A Guide to Content Marketing, 5 Rules Thou Shalt Adhere To
Content marketing is the holy grail for marketers today. Only 7% of B2B marketers think otherwise. We don’t quite know why they’re keeping away but hope the realization dawns upon them soon. After all, it costs 62% less and generates 3x as many leads as outbound marketing. Having said that even those who do swear by it don’t necessarily achieve all the goals they set out to accomplish. They fail miserably and fall with a thud. If this resonates with you then you are not alone. You fail because you overlook the most basic rules of content marketing. Now, if you want to mend your approach, we suggest you play the game by its rules. So, let’s take a look at what these 5 content marketing rules are, shall we?
#1 Thou Shalt Document Thy Content Marketing Strategy
The first of all content marketing rules is a pretty simple and straightforward one. Sit down, brainstorm, strategize, document, and execute. Many marketers find working out a strategy on papers quite tedious - but who said it was going to be a cakewalk anyway. If you’re a marketer then you need to not only wrap your head around the product but also understand the nuances of the industry.
B2B marketers who have a documented strategy are 25% more effective than their peers who don’t have one. And, 43% of B2C marketers who have a documented strategy are able to successfully track their ROI. Clearly, having a roadmap that includes goals, tactics, KPIs, metrics enable marketers to understand how their content is helping them reach their business goal. Moreover, it’s going to be time-saving because you can easily replicate what got you results.
#2 Thou Shalt Monitor Thy Audience’s Pulse + Journey
Something to divert your mind before we discuss the second rule. Allow us to introduce you to our imaginary, adopted cat at work. She’s now responding to the name Bella! She likes to sit by the window and daydream. She’s a big ball of fur and we can’t help but spoil her with love! The other day, however, she fell terribly sick (wouldn’t cuddle or eat properly) and we ended up spending an afternoon at the vet. We were told that our Bella had developed pollen allergy. This meant we were allowing her to spend hours by the window when she should have been inside, distracting us. Good news is that she’s much better now, responding to her treatment. She’s learning to throw tantrums but which cat doesn’t?!
Coming back to the second rule, your content needs to be in sync with your buyer’s needs. If you’re randomly sending out content, then you are almost never going to see quality leads walk into your funnel. You would end up failing your customers like we failed Bella for a brief while 🙁 . However, you can always learn from your mistakes and give your prospects and customers what they are most receptive to. For example, someone at the middle of the funnel will find a case study more engaging when researching for solutions than someone who is sitting at the top of your marketing funnel. Similarly, someone who is at the bottom of the funnel will respond better to your ‘free trial’ than a ‘how-to’ blog. In fact, according to the Custom Content Council, 61% consumers feel better when a company delivers custom content and 90% find it helpful and end up making a purchase. How about you follow the lead?
#3 Thou Shalt Tread On Unknown Waters
This means gathering the courage to experiment with alternative content types like videos, podcasts, virtual reality, and interactive calculators and quizzes, etc. These formats are far more engaging, in-demand, and loved by people. At the same time, these experiences also help you gain market intelligence. Obviously, you will need to first understand which of the newer formats best suits your niche. For example, it’s a good idea for you to create virtual tours of houses if you are a real estate marketer. Your prospects will be more than happy to see their future homes even before they are ready.
Talking about interactive content, it can once again be a huge value-add for you and your customers. Through the quizzes and calculators, you can ask questions that can help you build your customer profile. You can then target them through a series of marketing campaigns. Take, for example, this calculator on the Aizman Law Firm’s website. They aren’t exactly focusing on their services but they are educating their prospects about BAC and Californian laws. This calculator is also interesting because the results are calculated on the basis of your personal drinking habits and not dull facts in some rulebook!
Since we also mentioned videos, let us tell you - thanks to technology - they aren’t as expensive to create as they were a couple of years ago. Moreover, they help viewers retain 95% of the message as compared to 10% when they read the text. To add to it, they are visually engaging and 53% of people want to see video content from marketers! All of these factors can work in your favor to boost your online reach and create brand awareness. So, go ahead. Tell your story through videos.
#4 Thou Shalt Choose Social Media Platforms Carefully
This is your ONE chance to confess your social media sin(s) to Bella. She doesn’t judge! Take your time. Done? Now start off fresh and learn to choose your social content promotion channels wisely. But, before that ask yourself a very important question: ‘Where are my customers?’ If it helps, Neil Patel in his blog, says, “B2B marketing tends to work well on Facebook and LinkedIn more than other social channels.” Now you know where you need to be? Yes, be where your prospects are and don’t distribute your content without a plan.
Here’s bonus advice: Stop annoying your audience with SAME eye-numbing content everywhere. Adjust your content copy based on where you’re posting it. On Medium, an in-depth and long-form content works and for Facebook try a mix of short copy, graphics, and videos. If you’re thinking of Pinterest then ideally you should post infographics and step-by-step guides. Go all-out publishing stories on Instagram. Include doodles, typography, and shadows. In fact, now that we're on the topic, here's a kickass blog offering hacks for Instagram stories by Instasize.
To summarize, study what content type works on which content platform for your niche. This Buffer blog can help you figure that out. Most importantly, allow your brand personality to come through your posts. We’re not trying to pull a joke but don’t appear schizophrenic (different you on different networks)!
#5 Thou Shalt Measure Thy Success Against Key Metrics
We come full circle with this last and final rule. Every content campaign that you run should be reviewed against key metrics. There’s no point in publishing any piece of content if you’re not checking how it’s performing. Are people warming up to your brand? Are they converting from random visitors to quality leads? What’s the bounce rate? Have queries started coming in? How many are organic leads? What’s my lead-close rate? Has the engagement on a social platform amplified? These checks should be systematic not occasional. We know it can be nerve-wracking to know the results but if you don’t then how will you benchmark your success?
Ideally, you should shortlist at least 5 key metrics that matter the most to your organizational goals. Once those are finalized you can track them using Google analytics or whatever other analytics tools you are most comfortable using. The numbers should be able to help you alter your approach and optimize your strategy. As Peter Drucker says, “What gets measured, gets managed”!
Other than following Content marketing rules, we also ask you to be observant of the changing landscape of content marketing. Anticipate trends as much as you follow them. Staying updated is a sure-shot way you can synergize your content marketing efforts! By the way, you can check out this 10-point checklist to know if your efforts will really pay off!
Are you up for it?
PS: Bella says, “Bon courage”!