Content marketing is one of the most universally useful and practical marketing strategies available today. It can help align your brand under one image, rank your site higher in search engines, improve your brand’s reputation as an authority, and attract more people to your online presence. It is the fuel that drives the majority of all online interactions, and it’s relatively easy to get started with a content campaign.
Entrepreneurs, marketers, and writers have all tried their hand in the content marketing game, and many have gotten quite good at it. Learning the fundamentals is pretty easy, and if you do it long enough, you’ll fall into a nice, consistent rhythm. Unfortunately, there are a handful of basics that are easy to miss, and even the seasoned experts of the industry can forget about them:
Everyone knows that originality is a good thing. If you can produce original material, you’ll differentiate yourself from the competition, you’ll stand out beyond the white noise, and you’ll encourage more loyalty in your readership by providing a greater value. But there are different kinds of “originality” and too many content marketers treat it as a “nice to have” feature, rather than what it is: a prerequisite.
If your content isn’t in some way original, it isn’t going to be read. It’s really that simple. Even if you take an article and carefully rewrite it so it doesn’t constitute plagiarism and falls in line with your brand voice, the fact is someone covered that topic before you, and they likely did it better. Drawing inspiration from your competitors and other influencers in your industry is a good strategy to come up with new topics and inspire your writing, but only if you use it as a jumping-off point.
The best way to make your content original is to start from scratch. Come up with a topic that no one’s ever heard before, or fund and publish some original research in an area that your industry has yet to touch. Of course, implementing original research takes a ton of time and creating wholly new topics from scratch is exhausting, so if you can’t afford either of these options, find originality in how you angle your content. Never regurgitate what others have written; instead, find a way to frame it in a new context, look at it in a new light, or share a new opinion on it. Unless you can make the piece truly distinctive in some key way, it isn’t a piece worth writing.
No matter how good your article is, it won’t matter if nobody can see it. The quality of your content is important, but like with originality, it is a prerequisite. Beyond that initial, necessary level of quality in your writing, your content’s impact is directly tied to its overall visibility.
There are many ways to increase the visibility of your content on a variety of different scales. For example, simply including an image or an embedded video in your post can make it stand out on your core blog page and bring it out of the white noise of most followers’ social feeds. But positioning your article correctly can also lead to greater visibility; you’ll have to syndicate it using the right channels, and frame the intention and coverage of the article in the right light, as concisely as possible, if you want your piece to hit home.
Start by analyzing the main purpose of the article, as well as which segment of your key demographics would benefit most from reading it. Then, spend some time coming up with a catchy headline that teases the content of the article without giving it away and remains true to the article’s intention. Finally, start selecting your syndication platforms of choice—look at social media channels that appeal to your key demographics, news outlets who might pick up your piece, and social bookmarking sites with a propensity to make a piece go viral. Further maximize your visibility by timing your post appropriately and using as many resources as possible to distribute your material, including paid ads if your content is strong enough.
There’s something to be said for learning through experience. The longer you’re involved with content marketing, the better you’ll get at writing and distributing content. But the only way to truly improve the results of your campaign are to objectively measure your impact, and analyze the data to make meaningful adjustments to your approach.
For example, you can tap into your social channels or your web traffic through Google Analytics to determine which articles seem to attract the most attention. You can also monitor the behavior of your readers to get a feel for the engagement level of the piece, or ask for direct feedback to help you understand key areas for improvement. With this information, you should be able to find which topics will be most valuable to cover for your brand, which tactics work and which don’t, and how you can syndicate differently in the future. Without this objective data in front of you on a regular basis, you’ll be left floundering, guessing at which strategies have been the most effective and unfortunately, wasting your time.
Don’t let these three fundamentals of content marketing to escape you, despite their slippery nature. Keep them at the heart of all your content development, and occasionally audit your strategy to ensure that you’re staying on the right track. If you don’t periodically stop to check your progress and make adjustments, you could lose significant momentum.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.