We’re kind of having a problem in content marketing right now. You see, everyone is creating content.
In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute's annual survey, 88% of B2B respondents are using content marketing. But this is just a statistical percentage. It gives no indication of the sheer volume of content that is being produced.
And that volume is enormous.
With the avalanche of content, it’s hard to stand out. And it’s especially challenging when you look at your dwindling marketing budget, the burnout of your bloggers, and the massive confusion over trying to calculate the ROI of content marketing.
What's a marketer to do? Let's explore some options below.
4 Tactical Ways to Create Content That Stands Out
1) Do more.
One possible solution is to do more content marketing.
Yes. You heard me correctly. More.
More matters, and here’s why.
Let’s look at the simple mechanics of search engine optimization. SEO has changed from its haphazard days of link tiers and keyword stuffing, but several key facets of it have not changed.
This hasn’t changed:
The more content you produce ...
The more Google and other search engines index …
The more likely you are to rank for certain keywords …
I’m assuming, of course, that your content is solid, authoritative, long-form content that provides value to users.
Don’t forget about Google’s fresh factor algorithm feature:
All things being equal, a website with more (quality) content added to it will likely perform better in search engines. But there’s the user side of it, too. You must consistently produce content on a regular basis in order to keep users interested.
If you’re putting out great content all the time, it keeps users coming back for more -- assuming quality and value don’t suffer. This concept has fueled my increase in guest blogging and personal blogging. As a result, I’ve dramatically increased my output over the past 12 months, and my numbers are reflecting the change.
However, there is a dark side to the "more is better" theory. As I mentioned before, this approach only works when the quality of the content remains high. If you allow your quality, focus, and strategy to degrade, then you’ll hurt yourself in the long run.
So let’s talk about that. How do you find your successful sweet spot in a world where everyone’s doing content marketing? You can’t just do more. You have to do better.
Let me explain this ...
2) Do better.
“Do better” is a rather shallow recommendation, so I’m going to give you a few tactical points that should help clarify my point. By the time you’re finished reading this section, you’ll know exactly how to do content marketing better.
First, let me get some of the “boring” stuff out of the way. I believe that you need to assess the state of content marketing in order to rise above the competition and overcome content marketing's weaknesses.
Cue the data.
Truth: Many organizations still don’t know what a “successful content marketing program looks like.”
According to CMI’s data, the best content marketers know what they’re doing and they use a variety of content marketing methods: the “most effective” B2Bs use 15 content marketing methods, as opposed to the “least effective” B2Bs, which use 11.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you know what a “successful” content marketing program looks like? If the answer is no, then define it.
Do you have a documented content marketing strategy? If the answer is no, then define and document it.
Are you using multiple methods of content marketing?
Based on these general shortcomings in the content marketing industry as a whole, there are several things that you can do to gain a competitive edge. Now that that is out of the way, here’s how you do content marketing better:
Add more visual content. Visual content is a powerful way to boost the engagement, effectiveness, and potency of your content.
Add more live methods. Live marketing methods are becoming increasingly important. Here are three live methods that you can use at a minimal cost and at a maximum effectiveness: Periscope, webinars, and Facebook Live.
Add more unique data. This is a big one. Stop regurgitating all the data that you’ve heard. Come up with some of your own! Using your own data, statistics, studies, and results is a powerful way to attract more interest.
Create alternative means of consuming content. Content consumers are shifting in the way that they engage with content. The Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable technology have created a stir, and it's up to us to react accordingly.
My point here is that there are a lot of ways to do better with your content marketing. There are a ton of organizations out there that are wandering around in the content marketing arena with an unclear strategy, an unfocused process, and an arsenal of ineffective tactics. To those organizations, consider the above suggestions to help your raise the bar.
3) Be focused.
Don’t just do content marketing ... do content marketing with a focused objective.
What’s the objective?
You and your organization have to define it as a clear and practicable goal. Generally speaking, most businesses want:
If you’ve been “doing content marketing” without a goal, then it’s no wonder you’re frustrated with your efforts. I recommend re-focusing your efforts on a goal. While the ultimate goal to focus on is often revenue, your secondary goals will differ based on the nature of your organization.
Maybe you’re looking for customers to request a proposal. If so, hone in on that goal and use content marketing to reach it.
Want to know whether or not you should keep doing content marketing? Ask yourself this: Has it made a bottom-line difference in your business's revenue. Is it making you money?
4) Keep on doing.
So, how do you achieve success in a world where everyone’s doing content marketing?
You keep on doing it.
Maybe you’re not getting the results you once did. Maybe you’re frustrated with your lack of success. Maybe you’re confused about methods. Maybe it’s hard to keep up with the changing tactics, technology, and manifestations of content.
But, maybe, that’s okay.
Nobody said that marketing was going to be easy. Content marketing doesn’t deliver the quick results that we wish it would. When it does though, the rewards are vindicating.
Instead of quitting altogether, give it some time. Keep on doing it in a deliberate and strategic way!
Change is a Good Thing
Content marketing is changing. There’s no doubt about that. And the important questions that we need to answer are:
How is it changing?
What should we do as a result?
I’m convinced that content marketing is going to be around for a long time. Therefore, I’m committed to continue doing it, whatever that looks like. What about you?
How is content marketing changing for you? What will you do as a result? Share your thoughts below.
Originally published Feb 26, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated August 28 2017