Content marketing is a winning strategy employed by businesses of all kinds. By creating useful, informative content, you can pull customers to your company through your material. Whether you use a blog, YouTube channel, or social media feeds to distribute your content, you have to respect content marketing basics. Successful content marketing campaigns understand these basic principles.
We’ve covered the nuts and bolts of content marketing in other posts, but here we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the fundamentals of successful content writing. As a content writer, you need to be able to execute each of these steps at a professional level. If your company is looking for help with a new content campaign, rest assured that if you apply these steps, you’ll see better results.
Content Marketing Basics: Five Steps for Success
1. Planning Your Content
Planning your content is far more important than many people realize. Given the reactive nature of content marketing, some believe you shouldn’t bother planning out your posts well in advance. Current events and breaking news can disrupt your plan, so why have one in the first place?
While you should strive to publish relevant content that touches on current events, that doesn’t mean all of your content should be reactionary. Instead, try to see your surprise stories as brief deviations from the main plan. What does that plan need to include?
Settle on a purpose for each piece before you write. If you can’t quickly explain why you are writing content, or if your answer is simply “because it’s due”, you’re likely missing the mark. You also have to plan how frequently you’ll post and when certain topics should drop. Finally, consider who you’re writing for.
First, let’s talk about your goals. You need to set goals for the campaign as a whole and then for each piece of content. The campaign goal should be a more general objective, with content-specific goals supporting that overarching idea.
For example, you decide that you want to increase reader engagement by 25% with this campaign, pushing your engagement time from 48 seconds on average to a full minute. This dictates how you will craft your content. Perhaps you set a goal for your next piece: To attract as many people as possible.
This first piece of content in the campaign has wide appeal and should lure people in. But your main goal is to encourage engagement, so you decide to end this first piece on a cliffhanger and encourage people to come back next time to see what happens next. Hopefully, once you have people hooked, your next piece will have the engagement you were looking for.
Post frequency and timing are crucial. If your goal is simply to get a higher number of clicks in a given month, increasing post frequency is a great way to do that, as more content generally leads to more visits.
Similarly, timing needs to be taken into consideration. What time of day would your reader be most likely to open your article and spend time on it? If you produce educational content, take stock of what time classes typically finish in public schools.
Be consistent. When you establish a clear routine for your content, algorithms are more likely to see you as reliable and recommend your content to the masses.
Determine the Target Audience
Many content creators make the mistake of thinking that they need to appeal to everyone or avoid targeting a specific market. After all, content is visible to everyone, and you can’t decide who sees your content.
But remember that when you appeal to everyone, you really appeal to no one. You still need to have an idea of who your target market is and write with them in mind. Younger audiences use phrases that an older crowd would never utter, and conversely, a senior reader probably wants to read about topics that Gen Z doesn’t care about.
Remember, your content must be helpful and useful for it to have an impact. So put some thought into who you’re writing for and how you can help that individual with your content.
2. Writing Quality Content
With your content planned, it’s time to sit down and write! Quality content needs to be well-written, but it also has to respect the technical aspects of content writing. One of the content marketing basics you’ve probably already heard of is SEO. You need to incorporate it into your work seamlessly.
SEO puts your content in front of eyeballs. From there, it’s your job to engage them and keep them hooked. Finish the reader off with a call to action, and your content will be successful.
We don’t want to turn this into a giant SEO how-to, but one thing you should consider as a content writer is that content marketing calls for a wide SEO strategy. This “dragnet” or “funnel” strategy is easy to use and can be a lot of fun to create.
The logic behind the dragnet is simple: the more topics you write about, the more likely it is that someone will stumble upon your website. More viewers should hopefully translate to more sales, or at the very least more ad revenue from clicks.
Diversify your keywords so that your content covers a variety of topics and interests while still staying related to your main topic. Combining two seemingly unrelated topics is a great way to earn a curious click.
Keep Readers Engaged
Getting the reader’s attention is only half the battle. Google likes to see long clicks, which is what Google calls any click that results in the reader lingering around for a while (generally at least a minute). So you have to keep readers engaged for as long as possible with your writing.
Cliffhangers, teasers, and mini spoilers can help with this. Dropping a shocking statistic or fun fact early on can pique curiosity. Asking questions or discussing common problems can make the reader feel heard and willing to continue. Doesn’t content stand out more to you when it speaks to you directly?
If you can keep your reader scrolling, then you can capitalize with your finishing move: the call to action.
Call to Action
Your call to action (CTA) ought to reflect the goal for the campaign and this specific content. If your goal is to expand readership, you might encourage readers to share the article on social media. On the other hand, if your goal is to see more repeat visits from the same viewer, you might tell them to bookmark your RSS feed or download your app.
Always leave the reader with something to do. Otherwise, your content feels pointless.
3. Enrich Your Content
Excellent writing can only do so much. Today’s consumer is used to viewing images, watching videos, and listening to content on the go. While you can still have a successful campaign through text alone, if you really want to succeed, you have to take these content marketing basics into other mediums.
