Content Marketing continues to be a major player in B2B marketing, with 88% of organizations claiming to use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy, according to Content Marketing Institute. With the industry becoming more competitive, and companies allocating more budget to content marketing, you have to know how to play your pieces right to win in this game.
Here are 7 essential keys to a winning content strategy:
1. 10x Content
Content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic.
A lot of factors are taken to consideration in creating 10x content, and SE Journal published this comprehensive guide. Here are the pillars of 10x content, according to Rand:
- A uniquely positive user experience. This involves everything from the site's layout, design, fonts and graphics, and user interface.
- High quality, trustworthy, useful, interesting writing. These things may be measured through high quality links, in-depth research and authority, entertainment value, brand voice and humor.
- Unique in approach. This means presenting a familiar idea in a new way, finding unique ways to answer questions, or creating content that moves and inspires readers.
- Loads quickly. The everyday readers have become increasingly impatient, and in connection with creating a uniquely positive user experience, a 10x content should load fast both in browser or on mobile.
- Evokes emotional response. Emotions are powerful in moving readers to action, and 10x content should bea ble to evoke just that.
- Garners shares. The amount of social media activities you gain does not only place you in front of a bigger audience, it also helps search engine visibility. To be considered 10x, a piece of content should be able to gain significant shares and links and mentions.
- Solves a problem for the readers. 10x content should be able to provide readers answers to questions, perhaps presenting them in a way different from others.
With the rise of 10x content, content marketers are now more competitive than ever, jumping in one too many discussions about honest storytelling and authenticity. With billions of content being published daily, how does your content stand out above the rest?
2. Long-form content
In connection to the rise of 10x content, it has been an on-going debate whether short and scannable content is still more effective than long-form content. Years ago we have seen that publishing blog posts that are short and sweet is essential in keeping busy, smartphone-clad readers interested. In 2015, however, more and more marketers are seeing the importance of creating long-form, comprehensive, wikipedia-type content.
Jason Demers, for one, think that Google's Knowlege Graph and instant answers will necessitate a shift toward long-form content.
"Although Google’s Knowledge Graph has been around since 2012, it’s only recently that the vault has evolved into something truly impressive. It now appears for the vast majority of long-tail search queries, providing users with instant answers and information to common questions. Digital assistants like Siri and Cortana are attempting something similar. This sophisticated form of answer provision is removing the need to click any websites in the search results, reducing traffic to the traditional web pages that used to be their destination. In short, traffic to web pages that provide quick answers is starting to diminish, which will force content marketers to seek refuge in more complicated and more difficult topics."
Neil Patel, online marketing guru, proves that 3,000+ word content gets more traffic and overall better performance, and these are the reasons why:
- Majority of blog posts published are 500 words or shorter. You can stand out in the noise by putting in extra an 1500 words worth of work.
- Longer articles generate business leads for longer timeframe. Because they attract backlinks and organic traffic from Google timelessly.
- You’re perceived as an authority in your industry. Your audience appreciates comprehensive posts that delve into intricacies of their pain points. They won’t need to jump on 10 different websites to get the same information.
- Long-form is sustainable. You can launch a marketing campaign solely by repurposing these epic content pieces.
In addition, last year in one of Steve Rayson's Buzzsumo webinars, he mentioned that content length indeed matters, and that "Long form content works best, but it's disappointing to see that 85% of existing text content is still less than 1,000 words."
While I'm convinced that long-form content (no shorter than 1,500 words) is the way to go, I still believe that this should vary according to niche, target market, and key performance indicators. B2B companies may find these comprehensive articles essential to their marketing strategy, but B2C may have different cases.
The important thing is to begin with a content strategy, set your goals and KPIs, identify your target market, do some competitor analysis, document the process and continuously track performance until you find your sweet spot.
3. Mobile, mobile, mobile
One thing for sure, whatever your industry is, your target market is mobile. Appboy's 2015 statistics on mobile usage is just staggering. For one, mobile usage has overtaken desktop usage with 51% time spent on mobile, and there's been a 90% increase in the time spent mobile since 2013.
