Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action — Content Marketing Institute
Contemporary content marketers are constantly on the lookout for the best possible ways of reaching customers. Extending a brand to a larger, more targeted audience communicates more effectively and drives sales that grow the business.But there lies a distinct difference between the traditional content marketer and the advanced variety. Even many modern marketers are lagging behind and failing to leverage all of the value that latest strategies and technologies offer to improve their approach.Storytelling. Engagement metrics. Growth hacking. These aren’t just buzzwords or a quickly passing trend. Applying impactful, modern techniques to everyday B2C and B2B marketing strategy is an important way of optimizing an overall approach.Although different in their specific uses, many of the super content innovators share some broad similarities in their methods:
They set defined goals
73% of marketers identified brand awareness as a goal of their content. —Contently
Content strategy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. A first step in ultra-modernizing your content marketing is tailoring a unique method that bares the highest impact. To do this, it’s important to first identify the answers to key questions about your business:
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- Who is your audience?
- What are their common characteristics?
Only you can decide which objectives will help you – but to be successful and advanced you MUST have the answers to these questions.Once objectives are defined, the content marketing extraordinaire starts to build upon that foundation to construct a finely tuned approach.
They lay out a smart game plan
70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. — Altimeter
One of the key elements to a successful marketing mix is a great plan. Planning helps to establish goals then lies out the process of how to reach them and where to start.Any good marketing plan – whether it relies heavily or not on content and engagement – will need benchmarks. A company needs to use marketing to achieve its long-term and short-term objectives, but unless you are able to clearly state how marketing will contribute to those results, efforts could be side tracked.Marketing plans should include elements that will help retain current customers, reach a new audience, grow reputation and establish credibility in the marketplace. Choose a path and document progress. This will guide your focus for the years to come and earn insight into what works for your bottom line (and what doesn’t).Effectively tackling content marketing should involve a blend of three key ingredients: engagement, education, and planning. Develop a focused and goal oriented approach, and don’t let the missteps discourage efforts – rather, use them to guide your future. Learn from your mistakes and they will help you succeed.The old “establish a plan and stick to it” is rather intuitive but often ineffective. Instead, the often more successful system for modern agile marketers is to “establish a plan, constantly monitor it and tweak it to perform better.”
They make their content meaningful 58% of marketers said “original written content” is the most important type of content, outdoing visuals and videos.
—Social Media Examiner
Effective content could be boiled down to two key purposes:
- Emotional appeal that ignites a call to action
Expert content marketers are communication ninjas that blend creativity with psychology. It’s imperative to craft messages that convey expertise in a targeted product or industry, while effectively tapping into the emotional need for social interaction and validation that just about everyone has.Insightful content is important, but tactical emotional connection and engagement can have more appeal than the most eloquently written article. So a focus on creating content that resonates with an audience is key.A brand’s message needs to be easy to read and should spark a response from your market. Whatever message conveyed should attract readers, inspire them to engage, comment, click, repost and spread the word.
They fire out content with laser-focus 82% of prospects say content targeted to their industry is more valuable
There are so many possible outlets for your brand’s message to be communicated. The options are endless and all within reach. A big challenge lies in prioritizing the array of outlets.The advanced marketer realizes that sometimes less is more. Tapping every channel could spread efforts too thin. Pinpointing the highest (and lowest) yielding channels will guide efforts towards the ones that offer the most potential, which streamlines the whole content marketing process.Social media for example serves as a high-yield channel for many brands. The social media-sphere bridges a brand to millions of people communicating openly about their common interests. It’s an efficient medium to dialogue with the market and establish relationships with others who will help you build your reputation.Keep in mind that as content marketer you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to sparking the initial flame of your content. But, if you use it strategically, your audience could push your message out far beyond your reach – effectively igniting that flame into a firey content-fueled blaze of viral glory.
They don’t just sell, they engage 80% of marketers focus less on direct selling and more on engagements and developing long-term relationships with audiences.
