10 tips for powerful content marketing
The content marketing world has become very crowded. In 2014, it will take more than content volume to be effective, but not all marketers know where to start. As a marketing and strategy consultant for TechTarget, I have performed numerous content audits and helped hundreds of clients with content creation and marketing. Through this experience, research, as well as insights from other industry experts, I have created the following list of the 10 steps to creating and marketing great content.
#1: Be useful
According to TechTarget’s most recent Media Consumption Study, technology buyers consume at least 4 pieces of your content before short-listing, so having enough content is essential. But it is not just about creating a lot of content, but creating a lot of content that your buyers will use. Technology buyers have very clear preferences on the content that they engage with throughout the buying cycle and if you are not producing content that matches their needs, you will surely miss out on opportunities.
#2: Be visual
As users become more digitally savvy, user experience is becoming just as important as the content being conveyed. From web design right down to product documentation, visualization must be part of your content creation process. Considering that 90% of the info that comes to the brain is visual, the more visual your content is, the more effective it will be. Want proof? Check out this great post from KISSmetrics about marketing lessons learned from eye tracking.
#3: Be mobile
We simply can’t ignore mobile anymore. Mobile growth and access has skyrocketed – ride a subway, go out to dinner, or go to a house party, how many people are on a mobile device at any given time. Yet marketers still seem to be slow to respond and catch up here, with 73% not yet optimized for mobile. Marketers must make optimizing content for mobile a priority in 2014.
# 4: Be present
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If great content is produced but not distributed, does it make noise?
If you build great content but don’t have a means of getting it distributed you are limiting its potential. This is how the 80/20 content marketing rule came about (80% of your content marketing efforts should be on distribution). Understand your audience, and where they are. Tailor your message and content per channel to maximize impact. What makes a great tweet might not necessarily work well on Google+ and certainly not in a nurturing email.
The average marketer uses 12 distribution channels – how many are you using?
#5: Be aspirational
It’s believed that Mark Twain once said “never let the truth get in the way of a great story” . While I would never suggest lying, I would suggest that you maximize the potential impact of your product/service through storytelling. As noted in this excellent post, people buy based on the perception of what your product can make them be, not for what they will in reality do with it. Good content marketing is about showing the success you can bring to your buyer, not bragging about how successful you are.
#6: Be social
Social media in many ways is simply a channel of communicating, so it’s important to enable your content to be shared easily. Content needs to be worthy of sharing – don’t be self-serving. Today’s buyers are smart, and self-serving content is one of the top 3 complaints of B2B buyers.
#7: Be emotional
As B2B technology marketers we need to remember that buying teams are still made up of people and brands that can connect with their buyers on an emotional level will see 2 times more impact than B2B marketers who are still trying to sell business or functional value. Craft messages based on buyer personas to increase the impact and ability for people to relate with your brand.
Being emotional also has a benefit beyond driving clicks. This great post from CMI goes into more detail on human brain behavior and the relationship between emotions and sharing of content. Anger and Awe are the top 2 emotions that when hit will likely trigger your content to be shared. Use titles that draw on emotions to increase exposure.
#8: Be informed
The B2B and B2C buyer experiences and research processes are blending; however one key area where B2B and B2C buying have not yet blended is value proposition. B2C brands can have many value proposition offerings: status, design, newness, simplicity, etc., but B2B has just 2 – money or time. Which (or both) of these will your product save?
Once this is identified, it’s about communicating this effectively. Buyers don’t care about the features and functions of your product, only that it will solve their problem.
Keep the value prop simple and consistent in your content to better inform your customers.
#9: Be brief
It should be of no surprise to readers of this posting that our attention spans are shrinking. Keeping with this spirit, this section will simply showcase 2 statistics to keep in mind when creating content:
- The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds.
- 70% of buyers say written B2B content such as whitepapers and case studies should be under five pages.
#10: Be streaming
SAP says that 90% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. And as you can see in the chart to the right, usage is on the rise for technology buyers. Following are two more compelling reasons to use video – aside from the above points:
- Traffic: Posts with videos attract 3x more inbound links than plain text posts.
- Engagement: Users are more than twice as likely to comment, share or like video content than non-video content.