraphs can be unappealing while short, scannable paragraphs allow readers to quickly determine if they want to continue on. Nonetheless, you must also keep in mind that while scannability can entice readers to stay, if your content is thin, boring or inaccurate they won’t won’t stick around anyway. So follow these rules of thumb:
- Deliver quality
- Keep it short and scannable
- Use bullets to highlight important area and give readers a good idea of what’s covered.