These days, it’s unlikely you’ll run into a marketer who hasn’t heard of or used content marketing in some form or another. The 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE) found that 70 percent of marketers had past-year experience with content marketing.
While pretty much everyone and their mother knows about and has used content marketing, not all of those people are doing it as well as they could be. Here are a few content marketing secrets that will help you up your game and make a deep, lasting connection with your audience.
You Really Need to Know Your Audience
You might be thinking, “Hey, I know my audience.” After all, you have put together buyer personas, held focus groups, and paid attention to what people seem to want.
But if your content isn’t empathizing with your audience, isn’t connecting with them on an emotional level, all those buyer personas and focus groups are pretty much worthless.
How do you empathize with your audience? It’s pretty simple: Put their needs above your own. Yeah, you want them to click and turn into customers. But if your content is constantly coming across as “me first,” people aren’t going to buy it.
An infographic from the Home Depot on putting together a garden is a great example of really knowing the audience and using empathy in a message. The infographic takes into consideration concerns beginning gardeners might have, and walks people through how to overcome those concerns.
Attention-Grabbing Headlines Are a Must
If no one’s clicking on your content, it’s probably your headline’s fault. On average, 80 percent of readers look at a headline, but only 20 percent will click through or continue to read the story.
Think of the headline as the smile and the handshake of your content. If you meet a person for the first time and they don’t smile at you or they refuse to shake your hand, you’re not going to think very highly of them. They might be a great person, but you’ll be less inclined to learn more about them because of that first impression.
There are a few easy ways to make your headlines more compelling. Adding a number helps, as does using the simplest language possible. Stick to what’s relevant, and to what people will recognize. Also, make sure your headline doesn’t over-promise and the content under-deliver.
Short May Be Trendy, But Long-form Is More Effective
Short-form content and “quick” content might be the preferred approach among creators (according to the SOCE), but if you really want your content to pack a punch, it’s better to focus on long-form. A study from BufferApp found that the ideal blog post was about 1,600 words long, and the ideal length for a video was about three minutes.
While giving your audience content they can really chew on and digest is important, don’t go longer just for the sake of going longer. There’s no need to take 2,000 words to say what you can just as easily say in 500.
Leverage Content That Does Well
Odds are, your brand has one or more pieces of content that perform better than the rest. You have several options for leveraging that content and getting the most out of it.
One option is to take a tip from Hollywood and write up or produce a sequel to the content. You don’t want to rehash the content in a new video or article. Instead, think of ways you can add to it, or ways to offer a different take on it.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone
No content creator is an island. Sometimes, what you need to take your content marketing to the next level is a fresh set of eyes and a fresh opinion. While using an in-house team (which 63 percent of marketers do, according to the SOCE) can allow you to produce a consistent message, it can also cause you to become dull and repetitive after a time.
Don’t be afraid to hire freelancers to produce content from time to time, or to invite guest bloggers to create content for you. When you let others participate in creating content for your brand, you get to take advantage of their unique perspectives, as well as any audience they bring to the table.