Our eight best content marketing tips (which we’ll dive into individually) are to not sell, to always add value, to get personal, answer your audience’s questions, use the most effective content types, consider SEO optimizations, publish content frequently, and always measure performance.
These eight tips, when used in conjunction with one another, are the secret ingredient to a successful content marketing strategy.
As we break down each best practice, we’ll explain how and why it’s so important, and show you a real-life example of a brand who’s put it into play.
By the end of this, you’ll be ready to take a more comprehensive approach to your content marketing strategy and find the success you’ve been looking for.
1. Don’t Sell
There’s a reason why this one is number one. In content marketing, it is so crucial not to hit your audience with a hard sell. A hard sell immediately puts someone in being-sold-to-mode, rather than content consumption mode, and the latter is where you want your audience to be.
Now, I want to add a disclaimer that, of course, you need to sell in order to succeed as a business, and you will sell—just not in the same, direct way you might in other types of marketing.
Buffer does a fantastic job keeping hard sells out of their content marketing efforts. In a recent blog post, Buffer educates their audience on how they can make sales using Pinterest. Throughout the article, Buffer provides tips, examples, and even provides a link to a free resource from Pinterest that could help even further.
You can tell—and I mean really tell—from the blog post that Buffer genuinely cares about their audience and cares about sharing resources with them that could potentially help the pain points they’re feeling.
This kind of altruistic content may be a differentiator when a consumer is trying to determine who to do business with. Remember the company who created helpful content without constantly directing back to CTAs (calls to action)? Yeah, I want to do business with them.
2. Add Value
I’m probably going to say that all of these are critical (because they are), but I really want to emphasize this one.
Creating content for the sake of creating content shows.
Content marketing only works when the content that’s being created adds something of value to the person who consumes it. Maybe it solves a need, like the Harry’s example from above, or maybe it shares brand new information, or it can even just add a dose of humor to someone’s day.
No matter what, the content has to add value, and you should always define what that value is before pushing something live.
Let’s take a look at social media for this example, specifically the Twitter feed of Innocent Drinks. In light of the recent relatable cultural meme of people not knowing what day it is during quarantine, Innocent Drinks took to their Twitter account to provide a bit of comic relief and entertainment to their followers with a daily reminder.
There are countless ways to use social media within content marketing, but being funny and showing off brand voice is a great one when it’s on brand.
Not once in this string of tweets does Innocent Drinks encourage anyone to buy their product, or share links to buy their product, or anything of the sort. Instead, they try to make their followers laugh, or at least put a smile on their face. Oh yeah, and remind them what day it is.
3. Try Personalization
If the goal of content marketing is to get somebody on board with you before they eventually start spending with you, doesn’t it naturally make sense to make the experience all about them?
After all, when we meet someone new, it always feels good when they ask questions about who we are or what we like, and the experience should be no different than when getting acquainted with a new company or brand.
This is where personalization comes in.
Let’s talk about Fidelity’s Financial Checkup. In this extremely interactive quiz, users are brought through a series of questions around the way they save money, spend money, pay off their credit cards, and more, and every single answer is met with an interesting statistic or information before moving onto the next question.
At the end of the quiz, the user is provided with an action plan completely personalized to their needs based on the answers they provided. It doesn’t get much more personal than that.
4. Answer Your Audience’s Questions
Before we talk about answering your audience’s questions, I want to address how you can determine what your audience’s questions may be.
You can (and should) do the work mapping personas so you have a deep understanding of your audience, and can anticipate the kinds of questions they might have.
If you sell paint, for example, you may learn that your audience has a lot of questions around designing their home. That could then lead you to create a video series where you showcase real customers who have purchased your paint, and share some of the creative ways they’ve brought the rooms in their homes to life.
You also should take an opportunity to confer with your sales and customer service teams on this one. What types of questions do they get from your audience? Where do people seem to run into confusion or objections? By getting a better understanding of what your audience doesn’t yet know, you can find the best gaps to fill.
In my opinion, there are few companies who do this better than AARP. Their magazine, featuring both a physical and a digital presence, takes the full context of their audience’s lives into account, and constantly tries to answer a wide variety of questions they may have.
Their audience covers topics that range from how to get personal finances in order, to why it’s important to visit the eye doctor, to how to handle life during a pandemic, and truly everything in between.
AARP looks at their audience as whole, complex beings, with many different facets to their lives. They work to create content that goes above and beyond expectations, and reads as both helpful and entertaining.
5. Use Effective Content Types
You can create effective content marketing by identifying the types of content that may work best for you. There’s some trial and error in this process, of course, but we’ve identified 15 content marketing types that tend to work best and they range from blog posts, to eBooks, to podcasts, and everything in between.
It’s also a good best practice to use multiple effective content types in conjunction with one another. For example, if you have a podcast, create a corresponding email newsletter to let your audience know what they can expect to see from you, or to recap topics you’ve covered in the past.
