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5 Content Marketing Best Practices You Need to Know Now

Looking for content marketing tips? My advice is step back and look at the big picture.

It’s easy to get so caught up in marketing tricks that you lose sight of your strategy. Do a search for “content marketing tips” and youll get list after list of tactics—things like “use social ads” and “write guest blogs”. The problem is that these lists don’t add up to a strategy—and if you have a bad strategy, tactics won’t matter.

So what does a good strategy look like? Here are a few pointers.

1. Set your goals

First, what are your business goals? Are you trying to get sales leads? Reposition your company in the market? The answer to this question will drive your entire strategy.

Next, consider how content will meet these goals. For example, if you want leads, what can you offer in exchange? Often, the best content helps the audience solve a problem—that’s a good place to start.

Finally, determine how you’ll measure success. What are your metrics, and how do they relate to your business goals? How will you track your metrics?

2. Consider your audience

Think carefully about your audience. It’s easy to make bad assumptions!

When building your target personas, reach out to other parts of your organization for insights. Your sales team is a particularly good resource. They may reveal that you are getting inquiries from unexpected places.

Once you know whom you are targeting, find out what they care about. Don’t just go with your gut—look for ways to measure audience interest. Spend time investigating search trends, hashtag popularity, and other metrics.

Also, think about how your audience consumes content. Do they want to hear from their peers, or from industry analysts? Where do they consume content? Are they heavy users of social media?

3. Now for the tough question: How will you stand out from the crowd?

Your audience is dealing with an overwhelming flood of content. To get their attention, you need something unique and valuable.

What can you say that is new and different? Can you surprise them with a viewpoint they had not considered? Can you address a controversy?

What this all boils down to is start by listening. Content has the greatest impact when it responds to audience needs.

4. Build your marketing funnel

No piece of content should stand alone. You need an audience acquisition plan to bring people in, and a compelling call-to-action that will lead them to the next stage in the marketing funnel.

Keep in mind that the mix of channels—such as search and native advertising—needs to evolve over time. Set goals for each channel, track performance, and experiment regularly with new channels. You might find that shifting your social media efforts to a different channel improves your results, or that social ads perform better than content posted on your own channels.

A/B testing is a critical part of these efforts. Seemingly trivial choices like the color of a call-to- action button can have a major impact on conversion rates. The only way to know if you’ve made the right choices is to try different ideas and measure the results.

5. Maximize your return on investment

Content marketing takes serious commitment. To keep your costs under control, look for ways to leverage existing resources. Cast a wide net—anything from white papers to customer-facing sales decks can be a springboard for new content.

Also, look for cost-effective ways to amplify your content. Find existing marketing efforts that you can join—for example, there are probably social channels you can use. Think about where your audience gathers, and how to reach them where they live. Can you post content on a popular site or engage a leading personality?

Finally, don’t let your plans stop with just one piece of content. To make the most of your investment, you need a content proliferation strategy. If you are creating a white paper, make sure you organize the paper into sections that can be easily broken out into smaller assets like blogs and infographics.

See the big picture

To be clear, I’m not saying that all you need is a good strategy. Marketing tricks matter, too. Just remember why you’re putting all those clever tricks to work.

Kenton Williston

Kenton Williston

Director of Content at Integrated Marketing Partners
Personal Credo: Storytelling is the heart of all great content.
Kenton Williston

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