Effective content marketing demands much from participating marketers. The number of factors responsible for making content “high-quality” is staggering, and the number of possibilities for a campaign is intimidating—especially if you aren’t experienced or aren’t sure what direction you want to go. If you’re new to the game or you have a limited budget, all of this can seem overwhelming, but fear not—at the foundation of a good content marketing campaign are only a handful of key priorities.
I’ve listed what I feel are the top five priorities for any content marketing campaign, in order from highest to lowest:
“Effective” writing can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but for me, it’s all about your ability to convey an idea to a target audience completely and efficiently. There are several components of this I’ll dig into momentarily, but the gist here is that you’re able to write (or in the case of video, communicate) in a way that your audience can easily understand.
Your first goal is mastering the basic semantics of language, using appropriate, clear phrasing and vocabulary that’s accurate without being overwhelming to the average reader. Structuring your content effectively, with a clear beginning, middle, and end, is also important, as is using strong examples to clarify your points. This is your biggest priority in content marketing, so don’t neglect it—if you’re struggling with the effectiveness of your writing (or even evaluating it), make a concentrated effort to read and write more. With practice and deeper immersion in the industry, you’ll naturally become better at expressing ideas.
Next up, you’ll want to turn your attention to brand voice. It’s a lower priority than writing effectively because if you have a consistent brand voice written ineffectively, people still won’t want to read you. But once you have the effectiveness component down, you need a way to distinguish yourself among the competition. What factors make your brand unique? What characteristics does your brand exhibit?
Create a brand voice that serves as a “persona” for your brand, and make it as personal and approachable as possible (with your target demographic in mind). If it helps you, imagine your brand as a person. What type of person is this? How does he/she speak? What kind of words does he/she use? Is he/she funny? Educated? Casual? Conservative? Traditional? These qualities need to come through in your writing.
Once you’ve got the effectiveness of your writing down and a strong brand voice to call your own, your next biggest priority is choosing topics that matter to the right people. First, you’ll want to carve out a niche for yourself—choose a narrow range of topics that nobody else in your industry is doing (you can always expand this later). Pick something people would want to read, such as practical advice, how-tos, or insightful commentary on industry news.
When you have a general idea of where your content is headed, you can start selecting topics for your individual posts. Originality and usefulness are your best friends here—only develop topics that haven’t been done before (or haven’t been looked at the same way before), and the more useful your information is to a reader, the better. For example, instructional posts almost always fare better than observational ones. Answer common questions your users might have and you might even start showing up for those relevant queries in search engines—it all starts with topic selection.
With everything else in place, you can turn your attention toward getting your content seen by more readers. Even though your content is original, interesting, and well-written, it isn’t going to attract an audience on its own. You need to distribute and syndicate your content to external sources—start with social media, since it’s free and easy, and consider investing in other channels like social bookmarks or even paid advertising. With an established syndication network, every post you write will reach a wider and wider audience.
Only once you’ve established all these things for your internal blog should you think about sourcing options on external publications. Getting a guest post published will lead you to more referral traffic, a greater reputation, and even higher ranks in search engines, but you have to start small. Start out by getting yourself featured in small-time local or niche publications, and gradually work your way to bigger, more authoritative, national outlets. Take your time with this—it doesn’t happen overnight, but as long as you’re consistent, you’ll see steady, manageable growth.
These are not the only priorities in a content marketing campaign, but they are the most important. For example, optimizing your posts for SEO is touched on in your selection of appropriate topics and adherence to effective writing, but there are more tactics to help make sure your content is highly ranked. These priorities also don’t mention the process of conversion optimization—that’s because without these priorities in place, you’ll be hard-pressed to convert users effectively.
Get started with these main priorities, and you’ll start to see meaningful results in as little as a few weeks (but usually a couple of months). From there, keep your efforts consistent and gradually start to familiarize yourself with higher-level, more advanced techniques.
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.