Content marketing is on the rise. Companies are investing more money each year on their content, and many marketers have found that they can generate leads and nurture them by creating and implementing an effective content marketing strategy.
However, 70% of marketers report that they lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. Businesses around the world are looking for employees with content marketing skillsets, so content marketers are a hot commodity in today’s job market.
The statistic above is troubling, mostly because content marketing isn’t a new practice. In fact, digital content marketing technically started in 1994 (which is a year after I was born!) but the process of creating custom content is quite a bit older than that.
Like most skills, you can enhance your content marketing with some practice, research, and dedication. Knowing this, I've put together a list of 5 things that all content marketers should focus on to become better within their trade.
1) Create Valuable Content
To create compelling content that your audience will find valuable, you need to understand your audience.
If you haven’t created personas for each of your most common customers, you’ll need to do that. For help, utilize our eBook where you can map content to your personas.
Once you gain a better understanding of your audience, put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What challenges does your audience face in their job role?
- How does your company/product/service help them solve their problems?
- Is there an industry-specific concept or news article that you can educate people about?
- Has your sales team identified a common question that you can write about?
By answering the questions above, you’ll be able to understand your audience’s paradigm(s), which will help you identify what information they find valuable.
To minimize the amount of time it takes to create valuable content, utilize content marketing or copywriting formulas.
2) Use Copywriting Formulas
There are plenty of copywriting formulas that you can use to make sure you’re not missing anything in your writing. There are formulas for sales emails, blog posts, social media posts, subject lines, testimonials, value propositions, and much more.
No matter how much skill you may have for content marketing, it’s best to use a formula. I’ve included two formulas that I’ve had success with, but for nearly all copywriting formulas ever thought of, check out this blog post from CopyHackers.
This formula is great for most content pieces, from TV commercials to blog posts to direct mail. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
To use this formula effectively, bring attention to what you’re trying to get your audience to engage with. Then, make them interested by sharing important features or benefits of your solution. You want to make your audience desire what you have to offer, and ultimately, take action.
This copywriting formula can also be used for a variety of content pieces, but it works best for when you’re trying to appeal emotionally to your target audience. It stands for Awareness, Comprehension, Conviction, and Action.
This is different from AIDA because of its focus on comprehension and conviction. When you use this formula effectively, you’ll diagnose a problem and explain how it affects your target audience. ACCA should be used when you need to connect more to your audience’s thought processes.
If you have any suggestions for content marketing formulas that I should include, please let me know in the comments section below.
3) Engage With, Learn From, and Expand Your Network
One of the best parts of content marketing is that people will engage with you if you let them. It’s essential to make this part of your company’s content marketing strategy.
Simply creating content isn’t enough to be a top-notch digital marketer. You need to share your work on social media so more people can find you. HubSpot tells us to spend as much time sharing your content as you did to write it, but that might not be feasible for some marketers. You should be spending at least 30 minutes per article sharing your content in relevant channels.
Marketers are notorious for taking content that someone else has created and putting our own twist on it. This is a perfectly okay strategy, but only if done correctly.
For the record, I’m not telling you to plagiarize. Give credit to someone for their thoughts and ideas, but feel free to expand upon them or to tweak them to get your point across.
Do’s and Don’ts of Repurposing Content:
- DO provide sources when appropriate
- DO use quotation marks when appropriate
- DON’T copy & paste someone else’s content as your own because Google will penalize you
- DON’T repurpose content without changing AT LEAST 30% of the content on it
Engaging with Other Content Marketers
When someone shares your content or when they engage with it, thank them. Also, when people create content that you like, let them know!
It seems too simple, but when you engage with people, they become more familiar with you, which could inspire that person to share your content with his or her network. By engaging with content, your network has the potential to grow more with each interaction.
4) Read, Read, Read, and Read Some More
Since you’re responsible for using your understanding of language to help sell your company’s products or services, it’s essential that you expose yourself to many different kinds of storytelling. By doing so, you’ll see how other authors tell their stories.
I believe it’s best to read a wide variety of books. Regardless of the subject matter for each type of book, look for writing mechanics that you enjoy and write them down so you can try to use them in your content marketing.
For example, in Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods (my absolute favorite book) he shares the story of two 40-year-old men nearly through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he also mixes in important aspects of history, environmentalism, and other relevant content. The balance of humorous storytelling and thought-provoking statistics fits together incredibly well.
You can also expand your vocabulary by keeping a list of unfamiliar words and searching for its definition. To get the most out of the books you’re reading, check out this blog post on how to absorb a book into your bloodstream.
5) Practice by Writing
Make sure you put everything to work. The overall progression from an inexperienced content marketer to an effective content marketer depends on the time you’re willing to spend on your content.
I’m not saying to reinforce your writer’s block by being a perfectionist when it comes to writing content. There are strategies that you use to help you deal with writer’s block, but you need to create or even diversify your own portfolio of your work. If you’re a big fan of a specific sports team, start doing a blog that analyzes your favorite team. Write some poetry for your significant other, and if they’re any good send them to Hallmark. Start a travel blog if you can. The better you get at writing, quite simply, the better you’ll get at content creation and content marketing.
It might be hard to find time to write more in addition to all that you do in your job role, but that won’t be the case if you sacrifice some of your free time. Don’t read between the lines here; no need to write a thoughtful and optimized blog post every night when you’re working from home. Alternate some nights writing new content and other nights reading for work or for fun.
I’m not going to lie; sometimes it does suck when you have to work from home. But it doesn’t have to. Get the day-to-day things done ahead of time and spend your time working from home doing the things that you enjoy doing. Sure, there might be a fire or two that you’ll need to put out for one of your projects or campaigns, and you should prioritize that work.
Of course, those aren’t the only things you need to work on to enhance your content marketing skills, so I’ve included a few more things that you can consider.
Nothing ruins your credibility like a grammar slip. Fortunately, we have tools like spellcheck and Grammarly that help you never misspell a word ever again.
And, the best thing about grammar mistakes is that we’ve all made at least one of them.
Difference between evergreen and expert content
Evergreen content, like evergreen trees, keeps its substance for a while. It never really expires. Expert content is typically explaining a complicated procedure that might be relevant for a while, but it is often so specific it will “go bad” after some time. I’ve listed some examples below.
This is a bit easier said than done since Google constantly updates their search algorithm. That being said, you can watch informative videos and great articles to read to help you understand the basics of SEO. Like this one that explains how to optimize your blog with high-ranking keywords.
The best way to create valuable content is to do it with authenticity. Make sure you’re citing credible sources to validate your position, and understand you’re not writing for robots. Create content that people can consume with ease.
To become a better content marketer you have to be willing to create things that people will find valuable, you have to write with a plan and not from scratch, you need to interact with content you like and engage with people that like your own, you must read voraciously, and finally, you must practice your writing skills.
Content marketing is growing quickly. Companies are looking for people they can count on to create valuable content that their prospects can turn to for answers to common questions, for industry-specific best practices, and more.
Need help with your company’s content marketing strategy? We can help! Contact us and maximize the value you’re getting for your content.