What is an Effective Content Marketing Strategy?

At the start of the year, we spoke about trends in Digital Transformations and predicted about its fair share of success with the right kind of digital strategy. Digital marketer have enough said about content marketing and its need and so forth. I would like to talk a little bit more on the strategical side of the content and how we can make it effective.

First, we have to really understand why there must be a strategy in place. Let’s see if you can clarify the WHY’s

The importance of content marketing is enormous within the context of an authentic digital marketing campaign. Content marketing provides the much-needed awareness for products and services to a worthy demographic of the audience with the aim of selling a unique value point of that business and converting such audiences to customers by instigating the need for action.

In a typical buying process, customers go through awareness, research, deliberation and then finally purchase a product or service.

Content marketing plays a key role in the awareness and research phases by informing customers of the availability of a service that provides solutions and offers so and so value. Content also educates customers about the product or service that they may never buy in the absence of such education.
This way, audiences and potential customers are aware of a service, find value in it and reach out (by contact or purchase) because they are already certain that they need such service and understand how it works in solving their own challenges.

Now let’s understand the strategic part

What is an effective content marketing strategy?

Research, Content and Audience, Promotion and Results all makeup different faucets of an effective content marketing strategy. Since content is the main subject of all the marketing efforts, a bulk of the work lies in curating and developing engaging and comprehensive content that aids the marketing strategy. To ensure a thorough understanding of the subject, we’d be discussing all four parts of a content marketing strategy.

When it comes to developing content, research is the first line of action. Proper research will provide you with all the details that you will be applying to every other aspect of the content to be developed. During the course of a rigorous research, you begin to answer key questions like Who are your audience, where are your audience, what do your audience like and how they interact and how the success of this content marketing campaign is to be determined.
Also, a proper research helps you to answer questions like, is there a lot of high-quality content already produced? Are there relevant and actual data-rich articles out there? Are they outdated? Has the topic received enough attention to be updated? How is the content to be structured? How did the audience respond to a related article or writing style? Is there voluminous competition for writing about the topic? Can you approach the audience from a different angle? Whatever answers you come up with here will guide you as soon as you head into the content phase.
You also need to have a firm understanding of the audience you’re writing for, their likes, their demography, where usually hang out and how to measure their feedback.
Once you have successfully completed a satisfactory research, it’s time to move into the content and audience phase.

Content and Audience

Needless to say, “Content is King”. The power and marketability of every content is strongly dependent of the quality of the content itself. How well you can write an effective content that captivates the audience and does excellently well to sell your proposition makes all the difference. So, what makes a relevant and captivating content? A few of them include:

  • Outlining
  • Structure and volume
  • Headlines
  • Value
  • Keywords
  • Tailored for audience
  • Media

Outlining is the first thing to do before delving deep into content writing. First, you need to convey all the information gathered from the research phase and evaluate it to determine certain features of your write up.
Without the proper research, you cannot successfully navigate this phase. A detailed outline should include the introduction, the body, the conclusion and a call to action of some sort. Moving on the content structure, you will need to know what you’re opting for. Are you going for short and basic, short and powerful or moderate with value? Below are some factors to consider in structuring relevant content and volume to make sure you avoid writing a piece that is never read.

Post length and quality
When you have a quality content that isn’t overly concerned about keywords and word counts, you will naturally rank better. Google’s ranking algorithm is structured to analyze and interpret the quality of content and as such, short, cheap and basic content won’t take you far, rather, write for value without cutting corners. Cite your sources, use references, links, charts and data sources. Most importantly, write for value.
The same goes for volume. If you take your time and study trends, you will agree that big sites do not just go around vomiting hundreds of contents weekly but take their time to drop one or two high-quality posts every week. Better to have a few pieces with great content than a long list of crap.

Next, headlines.
You know how they say, first impression matters? Well, it couldn’t be any truer with quality content. A quality survey and analysis from Buzzsumo left us captivated when we read their report on how a million headlines performed based on their structure, number of characters, appeal to the audience and keywords.

What do you think of the following?

