You know why great content is essential to your marketing strategy. But just how do you go about creating it? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll show you exactly what goes into producing unique, relevant, and shareable content that will delight your audience.
First things first…
Know your audience
The fundamental rule of creating great copy is to know your audience. As a smart marketer, you already know your ideal buyer inside out. You know the questions they’re asking, the problems they’re trying to solve, and the desires they’re trying to indulge. Your content should reflect this.
Are your customers on a budget? Create content that shows them how to find bargains and make their money go further. Are they trying to get their heads around a complex subject? Use your content to break it down for them. Do they prefer video to text? Then focus on high-quality video and keep the articles to a minimum.
Create regular, original content
When you publish regular, original content, search engines reward you by increasing your website’s visibility in search results. However, this takes time and money, and a lot of businesses aren’t willing to make the investment.
Some will re-publish other people’s content, while others will outright plagiarize it. In fact, there are entire businesses dedicated to scraping together high volumes of articles, rephrasing them ever so slightly, and selling them in bulk for a few dollars a pop.
In addition to the moral implications, this is really poor marketing practice. People are excited by new, original ideas. They don’t want to read ten slightly different perspectives on the same topic. They don’t want to watch ten variations of the same video. If you don’t keep your content fresh, your audience will quickly get bored.
This is a disaster from an SEO standpoint, too . Search engines like Google are smart enough to know when you’re stuffing your site with low-quality content for the sake of it. One clue is that bored people spend very little time on your site, which Google penalizes with a drop in search rankings. To avoid this, go for quality over quantity every time.
Remember, content is all about offering value to the audience. When you’re putting together your content, consider what the audience will take away with them. Will they have actionable advice or strategies to help them achieve a goal? Will they have learned a new skill or some interesting facts? Will they be equipped with the information they need to make a decision? Whatever they take away, they should be better off for having given you their time.
Create strong headlines
Your headline is your first — and often your only — chance to capture your audience’s attention. That goes for video titles, email subject lines, and e-book titles, too. It’s usually the deciding factor in whether or not they click on your content, so it’s important to make it count!
Your headline should not only sum up what’s inside, but it should also convey the value of the content to the reader. The best headlines also appeal to our base instincts, like the need to belong or the need for approval. They might even stir up an emotional response, like intrigue, excitement, empowerment, or anger.
The right headline for you will depend on your audience. It’s quite an art form, but if you need a hand, try this free headline analyzer tool from CoSchedule. It rates your headline on a number of factors, gives you an overall score, and offers you pointers for improvement.
Get to the point
How long should your content be? As long as it takes to make the point!
It’s true that longer content conveys more value. And if it’s engaging enough, people will spend however long it takes to finish your article, watch your video, or read your e-book. That said, don’t just waffle on for the sake of hitting a word count! If you can say it in a minute, then why take two?
Your audience can spot filler a mile away and they won’t appreciate it. Edit ruthlessly and don’t be afraid to cut out anything that doesn’t bring value.
Optimize your content
Search engines are one of several ways people will land on your content. They’re Googling the best running shoes for under $150, or how to get stains out of a white carpet, or cheap alternatives to the iPhone. Knowing your audience, you’ve written content that answers these questions:
- 5 stylish running shoes that won’t break the bank
- How to get any kind of stain out of a white carpet
- The best 5 smartphones that aren’t the iPhone X
These articles are the answer to your customer’s problems, and a great way for you to build awareness of your own business. But how do you make sure they’re the first thing your potential customer sees when she hits ‘search’?
You optimize your content! This a complicated topic that we’ve touched on in more detail in How to Optimize Your Content For Search Engines. But the gist of optimization is that you research the words and phrases your customers search for, and you weave them strategically throughout your content. Do it right, and your content will be among the first the customer sees when they search for those keywords.
Protect your credibility
Trust takes a long time to build and a second to break. Take care to fact-check your content, as if you’re found to be sharing incorrect or false information, your brand’s credibility can suffer a huge dent.
You should also consider external sources that your content might quote or link to. Not only should you verify the accuracy of the information, but you should also make sure the source itself aligns with your brand values.
Social media posts with visual content consistently outperform those without. That’s because we’re visual creatures, hardwired to prefer easy-to-process images over text. You can leverage this by weaving eye-catching visuals throughout your content.
Want to boost your social shares? Add a relevant photo to your post. Got a long blog post? Break up the text with photos, illustrations, or graphic elements like boxes and tables. Want to share some vital statistics about your industry? Turn them into an infographic.
Make it shareable
The beauty of great content is that it’s highly shareable. Do it right, and you not only reach your own network, but you reach their friends, their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends! As a bonus, you also get a healthy boost in search engine visibility.
So what makes content shareable? Well, viral content is almost always emotional in nature. That’s because we respond viscerally to anything that triggers an emotion, be it positive or negative, and we’re compelled to share that emotion with others. It’s worth noting, though, that we won’t share poor-quality content. Not only do we not see the value, but we don’t want to make ourselves look bad by association.
You can also increase the chances of your content being shared by making it as easy as possible. Including highly visible social share buttons or links in a number of locations throughout the content. And actually tell them to share, too. You’d be amazed how many people share something just because you ask them to!
For more on content promotion, download the free e-book 15 Foolproof Strategies for Promoting Your Content.
Crowd-source your content
When Tourism Australia set up their Instagram account, they had a great idea for sourcing content — get their followers to do it for them!
The organization’s account is populated entirely by crowd-sourced content. They ask their followers to hashtag their own photos, which TA then reposts. The result is a feed packed with incredible photos showcasing the best of their country, with barely any effort on their part. Genius!
How else can you leverage the power of crowd-sourcing? You can run competitions encouraging followers to submit photos, videos, songs, or any number of other content types. You can create weekly features where a roundup of user content is showcased on one of your platforms. You can even use a large following to offer exposure in return for free content like articles.
Take inspiration from your audience
Stuck for content ideas? Ask your audience!
Encourage your customers to submit ideas, or ask them to vote on content or topics they’d like to see. Pay attention to the conversations they’re having on social media and see if there are any recurring themes you can talk about. You can even speak to your sales or customer services teams and find out if there are any common topics, queries, or problems you could address with your content.
Look at what works
Creativity is great, but not every piece of content has to be a masterpiece in innovation! Look at your analytics and your engagement (e.g. comments and shares) to see which types of content are popular. If your audience responds well to video, then put out more videos. If your article on productivity got rave reviews and record shares, then consider creating more content around that topic.
Re-purpose your content
Re-purposing is a great way to make your content go further. Let’s say you delivered an awesome webinar and you recorded it. You can post the recording on your Youtube channel, and you can rip the audio and turn it into a podcast. You can also transcribe it and turn it into a PDF download.
Did you share some helpful strategies with your audience? Put them in an e-book. From that e-book, you can pull out the most valuable pieces of advice and turn them into a cheat sheet. Did you host a Q&A at the end? Now you have an FAQ document. Did you have a lively debate about a particular topic? Turn it into a blog post!
Hire a professional
It’s tempting to save money by creating your content in-house, but sometimes it pays to hire a professional. An experienced designer, producer, or writer can take your content to the next level and significantly increase your return on investment. So if you’re not sure you’ve got the skills to do your content justice, consider bringing in some outside help.
You’ve got great content — now let’s get it noticed!
If you create great content and nobody sees it, is it really that great? Not for your business! Download 15 Foolproof Strategies for Promoting Your Content now and find out exactly how to get your content in front of your audience. It’s free and it’s all yours.
For more resources on creating quality content, visit the following pages: