How many pieces of content have you read online today? You’re reading this, so the answer is at least one, and chances are it isn’t the first.
Content is everywhere, in every corner of the internet, dealing with just about every single topic imaginable. With so much out there, readers are spoiled for choice and have developed savagely high standards for what they consume.
For brands creating content, this means the competition is seriously tough. To stand out and capture your audience’s precious attention, you need to deliver something special. In this article, we’ll break down a few of the different ways you can do that.
Why content is so important
The majority of businesses today use content marketing. Research from HubSpot shows that 70% of marketers are actively investing in content, and 40% say it’s a very important part of their overall marketing strategy. Here’s why:
It helps build relationships. Content gives people a reason to keep coming back to your website, blog, social media channels, and more. It’s a way of connecting with your audience on a human level and forging a bond with them over time by educating and entertaining them.
It’s a core part of inbound marketing. With inbound marketing your customers come to you, allowing you to tap into a much bigger pool of prospects. Content is at the heart of inbound, as the first stage of the customer’s journey and the point where they first engage with your brand.
It positions you as a knowledgeable authority. Well-written, well-researched, genuinely informative content is a great way to show your site visitors that you know what you’re talking about. They’ll see you as a wise and trusted source of knowledge, keep coming back for more, and come to realize that you’re the one they want to solve their problems.
You’ll get more search traffic. Good content, optimized for SEO, ranks higher in Google’s search results, pulling in more prospective customers to your website and boosting your online presence.
It helps you develop a strong brand voice. You can think of your content as the mouthpiece of your brand, an opportunity to talk to your audience on a human level. This allows you to mould your brand’s personality and develop a memorable, distinctive voice.
You can collaborate with other, high-profile websites. Guest posting on their blogs, asking them to share your content, generating retweets and promotions on social media — there are many ways that good content can capture the attention of other websites and encourage collaboration that benefits everyone.
7 features of content that crushes (consistently)
Creating content is easy. Creating good content, that stands out about the deafening background noise of the internet and compels your target audience to engage — that takes a little more skill.
Here are some guidelines to create content that actually performs:
1. Get to know your audience
There are many good reasons why you should try to understand your audience intimately. Content is one area that will fall short if you don’t have a fairly solid understanding of who you’re talking to. Here are some ways to do that:
Spend time on the social media groups, channels, and platforms where your audience members typically hang out and find out what they’re interested in and what they worry about. What are their problems, and how can you solve them?
Ask questions — to your email list, blog followers, social media followers, and more. Engage with your audience and find out who they are and what makes them tick.
Use surveys, questionnaires, and interviews. Offer prizes or discounts to encourage participation.
Create buyer personas — fictional profiles that roughly represent different demographics of your audience. These should include general info like age, interests, pain points, and so on, and can help you target content much more effectively.
2. It’s easy to read, like a conversation
Content is your opportunity to really speak to your audience. You’re not writing an academic essay or an instruction manual — your blog posts, social posts, email newsletters and more should flow like a conversation. Always tweak it to your audience, of course, but generally speaking, good content is content that is easy to read.
3. It maintains a consistent voice across all platforms and channels
It can take a while to develop a strong brand voice, but once you get there you should make sure you maintain it across all your channels. Blog, social media, email, even the UX of your site. This will help you establish yourself firmly in your readers’ minds and stand out wherever they encounter you. Content that doesn’t maintain a consistent voice will be confusing, forgettable, and ultimately less successful.
4. It’s optimized for SEO — the right way
SEO is about more than just cramming your content full of certain keywords. The best content focuses on general key themes — honing in on your audience’s pain points and solving their problems. For best results with SEO, keep your content fairly long, detailed, and relevant.
5. It’s backed up with accurate data
The best content doesn’t make sweeping, vague claims and expect the reader to just trust them. Instead, it backs up its arguments and assertions with data — including links to reliable sources. Doing this gives your content a new level of credibility, helping you build a reputation as a trustworthy and reliable source of information on your reader’s challenges. Links to reputable sources also help improve your SEO performance.
6. It gives your reader something to do next
It’s important to always think of your content as one part of an overall process. Generally, content is a way to engage readers and build trust with them, with the aim that they’ll eventually become paying customers. This means your content should always give readers the opportunity to take a next step and develop their relationship with your brand. This step can be:
Signing up to your email list
Downloading a piece of gated content in exchange for some personal information
Requesting a demo of your product or service
Booking a call with your sales team
Visiting a landing page for a product
Your readers won’t always take this action, particularly if this is their first interaction with you. But some will want to do something, and if you don’t give them this option you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to grow your business.
7. You measure your content’s performance
People will say content isn’t as directly measurable as some other forms of marketing like email, ads, and landing pages. However, there is still plenty you can do to track the performance of your content — and you should.
Keeping track of metrics like page views, bounce rate, time on page, click-through rate, and more will allow you to identify issues, make improvements, and create more successful content over time that helps your business reach its goals. Otherwise, you’re just fumbling around in the dark.
Wrap it up
Creating great content takes some time, but if you can do it right you’ll stand out above your competition and see impressive results for your business as a whole. At Stiff Upper Lip, content creation is just one of the marketing tasks we can help you with. Contact us to find out more.