Headlines that matters the most in contAent marketing strategy

After a rigid analysis, the content analyst giant reported that headlines that drove the most engagement contained the phrase “will make you” by a large (more than double) volume compared to the second-placed phrase “this is why” and third placed (almost triple) “can we guess”. Next in line, emotional headlines with words like “tears of joy”, “make you cry”, “Can’t stop laughing” and “will give you goosebumps” all scored higher engagement with audiences on Facebook while phrases like “what happened next”, “are freaking out”, “top X songs”, “You won’t believe” and “Twitter reacts to” seem to bring out the cat-curious personality of internet users.

According to Buzzsumo, other headline strategies that ranked very highly take the structure of explanations, tribal/groups, quizzes and the number 10. For instance, phrases such as “This is why” and “the reason is” did well for explanatory headlines, “things only X can…” also did well to target a select audience (tribal/groups) and quizzes like “can we guess” and “the only X in… can you?” performed tremendously well to drive engagement and interactions.

Headlines starting with words like “This” and “Trump” also scored highest for Facebook engagement and everyone seems to be keying into the power of “Top 10” posts. The number of words in your headlines also plays an important factor as Buzzsumo researches reveal 12-15 words as an ideal number. Posts with shorter headlines performed badly and those that were too long did no better. Generally, your content headline should offer:

  • Promise and clarity
  • Instill curiosity
  • Appeal to a group or tribe
  • Have emotional hooks
  • Explain subject matters
  • Focus on why the reader should care

Asides keywords, you must be able to structure your keywords such that it doesn’t compromise in its quest to convey value for the audience. Since media like photos, gif images, memes and videos also spark higher engagement, it would be unwise to keep them out of your content.

Merely looking at the details discussed so far, you may begin to wonder “hey, how long is all this going to take”. The truth is, depending on how prolific a writer you are, you may have to work faster and become more productive.

Here are some hacks for that:

  • Have a detailed outline
  • Break writing into parts
  • Make a commitment on what to achieve in a time frame
  • Take breaks and let your mind wander
  • Write randomly from parts that inspire you more
  • Avoid distractions
  • Start writing already

Lastly, don’t forget to theme your content into an ongoing trend if you can, if you can’t, don’t force it.

Inspite of all your writing efforts, without having your content tailored accurately for your audience, there will be a genuine lack of interest. You want to know:

Who your audience are
Direct relevant content to a relevant group of people that best need your content. The purpose of your content can easily help you figure who falls into your audience category

Where they usually spend their time and what route best appeals to them
Are they always on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Is LinkedIn more of their thing or are they even never online and prefer traditional routes of content like magazines, webinars, newspapers, and other print media. Who knows, they may even be the types that only read emails.

What type of content they like

Are your audience driven by a professional tone or do they appreciate humor and conversation-style posts? Do they relate well to media or are they more charts and facts oriented?

How your content key to their needs
Again, your value proposition comes to play here. Empathize their needs and subtly prime their minds on how your content helps them to solve a problem

Even if you already have an established website or blog. You still need effective means to get your content in the eyes of more and more people that need your content. From automatic social sharing RSS to interacting with bloggers that can post and link your content, there is no limit. If need be, pay for advertising and get more people on your page. Use compelling conclusions and simple social media buttons to encourage viewers to share your post with their network of friends, colleagues, and families at the tap of a button. Every good piece has the potential to be a top-ranking content for a search query. Your promotion only ends when you stop.

One of the best things about content marketing is that you get to see how your efforts have culminated in a superb or decent performance. Plan ahead the routes to which you will measure the content marketing success. From Google Analytics to Facebook pixels or the use of dedicated landing pages and sales conversion, endeavor to put adequate structures in place to help you track your results

Bottom line

An effective content marketing strategy largely depends on your ability to research, understand your audience, sell your value and key into what they would love to read. It is imperative to note that not all your pieces will reel in big bucks and make it to the top pages as an authority in a topic. However, slowly and steadily, your incorporation of these techniques into your content marketing will make you an expert in no time with many results to show for it.

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