This is the bar your content has to clear on social: “Are you more interesting to me than my wife?” ~ Jay Baer, Convince and Convert
Writing good content is all the rage right now, and rightfully so. In fact, it’s something I struggle with myself.
Companies can no longer get away with a lackluster content marketing plan or even worse an inconsistent content marketing plan because the fact is: there is tons of content out there!
So if you don’t approach your content with a viable strategy, then you’re just going to be one among the crowd.
The key to content marketing is the need for relevant, useful content.
Something that, as Jay Baer puts it, will demand your audience’s attention. Content that makes them say, “Hey, let me stop what I’m doing at this very moment, and check out this blog post (or video or any other form of content).”
That sounds pretty demanding doesn’t it.
So how do you produce great content that resonates with your audience? And what can you do to take your content to the next level?
In an effort to answer these questions, for myself and other marketers who face a similar challenge, I decided to compile a list of tips that can help make your content better. Here’s what I’ve found…
3 Simple Tips To Make Your Content Great
1) Keep It Relevant
A key component to any content marketing plan is understanding your audience, who are we marketing to, and what are they interested in?
Understanding your audience helps you narrow the scope of your content marketing efforts to the right person.
I don’t mean make your content relevant to the Average Joe.
Take it a step further and make your content relevant for Joe who is 35 years old, works in Boston as a Digital Marketer and has trouble measuring ROI on his campaigns because of his lack of expertise with analytics tools.
You get the picture (if not here’s an actual picture)
This is from a great guide on Buyer Persona’s by Buffer.
Create your customer persona
In order to target the right audience, you need to first identify exactly who that audience is. And the best way to do that is by building a persona.
Building out personas can seem challenging, so to simplify the task just start with one.
First, identify the persona’s role. Is this persona a C-level executive? Or a manager? What do their daily responsibilities look like? What are their top priorities and how does it tie back in with their business?
Break down your persona into as much detail as possible and be sure to highlight key details about them. Don’t overload it with facts, just keep it simple.
The goal here is to help you identify this persona’s pain point.
By identifying the pain point associated with this persona you can create content that addresses it.
While best practices suggest to build out a detailed persona, you can try something a little more informal to get you started. (Note: You want to build a detailed persona, but this exercise can help you start the process)
Here’s an example of a rough persona I just made for a fictional Marketing Analytics firm:
In this case, the persona is a C-level executive (most likely a CMO) whose main responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of marketing across the company.
And a pain point for our fictional C-level exec is being able to assign ROI and more specifically action metrics across the customer journey.
Now that we have this info handy, I can build out content that showcases the benefits of our fictional analytics platform and how it provides the latest insights on the customer lifetime value (CLTV), a metric that would be very important to this persona.
Keep the persona with you at all times
Now that’s you’ve built out your persona, keep it with you at all times. Review the lifecycle process through the eyes of your customer persona. Identify what matters to them and just as importantly what doesn’t.
Cut out the fluff and make sure you are always addressing their pain points. Heck, pin it up in front of you so that you never lose sight of it.
The point is, keep your content relevant “because relevant content converts customers.”
Pick the right content format
Would you take a tweet and post it on Facebook, word-for-word with hashtags and all? Of course not.
You would repurpose the tweet as a Facebook message, maybe add some more info or a catchy call-to-action or landing page url before you post it (and probably an image too).
Well the same goes for your content.
Identify the content format that is the best way to get a message across to your audience.
Figure out what type of content they like, which channels they look for content in, and then make sure you put the right content in front of them.
Check out this image from a HubSpot post that explains how different types of content can be used for various stages in the sales cycle:
Ask Your Audience
Another great way to make content relevant for your audience is by asking them directly.
Ask your readers to get involved in your content. Find out what challenges they face on a regular basis, identify common pain points.
Review their questions and then create content that gives them the answers.
Provide real-life examples
Ever wonder why case studies perform so well? That’s because they are relatable.
“The top 3 content formats that B2B buyers seek out to research a purchase decision include: Whitepapers (78%), Case Studies (73%), and Webinars (67%).” – Source
Using real-life examples are a great way to bring a theory into better light. It helps your audience relate to the story you’re telling and helps them get a better understanding of how and why your company can help.
If you can’t quote a real-life example then create one using anonymized data.
2) Make it Easy to Read
A common misconception for most B2B companies is that you need to be keep your content professional at all times.
Make your content personable because you are selling to people.
By giving your content a more personal touch, you can build connections with your audience and in turn foster those into long-term relationships.
So have fun, make someone laugh, or simply break up the monotone.
Perhaps one of the best tips I have ever received is to find my own unique voice.
For personal content (i.e. content not associated with a brand), I simply researched influencers and popular bloggers in my space, whose writing style is closer to mine and that I liked and then tried to emulate it.
For brand content you may have to dig deeper.
