Content marketing focuses on increasing sales by providing what customers or clients are looking for when they are actively searching for it. The advantages of content marketing are numerous and the goal of this post is to help you realize how beneficial a content marketing strategy can be to your business:
What are the Benefits of Content Marketing?
- Google Values Content
- Generate More Sales
- Aids in Sale Process Automation
- Controls Conversation
- Content Marketing Over Traditional Marketing
- Enhances Brand Awareness
- Builds Credibility
- Yields Social Media Following
- Drives Visibility
- Ease Customer Service Team
- Enables Sales Team
- Scales Audience
Google Values Content
Google prioritizes high-quality content. Do you not believe me? Simply go to YouTube and search for interviews with Matt Cutts (the former head of webspam at Google). When asked how to rank higher in Google, he consistently says, “create fantastic content.”
Google is preoccupied with providing its consumers with search experiences that deliver the results they seek. High-quality content is frequently the most effective approach to give that experience. So, Google enjoys content. What does it matter? Everyone, in a nutshell.
SparkToro’s 2018 study was used to create this image. According to a SparkToro analysis from 2018, Google sends 10x more traffic to the average website than Facebook (and more than 10x for any other website). Content marketing significantly increases website traffic from your most effective traffic source or organic search.
Generate More Sales
Improving website traffic is pointless unless it leads to increased sales. Effective content marketing increases sales and frequently shortens sales cycles. The majority of your customers or clients will not be ready to buy from you or use your services the first time they hear about your company.
Before making a purchase, people go through a buying process. This buying process is known as “the customer journey,” and it is faster for smaller things than for larger products, which is typically labeled a “major purchase.” The current U.S. The average sales process requires 8-20 touchpoints to guide the consumer or client through their specific customer journey in order to obtain enough knowledge and trust to make a buy decision. To illustrate, below is an inbound marketing process.
People understand they have an issue that needs to be solved before making a purchase (awareness). They spend time researching and better understanding their challenge (consideration). Then they decide which solution is best for them (decision). A well-planned content marketing strategy assists your potential customers or clients at all three stages by educating them on what they’re looking for. Content marketing, therefore, helps by:
- Getting your prospective customers one step closer to making a buying decision.
- Developing a relationship with your target audience to increase their likelihood of working with your company rather than your competitors.
If that isn’t enough, inbound leads, those generated through web marketing have a 14.6% conversion rate, while outbound leads (those generated through cold phoning, direct mail, and so on) have a 1.7 percent closing rate.
Aids in Sale Process Automation
Cold sales call outreach is extremely challenging and delivers low benefits in comparison to the amount of work expended. People are busy, and none of them are looking for marketing services. Many of our clients have completely ceased doing cold outreach. Instead, they decide to concentrate on digital marketing, with content marketing receiving the majority of their attention.
When potential partners are ready to work with our clients, they reach out to us. They discuss their goals, determine the best method to help them improve, and determine if they are a good fit to collaborate with. In many circumstances, they are the right partner; in others, they are not. In any case, we assist each of those potential partners (customers/clients) in locating the best solution to help them expand.
Content marketing assists in the transformation of sales from forcing a customer to buy your product or service to being a valued resource that is ready, confident, and waiting when your customers or clients are ready to buy from you or choose your service.
It’s no secret that selling a product becomes a lot easier when your buyer is actively looking for what you have to offer. As an example, suppose you sell high-end sofas. Someone looking for a $200 bed isn’t going to be simple to sell to. They’ve already decided on the type of sofa they want by the time they step into your store. But what if you could talk to that person as they were looking for beds? What if you could convince them of the value of paying a premium for quality before they decided how much they were willing to spend?
It’s priceless to be able to steer the conversation when your most likely clients are educating themselves. Everything from car insurance to company software is the same. So why not write about these issues of discussion? Why not take command of the conversation while your consumers are deciding what they require? Your competitors are most likely beating you to the punch and stealing your finest potential clients.
Content Marketing Over Traditional Marketing
Nobody enjoys being disturbed in the middle of their day by individuals on the phone attempting to sell them something. Ad blockers are now used by 40% of internet users, and this number is growing over time. Banner advertisements can be an effective approach to promote your brand. However, spending money on TV advertisements and other forms of promotion that disturb your clients does not appear to be the most effective approach to win them over in today’s new environment.
Content marketing, conversely, enables you to build customer relationships by putting your brand in front of your customers in a way that helps them. So, pay hundreds of dollars for a 30-second television commercial or thousands of dollars for a static billboard? Content marketing is far less expensive and is way more effective.
