At the heart of every marketing campaign and every digital strategy: content.

In (my last blog) The Content Creation Climb, I started to look at WHY formulating content is a continuous trial for marketers. The good news is that an increasing number of businesses are genuinely starting to understand how hard it is for marketers; particularly in the area of digital.

Enlightened firms are supporting their marketing teams by allowing them to recruit more content creators, and they’re enhancing their marketing team’s capacity and capability in the process.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been able to hire an extra content creator this year to help bolster the team. Whilst it may be seen as a ‘luxury’ addition to a marketing team, I have no doubt in my mind that this will turn out to be a very wise investment indeed. Particularly, as the business’s appetite for content is on the increase. 

Whilst there’s a lot of things to remember and keep top of mind if you’re a content creator, here are 7 key points I always keep my eye on:

Focus on these 7 key things:

1. Turn around topical, relevant content – more quickly
A crucial factor in getting things turned around quickly is having an effective approvals process in place. Try and give yourself a head start before you’re even close to sign-off stage by: 

• asking journalistic questions early
• and ensuring your internal process for creating content is as streamlined as possible 

If a piece in draft has to receive input from ten people before it can be released into the world, it’s probably going to lack impact by the time it gets published.

2. Write for your audience, not for yourself
When you’re formulating content, make sure that your piece is going to strike a chord with the end audience.  

Where is the value for them, and why should they read it?

There’s no point writing about something because you want to write about it, or because the business thinks it’s a great idea. And, if you don’t bother to try and understand what your audience wants, you may be shooting your arrows at the wrong target, and missing an amazing opportunity to build trust.

3. Commit to developing some genuine thought leadership 
According to Hubspot, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads (per month) compared to those who do not.

Think of blogs, white papers and newsletters less as ‘sales pieces’, and more as ‘thought leadership assets’. These content types need to be the building blocks of your company’s credibility – they’re what enable your business to stand out from the crowd.

There’s so much content out there now, that emerging as a trusted authority on the subject-in-hand has become more important than ever.

4. Segment, measure and re-market
All three are big topics in their own right, but essentially, this ‘pointer’ is about driving home the fact that you need to be:

• delivering relevant content to your audience (segment)
• checking whether what you’re serving them has hit the spot (measure)
• making sure you keep feeding relevant content to those people who engaged (remarket)

A classic marketing mistake is to invest time and effort in a campaign, collect contacts into a database and then almost start again from scratch when you come to launching a new marketing campaign. In today’s digital landscape, there are some good pieces of software which can help you avoid this by joining up campaign delivery, measurement and remarketing – Hubspot, Marketo, Act-On…and the list goes on.

Whilst it can be a slow process to nurture through content (your sales team may be twitching in their chairs), it’s this stealthy, less ‘salesy’ approach which will successfully convert leads to customers.

5. Balance the use of your owned, paid and earned media
Traditionally these have all been seen as separate entities; often working in isolation to promote your brand, but in truth, they all need to be working together as one content strategy ‘ecosystem’:

earned-paid-owned diagram

Owned Media: It’s best to build up your owned media channels with trusted, customer-orientated content (often with an element of problem-solving to add value)

Paid Media: Then use your paid channels, such as Adwords or social media advertising, to get this content strategically positioned online to create exposure and attract your target audience. 

Earned Media: The last piece in the puzzle, and at the pinnacle of doing a ‘good job’ with your content, is your earned media. People now trust your content and rate it so highly, that they engage with it through ‘liking’, commenting or ‘sharing’ with their peers or create content about you and your business.

6. Optimise your content
I believe there are three aspects to ‘optimising’ your content:

• Be mindful of the different channels your content is destined for. So for example, a web page may house half a page of introductory content, but a social media post about the same subject will need to be shorter, snappier, and (preferably) include a CTA (call to action). Likewise, an Adwords advert will have even more ‘layout’ restrictions, and so the content will need to be positioned slightly differently in order to get the best from the Adwords campaign.

• Ensure that your website is responsive. According to a recent Global Web Index report, where around 40,000 internet users (from Europe and the Americas) were surveyed, 80% now own a smartphone.

Couple this with the fact that there are still many businesses that lack a responsive website, and it’s clear that some marketers have to work even harder to make their content effective. Reading-based Digital Marketing agency Sharp Ahead recently conducted research on over 500 B2B companies in the Thames Valley and Solent regions. They found that (a surprising) 60% did not have a responsive company website. So to keep your message digestible across a variety of different devices, keep content short and sweet, use bullet points and subheadings, and add impactful images and infographics to make your story come alive. After all, 90% of the information your brain receives is visual.

Optimise your content for the purposes of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It may seem somewhat obvious to the seasoned content marketer, and although the magic formula for achieving brilliant SEO keeps changing, it still remains an important piece of the jigsaw.

7. Make your content work hard for you
It often feels like an age has passed by the time you get your blog /white paper /report /newsletter signed off and published. Now you’ve gone to all of that effort, try to squeeze every last drop of value from your content.

Is your content divisible? That is to say, can you re-purpose elements of it for use on other channels, promote it again in a few weeks via a cross-selling campaign, or use parts of it in offline media?

Always try to include a CTA in your content if you can, but I’m not talking about a ‘contact us for more information’ CTA; more like a ‘fill in this form to get our report’ CTA.

Use that resulting engagement to push leads down the marketing ‘shute’, and into the sales funnel!