Content Marketing 101: The Do’s and Dont’s of Content Marketing

Despite having a varied definition, most marketers can agree that there are a set of best practices and strategies involved with content marketing that help businesses do everything from increasing website traffic to spreading brand awareness to acquiring new fans.

Want to know what these best practices and strategies are? Review the following do’s and dont’s of content marketing to find out what they are.

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Do: Develop and Document a Content Strategy

Rebecca Lieb writes in Marketing Land that her own study and “that of other researchers and analysts” has found that “a full 70 percent of organizations undertaking content marketing are still doing so without a documented strategy.”

This means, according to Lieb, “they’re investing time, money, resources and staff in a tactic that doesn’t have measurable goals attached,” as well as not having reviewed “what tools, people and processes need to be attached to content initiatives to make them effective and achievable.”

Instead of simply creating content just for the sake of content, “planning, benchmarking and attaching content initiatives to a strategy are necessary steps to take for content marketing to work effectively and efficiently.”

Don’t: Rush Through Goals and Deadlines

After you’ve developed and documented a content strategy, you also need to outline all of the goals you want to achieve and how and when to reach them. This process takes time and shouldn’t be rushed. Market research and developing buyer personas, for example, take time to analyze and develop. Rushing through these will provide you with inaccurate information that will impact your overall content strategy.

Do: Locate Your Target Audience and Create Content Around Their Interests and Values

If you sell snowmobiles, would you waste your time marketing your business to people living in warm weather climates like Florida?

Every business has its own unique customers. And, it’s up to you to define your customers. Once you do, you’ll want to create content that is based around their interests and values. For example, that snowmobile business could create content like snowmobile safety videos and the top locations to ride snowmobiles.

Don’t: Align Products With Your Audience

Your customers want to know how your products or services can improve their lives. They don’t want to hear about your specific business. Shameless plugs and being aggressive are outdated practices that will turn customers away. Focus on providing value to your customers and how your business is solving the problems in your industry.

Do: Create a Social Plan

Social media should be a major part of your content marketing strategy. It’s an effective way to talk to your customers, acquire feedback, prove that you’re an industry thought leader, and funnel prospects back to your site.

When creating a social plan, identify the channels where your audience spends most of their and which channel is best for your business. A law firm should be on LinkedIn, but shouldn’t put too much energy on Snapchat. After that, determine how frequently you’ll schedule social updates and the ratio of original and share content. Most marketers follow the 80/20 Principle.

Don’t: Forget to Monitor All of Your Social Channels

What’s the point in being involved with social media if you aren’t actively engaging and interacting with your audience? It defeats the purpose.

That’s why you need a dedicated team member running your social media campaign who updates and converse with your audience. For example, if someone checks into your business, you can simply like that comment. Trust me. That goes a long in showing that your business who is actually paying attention to what’s being said about them.

Thanks to tools like Mention you can monitor your social channels and respond accordingly.

Do: Get Employees Involved

Your customers want to know the people and their stories that make your brand stand-out from your competitors. Don’t be afraid to highlight employees or give them a chance to share their specific talents or interests in blog posts, podcasts, or videos.

Remember, your employees are going to be your biggest brand advocates. By getting them involved and allowing them to share their personal brands, they’ll be more likely to promote your organization’s content.

Don’t: Overestimate Their Skills or Knowledge

Don’t assume that your employees are content marketing whizzes. Provide them with the right training so that they can recognize content opportunities, how to become strong storytellers, which social channels they excel at, and how to utilize their strengths and weaknesses. One employee could be a natural in front of the camera, but struggles to write content. In that case, have a strong writer on your team write the scripts for the more charismatic person.

Do: Provide Factual Information

There’s all sorts of so-called “factual” information out there online. But, just because some blog throw out a stat doesn’t mean that it’s true. If you’re going to use data or statistics, make sure that it’s accurate, factual, and comes directly from a reputable source.

Don’t: Mimic Your Competitors

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be paying attention to your competitors and what’s working for them and not. You just can’t mimic their strategies and content. For example, it would be pretty obvious, and desperate, if Gillette launched a humorous and off-the-wall marketing campaign that mirrored what Dollar Shave Club is doing.

Do: Connect With Industry Leaders or Experts

These individuals can share advice and insights that verify and drive your content strategy. In fact, they’re probably more experienced and respected than you, no offense, so using them to backup your claims is a solid plan if you want to be taken seriously.

More importantly, if you play your cards right, these leaders or influencers may share your content if you share with them on social media or become a guest author on their websites.

Don’t: Rip Others Off

Common sense right here, plagiarism and copyright infringement is a very big deal. Not only does it harm your credibility, it also could have legal repercussions. In most cases, simply linking or referencing your source is enough to keep you out of trouble.

Do: Focus on Branding

Content marketing is all about spreading brand awareness and illustrating that you’re an authority figure in your industry. By creating unique and valuable content that is of high-quality your can distinguish yourself from other companies in your industry.

I already mentioned Dollar Shave Club. The company has set itself apart from other shaving companies by creating comical and witty content that appeals to its younger male demographic. At the same time, it’s constantly reminded customers that it’s a more affordable option for shaving.

Don’t: Make it All About You

While you definitely want to spread brand awareness, you don’t want to focus too much on yourself. Customers want content that is educational or entertaining. Not sales pitches. In fact, some mediums, such as Facebook, have penalized brands for that push overly promotional posts.

Do: Test, Test, and Test Again

The only way to know whether a content marketing campaign is working or not is to see what pieces of content generate the more traffic, views, clicks, likes, shares, and comments on both your website and social channels. You’ll also want to keep track of the times that are most active for engagement.

Conducting A/B tests and reviewing Google Analytics are both ways to test the effectiveness of a campaign or call-to-action or landing page.

Don’t: Forget to Perform a Content Audit

To get more more in-depth information, you should also conduct a content analysis. Lieb describes this as “the process of carefully evaluating all digital and offline content across a multi-point scorecard.” It can be tedious, but Lieb writes that it will uncover “uncover needs, gaps, weaknesses and inconsistencies you’d otherwise never find.” Lieb suggests that this be done twice a year.

Do: Measure More Than Just Sales

Why just look at at your sales for measurement? “Yet sales are the only thing the majority of content marketers measure,” writes Lieb. “That, or volume metrics such as likes and shares, which are interesting (and ego boosting) but don’t impart much business value.”

Make it a point to measure items like “content metrics with dollars-and-cents, ROI measurements you can take straight to the bank (or to the CFO).”

Don’t: Forget to Measure and Track All Goals

Prior to launching a content marketing campaign, make sure that you have a system in place to measure and track the goals that you’ve established. If you don’t your campaign will be ineffective.

Kelsey Meyer suggests in the Content Marketing Institute that the “trick is uncovering your team’s key performance indicators and matching those goals with specific, measurable metrics to ensure that the content you’re creating and distributing is effective.”

In our next installment of Content Marketing 101 we’ll discuss developing a succesful content marketing here on evolvor.com and our YouTube channel.