Well, fortunately you are a new content marketer living in the age of search engines. Take a look around – there are content marketing tips everywhere. Typing in “content marketing tips” into Google’s search bar alone will get you about 29,800,000 results
So I went to the field, brought together content marketing experts like Bill Acholla and asked them one simple question:
“What are your top three tips to new content marketers?”
And the tips I got were nothing short of amazing, 54 tips from 18 experts. Check them out!
EDIT: We’ve invited a few more experts to join this roundup! Read on to see what great tips they have to offer!
1. Be consistent – if you don’t publish content on a regular basis, your blog will not be popular. Content marketing takes months if not a year to really kick in… if you aren’t consistent it will take longer.
2. Write targeted content – it isn’t about writing content that generates traffic, it is about writing content that generates the right traffic. Write content that is targeted towards your ideal customer and no one else.
3. Build up your social profiles – it’s hard to have a popular blog if you aren’t on the social web. Participate on the social sites that your potential customers hangout on.
I also suggest that people read! Reading inspires you to write. If you need a book on writing, check out Everybody Writes by Ann Handley.
Finally, I’ve learned of my own shortcoming: I can write with no problem, but coming up with ideas is sometimes the hardest part. If you’re writing for someone else, be sure to open the door for brainstorming with your team. Some writers get stuck, but with the help of others, they can be successful.
2. Listen to what people are talking about in your industry. Use Feedly to subscribe to the top blogs in your industry and just read through the headlines every day. Even if you don’t read the posts, the headlines alone will point you in the direction of emerging trends and other news you need to know.
3. Don’t focus on what you “should” be doing. Focus on what you are comfortable doing. If everyone says you “should” be writing and you try to force yourself to write when you really are comfortable doing video, you’re never going to create great content. Either stick with video instead or hire someone to do writing for you
2. Research and Personalize Outreach
Content Marketing doesn’t work without the “marketing” part. One of the coolest ways to promote content is through reaching out to influencers and even people that will appreciate it.
Of course, you can’t just randomly email people. You need to put on your research hat and get to know who you are talking to. It’s important because you are competing with other people for their time and those that sound like real people (not templates) will get better responses.
3. Content Marketers should Know the Value of Following-Up
Chloe actually followed up on the first email she sent to me. That’s HUGE. I wasn’t able to get to it the first time but using a simple follow up, I got to answer her email immediately. It’s invaluable once you develop a process. Just don’t over do this. A proper follow up is not equal to “nagging” people.
The first is understanding what keywords your audience is using when they start their search for solution. Google Auto-fill and Google trends are free tools to help.
The second is you have to understand what content topics, types, and channels are important to your audience. BuzzSumo is a tool that can really help with this.
Finally, you need to commit to consistently publishing the best answers to those customer questions, in the formats you discovered in step 2. This may require getting your entire company involved. Or at least your key experts. But a little investment from a large number of people can go a long way.
2. Be consistent in producing content. I set aside two days per week for developing content. On these days, content planning and creation is my primary goal and all other tasks are secondary.
3. Stay two or three weeks (or months) ahead. Depending on how often you publish content, it’s a good idea to get ahead and have content ready to go long before it gets published. This allows you some freedom to miss some content creation days for emergencies, vacations or whatever else comes your way. If you have the content ready to go, it can still go out on schedule even though you didn’t get your creation time in this week!
1. Be clear on your business and its goals. What do you want the content you’re creating to do for your business? What are your customers buying from you? Be specific.
2. Know your customer inside out. Talk to her, understand her challenges and what makes her tick.
Don’t skip these first two stages.
Your content sweet spot lies in the intersection between content that’s valuable to your business, and the content that’s valuable to your customer. Write from here.
3. Whatever you’re writing, write it with your ideal customer clearly in mind. Always write for just one person. Don’t water it down by trying to please a crowd
Second, practice on your own stuff on the side. I think you can’t really know what works or doesn’t in a vacuum — you’ll be biased to the one situation you’re working. This is why agency work is sometimes a good starting point for people — but I think it’s also just a good idea to write your own blog or something like that to build an asset.
Third, give up the early years of your 20s. That’s the only time you have for sure without anything attached to you. I spent my nights/weekends writing and building a personal brand. Yours could be building a side business/efficiencies in content marketing.
2. Understand the best places to reach that audience
Once you understand who your audience is and what they need, you can begin to investigate where they ‘hang out’ online. For example, which websites do they regularly visit for the sort of information they are looking for? What social media networks do they use? Which authority figures do they turn to for advice on these matters? Determining the answers to these questions helps you come up with a list of target areas to promote your content. It’s vital to remember that this is something to be considered before content creation begins – it will make promotion so much easier. For example, if you can get an influencer on a particular topic involved in the creation of your content, you’ve straightaway got an ‘in’ into their promotional network.
