Advancing your content marketing in 2016
With 2016 now well underway and the festive season a distant memory, you’ve no doubt already set resolutions to help improve your company or organisation marketing and communications. Starting, or improving, content marketing is almost certainly in your plans.
So, regardless of whether you’re a big private company with a large content team, or a tiny charity with no resource for content marketing or content strategy, we wanted to provide a list of things – big and small – that you could (and should) be considering in 2016.
Let’s begin with the simplest and most achievable and build our way up from there.
The Small Tasks and Tweaks
Conduct a channel review
Are you sure that you’re using the best and most effective channels and platforms for your content marketing? If your goal is to jump up the search engine rankings, why are you hiding everything in a Facebook group instead of developing your YouTube strategy? If your goal is to build a community, why are you pushing everything through a blog and not complementing it with great social platforms? Have you embraced ever-more popular platforms such as Snapchat, WhatsApp or Instagram, or are you still clinging only to Twitter and Facebook?
Start by conducting a review of the channels and platforms that you’re using to understand if they’re the right ones for you and your audiences, and really effective for achieving your objectives.
Planning native content
The mantra of many organisations with whom we work is Create Once Publish Everywhere (COPE). While this is great from an organisational efficiency point of view (“well, we pushed it out on our blog, and then Facebook, and then our LinkedIn page, and then Twitter, and we screen grabbed it and put it on Instagram too… hooray!”), it may not be quite so effective from an audience engagement point of view, or to help you reap the benefits of how different algorithms are set to favour different types of content on different platforms. So, start to think about your important platforms and channels and how you can create native content specifically designed for those platforms.
Let’s take video as an example. That 2 minute tutorial with a wonderful voiceover and a great SEO title may be perfect for YouTube. But what if you simply share it as it is (and worse still, as just a link to YouTube) on your Facebook page? People will often watch videos for shorter times as they scroll through their news feed, with the sound switched off, and Facebook has a known preference for videos uploaded to it’s own video platform. The result? It’s not going to perform as well.
Explore new tools to enhance your content
There are a great many wonderful tools and apps available out there, many of them free or low-cost, to help you improve your content. From capture to editing, design and layout, use the new year as an excuse to start exploring new tools to make tweaks (even tiny ones) to your content to nudge it along to being just that little bit better.
Throughout this year we’ll be reviewing and sharing our favourite tools with you, so remember to check back in on our blog and follow us on Twitter for the latest posts about tools that you could explore.
Taking a step up
Understand your audience better
The real key to successful content marketing and an engaging content strategy is to really understand your audience. We spoke about this in more detail in our recent blog post on empathy mapping.
Make a plan for the year ahead to conduct or commission (talk to us, we can help) some audience research. This should take at least three forms:
-Quantitative research: gathering insights and data from your analytics of existing activity and through surveys and market research reports to understand audience trends and how your content performs with them
-Qualitative research: gathering detailed insights and information on what content really engages and inspires them
-Observational research: watching their behaviour online to see what content they share, who they follow and what really seems to make them tick.
Make time for planning your content
Create a weekly slot in your diary – a meeting with yourself (and maybe a few others) to make sure that you spend time planning your content and not just doing it on a whim.
Create a calendar for your content plan, think about what’s going on in the world, in your organisation and in your audiences’ lives. Use those insights as ‘hooks’ to hang ideas for content that you might create.
You may find our blog post on forming a content creation habit helpful for this.
Plan and create quality long-form pieces
Having some great quality long-form content is a crucial part of a good content marketing strategy. Take the time to sit down and plan (and then create) a series of long-form pieces that you will produce throughout the year. These may be white papers on meaty issues, slide decks, or research reports. It could also be a webinar series, or a video series.
Don’t simply rely on quick short-form content for your social media, but ensure that you’re producing items that will really deliver depth, show your expertise and, ultimately, also enhance your SEO as a consequence.
The Big(ger) Things
Develop an integrated content strategy
An effective content strategy should aim to transcend channels and platforms and produce a coherent approach to thinking about, planning for, and creating content across the piste for your organisation. Developing such a content strategy can seem like a big undertaking, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly or be something that you just spend a few hours one day pulling together.
This is a piece of work, however, that is well-worth investing in if you really want your audiences to be attracted to, to develop a strong character and personality for your organisation through consistency in your content. It can also allow you to maximise the opportunity for cross-promotion and integration across different channels and platforms (including face-to-face).
Producing such content strategies and plans is our specialist area of expertise at Utterly Content, so talk to us about your needs and we’ll see if we can help you.
Marketing automation technologies help to move you towards a more effective and personalised approach to moving your customers and supporters through your sales or communications ‘funnel’. By identifying individual user behaviours and interests, you can start to develop approaches to email engagement (and other communications) that deliver the right piece of content to that individual, at the right moment in time, and in an automated way, thus making your work load a little easier.
But to make marketing automation technologies really work for you requires upfront planning and thinking through what value-added content really looks like. When are the best moments to place a call to action? What are the journeys that your audiences will (or should) take to move towards buying your products or supporting your cause?
Digital asset management
As you create ever-more content as an organisation, you need to be able to ensure that you can get maximum value out of that content in the future. Either by creating core content blocks that automatically update wherever they are used across all of your digital platforms, or simply by having an easy-to-search repository for all of your content, thinking about implementing a digital asset management system and governance approach is a must for the future development of your approach to content.
Please get in touch to discuss how we can help to support your plans for 2016.