Enhances Brand Awareness
Assume you manage an investment firm and intend to publish an instructive post that ranks first on Google for “how to invest in stocks.” Every month, 40,000+ people search for that precise term. Every year, you now put your brand in front of 480,000 potential clients. And that’s just for the precise phrase “how to invest in stocks.” Every month, another 40,000 individuals search for the exact phrase “how to buy stocks,” not to mention the various near versions. Every year, at least one million people look for this topic.
Every year, your investing piece is now seen by over a million potential clients. 25% of those people will click on your article. Assuming you devote time and effort into making the article useful to your audience, 250,000 people will now regard your brand as a thought leader and reputable information source each year. Many of those visitors will eventually become customers for you, or they will tell a friend about your website and turn their buddy into a customer.
Yields Social Media Following
Each potential consumer who discovers useful material on your website becomes a potential brand champion. Many of these readers will follow you on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with future items you create. Many of these readers will also share your content on social media with their friends and family, which helps to geometrically build your following over time.
Content marketing draws much more traffic to your product pages, both directly and indirectly.
Assuming you create articles on your products or services, many of your visitors will visit your product or service pages after reading your articles especially if your articles link out to those product pages.
When you create high-quality blog content, other websites will link to it. Each new backlink is viewed by search engines as proof that your post is a valuable resource. And each page to which your content connects is regarded as a more useful resource as well. So every time someone connects to that blog item that links to your product page, it gives a little love to your product page.
Ease Customer Service Team
Is your customer service or intake team answering the same questions on a daily basis? Take the time to provide an insightful answer to those questions, whether it’s how to reset your password or how to use your product. Compile them into a blog article or series of blog entries that your customer care team can distribute when they receive those common inquiries. Many clients will even get these answers through an online search rather than contacting your customer service team in the first place.
Enables Sales Team
Inquire with your sales or intake staff about the types of queries they receive on a daily basis. Create relevant material in response to these common sales questions/concerns raised by prospects. Give those items to your sales team now. Request that they improve these articles based on what they see as producing the best results for your team. Congratulations. With quality content and answers to frequently asked questions from prospective consumers or clients, your website has just become your new best salesperson (and it works for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week).
Setting up display adverts of their items to customers who visit their product pages but leave the site without purchasing a thing is one of the most efficient marketing methods for e-commerce enterprises. Content marketers can use the same strategy.
How To Get Started with Content Marketing?
Consider the following: do I have the time to study content marketing and do it myself, or does it make more sense to collaborate with a professional team that does it every day? Download the Mach 1 Design content marketing guide if you like the first strategy. This will provide you with the step-by-step structure that we utilize every day to scale businesses through content marketing.
Mach 1 Design may be the appropriate content marketing firm for you if you’re looking for a partner to help you with content marketing.
Simply said, there is no better long-term marketing investment for your company than content marketing. It’s the marketing service that increases your ROI without confusing your customers. Now that we have a better understanding of why a content marketing strategy is useful, we should look at how to create one. Here’s what a content strategy at its most basic, and how to build your own in basic steps:
- Brand and Value Proposition
- Audience and Needs
- Goals and Audience Connection
- Establish Message
- Choose Right Channels
- Collect Feedback
- Storytelling and Strategy Improvement
Brand and Value Proposition
Determine your identity and what you have to offer. What exactly is your mission? What is your (personal or brand) global vision? What is it that you or your organization knows more about than others, is better at than others, and/or that people would like to learn from you about? Make a note of these. For the time being, choose one to three topics to write about.
Audience and Needs
Determine what people you could assist genuinely require by conducting study and speaking with them. It’s definitely a good idea to do some keyword research here as well. Determine who your target audience is – this will help you design a better strategy and content.
Goals and Audience Connection
Determine how you can assist the people in your audience, as well as what a fair goal you could reach for yourself with the help of content marketing. Could you, for example, give individuals advice? Would that be in the form of free stories or an e-book? If you’re already at this point, it might be useful to write (or amend) a simple value proposition. What product or service could you provide that genuinely meets the needs of your target audience?
Link a few KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to your objectives. It is recommended that you maintain track of no more than three major KPIs at a time. How many people will you be able to reach? How many people are going to read your stories? How many consumers will you serve in a certain amount of time if you’re selling something? Make sure the numbers are as specific as feasible, not too high but still posing a decent difficulty. Also, keep track of your results so you may adjust your strategy as needed.
