It takes a special breed of digital marketer to execute great content marketing. If you follow these best practices, you can be sure you're one of them:
1. You’re a storyteller
As marketers, we are often under immense pressure to justify our efforts (and budgets) through direct conversions. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to pump out the equivalent of a bad advertorial. You know the ones: hard selling, poorly structured, hungry for a quick click. But great content marketers like you are able to build brand stories that influence consumer decisions on a subconcious level... the place where 95% of our decisions are made!
You can see it in the way we choose certain brands over others, even when the product is essentially the same. This isn't a new concept, brands have been doing it for years in more traditional mediums:
This Guinness commercial, for example, invokes loyalty, tradition, ritual, family, and even patriotism without once mentioning the taste or quality of the beer itself. Consumers who identify with these values are more likely to pick up a Guinness than a Murphy’s. You understand that modern content marketing shouldn’t be any different.
2. You spend as much time on your headline as you do the body
David Ogilvy famously said “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar,” and though those numbers are grossly underestimated in the internet age, the same holds true today. As a successful content marketer, you understand the difference between engagement and sensationalism, and avoid headlines lacking in value. As aggravating as it is to go back and forth, nit picking a jumble of listicle titles, you sigh knowing it is always worth it.
3. You understand the impact of an image
As a digital marketer “the power of visual storytelling” has been rammed into your head for years. You probably have an Instagram feed filled with overhead images of quaintly cluttered desks. According to HubSpot, “When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.” (Obviously, we’re hoping our memes create some stickiness for this article!)
4. You match KPIs to business goals
Odds are, you’re serious about results. It probably brings a tear to your eye that the easiest metrics to quantify tend to be the least valuable. Luckily, you’re a smart content marketer who understands that key performance indicators (KPIs) can add huge value when paired with broader business goals. An excellent example of this is Contently’s Content Marketing Methodology:
You can see that each KPI relates back to a wider purpose. "Top keywords" take on new meaning when paired with content objectives and business goals. And all is right with the world.
5. You use a variety of tools
You probably have a borderline obsessive relationship with data, and realize a content marketer is only as good as his or her tools: Buzzsumo, Google Analytics, Moz, Marketo, HubSpot, Vidyard and others help you make data driven decisions that get your content in front of its intended audience. I mean, otherwise, what’s the point? These tools also help you save time and money, and allow your content marketing efforts to scale in an effective manner.
6. You don’t forget about distribution
You love organic traffic: it’s the difference between being genuinely cool and having your mom pay a kid to hang out with you. But you’re also a realist. You understand that trying to stand out organically is like hoping Paul will notice you at a Beatles concert. And so, you’re unashamed of throwing paid into the mix. As Jonathan Perelman of BuzzFeed once said, “Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.”
7. You keep your head out of the sand
You know great content does not occur in a vacuum. The best content marketing happens in relation to the broader industry. That means reading industry publications until your eyes burn, following influencers, and finding every opportunity to scale up your knowledge and keep your perspective up to date. You may be out of school, but you're a perpetual student in an ever changing industry.
One final meme because *puns*:
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