So you thought content marketing was all about the content? If you’re focusing your content marketing strategy on the topics and the different content formats you plan to create, you’re missing a trick. Instead, you should be focusing on the people you’re trying to reach through content marketing.
- Publishing content on the right topic in the right format is only a small aspect of successful content marketing. For true success, you need to focus on long-term relationship building.
- Give your audience what they want and aim to provide value.
- Develop a unique brand voice and forge your own path. There’s no single recipe for good content marketing.
Content Marketing for Humans
There are a variety of approaches you can choose to take when it comes to building your content marketing strategy.
Going back a decade or more, in the early stages of SEO, online marketers were likely to write their content for machines rather than people. It was relatively easy to jump to the top of the search engine rankings with the use of keyword stuffing and other unscrupulous tactics, and so content was seen mainly as a tool for manipulating Google, rather than something useful that people would actually want to read.
As the search engine algorithms became more sophisticated and the basics of web personalization came into play, there was a shift towards a more user-focused approach to SEO. Indeed, brands that didn’t heed warnings against creating low quality “over-optimized” content were penalized by Google.
However, old habits die hard. It’s still common for marketers to base their content marketing strategies around keywords rather than really thinking about the person reading the content.
We’re now entering a new era of content marketing. Users are demanding more from their search results, and advances in technology mean that delivering hyper-personalized experiences is not only possible, but also expected.
At the same time, consumers are losing their trust in big brands and seeking out more authentic relationships. They don’t want to just read your content – they want a real connection.
So how should you respond to this major shift in audience expectations? How can you adjust your strategy to get the most out of your content marketing?
Figuring Out What Your Audience Wants
The first step comes with nailing down exactly what your audience wants and figuring out how you’re going to provide it.
They probably want several different things. Maybe they’re looking for inspiration and motivation. Perhaps they want to get a leg up on their competition, educate themselves, and learn something new. Or maybe they have more lofty goals and they want to really make a difference in the world, be part of a community, and change themselves for the better.
How do you figure this out? Ask them! Contacting members of your audience one-on-one by email or social media and asking them what sort of content they’d like to see from you is a great way to make sure you’re meeting their needs.
You can also use insights from social media data and analytics. What other brands do they follow? How do they spend their time online? What sort of content do they engage with?
Image source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-audience-insights/
Developing Your Unique Brand Voice
The next step is to make sure you’re offering something they can’t get anywhere else.
The web has been flooded with generic content in recent years as more and more brands jump on the content marketing bandwagon without really thinking about how they can provide real value.
Being successful at content marketing doesn’t just mean dutifully publishing a blog post several times a week and linking to it from social media. You have to think about what makes that blog post worth reading.
Of course, you need to make sure you’re writing about the right topics. But content marketing isn’t just about “content” – it’s about telling your brand story through content.
You must develop a unique voice if you’re going to stand out in today’s increasingly competitive digital marketing landscape. Every blog post you write is a single drop in a whole ocean of content. Figuring out your unique point of view and brand story will help you to connect with your audience on a more personal level and ensure they come back for more, rather than just heading off to another source of generic content.
Humanize your content. Think about how you’d talk to your customers in real life, and make sure that voice comes through in your written content too.
Image source: https://positiveequation.com/2019/06/11/brand-voice/
Using stock photography is a quick and easy way to make content more visually appealing, but your content will have a greater impact if you use real photographs of your employees and customers.
Consider other ways you can make your content more personal and authentic. Maybe you can employ your team members as content creators, writing about subjects they’re truly passionate about.
On a similar note, don’t just follow the crowd and copy what everyone else is doing. You don’t necessarily have to follow the recommended format or “best practices” either. Don’t be afraid to experiment and innovate with your content, and see where it takes you.
Focus on Relationships, Not Sales
If you consider content as just another way to guide people through your sales funnel, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to build real brand-consumer relationships that could last a lifetime.
Content can and will bring sales, but it’s a far more sophisticated marketing tool than simply a means to persuade people to buy.
When you reduce content to a sales vehicle, it not only loses its potential to build long-term customer relationships, but these customers will also see through the content that you’ve created to push sales in an instant.
Overly promotional content comes across as inauthentic and dishonest. Take the focus away from sales and concentrate on providing value to your audience. How can you help them out without asking anything in return?
Once you’re providing truly valuable, authentic, and high-quality content to your audience, you’ll be rewarded for it. It may take a little longer to have an impact, but it will be longer lasting and more beneficial to your business.
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