With the trinity of Needs, Solution, and Result, create messaging that reflects your understanding of what your audience needs, how you can help them, and how it will benefit them. The Need, Solution, Result structure can be developed into a single piece, but it can also serve as the foundation for a three-part plot, leading your reader from a problem to your answer, proof of your solution, and a Call-to-Action. Perhaps the simplest content flow is three sections connected together in this manner, building up to a (paid) offer.
Choose Right Channels
Share where your audience listens and reads for the topic matter and type of narrative you’re sharing on a regular basis. What platforms are your target audience or potential consumers using? Conduct research, speak with individuals and test the response you receive through various channels.
Measure and track comments from your audience and customers on your messaging on a regular basis. Examine data that relates to the KPIs you listed in step four. Will you be keeping track of views? Shares? Clicks on links? Will you be tracking website page views, contact form submissions, or both? Why? Don’t forget to get qualitative feedback as well: talk to people. Inquire about their reactions to your content. Is it useful? Is it significant? What could you do to make it better?
Storytelling and Strategy Improvement
Improve your story on a continuous basis depending on feedback and data from step 5: return to step 1 and repeat. That’s the sum of it.
It is not necessary for your content strategy to be flawless. It simply has to make sense. And, ideally, you’ve talked to people in your target audience to ensure that you’re not just making assumptions, but that you’re also taking into account what people truly need.
Finally, you don’t have to plan out a content strategy for the entire year. It’s frequently advisable to plan for three or six months ahead of time. That way, you’ll be ready to assess what works and what doesn’t after the first few months of sticking to the plan. This will make your content strategy a lot more responsive to what the world around you is telling you, and thus far more successful.
Content Marketing Success
A basic content strategy is what distinguishes the advanced content developer or marketer from the total novice. And it’s what makes you feel like you know what you’re doing, and it’s what keeps you focused on what you should be focusing on next. Furthermore, it assists you in determining which piece of content you should focus on next, which is critical if you want to maintain the habit of creating and distributing content online.
Finally, a content strategy that incorporates data monitoring and feedback gathering are what distinguishes the expert from the advanced content creator. Because doing so allows you to consistently improve your material, the method you provide it to your audience, and, ultimately, your odds of meeting your content goals. A well-documented content plan is essential for content marketing. Despite this, according to HubSpot, only 37% of B2B organizations that utilize content marketing have a documented content strategy.
A content marketing plan is essential because it enables everyone in your organization to grasp the what, how, and why of your communications. Are you able to recognize your company’s most important marketing and sales opportunities? Do you know where you’re squandering money – either draining your budget or missing out on potential revenue? Your top answers to those queries are likely to entail software investments that aren’t paying off or marketing outlets that you’ve overlooked. Those and other obvious replies aren’t incorrect, but they overlook an opportunity that almost every organization possesses but few realize.
We’re talking about how to improve your written communication skills. According to one researcher, poor writing costs American firms about $400 billion each year. That figure is based on the fact that workers spend 22 percent of their time reading, a figure that rises for higher-paid individuals. The more time employees spend attempting to grasp bad communication, the more paid hours they lose. Though the number is imprecise, even half of the lost revenue cited in this study would be a significant sum.
This study only considers the costs of poor communication from the standpoint of productivity. What about marketing costs squandered due to unread copy? Sales offers squandered because the value of a service isn’t effectively communicated? A large part of this is due to a lack of a robust content strategy.
Mach 1 Design focuses on providing businesses with the tools they need to boost their content marketing and digital communications. We know that readers’ online behavior has changed in the last five years. Mobile devices account for more than half of all web traffic. The average human attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. All of these variables, as well as others, are altering the landscape of content marketing and communications in general. We created this website as a recap of our content marketing experiences, as well as the lessons we’ve learned about digital communications in general from working with our fantastic customers.
Poor Writing Costs American Firms over $400 Billion Yearly
We’ll go far deeper than just making outlines for a piece of writing here. A strong content marketing or communications strategy has a lot of moving parts. Fortunately, there are numerous tools available to assist with these duties. On this page, we’ll show you a variety of tools and templates, both third-party and our own creations.
Anyone whose job requires writing and communication will profit from the information presented here. Content and social media marketers, internal communications experts, salesmen, and others will find resources to help them succeed at work. We’ve made every effort to make these teachings as applicable as possible. Our goal is for you to be able to utilize everything we’ve shared here right away.
