Have you searched for “What is Content Marketing” using Google Search?. Don’t worry if you haven’t. This is what you will get if you search for that:
So content marketing basically involves creating and sharing of online material which does not explicitly promote a brand but stimulate interest in its products and services.
How interesting is that? As Marketers, when we create content, many times we forget this definition and go for the kill or the right hook (as per my favourite marketer Gary Vaynerchuk).
I am a strong proponent of Content Marketing and been engaged in the same for the last 10 years or so. I have produced a huge heap of content; some hitting the definition (sticking to the above definition) and some of them missing its purpose. So, here I am, presenting to you all my 8 content marketing lessons gathered during this journey.
Educate Not Sell
When you are producing content for your brand’s promotions, the first thing you have to keep in mind is that education of your target audience is “mostly” the purpose of your content. Never take your audience for granted. Do not make all your content speak about you, your company and your services. Trust me, these content will fall on deaf ears.
Lesson 1: Except for your sales or product collaterals, almost all your content should be educational in nature. Make your customer or prospect the “Hero” of your story.
Now, what does that mean? Always invest time and money in content which tackles your customer’s challenges and goals. Once you have got their attention, tie your product or service into that story. Every prospect of yours is looking for a solution to their problems; not your product. So tell a story in a better way than anyone else about how your product r service can solve their problems effectively.
Quality Matters Than Quantity
This is a lesson which I learned after committing the mistake for a sufficiently long duration of time. I used to believe that “more the merrier” when it comes to Content Marketing. Produce loads of content and it is ok even if the quality is ok — that used to be my motto. Boy, was I wrong?
As a content marketer, the second lesson for you is that always focus on quality and don’t obsess over quantity produced. Quality content is the most important differentiating factor when it comes to the success of your marketing efforts. Here is research published by HubSpot on how content quantity diminishes quality. Another added advantage of top quality content is the ability of it to generate backlinks and this will boost its SEO value.
What does that mean? Imagine you have prepared an awesome piece of content and put it out on the internet. Its quality can make people link to the content and that leads to an increase of backlinks to that content piece. And when the backlinks improve and are from legitimate sources (websites), search engines will automatically rank your content higher in search results. Isn’t it amazing?
Few exceptions where this lesson can be ignored temporarily (from my own experience) is when your company is running dry on content. In that case, you can keep an eye closed on this and focus on content quantity for a while.
Prepare For Audience & Then For Search Engines
Every content marketer knows the importance of their content appears higher in search results. The effect of that on your website traffic will be astounding. Having said that, if you keep producing content for search engines like Google, Bing etc., there’s a good chance that your audience might end up missing your content. So here’s lesson number 3 — As a marketer, you should always focus on producing content for your audience first and then for the search engines.
Now, what does that mean? Produce content which will address your audience’s challenges and help them tackle them. As mentioned earlier, always keep them in the forefront.
You might have a question now — What did you mean by …… & then for search engines. So you can tie your content to your audience and search engines. For example, you can identify a challenge faced by your audience, produce a content piece to help them tackle that, figure out the terms or phrases your audience use to find such solutions for their challenge and make them part of your content.
In that manner, you keep your audience and search bots happy.
Always Experiment With Formats
The life of a content marketer can be tough sometimes. Identifying the topics for content, doing the research, making the storyline, the actual content production, sharing the content and the list goes on.
As a content marketer, you have to keep the process interesting. So I present to you lesson #4 — Always keep experimenting with your content formats. Fortunately, there is a vast array of content formats to choose from these days. So you have to keep experimenting with the content format to figure out the best one for your brand.
A Quick Tip: According to SocialMediaToday, 60% of marketers used videos in their social media marketing in 2016. Interesting, isn’t it?
Another way you can bring in experimentation into your content marketing efforts is by Content Repurposing. Repurposing your blog post into a short video or a podcast can boost the reach and life of the same. So I highly recommend trying that.
Sharing Crucial Than Preparation
As a Content Marketer, your job doesn’t end once the preparation is over. Most of us do the grave mistake of putting all our energy and time into production and then going into hibernation. Never do that mistake.
Lesson 5: Sharing your content is as CRUCIAL as the preparation. All your efforts (time & money) will go down the drain if you don’t put the right efforts into spreading your content. So I recommend dedicating 60% of your time in disseminating your content.
Trust me; it is super important for your content marketing success.
Employ Tools Wherever Possible
As Content Marketers, this is one of the best times to be alive. You have amazing tools at your disposal for everything — be it content preparation (any format), content sharing, getting links, measuring content marketing success etc.
There are a plethora of tools available for every marketer out there. For example, here’s a good list of such tools by Curata. Check it out.
Here comes lesson #6: Use tools wherever possible. Be it for content preparation, content sharing or analytics; make use of them. Main advantage while using tools is time savings and better outcomes.
Keep People In The Loop
While preparing content, we might end up referencing someone or some brand or some statistics. This can be influencers, industry leaders, information sources etc. So lesson 7 is to letting these referenced individuals or brands know about the same.
What does that mean? In this article, I have referred to HubSpot and Curata for some statistics. Once this is published, it is a good practice to let them know that I have used them as a reference. You can do this via a tweet or so.
What happens is when people or brands know that their names are being included in a good content piece, they might end up sharing the same by giving a shout-out. Voila — your reach just got a boost.
Reshare, Reshare & Reshare Some More
Ok, you just produced an awesome piece of content and you tweeted it out or posted it on your brand’s Facebook page. You are happy and content that you did a fantastic job. And you relax.
NO. NO. NO. According to Smart Insights, there are 3.3 million posts shared on Facebook in 1 minute. Whoa. Just think about that for a second. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
So do you think your awesome piece of content has a chance to stand up long this barrage of content? So here’s lesson #8 for you — Keep resharing your content as much as possible.
Many marketers feel guilty to share the same content twice or thrice. But let me assure you that internet is a vast ocean where a person ending up watching your latest video twice or thrice is a far-fetched possibility (unless it’s not a retargeted crappy ad). So be shameless, keep resharing and then share some more.
Here are my 8 key lessons for content marketers. Keep hustling and producing amazing content.