With great content comes great responsibility! You may have really great content but what do you do with it? The answer lies in content marketing. You can use this marketing channel to build your customer base by engaging them and providing content that converts. We’re going to dive into our favorite list of content marketing best practices.
Are you applying any of them? Let’s find out.
If you already know you want to take your content marketing to the next level. Then let’s get to it. Contact us and we’ll get started turning potential customers into loyal buyers today!
What is content marketing?
Content marketing focuses on creating valuable content for your target audience. The keyword here is value. You can create all the content you want but if it doesn’t resonate with your target audience you shouldn’t expect any sales to come out of it. Producing this valuable content is a way to break through the rest of the noise in the digital world. The goal, like most marketing tactics, is to drive customer action.
Think content marketing can’t be applied to your business? Think again. Any business can benefit from creating content. Not everything has to be an obvious advertisement or a push to sell. Relevant content helps cut through the clutter and can also help build brand awareness for your company.
So now your question is probably how can I make money by just publishing content? It’s not enough to just publish content. You must be creative! Get out of your comfort zone. Go where no competitor has gone before and be able to build a strategy. With our content marketing best practices on hand it will be a piece of cake!
Content Marketing Best Practices
Content marketing is all about the content of course! So the first of our content marketing best practices might sound a little strange.
Don’t sell anything. Repeat that. Do not sell anything.
We know what you are probably thinking. How can I sell my products or services if I’m not actually trying to sell them?
Yup that’s right. The purpose of content marketing is to produce great content so that your customers take action. If your content is extraordinary and unlike anything customers have ever seen before, they will be compelled to take action.
So, show content that your users want to see and do not push sales on them. You can create a separate online advertising strategy dedicated to sales. But sometimes people need a break from ads. This is why you need content marketing.
Let’s take a look at a company that puts these content marketing best practices to work! Publix – the grocery store famous for “Pub Subs”- has an Instagram account filled with various food shots, recipes and cooking tips. They aren’t directly “selling” anything or telling you to buy something. But by showing followers recipes they are subtly encouraging them to go to Publix to purchase the ingredients they need to make meals or snacks like this delicious salsa.
If their account was filled with photos of their chip aisle when it’s buy one get one free, customers would be less engaged with their content.
Although this is a supermarket they have built their brand in such a way that it comes off as a source for professional recipes and cooking tips.
1. Deliver Value
While you are not selling your products, you should also deliver value to your customers. That’s what content marketing is all about right? What better place to have valuable content than your blog?! What’s that you say? You don’t have a blog yet? Then it’s time to start writing or outsourcing your writing to a content marketing company. This is one of the best places to deliver content that is beneficial to customers and that also represents your brand.
Blogs are great because you can use them to answer questions that your customers might have. Once you start blogging regularly you become a trusted and reliable source for content. When customers trust you, they are more likely to buy your products or services.
And don’t ever fall into the trap of choosing quantity over quality. Having plenty of short, not valuable posts is not the right way to engage your audience. Instead, take the time to create well thought articles that will be beneficial for them. After all, your blog should be about the audience and not solely on your brand. Indirectly sell them your products and services by sharing valuable, relevant and diverse content.
Patagonia, a company that sells clothing for the outdoors is on a mission to make the world better. The Patagonia blog is full of 100% great content that their customer base would find interesting and useful.
There are stories of people hiking, the changing environment, and possibly the best content from guest writers. Like this letter to Patagonia written by Laura Johnston about her pink Patagonia baggie shorts that she wore for 180 days while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Her content is entertaining as she tells the story of her favorite pair of shorts. This content sells the shorts without telling customers to buy them and delivers value to the reader as they learn about how wonderful these shorts are.
2. Personalize your content
Personalization allows you to grab the attention of your customers and tailor their experience specifically to them. This essentially makes people feel special and like the company is working just for them. Personalizing your content can be anything from recommending content that customers might like to putting their names on your product, like Coke!
Have you found your name on a bottle of Coca-Cola yet? As part of their Share a Coke campaign, Coca-Cola has put thousands of different names on their bottles. Seeing your name on a product like this is exciting and makes you want to buy just because it’s personalized. This is a creative way to show customers that Coke cares while giving customers something fun and valuable. And it’s profitable!
Plus, have you ever seen you name on a drink before? This is key. In order to be successful think of things that your competitors aren’t doing. Or you can piggyback off of their content marketing ideas and make them better!
