This post by Sujan Patel was originally found at http://www.forbes.com/sites/sujanpatel/2015/02/18/9-actionable-content-marketing-tips-from-top-industry-experts/
If you want to grow your business in 2015, you have to invest in content marketing. You simply cannot afford to ignore it any longer. It’s one of the best and most effective ways to connect with prospects and differentiate from competition. The problem is, when it comes to developing and implementing content marketing strategies, it’s not always easy to know exactly where to start—especially if you haven’t invested much time or energy into content marketing before. If you want to invest in content marketing but you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about where to invest your time, money, and energy, one of the best things you can do before making any major decisions is spend time learning from people who know marketing best.
I recently talked with a handful of the brightest minds in marketing and asked them each to share one actionable content marketing tip that they have used recently to build brand awareness, boost traffic, connect with more leads, and grow their businesses.
Here are the nine exclusive and actionable content marketing tips they shared with me:
Tip #1. Be a better writer; tell better stories.
“Your words are your ambassadors — they tell your customers and prospects who you are. Many companies still don’t differentiate themselves enough through their writing voice.
Here’s an example of how a pet shelter told a better story with great results, just by thinking through how they told that story — their tone, voice and point of view.”
— Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs
Tip #2. Answer the questions your prospects and customers ask.
“Remember and apply the most important tenet of content marketing: answer the questions your prospects and customers ask. When buyers of any kind begin their journey, they fire-up Google, ask a question, and will find an answer. As a marketer, the question becomes: will it be your answer they discover?
This idea should drive the content on your blog. I can recount many examples of how my blog posts have been a response to questions prospective clients want answers to. One that immediately comes to mind is a post called “”SEO Simplified for Short Attention Spans.””
A client asked me to give her and her staff an SEO 101 in 15 minutes. I responded with a post that did exactly that and it caught fire and became one of the biggest drivers of traffic to my site ever.”
— Barry Feldman, Founder, Feldman Creative
Tip #3. Tell a consistent narrative campaign to keep your audience moving through the marketing funnel.
“Recently at Kapost we launched a multi-faceted campaign on “The History and Future of Marketing Technology.” Our audience starts with the past through the present-day, learning about the history of marketing technology on an interactive micro-site. To continue the narrative, they’re asked to download a whitepaper on the future of marketing technology. The fluid and familiar format–past, present, future–encourages our audience to take the next step, from visiting the website to downloading the whitepaper and in turn, moving through our marketing funnel.”
— Toby Murdock, CEO, Kapost
Tip #4. Make an appointment with your audience.
“Instead of inviting people to sign up for your “e-mail Newsletter,” or your “blog posts” invite them to sign up for a specific piece of content delivered at a specific time. Practice Appointment Consumption. For example, Trish Witkowski the Chief Folding Officer at Foldrite invites website visitors to sign up for her 60 Second Super Cool Fold of the Week every Thursday afternoon. She’s set an expectation for her audience and delivered on it every single week for years. And it works.”
— Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships
Tip #5. Think about content promotion first.
“Most people create content first, then think about content promotion as an afterthought. You’re much better off flipping this on it’s head – thinking of about who would help amplify your content and why. If you can’t answer this question first, don’t bother creating it.”
— Larry Kim, Founder of WordStream
Tip #6. Invest In Participation Marketing.
“Look beyond your own subject matter expertise to the wisdom of your community for content ideas, content co-creation and promotion. We call it “participation marketing”.
A great example of participation marketing is when my agency TopRank Marketing worked with Content Marketing Institute to co-create a series of 4 eBooks, infographics and interviews with industry influencers to promote the 2014 Content Marketing World conference. Curata was the underwriting sponsor of the project.
With very few marketing resources working on the project, over 40 major brands participated resulting in over 200,000 views, 4,000 PDF downloads and over 1,000 leads from the program.”
— Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing
Tip #7. Build out your content funnel with EGC – Employee Generated Content.
“Content is an ongoing activity, never a one-off campaign. Build out your content funnel with EGC – Employee Generated Content.
Two studies highlight that company advertising is trusted 47% of the time , while company experts are trusted at a much higher rate, 66% of the time.
Building a base of content by encouraging team members to become part of the process benefits your entire strategy in multiple ways. Obviously, you’re filling your editorial pipeline with authentic and trustworthy content. But beyond that, you’re also building stronger relationships within your team, creating points for conversation and buy-in that may have otherwise been missed. Ultimately, the creation of content utilizing internal voices will develop your brand in ways that tell a story, resonating much further with your potential clients than an ad campaign ever could.”
— Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert
Tip #8. Collect and create “content chunks.”
“We are becoming more systematic with the way we collect and create “content chunks.” Our goal is to have a more efficient process for reusing key content and a better way to repackage content that is more useful for our audience (this is the very beginning of our intelligent content strategy):
For instance, we love collecting content marketing examples, both from our own content (blog posts, podcast show notes, the #CMWorld Twitter chats, etc) and the community. Instead of having an ad hoc approach, we now collect the same information about every single example so we can then reuse them in other ways. Not only do we have examples at our fingertips for our Facebook content example of the week, but because of the way we are collecting the data, we can now look at examples by segment (e.g. by tactic type, industry, etc.). The information is all ready for any future formats or projects as well.”
— Michele Linn, Vice President, Content Marketing Institute
Tip #9. Learn the skill of writing headlines.
Headlines were the key tactic to make people buy newspapers, buy books and magazines. Now they make people click and share on the web and your mobile phone.
Bloggers, publishers and content marketers are always on the lookout for attracting attention to drive traffic, engage with their readers and customers and make money. No clicks and you have no traffic. It’s that simple. So where do you start?
Nothing has changed. The headline is still the step and tactic that attracts attention and drives action. The skill of writing headlines is taught in journalism school from day one.
But the art and science of headline writing is being challenged by innovators who have realised that a technology driven web dominated by social networks and smart phones is changing the game.
— Jeff Bullas, Founder and CEO at JeffBullas.com