25 ways to improve your content marketing
So, we talk a lot about content marketing around here. And it seems like everyone is always looking for the next BIG SECRET to content marketing success. But, you want to know the BIGGEST secret? There is no secret. Yep, I went there. There is no secret recipe that will turn your blog [or business] from 0 to 60 in 3.5.
But, there are some key steps that you can take to help you to strategically and intentionally structure your content marketing for success.
I remember when I first started my first blog [about 10 blogs ago LOL]. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no structure, no consistent voice. I was literally all over the place. And you know what? I had ZERO readers. People like structure. Even those free-spirited folks who shop at your organic whole-foods store. They may not recognize it as such, but they like structure—in fact they need it.
So, if structure is so important and strategy drives content marketing, how do we do it?
Can I just be real for a minute? Asking how is not the right question.
Ya, ya, ya. I know I asked the question, but I asked it because that is the number one question I get from clients looking for strategy for their content marketing campaigns. But it's wrong! Don't ask how—at least not yet.
Before we can talk about HOW to do content marketing, we need to take a step back and look at what makes up a successful content marketing campaign.
Here are the key ways that can help you to implement that Kick A** Marketing Campaign that we talked about last week [in no specific order]:
1. Get yo'self a Blog!
[Said in my best Ice-T accent] The first key element to have in place in order to implement a successful content marketing campaign is a blog! No, it doesn't need to be anything crazy—especially if your business is in goods or non-digital services. But, you need to have a blog.
Not only do blogs help to increase your value from an SEO perspective [Search Engine Optimization], but they also serve as a key component to humanizing your brand + connecting with your community.
Having a blog will give you a primary medium to host the content that you are structuring and sharing through your content marketing campaign.
2. Find a Community
Community is everything. Not only does being involved in a community increase your impact, visibility and authority, but it also offers a prime opportunity to share your content and engage your audience into your content marketing strategies.
Some of my favorite communities are Facebook groups like:
- Heather Crabtree's Savvy Business Owners
- Being Boss by Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson
- Julie Harris' The Creative's Corner
3. Build your List
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to guarantee success of you content marketing strategies is to use them to build your list.
Hubspot has an awesome resource of 25 ways to grow your list, including optimizing your website for opt-in success, partnering with other like-minded sites and by using a lead gen offer [like a free ebook, worksheet or course!].
4. Share your content
No brainer, right? In order to get the most out of that content (and strategy) that you worked so hard on, you HAVE to share it!
My general rule of thumb is to share 1-2 of your own posts per day, surrounded by 4 or so supporting posts (we will chat more about that below). Make sure to watch your community groups for opportunities to share your content too!
5. Make it social
When thinking about how to share your content and what to use to support your bigger content pieces [like eBooks, Webinars and Courses] make sure to include a social strategy.
Whether that includes stand alone posts that add value to your content independently [like infographics, listables or insights], or unique ways to share your existing content from your social platforms [sharing blog posts in groups, sharing offering resources for free (eBooks, etc], neglecting social media can be catastrophic to your content marketing strategy and campaign.
6. Share it again
I'm sure that you saw this one coming. Sharing your blog posts, webinar information, eBook downloads and infographics is great, but only sharing those awesome resources once can cut your strategy off at the knees.
The average social post (across all platforms) will only be seen by 20% of your audience. This is captured through averaging the most popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. In order to capitalize on your hard work, you need to share you content—and share it often.
7. Don't reinvent the wheel
It is highly unlikely that you are creating content or covering topics that have never been explored before. Don't spin your wheels trying to be the most innovative or different.
Instead, take the time to add real value to the resources that already exist! take the time to incorporate your expertise and experience into the topics that you are passionate about, and link to the other resources to help your audience connect the dots!
8. Use amplification strategies
Amplification is the key to content marketing success. You spend hours putting together the perfect, meaty resources for your audience, what a shame for those to go unseen!
Some of my favorite amplification strategies include:
- Native Advertising [Paid placements on popular sites]
- Link sharing [sharing your link on popular aggrigator sites like StumbleUpon + Reddit]
- Driving traffic through community sharing [sharing your link in communities + with your list]
- Strategically sharing across your social platforms
Partnering with like-minded influencers can give your content marketing strategies longer legs when it comes to reaching your potential customers/audience.
By building REAL relationships with these influencers, you ca open the opportunity to share, collaborate and help each other grow.
10. Make it actionable
Every piece of content that you create should be actionable. Whether you are creating an informational blog post or a social media campaign. Content marketing is all about helping your audience to make a move, specifically helping them to help you achieve your overall goal.
People like content that help them and adds value, which leads us to #11.
11. Make it valuable
If you are simply reiterating something that has been said or done 1,000,000 times, you are not adding value. Make sure that your content has actionable items that offer your audience something they are looking for.
By utilizing real-life experience, how-to steps and brainstorming ideas, you are offering your audience something invaluable to them—an opportunity for success. I promis, they will appreciate it!