— Smart Insights
Playdough is not as fun when you are alone (I’ve tried). When someone is by your side, they help to fuel your creativity and challenge your social needs. Interaction often helps you become more creative and motivated in the process. Content marketing allows a brand to reach customers, engage more, learn more about them and build mutual trust.A person can have the greatest content (or toys) in the world, but if we don’t engage our chances of making a lasting impression with them are reduced. Your customers will benefit from your inspiration and engagement. When customers feel that you are happy to help them they feel validated and inspired about your services.Make sure you post great, relevant content, but also engage your audience in conversation. Don’t talk to them, speak with them, listen to their needs and react to those needs.
If you listen, customers will reveal exactly what motivates them to buy and keep buying, and that intel is priceless.Stop selling and start engaging. This point made in the 2014 Trust barometer
from the Edleman institute says it quite well: “
the new normal is consensus found between information conveyed top-down from authoritative institutions, matched with the more personal peer-to-peer horizontal flow of knowledge.”With so many media outlets and ads covering every inch of square digitl space – consumers are inundated with direct sales communication. Consumers will be more likely to react to a business that is speaking with them rather than just to them.
They measure, measure, and measure again Only 7% of survey respondents are not measuring the success of their content at all.
Good content strategy is an important element of guiding strangers to becoming customers, but it doesn’t work on autopilot. Like all strategies, execution is not enough – good measurement is what helps to turn action into reaction.Traditionally, content marketers are more right-brained creative types. In the advanced era, they are tapping more and more into the left-brain hemisphere to make their creative content more scientific and systematic. Wonderful and engaging content has little value if it is not implemented strategically and monitored for effectiveness.Today’s content strategists are blending analytical thinking with their creativity by delving into the results of their content strategy. How many people were reached? How many engaged in some way? How many moved forward a notch in the buyer’s journey? Having this intelligence helps to optimize content into a powerful selling tool.Content curators are becoming much more adept at using tools like Google Analytics along with social media and email measurement tools to constantly ensure that their content is converting real value.It is easy to get off track, but outlining a strategy and reviewing it on a regular basis helps to guide efforts in the right direction. Regular review will also tell you how well your plans are working and let you know when and where you need to make some adjustments to remain agile.
Advanced content rockstars
To see the phenomenon of advanced content strategy in the works, here are some other experts who are killing it with content:Jay Baer
- This author, marketing consultant, public speaker sets a high bar for advanced content marketing. His Twitter page
is decorated with the slogan "Content is Fire. Social Media is Gasoline," and Baer has sparked quite a flame. Jay Baer doesn't simply post content like many marketers, he manages a well-diversified content engine for his personal brand, including posts and tweets containing images, in-depth posts and even quick observations. Baer also develops a nice following with his Youtube channel
- Jay Today - with over 100 witty and thought provoking pieces on digital marketing strategy.Alexis Grant
- As a writer and digital strategist, Grant collides the two passions into an advanced content marketing strategy that has built her personal brand
to thousands of loyal followers. To go above and beyond the rest, along with posting up quick but thought-provoking blogs for marketers about leadership, branding and simple growth hacks, she is an author of frequent, comprehensive how-to guides
to help her followers get on her digital marketing level.Neil Patel
- The self-proclaimed entrepreneur, investor, advisor and blogger certainly has his hands full, but still makes time to run advanced content marketing for his popular brand like KISSmetrics and his personal presence @neilpatel
. Patel pushes informative and highly-relevant content to his audiences, which has helped KISSmetrics' blog
become one of the most popular sources for digital marketing content on the web. He also frequently guest posts in sources like Inc, Entrepreneur and Hubspot's blog, which has helped to lead his personal brand to ubiquity.Tell us how your approach to content marketing has evolved over the life cycle of your business in the comments below.
Vince is a passionate digital marketing specialist with a track record of evangelizing technology to modernize business development and brand building in the startup through enterprise levels. Vince is a well-established Twitter influencer under @vince_tech and Founder of Boom Digital, a boutique digital marketing agency specializing in supporting the growth of early-stage startup companies through social media, content marketing and design.