You will have noticed the increase in the amount of content being published in all channels and how difficult it is to notice and view even content you are genuinely interested in. This is set to continue and become increasingly more difficult to get the traction with your audiences and the search engines.
Yet every marketer and agency recommends that you should always look to create great and valuable content. But how do you ensure you achieve this?
1. What is Great Content?
Your content should always be customer focused and look to offer solutions to problems you know your targets are looking for. But the reality is, this alone is not enough. You have to be more forensic with your content planning approach.
The most effective way of assessing your planned content is to establish if it is at least as good as the top SERP content already published on that subject. If it's not as good as this, then you simply won’t cut through against this existing top ranked content, especially if this content is from established and trusted publishers. Your goal is to better this content for whatever keywords or subject matter you are looking to publish about. This really does act as a reality check when preparing to develop content. It also explains why most content is never picked up by audiences or search engines. If your content is great and you have good SERP it will be difficult for people copy and usurp your position on the rankings.
Hence start preparing by assessing what is already out there.
Search for your topic and look at the top SERP items
What questions are they asking and what solutions are being offered? What is the user experience with this content? Is it fast? Well-designed? Mobile friendly? How much detail and how thorough is the information? Do they embellish the content with visuals, video, data? What is the quality of writing like? Can you establish what is missing? This is crucial. You want to be able to produce better content than this. If your assessment of the leading content is that it cannot be improved upon – that you have nothing valuable to add to it, then you have to begin your search for another niche content space that you can dominate.
This approach is what most content publishers miss. They believe that identifying a subject matter they know their customers are interested in and writing their content to answer this will be enough to succeed. But that all to often falls into a below great content’ category and will struggle to be found by the engines and hence by any of your targets. So doing your background prep work is essential to success.
There was a time where the belief regarding digital content was that it was entirely different to print based content. That successful digital content needed to be concise because the reader would not be able or interested in consuming longer content on their device or desktop. But this has changed. Consumers are very willing to consume detailed information across multiple devices and crucially the search engines are now rewarding long version content. The chart below illustrates an example of top ranking content length and its page ranking.
Google is now looking to assess whether there are key influencers or experts in a particular area or topic. Hence if you can own a topic in a deep way and develop solutions across this topic spectrum, you will be rewarded with strong ranking. Start to think about your content in categories and look to dominate that category end-to-end. Don’t be singular in your content marketing.
Consider upgrading existing content that might be performing well already. For example you could look to embellish it with supplementary content – additional tips or a detailed case study for example could help push this already strong content into the hard to copy great content. This type of improvement can see a dramatic uplift in the engagement statistics with better form filling returns which feeds into your base of leads, which can be then nurtured through your sales funnel. Such leads are strong as they are from targets that have engaged with multiple pieces of content and as we shall see later in this piece, this is very important for conversion.
You will not improve your content marketing today if you do not embrace multimedia. Video (live video in particular) is being rewarded very heavily by Google.
80% of global web traffic will be video by 2020
You should consider offering video tutorials, FAQs, explainers to boost your ranking profile. Consider broadcasting from presentations or create webinar content. Slideshare content, podcasts, infographics, written content etc should be part of your digital communications tactics.
When you have created really valuable content that you believe will rank well, you should look to re-purpose that content in different media to help its amplification.
Potential customers like nothing better than hearing from existing customers who are positive about you and your business. Hence it will be valuable if you can persuade your customers to talk with or about you. Try and give them something they can participate with, like a survey or to take part in key influencer content (appealing to them as leaders). Any of these contributions will be seen as credible endorsement of your business and can be used as part of other content or as a stand alone piece very successfully.
Data is such an integral part of digital marketing. Your customer insight data will be a driving force behind your content and marketing strategies. The more data you have the better the solution you can offer your customers. Think about creating sub-segments within your base so that you can be very specific to that audience. Personalised and specific content will place you in a smaller niche. This will have 2 significant benefits. Your audience will appreciate your deep knowledge about a specific issue facing them and the search engines will reward you with a better SERP. This level of detail will confirm your status as an expert influencer.
You often hear that successful selling is a numbers game. You needs X number of leads to deliver Y number of customers. Digital selling is no different. Based on average revenue generated per transaction, you can estimate the number of existing and new clients needed to deliver the sort of revenue growth you want. Next overlay this with your lead conversion rate and you are beginning to see a model for achieving sales growth.
From a purely content marketing perspective there are numbers involved too. The rule of 7 is becoming an industry benchmark. What this assumes is that prospects needs on average seven interactions with your brand before they will be open to any buying. This fits perfectly with the raison d’etre of inbound marketing i.e. that you want to attract visitors to your website with valuable content and to nurture them from lead to customer by offering further valuable content.
During this nurturing phase, stay patient.
Don’t try and sell too quickly
Think about giving them more educational content. This is the way to woo and manage them through your sales funnel. You want these targets to get to a point where they are very comfortable receiving content from you and where they move to being actively interested in buying from you.
Look to break your sales cycle into 5-7 interaction points. These interactions can be delivered through email, social media, website etc. It is during this nurturing phase that marketing automation tools become very valuable as it centralises all of these activities and ensures that the data on your prospects activities and your content is recorded in your CRM. As you scale, this becomes critically important. (see blog post Fact: Successful Companies Use Marketing Automation).
Even from this brief examination of different tactics you can use to turbo charge your content marketing, you can see that success requires an integrated approach with careful planning before the ongoing targeted execution begins.