4 Keys to Effective Content Marketing

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Content Marketing Starts with Great Content. Here’s How to Create It

Identifying prospective customers, capturing their attention, fending off competitors and closing sales is difficult work. Smart companies everywhere are turning to content marketing to help them drive, nurture and convert leads more effectively. Also known as inbound marketing, it’s based on the premise that, since commercial buyers now increasingly do their own initial research without relying on vendors’ sales teams for data, organizations that publish or share useful content (articles, white papers, blogs, infographics, videos, webinars, podcasts and just about anything else that can be distributed) can create a favorable impression in the marketplace and frame issues in ways that put the organization’s products and services in the best light.

Marketing automation is a valuable—if not vital—complement to content marketing efforts. Digital distribution, tracking, testing and analytical tools promise to help organizations use content to identify their most promising prospects, target them with relevant information and measure all of their efforts with unprecedented precision. The potential to improve marketing ROI is significant. But too often, technical aspects of marketing automation are distracting marketers from the basic fundamentals of content marketing. Discussions of lead scoring, progressive profiling, multi-touch attribution and more are important, but they should not be taking attention away from the marketer’s primary challenge: creating compelling content.

Here are 4 guidelines to helping marketers develop content that prospective customers want to consume and share, and that can drive a successful content marketing effort.

1. Make it Valuable

Anyone with the budget and the authority to make a significant purchase likely has too much work to do and too little time. In order to get a prospect’s attention, content must offer something of immediate value. It can be thought leadership, industry intelligence, technical information or market data. It can even be entertainment or humor. But whatever it is, it has to be worth the time it takes to consume—time that a target prospect could certainly spend doing something productive.

Case in Point—Evolv’s Workforce Report gives recruiters important and immediate insight into the problems with traditional screening practices:

evolv-workforce-report-1

2. Make it Unique

Content marketing is not a quiet secret. Businesses and self-styled experts all over the world are producing and promoting petabytes worth of blogs, white papers, reports and how-to guides, and the pace is only increasing. Does your content’s subject matter, point of view or presentation style stand out? It has to, or it’s not worth creating.

Case in Point—Cardlytics’ animated overview of card-linked marketing steps well clear of the typical financial services video, with an illustrated aesthetic that puts it in a category of one:

3. Make it Visual

Every piece of content has a graphical component. The slides used for a webinar, the photos in a blog article, the font selected for a white paper—even the thumbnail image for a podcast. Every graphic element of every piece of content is an opportunity to attract the target audience and to amplify a message—or to turn off and confuse potential customers. Design is a critically important piece of every content development effort.

Case in Point—The Center for the Digital Future’s charts and graphs express data that’s visually arresting as well as intellectually satisfying:

4. Make it Integrated

While there are many ways to promote a strong piece of content, there are only so many times a single piece of content can be promoted to a prospective customer. Think in terms of integrated campaigns of content pieces that support each other. The simplest way to do this? Start with a dense piece, then break it up into constituent parts that can be promoted, consumed and shared separately. Things like reports, briefings, white papers, blog articles, emails can each focus on one aspect of the central piece’s subject matter and make it more easily digestible for the target audience.

Case in Point—Tiburon’s Report on Public Safety as a Service serves as the basis for multiple webinars, white papers and blog articles offering smaller packets of information to prospects:

Tiburon White Paper ImageContent marketing is a powerful tool in the B2B marketing arsenal, and it deserves a prominent place in the marketing mix. Following these four principles will help any marketer start a content marketing campaign off on the right foot: with content that’s more compelling to more prospective customers, that gets them into the funnel more quickly and that helps the organization drive more sales.

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