Mach 1 Design Complete Guide in Content Marketing Strategy
Identifying your audience is the first and most important step in cleaning up your messages. Our content strategy at Mach 1 Design is what we call “writing on purpose,” and we don’t believe in producing material for the sake of posting content. Every piece of writing should be directed at a specific audience and inspire them to do a specific action. Unfortunately, proper targeting is challenging, and many organizations struggle to find the correct tone of voice for their audience. Persona creation is an excellent tool for assisting your efforts. A persona is a made-up character established to represent your ideal customer.
These personas should be central to any content strategy and, along with concepts such as the buyer’s journey (which we’ll cover later), are the starting point for anything you write. So, how do you go about assembling personas? It’s a process of deep introspection, and it requires you to consider your current audience, desired audience, and the value you provide as a company. We’ll explore all of that in-depth, but first, a word on why this all matters:
Pitfalls of Poor Targeting
Assume you work for a company that makes project management software. This may theoretically be marketed to everyone, but there is something about your product that makes it appropriate for corporate legal firms. Many businesses nowadays, particularly those in the SaaS industry, place a premium on making their content engaging and conversational. This technique may be ideal for attacking a large number of groups, but it is less likely to work in the conservative legal world.
Starting From UVP
Consider your Unique Value Proposition, or UVP, as a good beginning point for developing your personas. Your UVP is a statement that defines the value of your product and the benefits you deliver to customers in the simplest and clearest terms possible. Many organizations are truly struggling to decipher this. They discover that a clean and unambiguous answer is out of reach after years of investigating and explaining all the amazing aspects about themselves.
However, it is critical to translate the benefits of your business into simple words. This enables you to think logically about your consumers and why they choose you. Examine a list of clientele and a list of professions with whom your salesmen frequently converse. Compare it to your assumptions about who your UVP’s target audience is. You’ll have a clear picture of one or more audiences who demand your attention as a writer when those groups intersect. These are folks that are interested in your message and would like to hear from you.
Examining your UVP is crucial, but it just gives you a hazy picture. The next stage is to take your insights and shape them into a living, breathing thing.
Craft of Character
Consider yourself to be drafting a letter. Which sounds easier: addressing a group of people with a few broad similarities or approaching an old friend? Making your audience real, personal, and specific aids in the creation of effective content and, as a result, the development of rapport with potential buyers. To create a persona, you don’t have to genuinely pretend you’re writing to an old buddy (though if that works for you, go for it). What you must do is create fictional characters, individual people who personify your target audience.
Try to give these characters as much depth as possible. Don’t presume you know them intimately right away. Rather, go through all of the character creation stages we’ve covered above. There’s a chance you’ll be startled by what you find.
Word on Style
These are the target personas for your organization. They serve as the framework for the remainder of your marketing and communication efforts. After you’ve finished outlining your personas, you should start researching style. Later on, we’ll go over the basics of developing a style guide and even provide our own.
What you can do right away after finalizing your personalities is look online for some of what’s already being written by or for like folks. You may locate genuine people online who are connected with your personas by studying their work titles and industries. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across some of these real people who have published their own writing, such as blog articles on LinkedIn.
Even if they haven’t, others are almost probably writing with these folks in mind. Whether it’s industry blogs, marketing materials, or something else, that writing will provide you with a glimpse into the style connected with your new personalities. Take note of the style they employ. Is it conservative, entertaining, technical, or solution-oriented? Is it written in extended, in-depth paragraphs or in short, journalistic ones? All of this will assist you in developing a writing style suitable for your new personality. The next step is to decide what to write.
Topics and Formats
Choosing the right themes and forms for your material is as crucial a part of your strategy as anything else covered here. The most important thing to remember is that you’re attempting to convince your target audience to visit your website and eventually convert to paying clients. What problems do they face on a daily basis? What marketing materials will assist them in overcoming these challenges?
Examine each persona’s hopes, dreams, concerns, sufferings, barriers, and hesitations. Cross-reference those with your UVP, and you’ll have no trouble coming up with a list of topics. The issue of usefulness applies to both topic and format choices. Topics and formats may already be widespread in your target sector. However, it is critical to put yourself in the shoes of your character and consider whether there is a content gap in the sector that needs to be addressed.
You may be wondering how to reach the personalities you’ve identified for your work once you’ve decided who they are. Marketers typically have a set of distribution tactics at their disposal, such as social media and email outreach. While they are excellent practices, they cast a wide net. Why not make the most of your identities if you went to the work of creating them?