But regardless of the level of effort involved, do the same for your content. Find aspects of other people’s (or brands) content you like and try to incorporate it into your strategy. Know your audience, what they want, what you want to say, how you want to say it.
All these points are key but remember some ideas will work and some won’t. Keep the ones that do work and try to replicate it in the content you put out.
Writing in your own unique voice makes the content more relatable, and as an added bonus it can drive traffic because the content you have to offer is different from others.
Use headings for your post
From a more operational sense, make your content easier to read by breaking it up.
Make your content digestible by breaking it up into multiple sections, include headers and subheaders, or even bold and italicize text.
People love to skim, so making your posts skimmable (is that a word?) can result in a huge boost in the readability / viewership of your content.
Don’t believe me? Try to read one of my older posts from a few years ago.
I was notorious at writing blog posts as one long paragraph.
And while the content was great (if I can say so myself), it lacked readership often times because it was difficult to read.
Make It Visual
You can’t search for content marketing best practices without stumbling into the importance of adding visuals to your content. That’s because…
This was made in Pablo, check it out…it’s cool!
They can help convey a large amount of info in a concise manner, visualize data and a whole lot more.
So use visuals to break up your content or better yet use videos and infographics as a part of your content marketing strategy.
A big goal for me this past year was to start creating videos and a quick search and recommendation later I got started on making more visual content.
In fact, here’s a video infographic I made by repurposing some older content.
Evoke an emotional response
I’m currently experimenting with Jeff Bullas’ blogging tips which he mentioned in this post.
The reason I clicked on that post in the first place is because of the headline A 6-Step Writing Process to Blog More and Stress Less.
I have been wanting to blog more and while I kept making empty promises to write each day, I never actually got down to it. But lo and behold, this handy little guide came across my Twitter feed one day and it has gotten me blogging again (I’ll let you know how effective it was in a later post).
The point is that the headline caught my attention.
It was relatable and better yet, it evoked an emotional response. “Blog more and stress less, of course I want to know how to do that!”
Create content that captures your audience’s attention, or evokes some kind of response from them. Mix it up with content that appeals to their logical side too.
A well-balanced content strategy that nurtures both types of content can be very successful.
3) Make It Credible
The credibility of your content is crucial to the success of it.
A study by Syracuse University recently found that “insightful” content was most correlated with users’ estimation of a blog credibility. – Source
Why should your audience listen to what you have to say? And how can they know if the information you’re sharing can hold up?
Building credibility into your content is a great way to grow your readership.
For example, if I were to ask you the name of a Content Marketing influencer, you might say Joe Pulizzi. Or as a Marketing Analytics expert, you might say Avinash Kaushik.
The reason is because these folks established themselves as credible sources (among other things).
Using experts can help you offer insights from leading influencers within your niche. It validates your content (and if used correctly your business) and helps you deliver the latest news from your industry.
While being an expert in your space requires time and effort, you can hire an expert that helps drive insights in your content. Have experts share the latest trends and news or simply share their predictions on the future of your market.
The use cases for expert insights are almost endless, but perhaps the most important point to note is to not fake expertise.
Building credibility can take time, but if you’re consistent and show value to your readers than you can drive thought leadership content in your space.
Leverage high-ranking credibility
A great alternative to finding an expert is to have a high-ranking person from your company offer insights. After all, who’s better positioned to share the latest information about your niche.
Have important people in your company write on important things.
Get the latest info from C-level executives about how your space is evolving, what your focus is, or why your business matters. Share these insights with your audience or have the management team in your company interact directly with them.
Pitch content written by executives to well-known sites and build readership that way. Driving content from reputable sources can help build your credibility and in turn increase the visibility of your brand.
Cite Your Sources
Citing your sources shows that you did your homework.
Would you believe anything I have said up to this point if I didn’t have multiple links to other content? Probably not.
Adding in-text links, studies, and expert opinions backup your content and add credibility to it.
Use reputable sources for your content and always make sure to give credit where credit is due.
Data Cures Everything
Think back to the last statistic you read about. For me it was this one:
“52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.” – Source
Pretty amazing that you still remember it, right? Especially if you spend a large part of your day reading content.
Data speaks for itself when it’s compiled correctly and it’s not hard to see why. Statistics have long been used to convey a message and it’s no different when it comes to your content.
Use data to grab your reader’s attention, convey a point, or even use it as a headline.
Here’s a great SlideShare that can help you get started:
Wrapping It Up
Content marketing is growing at a rapid pace and with more brands adding to the “noise” it’s important to stand out from the crowd.
Stick to your core expertise, make your content conversational and encourage a discussion around the topics that matter to your business. Focus on the customer’s pain points and be highly useful right now i.e. solve immediate problems.
Creating great content is a process, and like any process worth doing, it takes an ongoing, consistent effort.
So what tips have you found to be useful in your content marketing strategy? And how have you implemented them for your business? Share your thoughts in the comments.