Mobile is no longer just an option, it is a necessity, whether marketing your products on mobile, creating mobile apps, or making your website mobile responsive with a focus on user experience.
Before launching any new content marketing strategy this year, make sure that your site is mobile responsive. Even better, invest in mobile interactive content and apps. The tremendous changes in technology have changed the way people consume and share content. Because of this, content marketers have to create and distribute content that is shareable, accessible, and readable, in every platform, whenever, wherever.
4. Social Media Integration and Distribution
Social Media continues to be an integral part of any content strategy, with more and more people going mobile and spending more time in social networks. Instagram's sponsored posts, Twitter's project lightning, LinkedIn Pulse, Facebook Instant Articles and just in, Google creating its version of Instant Articles, only confirm to us that these social media giants are not slowing down. Instead, they are innovating products to address the changes in consumer behavior and content consumption of our time.
Two things that are certain for content marketers: (1) That every content strategy should be integrated to, or at the very least distributed in social media, and (2) That social media activity is one tangible way to measure the value and performance of your content strategy.
In other words, to cultivate a social media following, one should create content that is informative, entertaining and unique enough to be shared and talked about. In the same way, for one to be successful in its content marketing initiatives, it has to maximize its reach in social media. It's akin to a chicken and egg scenario. You're not sure exactly which is the chicken and which is the egg, but one can't thrive without the other, and each one is important in the other's success.
5. Influencer Marketing
Halfway through 2015, Adweek claims Influencer Marketing as the next big thing. Celebrity endorsements are not going away alright, but many brands will take on social media influencers to talk about their products and spark conversations with their followers. Not only do everyday social media users relatively less expensive than celebrity endorsers and huge advertising campaigns, brands find that it also returns more targeted results.
Misha Talavera in this article posted at Adweek, calls this an "arbitrage"
An arbitrage exists when something is selling for cheaper than it is actually worth. If you purchase this good, you will get a discounted price since the good’s real value is greater than its market price. The difference between the good’s market price and real value is your profit. In short, it is an opportunity to make big profits with a small effort.
This is true for both B2C and B2B strategies. In SEO and Content Marketing, we call this "influencer outreach", where marketers build relationships with subject matter experts for the purpose of creative link building, thought leadership, and networking. With (relatively) little effort to connect with influencers in your niche, you can actually hit a lot of your targets at once.
That said, consider setting budget for influencer outreach if you haven't yet. Not only is it good for brand reputation and immediate traffic and sales, it can also add value to your organic rankings and visibility long-term.
6. Sponsored Posts
Admittedly, paid ads and distracting pop-ups still annoy many of us, but with intentional and strategic approach to paid advertisements, you can definitely attract targeted traffic and potential customers instead of pushing them away.
With Content Marketing, publishing content is just half the battle. How you promote and distribute content is the real game changer. This means we have to be more strategic in promoting our content and making sure it stands out amidst the content influx we're seeing everyday.
Many content experts agree that sponsored content placements, brand partnerships, and paid ads are the ways to do this. With a data-driven and strategic paid campaign, you get a bigger chance that your content reaches your target market in the most cost-efficient way possible.
7. Documented Strategy and Performance
As mentioned above, 88% of B2B organizations claim to apply Content Marketing in their business plans last year, with only 30% reporting effectiveness and significant results, down from 38% last year. Equally surprising is how fewer marketers have documented content strategy from 35% (2014) to 32% (2015).
I have seen a few bloggers who claim to have expertise in Content Marketing or using the term "Content Marketing" loosely, but are missing out on the most important aspect of Content Marketing. That is, the implementation of a strategy that begins with clearly defined goals, reader personas, and most importantly, key performance indicators. Without these, you are simply.. blogging.
Let me get this one clear. One should not confuse "Content Marketing" with just blogging or just content creation. Sure, blogging is one aspect of it and an effective way to do it, but Content Marketing is more elaborate than that. It is performance-based, data-driven, and an integration of various online campaigns with an intention of achieving measurable targets. Therefore, being able to track results is as important as creating content and distributing content.