Determining where your personas are most likely to be reading content is a difficult process that requires some trial and error. However, the more skilled you become at this, the more your efforts will be rewarded. You’ll have more control over where your efforts are directed, and you’ll know which channels require more attention to increase conversions. Some of the effort involved in channel discovery is intuitive, while others are learned abilities. Today, we’ll look at a couple from opposite sides of the spectrum to get you started. Take our recommendations as a starting point, as always. There are an infinite number of new skills to learn.
Internal vs External Communications
Let’s start with one of the simpler questions. Do you intend to write for internal or external stakeholders? While the majority of this website is aimed at marketers whose primary purpose is to acquire new consumers, some of you reading this may also be internal communications professionals. The other tips above may be less relevant for individuals on the internal side, but there are still many avenues for you to examine. Internal newsletters, distributed via email or your workplace intranet, have a lot of potential. Some Mach 1 Design users are already doing so.
Furthermore, although it may seem paradoxical, you may want to consider using external marketing to assist you meet internal goals. Seeing their firm in the press or going viral on social media will thrill employees in ways that traditional internal communications cannot.
Diving in head first to Google Analytics
Moving on to external audiences, there is no better tool for discovering new ways to reach your target audience than Google Analytics. The Segments function, in particular, allows for significantly more in-depth studies than you may have known were feasible. To create a new segment, open any report and look towards the top of the page for a box labeled All Users, followed by another box labeled Add Segment. Select Add Segment, and then click the red New + button in the upper lefthand corner of the newly created window. Then you may experiment with the unlimited possibilities, or you can utilize the Import from Gallery option to check out some custom configurations produced and made public by other power users.
Segments allow you to view statistics for a specific group of users based on demographics, traffic type, and other factors. Google Analytics collects massive quantities of data with each visit to your site, and Segments are your secret weapon for organizing it all. How can this assist you in locating your target audience? Assume you want to improve your social media approach. You have a good notion of who your ideal consumer is, and you’ve created some amazing content for them.
This is simply scraping the surface of what Segments can do. The alternatives are nearly limitless, and they can help inform your strategy significantly. Segments can also tell you a lot about the devices your visitors are using to access your content. However, before you get into Google Analytics on that front, there is one piece of advice that applies to practically every business today.
Don’t Neglect Mobile
There are few trends that are broad enough to encourage all organizations to pay attention to them. One of these is the increase in mobile traffic. On average, mobile accounts for approximately 55% of all internet traffic – more than half. As a result, while contemplating the methods through which you’ll reach your target audience, you must assume that many of them will be watching your material on a mobile device.
The shift to mobile has an impact on your email marketing as well. Mobile devices only allow around half the characters that a desktop computer does. You can either develop shorter subject lines or subject lines where the first half entices viewers to read the complete thing. Both strategies will work, but you should use one of them.
These are just a few examples of how you can think of your marketing channels. We haven’t covered important topics like paid advertising, earned media, how to find relevant conversations on social media, and more. This should, however, be enough to get you started.
Mapping Buyer’s Journey
Content marketing can be intimidating. It’s possible that you’re working with a variety of content kinds, such as blog posts, newsletters, case studies, eBooks, white papers, and webinars, and you’re confused about what fits where. What material is appropriate for your company? What will pique the interest of your target audience and entice them to become customers?
When you learn how to include the concept of a buyer’s journey into your content strategy, your success as a digital marketer will skyrocket. The buyer’s journey is a framework that describes the processes a person takes in recognizing a problem, researching that problem, and ultimately acquiring a solution to solve that problem.
In the awareness stage, the potential buyer is confronted by some problems. They’re aThe potential buyer is confronted with a dilemma at the awareness stage. They are conscious of their dissatisfaction, but they don’t know what’s generating it or whether it is unique to them. This is usually when someone searches for the symptoms of their problem online, looking for any information they can discover. People in the awareness stage are not ready to be sold to, but they will be open to any source that may help them name and frame their problem. They are still developing the terminology around the problem that will aid them in their search for a solution.
This is an excellent moment to raise awareness of your brand. You will rank higher if you can provide information that helps people comprehend a problem they are having, and if you can optimize that material around the search keywords they are using. Blog entries that articulate and describe a problem, assist readers in contextualizing that situation, and offer a variety of solutions are more likely to resonate with people in the awareness stage.
The goal of content aimed at the awareness stage should be to educate, define, contextualize, clarify, and inform. The greatest strategy to attract people into your funnel is to provide material that assists them in understanding their problem and prepares them for the next step: searching for a solution.