You can create content in other forms and use it to enhance your written material. Alternatively, you could prioritize another medium like video and use your written content to supplement the information given in your multimedia content.
Using Images, Video, and Audio
Written content needs to have a few images. If a picture is worth a thousand words, putting a few on your post seems like a smart decision. Images are good for SEO when properly configured. But how can you go beyond static images?
Video content can be very successful. Some companies use YouTube as their primary content marketing platform. However, what can you do if you don’t have much in the way of editing skills? One option could be to tweak your written work into a sort of script and record your narration. Hire an affordable editor to make a simple animated video.
Tools like Doodly can help you do this easily on your own. As you get more comfortable with editing, you’ll be able to make more content on your own. Podcasting is another easy way to create meaningful content. You can use excerpts of a podcast in your articles to encourage long clicks.
Connecting Social Media
Social media can be thought of as content marketing lite. Instagram favors images and short videos, while Facebook can incorporate more text. Regardless of the platform, your content needs to be lighter and less involved, as social media posts tend to be viewed very quickly.
Use your social media to hype your main content and also to engage your audience. Polls or open questions are great ways to get people to respond to your content.
Localization might not be one of the classic content marketing basics, but it probably should be nowadays. Localized content is content that has been designed to target a specific geographical area. Whether that’s a broad region like Europe, a country like Brazil, a city like Tokyo, or a neighborhood like Skid Row, you write your content with that area in mind.
This content is more likely to be seen and read by people in those areas when properly configured. People are more likely to stick around when content addresses their local area. In addition, local searches are becoming more common. Your chances of landing a hit are higher with local content.
4. Format Your Content Appropriately
Your plan is humming along, your content is rich with quality prose, and you’ve added some value to your work to keep your readers fixed on your page. What comes next? You have to make sure your content actually looks good when it’s opened on a device. Formatting is key.
Does your blog or website have an AMP version? If not, good luck getting on Google’s feed on Android phones. Have you tested your web design on a variety of devices, including iPads, laptops, and mobile phones? You need to make sure that your content looks appealing and doesn’t overwhelm the reader with text or force them to zoom in frequently.
Remember to double-check your SEO formatting. If everything is ship-shape, you can smash that publish button with pride.
5. Review Results and Adjust
The hardest part of the whole process is waiting to see results. If this is your first content marketing project, you should know that it takes a while for your website to gain visibility and attract viewers. Google virtually ignores newborn websites for the first 4-6 months, after which it may begin to recommend your site in search results, but don’t expect to hit the first page very often.
After a few months of publishing content on a regular basis, you should take some time to reflect on your work and review the data. Which pieces performed well? Which ones performed below your expectations? Did you manage to achieve your goal? If not, how far off were you?
How can you improve your content’s performance? Look at what works on your successful posts to get an idea of what you’ve done right. If you’ve applied these content marketing basics consistently across all of your work, then the likely culprit for an underperforming piece is the topic itself. Not every topic garners the same levels of interest.
Whether you use WordPress or you’re a creator on YouTube, you’ll have access to analytics that help you understand your content’s performance. There are several metrics that you can focus on to derive insights and make adjustments to your content.
Start by looking at click-through rate. This represents the percentage of people who saw a link to your content and decided to click through. A low number here could mean several things.
The most common explanation for a low CTR is a poorly worded title. There’s a fine line between a great hook and clickbait, which leads many to err on the side of caution. But a little bit of clickbait never killed anyone, especially if you actually are honest about what’s inside your content.
Timing is also a factor here. Obviously, if you publish an article about how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey in the middle of March, you probably won’t see a high CTR. You can optimize your timing by looking at Google Trends to see when people tend to search for certain topics.
Engagement metrics will tell you how much time someone spent on your site, and you might even be able to see which parts of your content were viewed more carefully. YouTube publishes a chart that shows you which parts of your video were watched most.
Try to see where people are losing interest and shore up your content in that area for the future. Keeping people engaged through to the end tells algorithms that your content is worth viewing.
Social Media Metrics
If you’re using social media to promote your content or to supplement your content, pay attention to those metrics. Which topics got the most engagement on social media? Which post did the community comment on more?
If you can tell that your audience has strong opinions about a topic, you may want to do more pieces on that topic in the future. Controversial topics or ones that tend to provoke emotional responses usually lead to more engagement and activity on your platforms.
Ready to Put Your Skills to Use?
If you think you’ve got the content marketing basics mastered, then put them to the test. Get a job as a content writer and use your skills to help businesses grow. Here at SteadyContent, we provide content writing services to businesses looking for a coherent, quality content marketing campaign.
If you’re interested in becoming a content writer, apply for a position here at SteadyContent. If you need content written for your next campaign, we’ve got a team of writers awaiting your orders. Contact us to schedule a meeting.