Content isn't always easy to write; in fact, depending on the topic or the industry, it can be downright difficult.
Throughout their careers, marketers will experience a variety of clients—B2B, B2C (including e-commerce), and special interest clients from an array of industries. Each requires unique content, and each has specific strategies or presentation elements they consider good and bad.
When developing content, consider a few things:
- Products or services most desired by consumers may change month to month or season to season.
- Content is built for the long term and the short term.
- Consumers will read it only if they can understand it, and fast.
Here are seven helpful tips for developing relevant, engaging, and creative content.
1. Discovery Meetings
A face-to-face meeting can be amazingly helpful. Taking the time to talk about the business's sales, goals, philosophy, and products or services can help you not only formulate ideas for relevant content but also make sure that you have all the knowledge and tools necessary to make it enticing and fresh.
- Philosophy: Consumers don't just want to know what you're marketing; they want to know why, and why they should buy it. What's in it for them or for someone else they care about?
- Current marketing strategy: Discuss what has been working and what hasn't. Adjust content type and distribution strategy accordingly. Doing so will save you a lot of time when creating your strategy and will likewise help you achieve more positive results faster.
- Ask questions customers do: Use those questions for building content. After all, the whole point of content is to satisfy a client's need, otherwise they won't care.
- Publications trending: Get your content published and linked to the company's website. Back-linking is huge for rankings and ratings.
2. Industry Research
Back in grade school, doing research for essays was time-consuming and often boring. It really hasn't changed now that you're an adult, except that instead of researching for a grade you're researching for your job.
Research is vital to building traditional content and social media campaigns and cultivating customer loyalty.
- Stay up to date with information related to your industry. If you know what's going on, your consumers will be more confident in the company and the content you build. The customers will hopefully come see your company as an "industry expert" and will be more inclined to hire or buy from it.
- Read data from the sales team. Sales and content go together, always. The end.
- Follow industry experts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You can't know everything, so don't be afraid to rely on resources, anywhere you can.
3. Content Calendars
For some products or campaigns, you can develop content months in advance, whereas for others you need to cultivate content week-to-week or monthly.
If you are spending time each month doing research, you should never be short of content ideas to work with. However, you may also be juggling multiple campaigns at once, and with two-or-three strategies each, the work can get hectic and jumbled.
Excel is your best friend, and creating a calendar will help you stay organized and on track. Include...
- Social media (what the post will say, the link it will go to, image it will include, and date/time), traditional content (blog posts, infographics, case studies, etc.), and press releases.
- Upcoming events: Keep an ongoing list of upcoming events so you can easily get social shares, posts, and press releases ready.
- Social advertising results. If you use social media advertising (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest) you can include a section to track results from such postings. Track the date of the post, the amount of money spent, and the results.
4. Monthly Check-Ins
Not every campaign will need monthly check-ins, but clients (internal and external) are usually happier and more confident when they know what content has been created, what topics have been covered, what the results are, and what's coming for the month ahead.
Just a quick email or a fast phone call lets them know that they matter and helps ensure the content is accurate, appropriate, and still relevant. You may even find yourself learning some news about a new product or service or company change that would make for killer content.
Check in each month to help streamline your content strategy.
5. Change It Up!
There is a word that as a content strategist I absolutely hate: monogamy. No wonder it sounds like "monotony": being monogamous to one type of content will result in customer boredom—and marketing failure.
Consumers want new content all the time, and they want it in new formats that are exciting to view, easy to read, and different from just about every competitor your business or client has.
It's never easy to be one of a kind; but, to help your content strategy remain popular and fresh, integrate a variety of formats and styles:
- Each month, try to use at least one of the following: infographic, video, written blog post.
- Other options include case studies, testimonials, surveys, brochures, whitepapers, and press releases. (Use press releases only when the information is newsworthy. Nothing is more annoying to a journalist than a promotional, non-newsworthy press release.)
Keywords are great, if you know how to use them.
Your business or client will rank well for some keywords, and won't for others, but don't build your entire content marketing campaign on a list of keywords that are (for now) doing well.
Even if consumers are searching for them or analytics says a keyword is ranking well, the keyword may not be relevant to what the customer actually wants to know or hear about.
Keyword-optimized content is fine for SEO, but building content based on customers' expressed desires and questions is far more efficient and profitable.
7. Customer Contact and Feedback
Gathering customer feedback—whether Sales does it or you do it, and whether it's via phone or survey (although a voice is always better than a computer screen)—is a huge part of what can make or break your content marketing strategy.
Take the time each month to speak to some of the customers, or at least the sales team, for feedback:
- Ask customers what works for them and what doesn't
- Ask the sales team what questions they get most often and what products/services are purchased most often
- Adjust content strategy based on the feedback