Content marketing is accelerating at a blistering pace.

By the year 2020, roughly 1.7 MB of new content will be created every second… for every living person on earth.

Whoa.

It’s easy to hear statistics like that and feel a sense of overwhelm – to feel like there’s no way to make your brand stand out from the crowd.

Let me share a little secret: you can stand out, if you take the right steps.

What steps?

Let me explain…

On the surface, establishing a content marketing strategy seems simple enough. After all, doesn’t it just mean writing a few relevant blog posts and articles and sharing them on social media?

If that pretty much sums up your content marketing campaign, let me predict how you’re faring: poorly.

Here’s why: a lot more is involved in establishing a successful content marketing campaign. Each content marketing strategy is unique, but the most effective campaigns all employ the same basic principles.

I’ve broken things down to the seven most important principles of any successful content marketing campaign. Incorporate them into yours, and watch your ROI explode.

Here are seven basic principles of the most effective content marketing campaigns.

1. A clearly defined audience

I’m consistently amazed by how many businesses skip right past this step. Without knowing who you are marketing to, how are you supposed to create content that prompts them to convert?

Business owners often feel that they simply “know” their audience. However, experienced marketers know otherwise.

To lay an effective foundation for your content marketing campaign, you must conduct careful market research and define your market. What are its basic demographics?

Don’t stop there.

Establish specific personas for the different types of people who are likely to want what you have to offer. Define each persona’s geographic location, occupation, income and other characteristics to “get inside their heads.”

When your content is informed by this information, it’s much likelier to produce results.

2. A clearly defined strategy

For your campaign to work, you must put pen to paper and actually define and document every aspect of your content marketing strategy.

Further, it should be tailored to suit your specific sales process, and it should dovetail nicely with your overarching marketing strategy.

A properly defined and documented campaign will include in-depth market research and content analysis.

These efforts allow you to determine which types of content work and which information sources and channels to use.

3. High-quality content that’s published continually

Your content marketing campaign should consistently produce and publish high-quality content.

This doesn’t just mean that it is well-written. It should also be engaging, informative, thought-provoking, timely and useful.

Online users are savvier than ever. They won’t settle for fluffy, uninspired content, so don’t waste your time producing it.

If need be, hire an experienced writer to put together sizzling content for your business. The investment is well worth it.

4. Multiple content types and channels

The most successful content marketing campaigns are incredibly diverse.

They typically include multiple types of content, such as blog posts, white papers, e-books and listicles, for example.

In fact, you can and should take a single topic and apply it to several different formats.

Content should be published across several channels too, but don’t do so indiscriminately. Consider the style of a given channel before publishing content to it.

Certain types of content work better on certain social media platforms, so keep that in mind to ensure optimal results.

5. Easy-to-share content

One sign that your content marketing campaign is getting somewhere is when people share your content.

Even if your pieces are truly first-rate, however, they’re unlikely to be shared unless you make it as easy to do as possible. You simply can’t expect Internet users to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to share your stuff.

Include those social media share buttons on everything that you publish. Ideally, a person should have to click a single button to share it with their friends.

Make sure to encourage readers to share your pieces as well. Get the ball rolling by posing thought-provoking questions at the end of your posts.

Also consider investing in tools that help you automate the sharing and distribution of your content.

6. Rigorous Analysis and Reporting

You can’t know whether or not your content marketing campaign is successful without objectively analyzing it on an ongoing basis.

This is the step that many businesses fail to complete because they assume that given enough time, their strategy will net some results.

Don’t fall into that trap.

Instead, use Google Analytics and other reporting tools to the track key performance indicators of your content.

KPIs like traffic sources (e.g., mobile vs desktop), goal completions, number of new and repeat visitors, bounce rate, devices used and yes, even backlinks generated.

7. Continual Optimization and Improvement

Finally, take what you learn from point six and use it to continually optimize and improve your campaign.

This may mean occasionally shifting the types of content that you publish. For example, you may learn that your audience devours in-depth white papers or appealing infographics but is left cold by brief, informative listicles.

Analytics may also reveal that you’re gearing your content to the wrong audience or publishing it on the wrong channels. Improving your results may even mean something as simple as adjusting the tone of the pieces that you create.

Whatever you do, don’t scrap your entire strategy midstream.

Instead, tweak and adjust various elements of it until it’s truly working for you. Remember too that there is no finish line.

Eventually, all campaigns must be adjusted to accommodate changing times.

Conclusion

As you’ve probably noticed, the above points all come together to produce a methodical, effective approach to content marketing.

If you tend to fly by the seat of your pants when engaging in content marketing, it’s time to shift the way that you think.

At first, including these principles may seem overwhelming. Before too long, though, they will become like second nature.

You will become all the more motivated when you realize excellent returns on your investments of time, effort and money.

If you have a defined content marketing strategy, does it include all of the above principles?

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