Spotify is another company that is personalizing their content for their users. They use an algorithm to create personalized playlists for every single person. If you are a Spotify subscriber you will have access to daily mixes, a discover weekly, release radar and more! All of these playlists contain songs that you have either heard before or new songs that are similar to your music taste based on the previous songs you have been listening to.
Even though creating content like Coke and Spotify might be out of reach for some smaller companies, it doesn’t mean you can’t compete to reach for the stars. Another way you can personalize your content is to simply include recommendations to additional content.
If you show customers content that is relevant to them it makes your company look smart! The more relevant content you can show your individual customers, the more trust you will build with them. You will quickly become a reliable source for information. When customers seek out your site because they know that they will get tailored content, you have just won the content marketing game.
3. Build a bond with customers through content
This is one of our content marketing best practices that any size company can and should do. It goes hand in hand with our personalization technique. But how can you as a company “bond” with your customers? Create content that resonates directly with them. Go beyond being just a “brand” and get personal.
People love when brands interact with them on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Getting a response from your favorite brand is like winning the lottery for some people. Incorporate this tactic with the content you post! Anthropologie takes the time to share repost photos that their fans post while wearing their clothing. When customers see this, they associate the brand with being in touch with their customer base and connecting with them on a deeper level. They are subtly encouraging their customers to purchase their clothing and giving them hope that maybe the company will repost their content. Sourcing photos from customers can make them feel validated. You, as a company, essentially become a support system. Anthropologie is supporting and recognizing their customers in an innovative way.
4. Ask questions
Seriously, ask your customers or followers questions. This is a great way to engage with them and learn more about their pain points and how you could better service them. And you are providing valuable content at the same time! Once you do this, make sure that you engage with them afterwards. If they provide answers or ask additional follow up questions, you need to make sure you respond. Customers will quickly stop interacting with your brand and stop buying from you if you don’t continue to be attentive.
Nutrition Stripped is a health and wellness brand run by nutritionist McKel Hill. She provides content like recipes and tips for healthy eating, and she loves to ask her followers questions. Whether it’s asking them what their favorite veggie is or quizzing them in a Q&A fashion, she is always using content to engage her customers.
Many social media platforms as well as content platforms have made it easier than ever for businesses to communicate with their customers. You can do it through comments, instant messages, polls, or even a Q&A like with Instagram’s new rollout in their Instagram Stories.
5. Use Humor
Funny content is arguably the best content. It’s easily engaging, and who doesn’t like to laugh? Incorporating humor when you can is a great way to get people to pay attention to you so that you can get your message across. Depending on your business you may not think that you can leverage humor. You want your content to serve a purpose and you want to be taken seriously. There is a happy medium between being funny and still maintaining decorum.
Imperfect Produce is a company that sells “ugly” fruits and veggies and a lower cost. They use humor to draw attention to the fact that people waste so much produce just because it doesn’t look a certain way even though it tastes exactly the same. Using this content marketing strategy to make people aware of an issue is genius. They start by asking their followers questions (two content marketing best practices in one!) and following up with the answer as well as a funny line or two that actually humanizes onions. It isn’t over the top with humor and strikes a balance between getting their point across and entertaining followers.
6. Write good content, then ask for feedback
This is one of those content marketing best practices that may seem strange but it works! After you write content that answers questions or offers help to customers, ask for feedback. Not only is it helpful for you but it’s also helpful for your customers. They feel like they have a chance to tell you whether or not your content was useful to them.
You can now use this feedback to make your content even more useful and targeted. Additionally, if you actually listen to your customers and make the changes they mention, you better bet that they notice! And they love it! As I’m sure you can agree, there’s nothing more satisfying as a customer than when a company truly listens to what you have to say.
When you write articles like this that are supposed to be helpful. You are writing with the knowledge and the answers. It can be difficult to fully explain everything and from a customer perspective the answer might still be confusing. Feedback is always important so integrate it into your content marketing!
Mailchimp, an email marketing API has a long list of support articles for customers to turn to when they are confused or frustrated. At the end of each one they ask the simple question “was this article helpful?” It’s a quick yes or no question that takes all of two seconds to answer. They also give a space for customers to elaborate.
