A company’s content marketing strategy is the process of planning, creating, distributing, and analyzing content.
While your brand is likely producing content, the value it brings to your company might not be reaching its full potential.
Just like with most aspects of digital marketing, there are best practices in content marketing that can help you grow your content and get your desired results, and practices that can hurt your content and, in turn, your business.
- But what are the best practices in content marketing that your brand should follow?
- And what practices should be avoided?
Let’s take a look at some of the worst and best practices and tactics so you can benchmark your brand’s content and find room for improvement across your channels.
Best Practice #1: Measure Your Results
Creating content takes time.
You need to develop a strategy, plan your keywords, target your audience, write the content, publish it, and promote it.
Unfortunately, too many companies stop after those steps and miss the last big piece — analyzing content.
Your content performance can drive your next steps.
If you understand where your content fell short, you can make adjustments and replace the parts of your strategy that aren’t working.
If you don’t address the results of your content, however, you’re not going to know how your content performs.
There are many tools available to help you read the results of your content, and investing in a reporting and analytics tool will give you the software needed to embrace your content results and use them to drive your strategy to the next level.
Worst Practice #1: Content with No Purpose or Substance
Search engines prefer content that hits certain word count lengths.
While there is debate over what number is the best one to aim for, it’s generally assumed that short content can be passed over during indexing in favor of longer, detailed pieces.
Some marketers take this to mean that their content needs to have length over substance when the opposite is true.
As search algorithms evolve, the quality of the content is taken into consideration along with the length of the piece.
A poorly written or “fluffy” content piece that lacks depth won’t rank high in search results, even if it has the right number of words.
Best Practice #2: Create Content for Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is an idealized, researched profile of your target audience.
While not an actual customer, your buyer persona will go into details about the demographics, interests, struggles, goals, and behaviors of your customer segments.
Each buyer persona your business creates has different content needs, and it’s a best practice in content marketing to create individualized content for the specific needs of your audience.
By creating content that answers the questions buyers have when they have them, you can guide them towards the path to purchase.
It follows then that your buyer personas need to be evaluated and updated periodically to match the ever-evolving nature of your audience.
If you understand the groups you want to sell to, you can create the right types of content to give them what they want.
Worst Practice #2: Selling & Self-Promoting
Content that is overly sales aggressive and self-promotional can come across as insincere or pushy, and will actually turn customers away instead of bringing them in.
Think of an example — if you clicked on an article to read about the best marketing software solutions, you would expect the company that wrote the article to mention their own product or have a CTA to learn more about their specific solution.
But if the entire article was all about the company’s different packages and product features, you would feel misled.
It’s important to mention your brand in the content you create when it makes sense, but take steps to ensure that your material isn’t just a sales sheet or egotistical brag.
When you provide genuine answers to queries your audience has, you can build your brand’s reputation, be a thought leader in the industry and forge connections with prospects.
Best Practice #3: Make Content Shareable
Great content deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
If you’re creating content like blog posts or articles, it’s helpful to make that content shareable.
That way, if a reader enjoys and agrees with what you’ve said, they can share it among their own networks.
You can make your entire posts shareable as links, or pull specific quotes or statistics from your posts that can be easily shared as Tweets or LinkedIn posts.
When your content is shareable, you’re taking the right steps to create a network around your content and putting your brand out there as an industry thought leader.
Worst Practice #3: Creating Content Sporadically
Let’s say you went to a football game and enjoyed the experience.
You liked your seats and the atmosphere around the game, and want to go to another one as soon as possible.
Now imagine that the next game was going to take place “at some point”. It would be frustrating!
Your content schedule can work the same way.
We all like knowing when to expect things, whether it’s the next big game, a television show episode, a concert date, or a content piece.
When you have a clear schedule for when content is released, your audience knows what to expect and can look forward to your new publishing.
Best Practice #4: Create Evergreen Content
The best content doesn’t come with a hard expiration date but rather can be used continuously and in many different formats.
Evergreen content is content that isn’t time-sensitive and has a value that will last into the future.
Not only does your evergreen content help you in SEO by having information that doesn’t need to be constantly updated, but it also gives you more opportunities to share good content in different formats.
You can do this by avoiding dates, addressing topics that are always of interest, and avoiding slang terms or references.
Worst Practice #4: Using Only One Type of Content
Many people think of digital content as a blog, and leave it at that.
If the only content your brand is producing is a blog, then you’re missing out on big opportunities to reach audiences in different ways.
Not every target is going to read a blog, but they might want to download an eBook or open an email.
Digital content is a diverse marketplace, and there are many formats to include in your content strategy, such as:
- White papers
- How-to guides
- Social media posts
- Blog articles
- Case studies
- Interactive content
Best Practice #5: Using Storytelling Elements
The content that gains the most views, shares, and conversions is content that readers can engage with and relate to.
While there are a few different methods for achieving these goals, one of the biggest is utilizing storytelling elements in your content.
Content is best digested by readers when there is a story element to it.
Now that doesn’t mean you need to write fairy tales instead of product information, but the same basic structure can help your content become more readable.
Try organizing your content structure to have a hero — usually the customer — facing a challenge and finding a solution.
By putting the customer in the place of the protagonist, you can draw them into your content and messaging emotionally, and they become invested in reaching the solution, usually a product or service offered by your company.
Worst Practice #5: Keyword Stuffing
Back when content marketing was just starting to have a major impact on digital marketing strategies, it was common practice to find a keyword you wanted to rank for and throw it into your content piece as many times as you could.
At the time, the search algorithms weren’t advanced enough to recognize this as a trick and rewarded content that has the keyword without further examination.
Nowadays, this practice isn’t just ineffective — it also has a negative impact on your SEO score.
If the algorithm thinks your content is trying to get by without providing depth or quality information, it won’t rank your content high and will instead lower your authority in the algorithm, making it even harder for your content to rank high on search results.
Wrap Up: Aiming for the Best in Content Marketing
Your content strategy is a key component of ensuring you avoid tactics that will damage your brand’s digital marketing program and follow the best practices in content marketing.
While creating your content strategy is an ever-evolving process, making sure you have the right benchmarks and know your goals will help you grow to the next level.
If you are a digital marketer who wants to expand your content marketing program and understand where your content falls on the maturity scale, check out our free Content Maturity Assessment and bring your organization to the next level.