Content Marketing: The 5 Most Important Things You Need to Know via @Stevenvvessum
Content marketing: it’s on everyone’s agenda, but it’s rarely done right.
Now you’re likely thinking: “That’s not true! I did it right! I put together the world’s best piece of content on topic X!”
And sure, you really may have created the best piece of content on that topic, but what did it result in? I’m talking visits, soft conversions, hard conversions, and money.
And did you even promote that piece?
Sorry if I’m bursting your bubble, but creating the best possible piece of content doesn’t guarantee success.
Nothing really does, of course… but here are five important pieces of knowledge that will help you massively increase your chances of success.
1. Best Content ≠ Most Successful Content
You spend days working on a piece of content.
You do your research, write it, improve it.
You have it proofread, and you improve it some more.
You then include amazing visuals, explainer videos, and all – you’ve nailed the search intent for some interesting queries, and you hit “publish”.
And then it gets a mediocre 100 visits, and the traffic dies out.
But then out of the blue comes an established brand that had an underpaid ghostwriter manufacture a mediocre, run-of-the-mill piece that’s getting thousands of visitors.
It’s getting shared around as if it’s the best thing since sliced bread, and people are raving about it.
It’s incredibly frustrating to see this happen. You know your competitor’s content is mediocre.
It shouldn’t get all that attention – in an ideal world.
But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world that can be really unfair.
This applies to content marketing too. It’s not a level playing field.
It’s a series of “David and Goliath” boxing matches, where David loses quite a few of the rounds and even matches, but has to keep on trying.
He needs to pick his battles, and outsmart Goliath rather than always charging head-on.
Because the Goliath is an established brand with a newsletter subscriber list that’s 200,000 strong and a large social media following.
The party that’s promoting the content is well-known and surrounded by brand ambassadors. You’re not going to beat them at their own game.
Therefore, you need to play your game.
- Pick your battles and start small. Focus for instance on covering specific topics that your competition hasn’t covered yet.
- Know your competitor’s weaknesses and your strengths and leverage that. Maybe you’re more agile, or maybe you can create content that’s more controversial. (And if you don’t think that works: remember how you reacted when I said I was bursting your bubble! You kept reading.)
- Put together a content promotion strategy that works for you. This will take time, but having an established brand with engaged fans is key for the success of your content.
2. Create Multi-Purpose Content
You’re putting in a lot of research into writing your content piece. So leverage that investment by creating other types of content too.
For instance, an evergreen content piece can (partially) be repurposed as a:
- Conference talk
- Support article
- Podcast topic
- Guest post
By creating multi-purpose content, you can easily triple the ROI on your investment.
Take the ContentKing Academy for example (Disclosure: this is where I work). It’s a way for us to get in touch with our target audience, sure – but we’re also sending our existing customers to it from our application when they want to read more about certain issues.
Here’s an example issue:
When you click the “Learn why” link, it expands to:
And from there, you can read on about these topics. Doing this takes pressure off of our support team, and improves our relationship with our customers.
3. Creating the Best Content Is Not That Hard, It’s Just Hard Work
I’ll let you in on a secret: creating the best content isn’t that hard. It’s just hard work. There are no shortcuts.
Focus on creating something that provides the most value to visitors. Make sure your content nails their search intent. Think like your potential visitors. How can you best satisfy their question’s intention?
When you’re covering a topic that’s been covered before, make sure to create the most complete and accurate content piece out there.
Example: if you want to rank for “apple pie recipe”, then you need to have a detailed description of that recipe on your page. Make sure to mark it up using structured data.
When people are searching for queries around baking and cooking, often they’ll want to see a video too. And reviews/votes from people that have already used your recipe to bake their apple pie.
Maybe you can even add support that lets your visitors upload photos of their apple pies after they’ve baked them using your recipe.
- Create a content piece that will make you think: “I’m crazy to just give this away!” That’s when you know you’ve created something valuable.
4. Core Content Is the Key to ROI
Core content is content that your target audience is interested in, and that’s close to your products and/or services. Making the leap from that content to a (soft) sale is easy.
Mind you, not all core content is going to perform well just by itself.
You can create related content around this core content that pulls the visitors in and then encourage people to read on to your core content. It’s similar to the classic hubs and spoke model.
Does it make sense for a technical SEO tool to write about link building? It’s somewhat related because of the shared SEO topic, but is it core content?
Is it a good investment?
If your core content is already doing really well, and you want to get more “top of the funnel” visits, then go for it. If your core content isn’t in order yet, then probably no.
However, you could have a good reason to create the content anyway, because there could be lots of PR value in it. PR gets you attention, and as a spin-off, links that your whole site benefits from.
- Look for overlap in topics that your target audience is struggling with and that your company helps to solve or provide. Create core content, and build related content around that.
- When determining new content topics, consider them carefully. If you need short-term success, investing in a piece that’s not related to your business’ products or services is probably not the right move.
5. Control & Protect Your Investment
Be mindful of where you publish your content.
Using platforms such as Medium, Quora Posts, and LinkedIn Pulse sounds great, because you can start writing straight away, and you can potentially reach a massive audience.
But there are major downsides to it as well.
For context here: you’re making a massive investment by creating the most awesome content pieces out there, and so you have to be able to get a good ROI and protect that investment.
Here are the two most important downsides:
You don’t control these external platforms. They may shut down at some point because they’re moving in a different direction (Google Plus anyone?), making your content inaccessible.
Or they can choose to start pushing a premium subscription, making it impossible for some of their readers to consume your content.
Or – if the platform allows for ads – your competitor’s ads are featured alongside your content.
External platforms often don’t support adding Call-To-Action boxes or newsletter signup forms. This makes it harder to give your content a good ROI.
Plus, when your content is going viral and gaining links, they’re pointing to the external platform rather than your own website.
You’ll find yourself struggling to rank your own website, creating a weakness and a dependency on the external platform.
- If your business relies on converting traffic through the content you create, don’t publish it all on an external platform. You could instead publish a summary or an introduction there, and then lead people back to your own website, where they’ll find the full article.
Content marketing isn’t just about creating the best piece of content out there. It’s about making sure you get a great ROI out of it.
To maximize your chances for this, be sure to promote your content, to create content that’s close to your business’ core, and to re-use it for different purposes such as conference talks, FAQs, and guest posts.
Work hard, and pick the fights in which you’re likely to beat your competition.
And last but not least: make sure to control and protect your investment in content marketing. If your business is reliant on it, you want to make sure to hold it close.
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All screenshots taken by author, June 2019