12. Ask before you begin
Before starting any social media campaign, ask questions! Remember those groups and communities you joined? Well, use them! If you think your audience would be interested in graphic design course, don't just go with your hunch, do the research!
The great thing about digital influence is that we have unlimited access to the people that we are attempting to target online. Rather than trying to play psychic and figure out what they want, take the time to just ask them! You will find that they are open and willing to share their struggles, and they want your expertise to help them. Win, win!
13. Connect the dots
Content marketing is about using different pieces of content through different media to tell your target a story and get them to take action.
In order to be most successful, you have to help your audience by connecting the dots. I reference this in my "How to Create a Kicka** Content Marketing Strategy."
14. Be intentionally consistent
Consistency is key in a lot of areas of business. That is one of the reasons that planning is so important. In order to be successful, you have to ensure that your story is complete and making sense to your audience.
By being intentionally consistent, you can utilize all of the pieces of your campaign strategically, rather than sharing haphazardly and confusing your target.
15. Answer the questions
Make sure that every piece of content you create answers a question or a need of your target. If it doesn't it will fail, 100% of the time. People use digital resources to help them solve problems. Find the problem and be intentional about offering actionable steps to find the solution.
16. Use tools
We can't successfully do it all alone, but luckily we don't have to! There are numerous awesome toold out there to help you succeed at content marketing, and a lot of them are free! Some of my favorites include:
- Canva [Simplify graphic design and make your content super shareable]
- Evernote [Easily organize your campaigns and all of your content before you publish so that you can ensure the dots are connected!]
- Buffer [Strategically share your content across your social platforms through scheduling and planning ahead]
17. Be relatable + accessible
When you are creating content, make sure that you are doing so with a relatable tone. People love connecting with humans—the digital space is no different.
By creating a relatable persona through your content you are offering your audience a way to connect to you and your success, therefore instigating respect, reliance and appreciation of you and your brand. By being accessible [answering emails, responding to inquiries] you are humanizing your brand even further.
18. Use images
The majority of people are visual by nature. For every piece of content you create, you should be creating awesome and shareable images.
By using tools like Canva, this can be done easily and quickly, so you can get back to doing what you love most!
19. Customize those images per platform
Not all platforms are created equal. Likewise, not every community is most interested in the same targeted approach. Make sure that you are strategically creating and optimizing your images per platform.
For instance, Pinterest posts are most successful with vertical long images, while Facebook gets more engagement from horizontal images. Try overlaying text on your images to increase the CTR [click through rate] + be sure to customize that text for the group or platform you are targeting.
20. Use keyword research
Whether your content marketing campaign is about graphic design or landscaping, you need to utilize the correct keywords in order have your content found and shared by your target audience.
By searching for the words and phrases that your target is using to learn more about your topic, you can strategically use that data to develop your titles, optimize your content and increase your engagement.
[Check out Google trends to do side by side traffic comparisons of the keywords you think you should target!]
21. Have a main purpose or goal
Before starting any content marketing strategy or campaign you MUST have a main goal in mind. Is it to drive sales, grow your list or increase your followers?
Whatever your ultimate goal, that is the action that you are looking to encourage your target to make. So each piece of content should be created with that in mind, and look to offer a solution to the problem that results in them taking the action. Got it?
22. Share outside applicable content
Remember how we talked about not needed to reinvent the wheel? Well, this is where it begins. When you are developing your strategy, you should be picking out influencers that are awesome at what you are awesome at! Then, share their content!
It is all about community over competition these days. As long as you have something of value to fofer your consumer, partnering with other awesome people cannot and willnot hurt you. I use this type of content to keep by Buffer account full and my audience engaged.
23. Utilize an internal link strategy
There is nothing worse than having a bunch of awesome content but no clear navigation to it from other assets or areas of your website.
When you are creating content pieces, make sure that you are tying in previous campaigns, posts and deliverables through an internal link strategy.
For instance, I link to at least one of my own posts per blog post I publish. These are always applicable posts that add value to my current post, and ultimately keep people on my site longer, building more credibility.
24. Develop an outreach strategy to increase your backlinks
Just like having an internal link strategy is important, having a backlink strategy is also uber valuable when it comes to increasing your authority and visibility online.
Not only do search engines value the "juice" that a good link can bring to your site, but having a strong backlink profile also will help you grow your audience.
Try reaching out to local or digital influencers in your field (or complimentary fields) and offer to provide them with a resource just for their audience. If they agree, place the resource on your site, and provide them with the link [+ some awesome content about the resource to accompany the link].
25. Know when to stop
Every content marketing strategy has its lifespan. Some can go on for months, while others max out after 4 or so posts. The key is to know when to stop.
If you have run out of new insight, or find yourself ending WAY off topic with each subsequent post, then it might be time to wrap it up and move on to the next strategy.
Those are 25 easy and actionable ways to improve the success of your content marketing. What about you? Do you have any strategies that help you take your content further? I would love to know below!