3. Be 100% clear on what you expect a content campaign to achieve
Understanding what you want a content campaign to achieve has as big an influence as the audience it is intended for. Content on a product page designed to encourage users to buy a product there and then has a completely different form to an informational guide that is designed to cut down on call-centre enquiries. When a piece of content has clear objectives to achieve, it shapes the information that is being provided, message framing, calls to action to be included, etc. It will also help when it comes to measuring the success of that content – how can you know what metrics are important to track (and learn from) if you don’t know what the content was intended to achieve in the first place?
Another piece of advice is to put your story first. That’s where the value lies for your audience, so focus on that and pepper it with your brand sparingly.
Finally, visuals are a must. It’s been estimated that consumers read just 20 percent of the words on the average web page. To boost engagement levels and sustain your relationship with your followers, work images, video, infographics, and animated GIFs into all of your branded content
2. Conduct an audit of content you’ve already created.
Some marketers are eager to jump right into a new strategy, but there are valuable lessons to be learned from how your older content performed and how your audience responded to it.
3. Trust your content creators–whether they are freelance or in-house.
Give them the information they need to best represent your brand, and then get out of the way and let them do what they do best: tell great stories.
2. Develop your brand identity
Having a strong brand identity helps you to stand out from your competition. It humanizes your brand, making it your audience more willing to engage with you. Think about your brand as a person. What’s your personality? What do you care about? How do you treat others? Whatever your brand identity, make sure you stay consistent with it in everything you do.
3. Build relationships
Wouldn’t it be great to have a network of people to help you promote your content? This is what relationship building is all about. Build relationships with influencers both above you and on the same level. When reaching out, don’t make it about you. Make it about them. Be generous. And remember to give before you ask.
1) Content Production: how much valuable content can they produce, in what media, over what time period;
2) Content Discovery: how will their content be found on Google, YouTube, Pinterest or other search engines; and
3) Content Syndication: how will they get their content in front of a wide variety of people? A content strategy not built on all three pillars is likely to be frustrating.
2. Understand how SEO will impact the reach of your content. We see a lot of rookie content marketers making mistakes like not optimizing title tags and meta descriptions.
3. Remember that it’s content marketing, not content writing. What will you do with your content once it’s published? How will you reach your audience? Don’t start writing until you have a plan for promotion.
2. Learn to understand content formats. From short form blog posts to long form guides, infographics, interactive content and video there’s a massive range of formats that you can use. This doesn’t mean that you should use them. For example, not every visual piece should be an infographic – these should only be used when you have data lends itself to be shown in such a way. Think about how your audience will best digest the content and don’t make assumptions.
3. There are a huge amount of content marketing tools out there which will help make your life easier, but it’s really important that you use them to help and don’t rely on them to give you all of the answers. The best content marketing tool you have is your brain – use it, spend time thinking about what you’re doing, and use tools like Buzzsumo to assist.
2. To piggyback on the above, know the various platforms and publishers in your vertical. Each platform has its own set of quirks and knowing those insider tips can ensure you place content with the right channels. What does well on Facebook, may not resonate on Twitter. And there are a host of syndication and amplification tools – so look outside of the standards.
3. Work closely with your content teams. Integration is never a bad idea, and working hand in hand with your researchers, writers and editors can ensure that promotion tactics are baked into the content from the beginning. Content Strategy and Content Marketing are sides of the same coin, so both teams should be versed in what the other is doing and throw ideas back and forth to create great marketing collateral.
1. Read Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web.
Every good content marketer needs a solid understanding of content strategy, and this book is a bible for those new to the practice. It provides a clear and actionable plan for implementing a successful online content strategy. Why is content strategy important? Because what you produce isn’t as important as why you produce it.
2. Familiarise yourself with your brand’s content ecosystem.
No content exists in a vacuum. Take the time to understand the content that’s already out there and how yours will compete or supplement it. Audit your own content, explore and analyse the content of your competitors, and that of publishers targeting a similar audience. Where are there opportunities for you to create content that no one else is producing (well)?
3. Set clear and tangible goals for your content.
A key element of content strategy is mapping your content against clear goals and objectives. What do you want your content to achieve? Not just for your business, but for your audience, your existing customers, even your employees? Setting clear objectives and creating corresponding KPIs is the best way to monitor and prove the positive impact of your content, including ROI.
1. Know your audience and speak to the audience that you have, not the one you want. This cannot be emphasized enough.
2. Embrace content as a conversation and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Oftentimes you have to ask questions – lots of questions, sometimes even the same question 20 different ways – to get the answer you’re looking for.
3. Research, research, research! Become an expert in the topic/field/industry that you’re marketing to. Setting up Google Alerts and bookmarking reputable industry sources is a good place to start.
4. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Plan accordingly!
Eagerness and excitement are certainly a plus, but taking a few steps back to ensure you steer around these common mistakes will help you reach your goals faster.
1. Teach, Don’t Sell: If your content is all about your business and pushes your product or service from the first line, it’s not going to connect well. Quality content marketing and lead generation focus on educating people. Solve a problem, provide information that is relevant and then offer your call to action as a logical next step. Your unique product and expertise will seem like a natural progression for a simple solution.
