With Engage Web turning 10 years old this month, we’ve produced a vast amount of content for our clients during the last decade. In fact, if you total up all of the blogs, features, press releases, web copy and other pages of content we’ve produced in the last 10 years, it’s almost 170,000 pieces.
That’s an awful lot of blogging!
Naturally, when you produce this much content over a sustained period for a number of clients, you learn a thing or two about what content works, what doesn’t, and how to make your content more engaging. This is, after all, why we’re called Engage Web. So, here are a few tips on how to improve your content marketing and make it more effective for your business:
1. Know why you’re producing the content
To some people, this will seem ridiculously obvious, but to others it’s something you will have never considered. Producing content, such as blogs, for your website shouldn’t just be for the purpose of adding blogs. It is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end. What is your end?
Why are you adding the content? Is it to increase engagement? Is it to increase sales or enquiries? Is it to attain links from high-value websites and increase your search rankings? Is it to increase your brand awareness? Is it to educate your website’s visitors about your business? Is it a combination of all of these things?
Without knowing your goals before you set out on your content journey, you can’t hope to measure your success. Without having some form of measurement in place, you’ll never know if your content has been successful.
2. Know who you’re writing for
Before you set off writing content, you should know your audience. Who are you writing your content for? Is it for people just like you, with the same level of knowledge and technical expertise? This is unlikely, but is often where people begin their content marketing. They write for themselves, and not for the people who will be reading it.
If your business is very technical (such as ours at Engage Web), you don’t want to fill your content with the sort of jargonistic phrases that only someone like yourself will understand. You need to tailor your content to your audience, not to yourself.
It’s a good idea to formulate personas for your audience, and ensure your blog writers are aware of these personas when they’re writing your content. Two or three personas is ideal, and make them as fleshed out as you can.
For example, one of your personas may be a business owner named James. He’s 46-years-old, married with three children. He enjoys holidays in Spain with his family, and plays golf at the weekend.
This may sound strange when you first do it, but it will help you to target your content better towards your prospective audience. This, in turn, will make your content more successful.
3. Devise a content calendar
In much the same way as you might have a calendar of events for your business, you should also have a calendar for your content. Certain topics of conversation will arise at different points throughout the year, and provide you with a better opportunity to make your content more successful at different times.
For some businesses, this can be obvious, such as an accountant producing content about self-assessments towards October and January, and talking about end-of-year planning towards March and April. However this sort of thing can be relevant to any business, at many different points of the year.
At Engage Web we have a monthly content meeting where we look at the events that are happening over the next calendar month, and how they can relate to our clients. These could be sporting contests, political events, celebrity birthdays or even social media days that come with their own hashtags. Planning your content in advance in this way allows you to reach a wider audience, and take advantage of current events.
4. Use social media as a tool of dispersing your content
Trending topics and events obvious leads us on to social media, and this is something that shouldn’t be ignored. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are obvious choices for dispersing your content to a larger audience, and for driving people back to your website (and ultimately achieving the goals you set out in our first point).
Even if you’re not a big Facebook user, or if you just don’t have time for Twitter, it doesn’t mean your target customers don’t. There are many tools that allow you simplify the process of broadcasting your content out to social media, and these can be set up with a minimum of fuss. However, it should be noted there is no substitute for actual engagement, so someone spending time on these social networks on behalf of your business is a good idea. It doesn’t have to be you!
5. Review your most successful content
As with all aspects of business, your content should be in a constant state of review so you can perfect it. Use tools such as Google Analytics to see which pieces of content were more successful than others, and where people came from to find your content. If you find a particular piece of content has been really successful, and is generating a large number of views each day, you know there is a demand for that particular type of information. This allows you to expand on that content with further pieces, and then cross-link those pages to help them to be better found.
Equally, you may find that certain pieces of content, and certain topics, were not as popular as you had hoped. This means you can cut your losses and not cover those particular topics again.
We see this a lot with content. You can research a particular topic, devise a brief (or series of briefs) and produce what you believe is some great content only to find it doesn’t reach many people and doesn’t get the engagement you want. Equally, content you didn’t expect to do as well somehow outperforms your favourite pieces by a huge margin.
It’s all about trying, testing and measuring your content.
These are five basic tips to increasing the success of your content. There are a lot more we use at Engage Web, and we’ll go through some more of those another time.
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