This allows customers to have an outlet to express their thoughts about the article that they have just read. And it gives Mailchimp the information they need to make their content more valuable if it didn’t answer the customer’s question. Remember, it’s all about providing valuable information and answering customer questions.
7. Video is content too!
You thought content was all text didn’t you? Content comes in many different forms including video. And in today’s digital world, video is so popular that 87% of online marketers use it in their strategies. Video can grab your customer’s attention and hold it throughout if you execute it properly. So how can you make your video content stand out? It needs to be clever and entertaining all while providing value to your customers so that they take action.
De Lijn is a public transportation company run by the Dutch government in Belgium. They produced this video urging people to take the bus. They do it in such a way that it entertains people while simultaneously sending a message to use the public transportation system. They are not necessarily selling anything but this clip is great, wholesome content that makes you think without even realizing it.
8. Think outside the content box
The more creative you get with your content marketing strategy, the easier it will be to stand out and beat your competition. Can music be considered content? You bet. The more “outside the box” you can get while still being valuable and relevant – the better your chances of beating your competition (just make sure it’s relevant to your company).
Many companies have decided to build Spotify playlists for their customers.
Cyclebar, an indoor cycling company, uses music in their classes to pump up their customers and create a fun athletic experience.
It’s difficult to look up a song you enjoy while you’re cycling up that imaginary hill.
Or maybe you want to save the songs you heard in class for later when you are working out at home.
That’s why they decided to make a playlist of songs that customers hear in classes. This is easily accessible content and customers can listen wherever they go!
Another company that is utilizing this content marketing strategy is Starbucks. Sometimes you like the songs you hear in the shops but you don’t know the artist or song name. If you are a loyal customer and have their app, they show you which song is playing in the store you are currently in! How cool is that? Even if you are not in the store but want a fun coffee house vibe you can tune in to their playlist at any time.
What Not To Do
It’s also important to know what does not fall into our content marketing best practices.
Let’s look at what you shouldn’t do when creating content.
Randomly posting on social media is not content marketing. You need to set goals and craft a strategy. Content marketing is still marketing so you need to research before you start posting. Produce carefully curated content that resonates with your audience. Are you a little rusty in the creative content department? Our specialists can help you out with that. Feel free to check out our social media marketing services to learn more about our creative designers.
Don’t stop blogging. Content should be consistent. If a customer religiously reads your blog, they will come to expect new content from you on a regular basis. If you stop posting you will fall off the map. In addition to keeping your posts on schedule, you should make sure you continue to product high quality content. If it’s not up to par with your previous posts, don’t post it. You’re probably saying “That’ll never happen. I don’t have time to be consistent.” Well if you have 2 minutes to fill out our contact form, then you don’t have to worry about blogging anymore. We’ll do it for you!
Good content can sell itself but it needs to be optimized in order for people to find it. Write your blogs so that they rank for a targeted keyword. Integrate your content marketing strategy with your SEO strategy so that you can show up in search.
Don’t make your content all about you or your product. Remember these content marketing best practices we just shared with you. You need to add value and created a bond with your customers. You won’t be able to do this if all of your content just tells customers why you are the best. You are here to answer questions and solve customers’ problems. If your content only focuses on you and not your customers, they will get bored and move on.
Your content doesn’t have to be long to be good. Sure you can write longer blog posts but sometimes shorter is better especially when it comes to social media. Typically people won’t take the time to read an Instagram caption that is a paragraph long. Don’t be afraid to post a photo with a short caption. Your photo is still considered content and you can let it speak for itself. Just make sure you take high quality photos!
Content marketing shouldn’t stand alone. Integrate the principles you learn in content marketing best practices into other facets of your digital marketing strategy. If you have an advertising campaign you can create quality content that is centered around it. You can also share your content via social media or through emails that you send to customers in order to get noticed.
It takes time, effort and experience to craft the perfect content marketing strategy. You need to define your target audience and come up with content that is relevant to them. Not only does this content need to be valuable, it should be innovative, creative and exciting. Take notes from bigger companies in your industry and remember that no matter what type of business you own, producing great content should be at the top of your to do list.
Are you following these content marketing best practices? If not let us know and we would be happy to assist you on your journey to producing great content! Our seasoned marketing specialists will research your target audience and craft you a content marketing strategy that will wow and engage your customers. What are you waiting for? Get started today!
Do you have more content marketing best practices up your sleeve? Share them with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear them!