Let’s take a look at toothpaste brand Zendium for this one. They took the simple fact of a two-minute brush being effective and turned it into brilliant content marketing.
Their podcast, 2 Minutes of Zen, provides audiences with—you guessed it—two-minute long activities that can be done while brushing your teeth. If you’ve ever thought podcasts had to be long to be successful (or that content in general had to fit into any certain mold), this podcast proves otherwise.
The very idea behind Zendium’s podcast is considering your offering and your audience to determine what will be the most effective, even if it strays from the typical. Don’t be afraid to challenge norms to find what works for you.
Learn more about content types that have proven to be effective here.
6. Optimize for Search Engines
You could create the best content in the world, but if nobody finds it, your work will have been for nothing (if a tree falls…you know the rest).
That’s why it’s important to take the time to optimize your content and do the SEO (search engine optimization) groundwork you need to be found.
For SEO, there are a variety of resources at your disposal. You can opt to work with an SEO professional, work with an SEO agency, or familiarize yourself with SEO best practices and work on it yourself depending on the size of your company and the resources you have available.
In any event, an SEO strategy is critical to the overall success of content marketing, and should not be overlooked.
7. Publish Content Frequently
This tip is one that sounds easy in theory, but can be really hard to practice. Continuously coming up with quality content to publish is no small feat, but it’s important to stay consistent.
You don’t have to go through the ideation process alone. Turn to resources that share content marketing ideas or get inspired by others. There are so many excellent content marketing examples to draw inspiration from—you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Once these ideas and examples spark inspiration for you, use the above tips and strategies to find ways to make them your own.
See a creative blog post that breaks down the steps you need to take before creating your first website? Maybe you can apply that step-by-step idea to your own guide to finding running shoes that fit. Or, maybe you watched a brand’s thoughtful video interview with an industry expert. Is there an expert in your industry you can interview for your Youtube channel, podcast, or website?
Coming up with enough new ideas to establish a consistent posting cadence (once per week, bi-weekly, etc.) can be hard, but keep your mind open to the pieces of content you yourself find effective, and find creative ways to emulate them.
8. Measure Performance
You’d never run a typical marketing campaign and ignore its performance, right? The same is true for content marketing.
Content marketing can be effective at every stage of the funnel, which means it’s important to define KPIs and map your content to the funnel before you create it.
This list from Contently gives a great and extensive look at how content marketing KPIs can ladder up to business goals and objectives.
Understanding some of the best ways to measure the ROI (return on investment) of your content marketing efforts and some key content marketing statistics can also be a great place to start.
The true beauty of content marketing lies in how many different ways it can be done, but ironically, that’s also one of the most challenging aspects of it, too.
Figuring out the type of content you want to create is one half of the equation, but optimizing your content and making sure you’re deploying tactics that work is the key to finding sustained content marketing success.
Whether you’re well-versed in the world of content marketing or just about to make your first foray, brushing up on best practices is never a bad thing.
The Best Ways to Approach Content Marketing
The best ways to do content marketing all start with both an understanding of what content marketing is and an understanding of what a content marketing strategy is.
The best ways to do content marketing are up to you—there’s room for creativity, and it’s all about finding the medium that works best for your specific audience and the resources you have available to you. Content marketing comes in the form of written text, videos, images, audio, and more.
How Can You Write Good Content For Content Marketing?
You can write good marketing content by speaking directly to your audience, and you can succeed in content marketing by ensuring that your content provides value, and is not salesy.
Take, for example, this piece of content written by razor disruptor Harry’s on their blog, Five O’Clock.
Harry’s takes a problem their consumers may run into (razor burn), and creates a piece of content that exists purely to help solve that problem or provide a resource. It’s not trying to sell razors, it’s not trying to tout some new product they launched, it’s simply trying to see the context of a razor consumer’s life, identify a pain point, and provide value to solve it.
Providing a solution to a pain point is just one content marketing best practice, but there are many more to master to make your content marketing efforts more worthwhile. You can succeed in content marketing by sticking to at least some of these tried-and-true ones.
Before You Head Off to Work on Stellar Content Marketing
We covered a lot today, but the most important lesson of all is that, when done effectively, content marketing can be a truly valuable way to connect with your audience.
Regularly referencing best practices, even as you become more experienced, is a great way to ensure continued success and growth.
At Taboola, we try and get granular and look at how different verticals can use content marketing differently, like in this guide full of content marketing tips for online fashion brands. There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to content marketing, which is what makes it such a fun space to experiment and find what works best for you.
Make sure you’re amplifying all of the content you work so hard to create by learning all about the content marketing tools and content distribution tools that can help improve performance.
And, of course, consider Taboola for your content discovery needs. It’s our mission to amplify your message, and as content marketers ourselves, we understand just how important those messages are and how much work goes into them.
Content marketing comes in many shapes and sizes—find the strategy that best suits your audience and fits your business needs, and try to enjoy the process. Your content creation possibilities are endless, it’s just about getting creative.