Potential buyers in the consideration stage have a better understanding of the root cause of their problem and are now studying several types of remedies. The knowledge they got and the vocabulary they developed in the awareness stage determine how and where they search, which is why that stage is so important. Content aimed at the contemplation stage should strive to explain and even demonstrate how your product or service can efficiently answer the specific problem highlighted by the consumer in the awareness stage — and preferably entice them to test it out for themselves.
During the decision stage, the potential buyer is researching a few products or services in depth. They have a good idea of what they want in a solution and are seeking the one that best meets their requirements. The buyer will most likely make a purchase at the end of this stage. In this stage, your goal is to persuade prospects to buy your solution rather than a competitor’s. The content for the decision stage should highlight the benefits of your solution and provide convincing evidence of how it assisted others who encountered similar problems in succeeding.
Identifying Gaps with Content Audit
Make a spreadsheet that lists all of the content your organization has created and is planning to create in the future. The spreadsheet should have columns for its state (published or planned), type, title, buyer’s journey stage targeted, persona targeted, and URL. Simply filling out this sheet will give you a good indication of where you could be short in the material. You may see, for example, that the majority of your information is targeted toward the decision stage and that very little is geared toward awareness. Perhaps your awareness stage is well-covered, but your consideration stage content is lacking.
Identifying gaps aid in future planning. Concentrate your content production efforts on addressing these gaps and ensuring that every buyer’s stage/persona combination is well covered by quality material.
The goal of mapping content to your buyer’s journey is to be more effective at attracting visitors through your funnel by supplying them with the content they need to take the next step toward a purchase. So, after identifying where each piece of content fits in the buyer’s journey, you must determine whether those assets are actually doing their job. The goals you set for each piece of content are dependent on both the buyer’s stage they belong to and the sort of content. Only when you’ve established a goal for each asset can you evaluate its effectiveness and begin optimizing it.
Mach 1 Design Content Goals
Here are 6 content goals we use at Mach 1 Design:
- Acquisition: To attract new visitors
- Activation: To turn visitors into subscribers (micro-conversion)
- Education: To engage subscribers and keep them coming back
- Revenue: To persuade visitors to make a purchase (macro-conversion)
- Expansion: To encourage customers to upgrade
- Referral: To delight customers and turn them into evangelists
The goals do not necessarily correspond to the stages of the journey. While acquisition and activation are most commonly connected with the awareness stage, depending on the circumstances, activation could also fall neatly into the deliberation stage. What’s essential here is that giving goals to content allows you to measure and optimize its efficacy. Only when you’ve established a goal for each asset can you evaluate its effectiveness and begin optimizing it.
Building Content Calendar
A strong content strategy must be well-organized. To be successful, you must be able to understand the big picture in terms of what content assets you’ve previously developed, what’s coming up, and what you have planned for the future. As previously said, part of this entails determining which content assets correspond to the stages of the buyer’s journey.
A thorough timeline is also an important organizational tool. Creating a content calendar provides you with supervision that allows you to manage your time and expectations, as well as the flexibility to add or remove content assets in any way that best supports your overall business goals.
Mach 1 Design’s calendar has several columns indicating the following:
- Is the content currently in progress?
- What is the estimated deadline?
- What is the status of the project?
- Who is the project owner?
- What is the type of content?
- Is the content part of a campaign?
- What is the title?
- What is the business goal for your content?
- Which stage of the buyer’s journey are you targeting?
- Which persona are you targeting?
Since content marketing is a continuous endeavor rather than a one-time activity, you’ll want to ensure that you set acceptable expectations for concurrent projects. Working on too many major things at once ensures that you will miss your deadlines. This is common sense, but without the organization given by your content calendar, it’s difficult to put into practice. When filling out your calendar, make sure that larger projects are spread out and that only smaller projects are running concurrently. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to predict which projects will take the most time and effort. This is frequently related to the number of words and the amount of research required.
Where to go from here
The bulk of your style guide should be based on the work that you put into the values, mission statement, and product description. Suggested sections that your style guide can include are how to write:
- For social media
- For marketing and sales emails
- For landing pages
- About people within the organization
- Technical and legal content
As well as:
- Spelling conventions for numbers and more
- Preferred grammar, punctuation, and much more
Those sections will vary depending on what writing your organization does. Different industries all require different written materials. However, the purpose is always to make sure everyone can write with a consistent style and usage across the company, whatever the purpose. Everything in those other sections should evolve from the work we explained previously. Take your values, mission statement, and product description, and examine the vocabulary and syntax you use. Which verbs and nouns are the correct ones to use for your business? Do you use longer or shorter sentences? Does the vocabulary choice make you sound technical or friendly?
