Seems like just about everybody agrees that content marketing is the marketing strategy of the hour, or year, or decade. Yet surprisingly few are actually doing content marketing. And fewer still are doing it well. Here are some habits to acquire and nurture to become a more effective content creator and bring more of the power of content marketing to your business in 2020.
Incoming knowledge provides you with fuel for your creativity. You should regularly read not only news of your industry, or articles about a particular subject, but general news and information. By accumulating all kinds of information you are setting yourself up to understand the context behind what's happened in your industry and how that shapes your target audience's mindset in the present. Find the blogs your audience reads and read them as well.
Set a writing schedule for each day, and then sit down and write. This writing doesn't have to be perfect, you just have to write something. Jot down some notes and ideas. Get words on a page and let concepts flow. You may not always be inspired to write but something inspiring just may come out when you least expect it.
3. Know your audience
You can only make great content if you have a solid understanding of the audience it’s aimed at. This is more than the usual straightforward demographics like age, gender, location, family size, job title, and salary. Different audiences have diverse needs, questions, and problems to solve. You need to know these "pain points" to write effective content that addresses your specific audience. What do they want that you're not yet addressing? What problems can you help them solve?
4. Keep the End Goal in Mind
With content for marketing, you have to understand the complete purpose of the piece prior to writing it. After understanding what the end goal of the piece is, you can work back to the beginning. Are you seeking to inform or educate? Is there a specific action you want to nudge your reader towards? What is this piece's marketing goal? Once you've learned everything you can about your audience, ask yourself what they'll benefit from reading.
5. Use analytics
You can determine which content performs best with a particular audience, then take the topics of the best performing content and look for more ways to use similar topics, opportunities for different types of content, and note new topics that present themselves as a result of your research. Analytics also show you underperforming content so you can improve it for higher engagement.
6. Be curious
Curiosity killed the cat? Not in this case. As a content creator, this trait leads you to explore new ideas about the world around you and where you and your business fit. You can use what you glean in your writing. Maybe your curiosity will lead you to stumble upon a yet unsolved problem or a fresh solution. Whatever you're wondering about, don't squelch the desire to figure things out, keep thinking, and stay curious!
If you have a team, take the time to meet daily. It will pay off in your results. And if you're a content marketing team of one, the same advice applies, just call it evaluation instead of a strategy meeting. You have a documented editorial mission statement, a documented content marketing strategy, and a solid handle on what effective content marketing looks like. Take time daily to evaluate your efforts and see how well those efforts match up with your documented strategy and expectations.
8. Update/create content
If content marketing is your main inbound practice, you need to do some kind of content creation daily. Either focus on updating old content or write new quality content. You can repurpose that old content into something else; like an infographic, video, slide deck, guide, newsletter, or podcast. Or you can update statistics and the newest developments in the industry, then republish this updated content and note the revision date.
9. Find your voice
In all probability you're not the only one offering advice, observations, and thought leadership in your industry. Do things to stand out from the other content creators in your field. Try diversifying into a new content medium, promoting your content on different channels, and simply gain experience and trust over time. What you can bring to your content that nobody else can is your voice. Readers first click on your content for the information, but they come back for your personality. Blend your content guidelines with your creativity.
Creating valuable content is a start, but developing personal relationships with your audience is the most effective way to nurture them into leads. Engage directly with your audience on a daily basis. You can engage on social media by responding to any questions or comments on your posts. You can actively seek out your audience and start conversations about content and topics that interest them. You can start forum discussions related to your niche. Comment about other topics and, of course, respond to your audience. Respond to any comments on your blog posts. If you're approached with a thoughtful question or comment, consider turning it into a new post.
11. Understand KPIs
As you work to get your content discovered, focus on a key performance indicator (KPI) and optimize your content for that KPI. This is a specific metric chosen to measure how well your content is doing as far as meeting expectations. The KPIs that are typically looked at include:
Social media traffic; the number of visitors that come to your content from a social media post
Direct traffic; the number of visitors that come to your content by entering your website's URL into their browser
Organic traffic; the number of visitors that come to your content by way of SERP link
Submissions; the number of visitors to your website who submit their contact information in exchange for a resource you offered them
12. Question everything
The best content creators are just curious by nature. They are curious about the knowledge they already have and acquiring new knowledge by looking at what's being promoted in the world at a particular moment in time. The insights that arise from their inherent curiosity makes for great content. Develop the habit of questioning the status quo. Go out of your way to play devil's advocate. Take the contrarian view. Question why the author of a particular piece of content thinks the way they do and what happened in that industry that triggered that viewpoint. This puts you on the road to thinking more critically about all that content you're consuming.
And, the bottom line is that critical thinkers make great content creators.