3 Tips to Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level
It turns out that much like the principles of great writing, the principles of great content marketing don’t change much, whether you work at a B2C insurance company or established B2B social software platform—and I know, because I’ve done both. In my first days at Spredfast, I found myself encountering the same challenges I had at B2C companies previously: first, I needed to identify the audience I wanted my message to resonate with, and how I wanted to reach them. Second, to stand out, I knew I needed to go beyond telling a compelling story—and that I could do so by ensuring that my audience walked away with a new skill or piece of knowledge they can take advantage of, by really giving them something. And finally, I wanted to be sure my teams were always writing purposefully: aligning their individual messages and voices with a broader theme, voice, or campaign. On their own, these challenges can be daunting. Combine them with the pace and scale of an global enterprise, and they become downright paralyzing.
Scott Townsend, Head of Marketing at Opal, and I commiserated over these challenges in a recent conversation. Scott, whose experience ranges from consulting (Accenture), to global tech powerhouse (Google), to medium-sized IT orgs (Urban Airship), boiled it down to one common theme: “Creating great content marketing is a team sport.” When teams aren’t aligned and don’t have visibility into all aspects of the content creation process (both planned and in-production), you’re not only limiting your content quality: you’re sacrificing efficiency and resources, as well. Great content marketing lives in an ecosystem where you have all the tools you need at your fingertips: “To do it well you need a sophisticated approach to connect a lot of moving parts consistently over time,” Scott says.
Here are three ways can you take your content marketing strategy to the next level:
1. Be selfless
Great content marketers find a way to give back to their audience—to be marketing philanthropists, if you will. Every piece of content you publish should benefit your customers (not just your brand). In order to deliver a superior customer experience, enterprises must be able to align, track, and translate activities across the entire customer journey. This means bringing in content and people from other parts of the org (or even outside: from your agency, for example) to ensure seamless collaboration. This also means becoming religious about labeling your content. Establishing a robust tagging structure will not only help you visualize your campaigns and content distribution, but it will also help you report on which audiences, types of content, and types of messages are resonating best so you can optimize your strategy.
Every piece of content you publish should benefit your customers—not just your brand.
2. Let your audience drive your strategy
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to build your audience over time. Therefore, “it must be created with the audience's needs in mind,” says Scott. Luckily, people today are pretty outspoken: about seven in 10 internet users are active on social media. On Facebook alone, its 1.44 billion monthly active users send an average of 31.25 million messages per minute. Think of social like a virtual focus group: discover what your audience is talking about, what they want to hear, when they’re most engaged, and how they want to consume those messages. Dive deeper into a search to understand the nuances of a conversation. Understand the angle that’s resonating best, view sentiment, and hone-in on specific locations to further tailor your messages. Lastly, create and compare demographic or psychographic-based audience segments to validate your campaign messages. People are telling brands exactly what they love (and hate)—it’s up to brands to listen.
3. Play the long game
Content marketing can’t be an afterthought—it has to be a deliberate activity for which all teams and players are aligned. If you don’t have an efficient process in place for collaborating on and sharing content with stakeholders, strategic content marketing can start to seem like a time suck: the benefits of planning ahead outweighed by the frustration caused by disparate communications and wasted resources fueled by holding patterns. This means you can’t successfully ‘play the long game’ in spreadsheets or your average marketing platform’s calendar view. Instead, you have to be able to clearly communicate the story behind each piece of content: share moments, messages, or entire companies in a context rich view with both internal and external stakeholders without being constricted to a traditional day-by-day timeline. You must go beyond individual pieces of content to guide and track how a campaign comes together.
Content marketing can’t be an afterthought—it has to be a deliberate activity for which all teams and players are aligned.
If the first principle of great writing is clarity, then a critical principle of great content marketing—no matter what your enterprise company sells—is collaboration. Great content marketing takes a village, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m proud to work at Spredfast: our customers who use Spredfast and Opal together for their content marketing efforts are able to more effectively collaborate across teams to bring their content visions to life. If you can be selfless with your content, listen to your audience so that they’re driving your strategy, and align all relevant teams so there are multiple stakeholders invested in your content’s success, you’ll have a leg up on the competition—and a great story to tell about your own success.