Beyond the vocabulary and syntax, you’ve already picked out, come up with some other acceptable choices. These choices will also likely vary depending on where that writing will live. Try to cover as many scenarios as possible, but make sure they all align with your original efforts. After that, you’ll have all the components of a great style guide. If you follow all our instructions here, you’ll have all the most important components finished.
Write Style Guide
Creating and sustaining a distinct voice is critical for any brand. It allows them to stand out and establish rapport with their audience. Having a consistent voice throughout all of a company’s communications makes them more distinctive, recognizable, and trustworthy. A company’s style guide is often where the guidelines for brand voice and textual assets are compiled. Not all organizations use a style guide, but it’s a tool that all should consider adopting. A good style guide can be accessed, understood, and utilized by anyone in any department.
Distributing your style guide
Finally, a word on making sure your style guide is used. There isn’t an easy answer for how to make sure your colleagues conform to your style guide. However, there are a few steps you can take. The most important thing is making sure people are aware that the style guide exists and making it easy to access. A company-wide email should take care of the awareness portion. Hosting the guide in a central place like a company intranet, or even just a Google Drive that everyone can access will accomplish the rest.
Once people know how to find your style guide, getting them to use it is a bottom-up task. Luckily, once you get a reputation as a good writer at a company, it’s common for your coworkers to ask for help on everything from emails to presentations to social media. As you guide them, make sure they learn to see the style guide as a resource to make their efforts easier. If you’re successful, you’ll see a big transformation across your company. Effective, consistent writing makes any organization feel like a trustworthy, well-oiled machine.
6. Tips to keep your writing fresh and sharp
Throughout this page, we’ve discussed how to write on purpose. We covered topics such as targeting your writing to specific groups of people and organizing your content writing efforts. Implementing all the tips found on this page will make you feel like you have a lot more control over your writing.
Good writing is sometimes underappreciated, but it’s the cornerstone of any successful business. Without good, consistent writing, a brand can’t take shape. Customers and prospects churn due to inconsistent messaging. Even employees in the organization will be unable to produce consistent results. One assumption this page has made thus far is that you, the reader, are comfortable with your basic writing skills. We’ve spoken as though you only want advice on applying your mighty pen to your company’s marketing efforts.
But what if you need more confidence as a writer in the first place? We haven’t forgotten those of you who find yourselves with content marketing responsibilities but scant training in the written arts. The good news is there are a few simple steps you can take to vastly improve your writing. Stick with us through this section and we’ll introduce some essential tips and resources.
Got a question? Choose your guru wisely.
Grammar and style questions can certainly be Googled, and you can also ask teammates for their opinions. However, you may get different answers from different people or websites. This leads to inconsistent writing, which itself leads back to the problems we mentioned earlier. For this reason, you as a writer should choose a central authority to answer all your questions. This happens to be a problem many have previously tackled.
Central authorities for grammar and style questions are style guides. You’ll recall that we explored how to create a style guide for your business. This doesn’t prevent you from working with another style guide as they sometimes address different concerns. You can even pull parts of your company’s style guide from a previously extant one.
Some well-known systems writers use are MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian. You may recall these from writing essays in high school or college. Though they’re sometimes written by or for specific industries (APA, for example, is the American Psychological Association), they all establish fundamental standards for grammar and style. They should all address any questions you might have. Just make sure to use the same one every time. Special mention goes to The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, first published in 1959. This has been a go-to in English classrooms since it first arrived on the scene.
Sometimes less is more
A basic style guideline that should inform a lot of your writing choices is the economy of words. This means using as few words as possible to make your point. The economy of words is meant to make your prose straightforward, elegant, and easy to understand. Written communication in the English language always holds the economy of words as a golden rule. Other common style rules, like avoiding the passive voice, often have a secondary effect of enforcing the economy of words. “The report was printed by the man” has more words than “The man printed the report,” but they communicate the same idea. Therefore, if you look for ways to maximize your economy of words, you’ll use the active voice by default.
The economy of words enforces other common-style rules as well. Because of this, if you’re going to memorize one rule of style, make it economy of words. If you’re going to memorize one rule of style, make it economy of words.
Don’t change things up
Consistency is a topic we’ve touched on a lot, but it deserves an additional mention here. Whatever rules you choose to follow, stick to them. Certain style and grammar questions have multiple answers, depending on which style guide you follow. Not choosing the same rule every time leads to sloppy writing. This is why we talked about creating your style guide. Referencing those guides mentioned above is a great starting point, but it’s not enough. You need to make choices about which rules you follow in relevant situations. Consciously defining those and sticking to them is the trick to becoming a good writer.
