Content marketing is always changing and evolving. Sometimes, a changing industry can make things difficult for your business. But change isn’t always a bad thing. Change can be an opportunity to revamp your strategy and tackle a challenge.
Algorithms are getting smarter and are starting to favour paid content. So, if you want to give your content a fighting chance to be seen, you need to be following the best practices of content marketing.
What is content marketing?
If you’re not already familiar with it, content marketing is a strategic, thoughtful approach to marketing. It’s pretty much the complete opposite of a ‘hard sell’. Content marketing offers value to your audience through information, relevancy, entertainment or education.
How can adopting the best practices of content marketing help my small to medium business?
As we mentioned earlier, changes to the way content marketing works can make it trickier to get your content in front of an audience. Following the best practices gives your content a fighting chance to reach the people it needs to. Where engagement is concerned, it’s important that you take a strategic approach to your content efforts.
Wanna make your content marketing strategy work its hardest? Great. Let’s run through the best practices for 2019 to help you reach and engage your audience.
Company culture and brand storytelling
People connect with people. Showing your company culture through social media and telling the story of your brand gives a personable atmosphere to your business. Sure, we all enjoy pretty branding. But as curious humans, we want to know about the people behind it.
A business with nothing to show for its culture isn’t very relatable. On the other hand, if a company’s Instagram feed is full of smiling faces of staff, behind the scenes of a typical working day or a snippet from an exciting event, it welcomes you with open arms. It instantly exudes positivity and invites audience engagement as a result.
How to show company culture and tell your brand’s story:
- Have a section of your website dedicated to telling the story of your business. Talk about how/why it was founded, what you do and why you do it.
- Make sure you have a staff page on your site and feature staff frequently on social media. Fun fact: photos with faces that are posted on Instagram receive 38% more likes!
- Don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your business’ tone of voice. If it’s relevant to be chatty, quirky or even swear – go for it.
- We’re all a bit nosy by nature. Show what goes on behind-the-scenes of the work you do and who is doing it. But of course, don’t make it all work and no play. We wanna know about that time you ordered 20 pizzas for your staff and what went down at the Christmas do.
If it’s engagement you’re after, video content is the way to get it. It’s no secret that video is the preferred format for people to digest information online. Wordstream has found that social video gains more than 1200% more shares than text and image combined.
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Short videos are great for most social media platforms, but you shouldn’t stop there. Video can also be used to enhance blog posts, introduce your team or explain your products or services on your website.
If you’re not sure where to start with video and need a little guidance, you’re in luck. We’ve put together a free, downloadable ebook with Feature Media that explains 10 video promotion tactics for small businesses.
Collaboration is the new competition. In the past, businesses have been hesitant to work together out of fear that they will lose some of their audience to the competition. It may also be the case that businesses just don’t want to put their time into a collaborative project as they don’t see it as more valuable than doing their own thing.
However, collaborating via content marketing can be a very effective way of boosting your business online (as long as they’re not a direct competitor). People appreciate businesses that value collaboration over competition.
How do I go about collaborative content marketing?
Some examples of how you could collaborate with someone are:
- Write a free, downloadable ebook together
- Write a guest post for each other’s site
- Post a mutual shoutout on social media
- Quote someone in a blog post and link to their website/social handle
Successful content marketing is all about making strategic, informed decisions. In order to make data-driven decisions, you need to research like you’ve never researched before. It’s less about the what and more about the why.
Areas to analyse:
- How your site is performing
- What type of content to post – topics and format
- What times to post on social media
- How often to post on social media
- Keyword research
- What your competitors are doing
Once you have carried out your in-depth research, it’s time to put your findings to the test. Use your research to create your content marketing strategy. Not sure how to go about it? No worries. We have a guest post on the J&R Journal from Danielle Castello at Pyramid Analytics that explains how to create a data-driven content strategy.
TOP TIP: For social media, use A/B split testing to narrow down what type of posts perform best. This is where you put up two posts or ads that are very similar but have one slight difference. For instance, you could use the same text but change the image and see which post generates more engagement.
Thought you were finished with that 800-word blog post? Think again. From an SEO point of view, long-form content that is anywhere between 1,500 to 2,000 words or more performs best.
There are many benefits to creating long-form content, such as:
- The more in-depth your content is, the more likely someone is going to find value in it.
- Higher SEO ranking – a study from serpIQ found that the average content length of the 10 top-performing pages were 2,000 words or more
- Better link building
- Improved domain authority
Long-form content also gives you the opportunity to provide more detailed points and analysis, adding more value to the reader; which segues perfectly to our next point…
You owe your audience high-quality content that they can gain something from. Your content should inform, educate, answer a question, entertain or analyse. Content that adds value is something that is much more likely to be shared, talked about or engaged with than content that is simply just noise.
How do I make sure that my content adds value?
- Offer information that is detailed and genuinely useful for free – like a blog post or a downloadable ebook
- For visuals, make sure the images you use are relevant, engaging or are designed thoughtfully. With stock images, try to avoid going for overly plain, commonly used, or inauthentic photos. Try looking on Unsplash.
- When producing content about your products/services, don’t hard sell. You want to focus on indirectly explaining how what you do is useful.
For example, we write various blog posts on content marketing, but we don’t continuously try to sell our services throughout; we mention our social handles briefly at the end so our readers can find out more about us if they wish.
ISO defines user experience (UX) as ‘a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service’.
User experience (UX) should be the heart of your website design. It’s important that visitors are satisfied with all aspects of your site’s usability. Poor UX can result in a high bounce rate, fewer conversions, and bad first impressions.
How do I make sure my website has good UX?
- Split your written content into easily digestible chunks. Having your writing structured into paragraphs that are too long is bound to put anyone off
- Use high-quality images. Even the slightest amount of graininess is too grainy.
- Don’t use stock images; they could make the user view your company as boring, generic, non-personable and lazy.
- If you have slow loading speed, fix it. This grinds anyone’s gears and is a sure-fire way to get people to bounce from your site quickly.
- As we previously mentioned, high-quality content that adds value is important.
- Avoid using pop-ups, they have been known to put people off as they can come across as a hard sell.
- Make sure your website is easy to navigate – use clear dropdown lists and short page titles.
- Be transparent and honest with your headlines – if a user feels as though the content they are reading has been falsely advertised, they’re likely to click off.
Want to nerd out further?
Put these practices to use and you’ll see better results in no time! We’ve very kindly dropped some of our relevant blogs in the article already to help you out, but why not check out our recent post on our 10 favourite content marketing campaigns?