Content Marketing Institute (CMI) just released its 11th annual B2B content marketing research report in early October 2020. It includes insights into how content marketers have adapted since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Here are some of those highlights:
Why are these statistics important? For that matter, why is content marketing important. Content Marketing is by far the most important, most relevant, and timely way to connect with your potential and current customers. In an age where lunch meetings are scarce, and travel is restricted, the way to stay “top of mind” is through content marketing.
Your content strategy should be to develop engaging content that fits with your company’s digital strategy. Content is the fundamental pillar to the success of most marketing strategies today as consumers increasingly seek value. But not just any content will do. It should be great and useful content, and people will then want to share it with others. So how do we determine if the content is great or not? The good news is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we can look at other great content and determine what makes them great. Based on other great content we identified the following eight elements that your content should have to be considered great:
Unfortunately, a lot of content produced today fails to meet some or all the above elements and is most likely to be unsuccessful in achieving its goal of creating engaging content. Given this fact, let’s look closer at each element and consider what you can do to make your content great.
Audiences can turn on you faster than a ripe avocado. (why do avocados spoil so quickly?) And the quickest way to turn them off is to present them with content that is lacking credibility. Your audience must believe in the content that you are offering to them. This doesn’t mean that you have to convince them with data from scientific studies or references to every statement you make, but it does mean that the statements you make need to be justified enough to make them believable. So how do you do this? As part of your content strategy, you can create credibility by establishing yourself as an expert in one of two ways. First, by including facts and references from well-known sources. Second, by ensuring that your content is authentic by limiting your subject to your expertise.
For your content to be great it should be shareable and compel most of your target audience to share it. If you meet all the other seven elements, your content should be shareable by default. Still, you should ask yourself this question: “will my audience want to share this?” It is also an excellent practice to get in the habit of making sure your content is easy to share on all the relevant platforms, such as websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc., that your brand engages with its customers. An excellent way to make content shareable that is relevant to many industries is offering tips and tricks, or advice. Another way is to create a how-to video or user guide. The video or guide can help your target audience learn how to achieve something (i.e., writing an article on “8 elements your content needs to make it “Great”). You should find that this kind of content is very shareable.
Many marketers agree that content is useful if it passes that “so what?” test. What is and is not fun is dependent on your audience. I live in Houston, TX. We eat a lot of avocados in Houston. If you buy and eat avocados, you would understand my earlier reference to the fact that avocados spoil quickly. But if my audience is in an area that doesn’t eat avocados, they might say, “so what?”. The “how-to guides” I mentioned above are good examples of useful content, but they may not be amusing. It would help if you looked for way to make the content either useful or fun. Or if you can make your content both useful and fun then you score a bonus.
There are some overlaps between “useful or fun” and interesting, but interesting is still important on its own. It may be useful to know that you bought coffee every time you went shopping, but it is not particularly interesting. An excellent way to determine if your content is interesting is whether or not it is remarkable. In other words, is it worth remarking about or comment? Keep in mind that just because you find something that is interesting doesn’t mean that your audience will as well. So, make sure you consider it from the consumers’ point of view.
Relevance can be the most critical pillar of your content strategy. You cannot begin to create content until you understand your audience. You need to know what keeps them up at night and ensure that the content you produce is relevant to their wants or needs. For example, if you are a wedding planner then creating content about around basketball is likely to be outside of what is relevant to your business. However, if you can create a link between wedding planning and basketball then you can create relevant content and tap into to both subjects, but if there is no link then your content will be irrelevant and not engage your audience.
Not all your content will be reliant on being released at a specific time, but when your content is at the right place at the right time, it can be far more effective.
Your content will need to be different to be great. It doesn’t necessarily have to be unique. You can take a good idea and recraft it to make it your own. There are a lot of guides to the best places to vacation, but that shouldn’t stop you from creating your own: be sure to develop one that differentiates itself from the rest. Many marketers agree that the best check for the “different question” is to ask two questions of your content. First, “has this been done before?” And Second, if so, “is my idea different enough to make a connection with my audience?”
It is easy to get caught up in the content creation process. I have seen brainstorming sessions that have resulted in great content ideas but failed to stay with the overall brand identity of the company. This inconsistency resulted in content that was no good for the company because it was not on brand and authentic. When trying to stay on brand, think about your audience again. Your audience expects to see a link or some connection between the content and the brand identity. Authenticity has become more critical now more than ever before. This is due to greater transparency that consumers are demanding of the brands they consume. Your audience will see right through a brand if it tries to enter a space where they have no right to be.
Content marketing is not a new topic. It has been a popular topic in digital marketing for many years. So, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel or overthink your content creation strategy. If you follow these eight elements and ensure that your content meets all of these elements, your content will be great, and your audience will want to share it with others. With so many content marketing opportunities possible now more than ever before – blogs, whitepapers, apps, email, podcasts, social media, advertising, website, events, etc. – driving a holistic, omnichannel content strategy that sits nicely atop your customer journey maps and serves them with timely, relevant, and useful is the key to a successful content and marketing strategy. After all, if the content is king, context is queen.