Content marketing. It’s a term that can sound complex, but at its core, it’s all about one beautiful word: conversation.
Think about the great conversations you’ve had over the years. The ones that make you smile or make you reflect. Those conversations have staying power.
On the other hand, think about those forgettable conversations where someone talked about themselves endlessly and didn’t let you get a word in. Those are the conversations we don’t want in life or in content.
Content Marketing Do’s and Don’ts
With so many organizations pumping out content marketing, it’s hard to feel unique among your competitors when they’re taking a similar approach. But just because everyone is doing content marketing doesn’t mean they’re doing it right.
These are the content marketing do’s you need to embrace and the don’ts you need to evade.
Do Align Content With the Buyer’s Journey
Buyers journey through a series of stages before making a purchasing decision. These stages of the buyer’s journey have many names—we use Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Decision, and Support. Your content should align with these stages and skillfully guide the buyer through this journey.
If a buyer who’s just discovered your organization interacts with late-stage content, it could leave them feeling overwhelmed or turned off. Alternatively, early-stage content won’t be enough to close a sale with a buyer who’s ready to make a purchase decision.
Do Create Content for All of Your Buyer Personas
Developing buyer personas is a fantastic exercise for defining who your customers are, what goals and challenges they experience, and how your organization helps them. Ideally, you would create specific content for each of your unique buyer personas and not leave anyone out.
When developing these “main characters” in your business story, the goal is to create real B2B buyer personas based on the real humans you want to do business with. Make sure you:
- Collaborate with stakeholders to get everyone aligned.
- Use data, surveys, and interviews to conduct research.
- Dig into “hopes and dreams” so your personas aren’t generic.
- Remember that your customers are humans just like you.
Do Optimize Every Piece of Content
It’s not enough to produce great content—you need people to find it. Ranking at the top of Google’s SERP for a high-volume keyword or topic is a reliable way to help them find their way to your organization, which then increases your traffic.
Traffic is very often considered a vanity metric, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. An increase in organic traffic from optimized content means that you’re attracting more relevant and qualified leads. An SEO content strategy is a must-have for making a business impact, so make sure you’re taking the time for strategic keyword research, link-building, and on-page optimization.
Do Choose the Right Content Creator
Your content creator needs to have the necessary skills to nail each piece. If someone really shines with long-form technical content, give them a whitepaper and don’t you dare give them social media copy.
I’ve been on both sides of content creation, from being a former freelance writer all the way to becoming the Chief Content Officer of a video marketing agency. The best thing you can do is set your content creator up for success with SME interview transcripts, relevant links, and keyword targets. This is the one time when TMI is actually a good thing.
Do Leverage a Wealth of Data
There’s a good chance you’re already using analytics tools to learn more about your target audience. This data is an incredible resource for your content strategy. Leveraging all the data you have available will only make your content more effective.
There are so many ways to tap into this wealth of data, whether it’s conducting in-depth competitor research or using website and SEO insights to determine the most impactful content to produce. Pay attention to how your audience reacts to your content and use it to inform future campaigns. Did something work? Do more of that.
Don’t Publish Self-Serving Content
Nobody wants to read a five-page ad disguised as a blog. Going back to the “content is a conversation” speech from earlier…this is that forgettable conversation where someone talked about themselves and you immediately lost interest and walked away.
Because you’ve developed buyer personas, you already know who your customers are and what they’re looking for. This content isn’t for you, it’s for them. Whether you’re sharing a video tutorial or a thought leadership piece, keep the focus on their wants and needs (not yours).
Don’t Work Without a Content Marketing Strategy
Without a solid content strategy, any success you have won’t be repeatable or sustainable. So, what should you include? Many of the “do’s” that we mentioned already will be included in this overall strategy.
Additionally, you’ll need to:
- Define your content marketing purpose.
- Align efforts with organizational objectives.
- Decide on the optimal formats and channels.
- Establish KPIs to track ongoing progress.
Don’t Create Siloed Content
Marketing frequently produces content in silos when they should be collaborating with sales, SMEs, customer success, and leadership. Avoid content blind spots by drawing inspiration from a variety of human perspectives. Interview team members and customers, then create content from their first-hand experiences.
Another must is to go beyond your organization and look at what’s happening with industry and tech trends. Keep tabs on relevant news, popular LinkedIn posts, and high-performing content on Google and YouTube. Create content about “what’s hot” rather than “what’s not.”
Don’t Skip the Visual Elements
Website visitors expect more than ever before from the content they consume. Even something as innocent as lots of informative text blocks will affect readability and send them right back to Google to search for a better option.
Breaking text into bite-sized pieces with visuals is a great way to keep visitors engaged. Infographics and videos amplify your message and make your content more immersive.
Marketers who add more visuals and embedded videos to blog content are far more likely to report strong results. However, the majority only add 1-3 blog visuals and just one in four are including videos. So, there’s a huge opportunity with visuals to elevate and differentiate your content.
Don’t Be the Last to Adopt AI
As content marketers, we know how important it is to stay ahead of the curve with technology. AI has become a game-changing addition to the marketer’s toolkit, so why are so many dragging their feet with AI adoption?
There’s distrust in AI technology, fear of change, and concerns about job security. All the more reason to understand how to wield it, and become a more valuable and powerful content marketer.
With AI, you can:
- Gather insights from vast amounts of data in a fraction of the time it would take you manually.
- Personalize content at scale, ensuring that each customer feels like you’re speaking directly to them.
- Analyze data and trends to help you identify the most relevant and effective keywords for your content.
- Measure the success of your campaigns with greater accuracy and make better data-driven decisions for future content.
Let’s circle back to the conversation analogy. You wouldn’t talk to someone you just met as if you were best friends. You wouldn’t want someone you’ve known for a while to suddenly reintroduce themselves.
Your content should meet your buyers wherever they are.
When someone sees your content, it’s the initial conversation that can leave a positive and memorable first impression. Everyone else (your competitors and the rest of the digital world) is trying to do the exact same thing.
To stand out, you need to convince them that having the conversation is worth their time. So, create content that’s worthwhile by appealing to their values, supporting their goals, and addressing their biggest challenges.