3 Changes Your Content Marketing Strategy Needs

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Content Marketing Conference in Boston. In addition to having the best lobster roll of my life, I also walked away from the conference armed with a ton of both strategic inspiration and tactical advice—the kind of advice that could change content marketing strategy or its implementation for any enterprise content marketing team.

The conference highlighted three important points that all digital marketers should keep in mind as they plan and implement their content marketing strategies: first, that the content we’re all charged with making and distributing serves a critical purpose, no matter our industry. Second, that we should be bolder and braver in our content marketing in order to seize traditionally missed opportunities. And finally, that we should take a hard look at measures of success, tweaking them toward outcomes that affect bottom-line business goals.

Why the content we make matters so much

One presenter explained the importance of content marketing with a great metaphor: if your website is the mousetrap, your content is the cheese. Why that matters? “Mice are not fundamentally attracted to mousetraps.” The conference regularly touched on the importance of prioritizing search engine optimization (SEO) best practices in order to get your content seen by the people who stand to benefit from it.

There are eight times as many informational searches (i.e. “why does my sink smell so weird?”) as there are transactional searches (i.e. “plumbers in Boston”), so it’s critical to get your content high on search results pages and give away all of your best advice. If you do this well, readers a.) know you and b.) trust you. As another presenter said, “The brand that is the most helpful wins—the brand that teaches the most wins.”

“The brand that is the most helpful wins.” — Andy Crestodina

 

At Spredfast, our own blog traffic is seeing good progress in terms of SEO: we’ve had three months in a row of consecutive record pageviews from organic search in Google, which is an increase of 40% since January and 91% YOY. This boost happened in part because we’ve prioritized SEO in our content marketing and website management. On the heels of this conference, I plan to continue and expand this collaboration cross-team—and share SEO best practices with all blog contributors—to bolster this growth even further.

How we should challenge and change what we are making

Spredfast blog contributor and content marketing expert Ann Handley gave a seriously inspiring keynote on being bigger, braver, and bolder in content marketing. She said, “the biggest missed opportunity in content marketing is playing it too safe.” She means that across the board: from tone of voice, to the kind of content we create. She shared three killer examples that I took note of in part because they didn’t come from enterprise companies that are household names, but instead from scrappy teams thinking creatively about content: take, for example, full-length classes from Blue Bottle coffee offered up for free on how to make the perfect cup. Or the Humane Society of Silicon Valley’s campaign, inspired by the fact that less than 1% of charitable giving each year goes to animals, called #mutualrescue, turning the people or pets narrative on its head. Or the brand voice of a bespoke koozy company called Freaker USA, who acknowledges that, “When you sell a product that most people get free at trade shows, your story is the start of the thing that sets you apart.”

The Human Society of Silicon Valley turned a traditional charitable giving narrative on its head with their #mutualrescue series.

But it's not just scrappy teams that have to think creatively—enterprise teams are also charged with taking risks in their marketing. A recent favorite example? This Heineken ad called "World's Apart" and currently getting a ton of positive attention:

 

In our own attempts to be bolder and change narratives, Spredfast creates content that explores our customers’ and prospects’ challenges and also explores how can we help solve those challenges—both with Spredfast specifically but also in general (remember, give away your best advice for free).

How content marketers should measure success

The conference also explained in session after session that you should base a piece of content’s success on its outcomes, not biased views of the quality of your own work. Too many marketers check off a list of criteria (longform, incorporates three sources, etc.) and call that success. While we know best practices can drive performance, it is that performance that matters most to the business bottom line.

We recently shifted our brand marketing dashboard to KPIs in line with this point of view: time on site matters, engagement rates matter, and so does pipeline influence of blog posts. The number of posts you create? Less relevant than their quality and influence.

For even more detailed advice on content strategy, including input on how social can contribute to broader marketing initiatives, download our Social Media Pocket Guide, or read our post on 3 Times Social can Support Marketing Initiatives.

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Jaime Netzer is Spredfast's Senior Content Marketing Manager, leading content operations. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly and reads constantly.