Ten commandments of content marketing
Thou shalt follow these rules
Although you don’t have to etch this into stone, you should definitely take notes and make sure you are following these guiding principles for content marketing. There are plenty of professionals that “get it,” but for businesses new to the game of creating editorial strategies as a way to connect with their customers, these 10 commandments will set the stage to ensure that you create meaningful content that gets noticed and produces measurable results.
- Thou shalt know thy goals.
Before embarking on creating content, it is essential to understand what your business goals are and how content marketing is going to help you achieve them. Once you understand this, you can tailor your content to attain various objectives.
Beyond that, each goal should be measurable and have a deadline attached. If you aren’t measuring the results of your content marketing, you have no way of knowing the effectiveness of what you are doing.
- Thou shalt know thy audience.
Successful businesses know their customers and stakeholders. They understand who they are, their problems, their wants and their pain points. It is essential to know this information to truly relate to your customers and speak to them. All content that is created needs to be focused around a group of topics that provides answers, meets their needs and solves their pain points.
- Thou shalt have a plan.
Creating content just for the sake of having content is pointless. Real publications plan and you should too. Once you know who your audience is and what they care about, it’s time to brainstorm content ideas. Next, you need to create and stick to a consistent publishing schedule. This can be difficult, but all great content plans have an editorial calendar that includes publication dates, topics and the content strategy. Don’t know where to start? Download our editorial calendar here.
- Thou shalt be transparent.
Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t. Be human, but don’t hide the fact that a brand is sponsoring the content you are creating. Be transparent and don’t trick your audience with thinly-veiled ad copy disguised as editorial content.
- Thou shalt follow the 80/20 rule.
Your content shouldn’t just be about you. It’s okay to write about yourself occasionally, but 80 percent of the time your content needs to be focused on others. A good content marketer understands that in order for your audience to build trust in you, you need to host conversations that matter to them and can’t be overly self-promotional and sleazy in the process.
- Thou shalt make multimedia content.
A picture is worth a thousand words. We don’t want to undermine the power of words, but in the day of the visual web there is a demand for more. Create and publish your content in a variety of formats. The message can be the same, the media should be varied. Text blog posts, images, infographics, videos, white papers, eBooks, podcasts — the more types of media you create, the greater reach potential and number of different distribution channels you can use to get eyeballs on your content.
- Thou shalt make content easy to share.
Content should be easy to share. No-one will take the time to cut and paste your content in their browser in order to share it; it needs to be designed and built for the social web. That means you need to have social sharing buttons prominently displayed. Make sure social sharing buttons make it easy for your content to be shared in a variety of forms.
- Thou shalt optimize content for search engines.
When creating content, don’t forget about Google. Before publishing your posts make sure you have made it easy for search engines to index and crawl your key words, phrases and content. You say you don’t know how to do that? Just download a free plugin for WordPress and it will be an easy and efficient process for you to follow.
- Thou shalt market thy content.
Don’t assume that people will simply find your content. You need to market it. Post it on your blog, email it, include it in a newsletter, share it on every social network you are a part of – be sure not to discriminate. Ubiquity should be your goal. This builds trust, grows brand awareness and creates credibility.
- Thou shalt measure the success of thy content.
Marketing is a process; the gains that are made as a result of content marketing will be the result of a slow, steady climb in the influence, visibility, credibility and appeal of your business. First, you need to know what your business goals are and what role you want content marketing to play.
Once you understand this, there are four types of metrics you should be tracking to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing initiatives: consumption, sharing, lead generation and sales. You want to be able to measure how many people consumed your content, how often they shared your content with others, how often content consumers turn into leads, and finally how often leads turn into customers. Once you research the effectiveness of your content marketing program, you need to reflect on what is and isn’t working and then respond by adjusting your plan accordingly.