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Posted October 23, 2018

How to ensure your brand’s content is working as hard as it can.

It’s no secret that a brand’s content is hugely important. It can mean the difference between you being discovered online or not. But so much more than that, quality content elevates brand perception, nurtures lasting relationships with your audience and enables you to build authority and credibility.
In such a content-rich environment, it can be difficult to know how to grab consumers’ attention, drive real engagement, create conversations and ultimately increase conversions. Whether it’s via a well-designed infographic, a collection of helpful blog posts or a fully fledged PR campaign, we take a look at how you can give great content the best chance of surviving and reverberating in such a crowded place.

Build out your strategic approach
Don’t create content simply for the sake of posting something. There should be a sound detailed strategy behind it that takes into account many factors, but most importantly aims to create a connection between brands and consumers. First up, identify your own brand’s strengths and consider this alongside competitors’ offering. Take a holistic view of how those in the space you’re competing in behave and look at the types of content they’re producing, what’s working and what isn’t and, crucially, how audiences are responding. A structured, analytical approach is required – you can then apply your learnings to your own content strategy. This will provide internal guidelines and is your brand’s ‘why’ and ‘how’. Begin by defining your audience personas (include their needs, where they consume content and any challenges and pain points), your brand story and messaging and nail down content purpose. You should also consider business-wide and content KPIs. Detail success metrics for every piece of content – traffic, views, shares, conversion rate, brand awareness, for example – and jot down outreach plans for them. Collating and assessing all this information leaves you with an overarching strategy that plans ahead for every aspect of your marketing in an effort to produce the best results.

Consider shareability from the outset
You can create a fantastic piece of content that ticks all the boxes – it’s user friendly, it’s relevant, it has SEO coursing through its veins – but it’s not enough to simply upload it and sit back and hope the results will flood in. If you’re not promoting your content, you’re missing out on many outreach possibilities. There’s no harm in giving your customers a helping hand in finding your content. If there’s budget, look towards PR, consider paid promotion or use influencers to shout about your work. Email marketing provides a good way to round-up and tease content on your site and of course sharing content across the social platforms relevant to your audience is always a winning tactic when looking to start conversation. Finally, don’t underestimate the value of employee advocacy. If a workforce shares its content, this shows customers that employees are bought into the brand and its content is credible. It also ensures a much higher reach without having to put extra budget behind it.

Write for your audience
You should know your audience better than they know themselves and create content that perfectly tailors to their needs and behaviour. This is key to your content’s success. Provide answers to questions they ask, offer a viewpoint on topics they’re interested in and ensure you’re operating in the space you know they’re digitally active. Genuinely useful, purposeful content gains more traction and is more likely to resonate in a meaningful way. Knowing and serving your audience is vital in content marketing. After all, the goal isn’t always to simply clinch a sale – you need to work hard to gain their trust and convert them into advocates. Consistent, quality content that provides for their needs will do just that.

Ensure CTAs are simple and structured
Find subtle ways to encourage your audience to share any thoughts, move through to another piece of relevant content or perform any sort of customer action. Whether you want them to download a PDF, buy a product or simply head on to another blog within your site, the call to action should be well designed and strategically placed with clear and compelling text. Use the right words to give your CTA an obvious thrust – the user must be left in no doubt as to what’s being asked of them and what they’ll receive if they click.

Make it timeless
The best content is evergreen – it doesn’t have an expiry date. Its information is as useful and relevant now as it will be five years down the line. ‘How to’ guides are a great example of content that doesn’t date. While there will always be a place for seasonal, topical content, it won’t have much appeal once conversation around it has subsided and you’re left with an initial increase in traffic that will quickly fade. During its 20th anniversary celebrations in September 2018, Google announced a selection of new search features. Among them was the ‘Topic’ layer in Google search, which aims to recommend new content to the user after analysing the web for a topic and developing a huge range of subtopics. It favours the most relevant content, namely that which has shown itself to be ‘evergreen and continually useful, as well as [being] fresh content on the topic’.

Harness the power of analytics
Analytics software provides invaluable data as to how your content is performing and can help you to make strategic decisions. For each piece of content you’ve created, its objectives and goals should have been set out in the content strategy at the very beginning of the process – using analytics gives you specifics of whether it’s meeting them. Find out what’s working and what’s not by measuring traffic, bounce rate, dwell time and engagement, for example. If content isn’t doing too well, you’ll gain insight into why that is, make changes accordingly and avoid making the same mistake with future content. Using an analytics tool should be routine for content marketers – do it correctly and learn what makes your users tick, where they’re coming from, what type of content they favour and easily pinpoint successes and where improvements are needed.

Apply detailed consideration to the strategy behind your content as well as its aftercare and ensure it works as hard as it can for your brand. With time, effort and consistency in your approach, content will find its place with the right audience, help raise brand perception and generate the results you want.

 

Posted by Carrie Webb

Senior writer. Sleep-deprived mama of one. Obsesses over words far more than is healthy.