2. Quality, Not Quantity: You have heard it before because it is true. Poorly written, inadequately pondered content will not only bore your readers, it will also get buried in search results. If you are going to put the time in, make sure the effort and planning are there to back it up.
3. Offer Value, Don’t Simply Create: Unless you can clearly understand and determine why your target audience will find your piece of content useful, it probably isn’t worth sharing. No problem solved? No question answered? Sounds like no content worth publishing! Put yourself in the shoes of your reader, whether that means your existing clients or future prospects. Understand their motivations, desires, and problems and find a way to create content that supports, solves, and responds to those needs.
1. Context is king: Always ask for the context before creating your content. Who’s your client? What is the primary purpose, intended outcome and output? How will it be published or marketed, and on which platform? Can you weave in with any current events/ affairs that will make your content more relevant?
2. Guard your heart: Understand that you are not your work. Separate your sense of self with work performance and don’t take it personally if your content is sent back for correction. Nobody likes it, but it is the fastest way to grow.
3. Imagine that you are writing to an intelligent friend: Brands are fighting against a shortening attention span worldwide, so the best bet is often to make sure that your writing is both personable and valuable to your end-user. In essence, keep it short, sweet and sharp.
1. Live video: No trend has disrupted the content marketing world in the last twelve months like live video. The early data indicates people spend three times longer watching a live video than pre-recorded content. People like being included in the “now.” Live video makes brand fans part of the experience.
2. Blogging: It’s likely you’ve given plenty of reasons for not focusing on blogging in your business. Maybe it’s too time consuming. Perhaps you think no one really cares what you have to say. It could also be that you are unsure of how it will impact your bottom line.
While there is an investment of time and energy involved with writing a blog, you might be surprised how much this little aspect of your marketing can make a huge impact. Not only does blogging help your SEO but it helps followers get to know who you are, it’s cost effective and easy.
3. Unique Content: Another question you should be asking yourself when sharing your content with your community is – how original is it? If all the same companies in your industry are providing similar types of content, what sets you apart from your competitors?
4. Social Media Strategy: For many businesses, the idea of creating a comprehensive social media strategy breeds fear and panic. Usually this fear is around not having enough hours in the day to devote to the marketing giant that is social. And with all these different strategies around when to post and how often, you may be worried that you’ll become a slave to the World Wide Web. It’s all about the planning and scheduling. This makes you more efficient, gives you more control and frees up those extra moments in the day to interact with your audience.
1. Create buy in: If you want to launch a successful content marketing campaign, you will need everyone on your team to contribute content. To get that buy in, make sure your team members know why they need to take time out of their busy day to write a blog post even if they find it difficult. Organize a kickoff meeting for your content marketing initiative and show your team the benefits to the company’s bottom line that can be achieved.
2. Optimize your posts for search: If you want obtain the maximize possible reach for your posts, make sure they are optimized for search. If your site runs on WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin’s built-in post optimization tool can be quite helpful. If your site runs on a different platform, you should still check out Yoast to review their SEO checklist and implement their optimization process on a manual basis.
3. Collect contact information: Once you get people reading your content, you need to make sure you have a way to get them back to your site to build more credibility over time. The best way to do that is to figure out how to collect your reader’s email address. Consider adding a pop up to your site with a more valuable piece of content like an ebook or implementing bonus content directly in the post.
1. Learn how to write with someone else’s voice: Knowing how to write well is essential, but knowing how to capture a brand’s unique voice will make you indispensable.
2. Learn everything you can about analytics: Understand not only how to gather data, but how to interpret and parse meaning from it. That’ll help you know and explain the real impact your work has on your organization.
3. Be a proactive communicator: When you have questions (you will have questions), identify the most appropriate people in your organization to ask, and don’t wait.
1. Engage with the communities you want to be influential in. Make references to influencers in your content and let them know that you’ve done so by @mentioning them on social.
2. Marketing or ads shouldn’t feel like marketing or ads. Forcing the value or a hard sell won’t work and you’ll get frustrated. You want to build content around the narrative or key takeaway that you are there to help peoples’ lives.
3. Try out guest blogging on popular industry sites and backlink, backlink, backlink in the body or byline for instance. This builds traffic all around
In your online writing journey, never think that SEO is a creative enemy. It’s the opposite. Different SEO tools (like Semrush or Ahrefs) can help you find out what people are looking for. Having this in mind and following the basic rules of SEO will help you appear on the first site of Google. And that’s why you write – to be visible and heard.
My final advice is to be real. Use your own examples and don’t be scared to write about your mistakes and lessons you’ve learned from them. There’s too much similar content on the Internet and if you want to stand out, you need to show your personality. Open up and readers will appreciate it.
A huge thanks to everybody who has contributed to this post!
Please share if you have found this useful!
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See you there! 🙂
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