As you continue your content writing journey, we hope you’ll continue to reference the tips and resources on this page. Mach 1 Design is committed to helping content creators across locations and industries maximize their output. We believe that good content is a necessity for all modern businesses. If you have any other questions about producing awesome content, please reach out to one of our experts! We’d be happy to hear from you.
7. Bonus section: future trends in content marketing
Thanks for coming on this journey with us. Throughout this page, we’ve taken a deep dive into the details of what makes a good content marketing strategy. Hopefully, at this point, you’ve seen that content marketing, indeed any business communications activity, is more involved than posting the occasional blog entry. Of course, your strategy will also be affected by current trends in the field. Because of the nature of digital advertising, content marketing is here to stay. However, there will always be a need for new techniques that help content marketers set themselves apart.
We at Mach 1 Design are avid followers of current and potentially upcoming content marketing trends. Staying a step ahead of the pack helps you get noticed, which is the ultimate goal of most marketing efforts. With that in mind, we thought we’d share some of the trends we think will be important in the coming months and years. Let the principles we’ve already discussed guide you as you experiment with these trends, and remember to always be on the lookout for how the industry is evolving.
The death of PDFs
PDFs were introduced in 1993 as a way to correctly render documents on any operating system. For a long time, they were the standard format for all kinds of content. With the changes the internet and smartphones have brought to marketing in general, we’re seeing PDFs fall out of favor after nearly three decades. Unfortunately, the format that once enabled advances in communication is now inhabiting it.
Because they aren’t responsive and don’t allow page-by-page analytics, PDFs are less than ideal for the connected and mobile world of which we’re all now a part. Both a better reading experience and more in-depth insights can be attained with web-based formats. Content marketers have taken longer than some other professions to catch on to this trend, but the benefits of moving away from PDFs are already accessible. It’s only a matter of time before this antiquated file format has disappeared completely from the content marketing arsenal.
It’s no longer acceptable to publish content that forces your audience to pinch and zoom in just to be able to read it. This will turn away readers quicker than you can say “Please buy from my competitors.” With over half of your audience likely now reading on a mobile device, you need to ensure everything you create is built with them in mind. It’s not surprising that responsiveness is important. The challenge will come with the new content types that marketers are exploring. Aside from the trends, we mention here, the proliferation of content marketing means that companies are likely to start experimenting with new and unique content types. Those will have various combinations of written content and design, and they’ll have different levels of interaction. That means companies will have to do extra work to ensure that they are all responsive on all devices.
Interaction and personalization
The holy grail for marketers is the ability to reach all of their potential customers and speak to each of them as individuals. Big data lets us do that more easily on social media, and there’s a high degree of personalization that’s possible on companies’ websites. However, content marketing has lagged until now. As web-based content replaces traditional eBooks and white papers, there’s an opportunity to bring in some of that sought-after personalization. Not only can you address readers by name, but you can also now make sure they see content that’s related to their industry, hide case studies from their competitors, and more.
In a similar vein, interactive content is quickly becoming an important way to give conversations between you and your audience a more authentic feel. From clickable infographics to quizzes and more, interactive content holds your audience’s attention and stands out from static written documents of the past. For that reason, it’s earned its seat at the table
As we mentioned earlier, page-by-page analytics were not possible for content distributed as PDFs. However, it’s very much in the grasp of content marketers today. You’re probably already making use of such analytics for your website. Monitoring bounce rates, exit rates, scroll depth, time on page, and more gives you a good idea of how visitors react to your copy and design. That’s what gives you the ability to A/B test and improve over time. thanks to the changes happening in content marketing, you now have that ability with each page of your eBooks and white papers. Just imagine what you can do with that knowledge. Aside from the basic knowledge of what content draws more visitors and conversions, you’ll be able to test and optimize your content page by page. This means you can truly provide your audiences with the content they want to read.
Why Mach 1 Design?
By this point, you should be well on your way to becoming a content marketing expert. You certainly have enough knowledge to take your company’s marketing program to a higher level of productivity and effectiveness. Of course, as this final section highlights, there will always be new developments in the field. As you move further in your journey toward content marketing nirvana, you’ll learn to recognize and predict those trends.
We’re glad you chose to read and consider everything we’ve discussed here. To take the next step, we’d encourage you to reach out and speak with one of Mach 1 Design’s Digital Strategy Advisors. They’re our foremost experts on content marketing technology and best practices. You can book a meeting here.