Six key ingredients to successful content marketing

Key IngredientsIsn’t it a bit strange that content marketing has just recently become such a hot topic? These days, it seems to be the number one buzzword in the marketing arena. I think that in a lot of ways, it’s because the concept of content marketing settles the “inbound” versus “outbound” battle for good.

While previously, many vendors used to offer tools that focused almost exclusively on either outbound channels (such as email) or on inbound channels (such as social media or SEO), most of them are now changing course by reworking their products and their strategy, as they are incorporating both inbound and outbound features to their products. Why? Simple: great content provides value, and by providing value, you grow your leads, regardless of whether you promote it via inbound or outbound vehicles.

Considering that your content is the main reason why people visit your website and interact with you on social media, it almost appears shocking that the emphasis has not always been on creating and promoting original, high caliber content. My take is “better late than never”. It’s great to see that APV (Always Provide Value) has finally taken the spotlight.

Let’s take a look at some of the most crucial components for a successful content marketing strategy.

  • Company-wide buy-in.

    Content is not just a responsibility of your marketing team. Your content represents your company, your product, and your services. It’s the single most effective way to generate traffic to your site. Therefore, it’s paramount that everybody in the company understands the importance of both quality content and a content strategy.

    In addition, if you don’t involve team members from other departments in your content creation, you are seriously missing out on a great opportunity to produce a greater variety of content as well as more targeted content for specific sections of your audience. For instance, your engineers can write technical blog posts or answer quick product-related questions via a tweet, or members of your services team can provide tips and tricks based on their experience with the product.

    Communicate to everybody in your company how your content strategy benefits your business and how each individual can make a contribution. Get them excited about contributing content. At the same time, be mindful of everybody’s time, talents, and interest.

  • Engagement.

    The days in which marketing campaigns solely focused on brand awareness as their goal are over. Marketing is no longer one-directional. It’s all about interaction with your audience. A successful content marketing strategy identifies how to foster as much engagement as possible. Thought-provoking blog posts, sharing of new ideas, polls, a “question of the day”, and interaction on message boards and discussion forums are just a few ways in which you can engage your target audience.

    In addition, don’t forget to make your content shareable, so that your readers can further spread your content and expand your community. But remember: only if you are passionate about your content can you foster engagement.

  • Commitment and caring.

    Your content needs to be fresh. You can have an amazing website with awesome and valuable copy, but if you don’t create new content on a regular basis, you can’t really leverage your marketing campaigns and drive more traffic to your site. When Google updated their search algorithm last fall, placing increased emphasis on the “freshness factor”, it became clear even to skeptics that the “set it and forget it” approach to SEO would no longer be effective. Content marketing requires commitment. Whether it’s blogging or posting to social media, you simply cannot expect to stay top of mind with your audience or on top of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) if you only blog sporadically or only engage on social media channels if you feel like it.

    Furthermore, what separates great content marketers from the rest is that they genuinely care – about the quality of content they produce, the people that they help, the customer service they provide.

  • Measurement.

    Without metrics, it’s hard to tell how well your content is doing. And if you don’t know how effective your content is, how do you empower yourself to make it even better, more targeted, and more valuable? Some of the things that you might consider tracking and measuring are: new visitors over time, conversion rates, SERP rankings for strategic keywords, and, of course, engagement (number of likes, shares, and comments). Keep in mind that in order for your data to be meaningful, you need context, such as changes and trends over time and, most importantly, your goals.

  • Uniqueness.

    It’s not that easy to find brand-new topics to write about, but what you should strive for is to find your own unique voice and to provide fresh perspectives. In addition, don’t forget to shine the spotlight on what makes your company and your product different. Finally, always be good for a surprise – be it an unconventional contest or prize, an unusual blog post topic, a funny image or an unexpected giveaway.

  • Roles, rules, and processes.

    In order to run effective content marketing campaigns, make sure that you know your team and discuss roles and responsibilities. Who will be contributing content? Who will be reviewing it? Who is your editor in chief? Who manages your social media accounts? Establish very basic rules, especially with regard to etiquette, response time, and handling negative comments. Make your processes as clear as possible, from generating ideas to assigning task, from writing copy to editing and approving, and then promoting your content. Determining those basic roles, rules, and processes helps avoid bottlenecks and conflicts. But keep an open, agile mind, and make sure that you continue to “inspect and adjust”.

What are your thoughts about content marketing? What are the most important aspects of successful content marketing initiatives and campaigns?

Kat is the CEO of Spectate. Her goal is to empower users to create and manage their web content and to provide them with the tools to become even better content marketers. Connect with Kat on Google+!

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