Online marketing continues to evolve. As Bill Gates correctly noted way back in 1996, “Content is King”. But producing great content is getting harder and harder. More and more companies are hopping on the content bandwagon. So what can you do to differentiate yourself from the noise and help your customers cut through the clutter? This is what we recommend as content marketing best practices for 2016:
Produce original content
Google’s algorithms have reached new levels of sophistication and they are great at catching duplicate content and keyword stuffing. With updates such as the “penguin” and “panda”, Google has long been working to punish low quality websites. Original content is always the main ranking factor in the quality equation.
Original content is effective precisely because it’s unique. Provide a thoughtful and original point of view. Conduct a study among your user database, but make sure it’s a statistically significant sample and write about it. Original content needs to be thought provoking and powerful. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and offer an opinion. Do not copy or plagiarize other articles or content pieces. You can and should offer respectable sources to support your point of view.
In order to create quality content, you’ll need some original and fresh nuggets of information that are relevant to your audience. For example, investing in market research is totally worthwhile. If you’re a company making security software, publishing statistics on how much breaches costs businesses on a yearly basis is valuable and relevant information. Once you have the data you want to share in order to make your point, create an easy to read format such as an infographic and distribute it via social channels and your blog pages.
Focus on your customers, not SEO
SEO is very important, don’t get me wrong. However the content that is valuable to your target market and your customers will be ranked better if more people search for the topic and click on it. Simply put, make your content relevant.
A good way to establish relevancy is addressing your customer’s’ concerns in a timely manner. For example, if there’s a data breach, and your security company prevented the breach from affecting your customers, highlight that in your next blog. Reassure your customers by sending them the blog via email. This shows them that 1. You are on top of the news in your industry and 2. Your software is superior. The SEO will take care of itself.
Distribute your content
Above I discussed social media, blog pages and email as a means of content distribution. You should also use content syndication networks (such as Outbrain, Taboola and MeetEdgar), press releases and your website as the pillars for your content strategy distribution.
Content can be distributed in various formats. Infographics are great “to the point” visuals. They are clear and get the point across. If you need a much more in depth look at your business, case studies are a great way to go. They examine your business effects in depth and should illustrate the benefit of your company. Podcasts break up the content mix nicely because they are in a radio like format and allow your potential customers a break from reading. If you’re looking for an interactive way to share your information, try webinars. You can host live, or prerecorded webinars and take questions from your audience. This is where a content calendar really comes in handy. You should ideally be mixing and matching your content distribution channels so your audience doesn’t get bored.
Build a community on your website. Have members answer questions and advocate your brand on your behalf. Link and share to your website to boost website traffic rankings and strive to increase your social following.
Reuse successful content
Many companies wrongly assume that content has a shelf life. However that is not the case. Not only can you reuse some old successful blog topics, you can also turn them into e-books, infographics and white papers. Get creative about your best performing content. Make webinars, podcasts and videos out of successful blog topics as. The key here is to take a successful theme and change the presentation method. Turn the same data from your winning infographic as a “Q and A with an expert” into a podcast series.
Start a conversation on social media about relevant, trending topics. Reference your content to get readership and build a following. For example, if you have an infographic showing how much money is being lost to security breaches, follow trending topics on twitter that relate to security breaches. Join conversations, using your infographic to support your points. That’s a great way to get the content shared and reshared. Also, join relevant LinkedIn groups and start discussions on your topics. Once again share your content to back up your talking points.
A note on overly salesy shares or posts. The audience will not appreciate salesy tactics. While they will possibly be looking for a solution such as yours after hearing the statistics, give them time to process the information. Timing is key in the sales process. If you start pitching your product right after your audience reads that there was a breach, as opposed to presenting a study that discusses the costs of these breaches, you will not be seen as helpful. On the contrary, you will be seen as being opportunistic.
Lastly, leave a comments section on your blog and community pages. Give your readers a chance to opine.
Build thought leadership
Content is a great way to build thought leadership. Exhibiting knowledge and leadership in your relevant field goes a long way for your customers. If your field is security, discuss the latest results of the analyst report. Interview the analysts themselves via podcast, if possible. By bringing in relevant experts, your company becomes the “go to” source for anything related to your field. Thought leadership builds trust. And trusts is a key element in the customer purchase decision process.
Promote your content
Meet-ups and customer appreciation events work wonders when it comes to retaining your customers and attracting new ones. Use events as an opportunity to invite notable industry experts to speak on your behalf, supporting and promoting your product or service. The great thing about digital content such as infographics and case studies, is that it can also be printed and handed out at events and tradeshows.
You can also promote your content by paying for ads. Twitter’s promoted tweets allow you to increase engagement by paying for selected tweets and so do LinkedIn’s sponsored ads.
Integrate your content into your overall marketing strategy
In order for your content strategy to work, your content needs to support the rest of your marketing strategy. That means echoing the voice of your brand and disseminating top level marketing messaging through all your marketing channels. You should keep content in mind when working on all B2B marketing related tasks. Make sure you incorporate your content into paid campaigns to build a database of prospects and start nurturing those leads.