Look, I’m not going to waste your time here.
Despite all the changes and the blizzard of technology over the past few years, the core function of most marketing departments is still lead generation.
And for content to be successful for lead generation, as well as a lot of other goals, it must follow these six rules of content marketing:
#1 Be non-promotional
Promotional materials will neither excite nor inspire, both critical components of content marketing. Instead, focus on providing value.
Content that educates and informs is the lynchpin of the content game. If you have buyer personas (and you should, here’s how to get started if you don’t) than you’re already ahead of the game. In the course of building your personas, you should have key objections identified. Create content that works to answer those common objections. There’s no better way to build trust than to provide useful answers to common questions that people are asking.
#2 Be relevant
Generic materials that are not highly relevant to a reader will not result in increased success. When writing content, be sure that above all it will be useful to the reader, regardless of whether it 100% supports your company message. Remember, most top-of-funnel content is to get people in the door.
This is sort of an obvious stat, but 82% of consumers like reading content from brands when it’s relevant. (Source: The CMA)
A good way to stay relevant is to scope social media, or any place where your buyers congregate online, to see what’s trending. Use those topics as a springboard to write content that is relevant to your aims and those of your audience.
#3 Close the gap
Most marketers operate on a level of “Hey we should run this campaign…because I think it’s a good idea!” But, that’s not really the way to build engagement. It’s better to first think of your buyer’s pain points and work to address them. When you build content marketing campaigns, your first question should be, “Will this help my customer?”
Above all, content marketing should work to provide answers to business question or problem that is relevant to your audience. Giving people information about topics where there is no need for information will be a wasted effort by the organization.
#4 Be error-free
Poorly written thought leadership may not only provide poor results, but may also hurt the company’s reputation. Take time to ensure content is presented in a thoughtful manner and is free of errors.
Your company blog isn’t the place to experiment with free-form prose. It helps to hire someone with proven writing experience, specifically marketing content. A copywriter is always a good choice as well. If you are really flexin’ in the budget department, consider hiring a copy editor.
At LeadMD, we have a rule that nothing ever goes out on the same day it’s written. That’s because it always pays to revisit something with fresh eyes. You’d be surprised what you catch.
#5 Be relevant to company goals
If the content you create does not support business objectives in any way, it is a waste of resources to produce. Keep business goals in mind when creating content. This seems like a “duh” but it’s significantly more common than you’d think.
Creating content is fun. But it’s easy to get carried away. Content takes a lot of time, and time is money. So don’t follow every whimsical idea from every team member. Instead, make sure that all content supports higher business goals and answers objections from your audience.
Too often, content ideas and campaigns are created in a vacuum. The marketing team throws a few ideas around and hopes one sticks. But, figuring out what your buyers want doesn’t involve a Ouija board. It’s as simple as picking up the phone and asking your customers a few simple questions. No good business ever starts without someone first asking for that business and the same thing goes for content.
#6 Provide proof in your content pudding
Since you write to support a business goal, your content may seem biased. Make sure that content you create gives proof either through quotes and testimonials or through actual metrics and statistics.
According to Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, 97 percent of news errors remain uncorrected. Imagine how that number would look for content marketing.
In the end, great content is born out of great questions. Be sure to build a content process that’s externally driven. Work hard to determine what your buyers are asking for and give it to them. You’ll see engagement increase in no time.
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Meet Leah Byrd
As bookworm with a tendency to wander, Leah collects stories everywhere she goes. Seeing the world as an ecosystem of stories has enabled her to bring an authentic approach to marketing that drives connection and advocacy. With a background in education, marketing strategy, and content creation, she is dedicated to creating unified, seamless experiences that maximize ROI. In her free time, you’ll probably find her reading a book with a sleepy chihuahua in her lap, rummaging through an antique shop, trying desperately not to kill her plants, or serenading the dashboard with her husband on yet another weekend road trip.