Content marketing is more than just writing a few blog posts and putting out an occasional white paper. In order to create effective content aimed at the right target in the best place for them to find it, you must put together a content management process.
Here are some tips on what to do (and what NOT to do) with content marketing.
What to Do
Define Your Goals
You can’t shoot until you have aimed. Dig a little deeper than “My goal is to make money.” That’s a given. Define the secondary goals that will get you there, and then plan the content accordingly. What does your content need to do?
Increase click through rates?
Create an Editorial Calendar
Goals are reached much more easily if you have a strategy and tactics. An editorial calendar allows you to break the big picture down into workable pieces. This is the place to plan content topics, formats, and types as well as to make specific assignments and impose deadlines.
Develop Buyer Personae
Who are you trying to reach? Content aimed at a specific person or group is much more effective than trying to reach everyone at once.
Who is your ideal customer?
What position does s/he hold? What does s/he aspire to?
What problems does s/he need to solve?
Who are the influencers?
Research Carefully and Present Correctly
Nothing will put a dent in your credibility like mistaking fiction for fact. Don’t take just one blog’s word for it, do your own research. Look for the source, validate it, and verify it. Then put it together so it is easily read and understood. Would a graph be more appropriate here? Would video make things more clear? Making reliable information accessible is a technique that will uphold you as a thought leader rather than a huckster.
Conduct a Technical Audit
This encompasses everything from checking on navigation and links to content analysis. Geoff Kenyon has an excellent checklist to follow.
Remember how you feel when 301 redirect doesn’t work or when videos won’t play? Well, that’s exactly how your visitors will feel.
Become Familiar with the Legal Stuff
Copyright infringement, plagiarism, and other illegal activity could drag you down if you don’t educate yourself about the appropriate use of content. Do your research on the rules governing Fair Use and Creative Commons. And never, ever forget to properly attribute. When in doubt, use a stock photo site or materials in the public domain.
Develop Content Standards and a Style Guide
Content standards and a style guide can help all content producers stay on the same path, quickly train new contributors, and provide new managers with a ready-made framework.
Measure, Tweak, and Measure Again
The nice thing about digital media is that it is easy to measure and easy to change on the fly. Analyze content performance on a regular basis to see what works well and what needs to work better. Make the changes and measure again. In time, your overall content quality will rise.
What Not to Do
DON’T Skip the Gap Analysis
It’s like never looking at what’s in the pantry before going to the grocery store. You wind up with 50 cans of tomato soup and no crackers. You need to know what you have and what you don’t. Those empty areas could contain a gold mine of leads.
DON’T Release without Review or Testing
We are all guilty of just ripping out a piece of content and posting it without proofreading, or creating a link but not checking whether it works. It’s bad enough when it happens in an email to a friend. Multiply it by hundreds or thousands when it’s out there for everyone to see.
DON’T Forget Customer Retention and Relationship Building
Content isn’t just for lead generation--it is the best resource for building relationships with people and to keep them coming back for more. Stay in front of them with relevant, useful content so they don’t stray to your competitors’ sites.