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Six Quick Steps to Effective, Efficient Content Marketing

Anthony Hiss – Project Manager

As marketers, we always talk about the importance of content, and you probably see the words “content marketing” everywhere you look. A recent study from MarketingProfs shows that 86% of marketers use content marketing in their organization, and it’s no surprise that social media is the leading channel. The study shows that 96% of marketers use social media posts for their content marketing, with the most successful marketers noting Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as the top three platforms.

Content Creation & Distribution Chart

Plus, content marketing has become an integral part of increasing conversion rates, ranking six times higher than other methods. In fact, 61% of online consumers having made a purchase based on a recommendation from a blog.

But while content marketing’s use is clearly becoming imperative, only 38% of marketers have a documented strategy. To make your content marketing successful, you need to present it correctly – and have a plan to efficiently execute on the back end. Content marketing done incorrectly could actually have a negative impact on your brand’s ability to reach, influence and build relationships with your target audience.

So, how do you correctly present content so it effectively engages current and potential consumers?

Let’s take a look at a few best practices for greater content marketing efficiency and effectiveness.

  1. Create an editorial calendar.

    This is an essential planning document that will help you and your team maintain consistency. Although the editorial calendar is an execution plan that gives you a bird’s-eye view of what’s going on, it can also provide a place to generate ideas and topics, assign tasks to your team, create a schedule, make adjustments and visualize your content strategy. Consider this a strategic marketing tool and a way to keep your team organized.

  2. Give your audience exclusive information.

    Ask yourself what your audience will find interesting and cater to that. Provide a backstage show-and-tell for your audience or offer promotions for free items that only exist on your social platforms. Use content as a way to make your product come to life. Etsy creates a visually engaging experience on Instagram where it provides insights into top retailers and opportunities to win free items that are solely available on the Etsy Instagram page.

    Etsy on Instagram Screen Shot

  3. Create unique web-only content.

    Take interviews, for example. While many companies use interviews as the core of their content offerings, Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah specifically extends his on-air interviews for use as web-only content. If you’re following this lead, consider talking to key people related to the topic. For many businesses, this means your employees as well as outside experts.

  4. Use different content formats.

    Don’t limit yourself to text. Understand that people take in information differently. Consider photographs, blogs, podcasts, presentations – and use all of your social channels to disseminate this content. Whole Foods is a great example of a brand communicating its message in a variety of ways. On Instagram, the emphasis is solely on vivid photography of food, while its blog focuses on articles about new products and recipes, pulling in imagery as applicable. No matter what social channel you’re on, though, it’s easy to know you’re viewing Whole Foods content.

    Whole Foods on Instagram

  5. Be visual.

    It’s important to always try to incorporate a visual in your content, whether it’s an image, infographic or video. A recent study by Brainrules.net noted that a person who hears a piece of information will remember just 10% three days later, but someone who sees the same information visually will recall 65% of it. The visual will help engage your audience better than plain text, but be sure that any visuals align with your brand and content marketing goals.

  6. Engage with your consumers.

    Extend the value of your content by answering questions posed by your audience or your industry colleagues and peers. If you’ve just done a presentation or a webinar, use your audience’s questions. Alternately, use your communication channels to pose your own questions, respond and chat with your consumers, or even share content with the goal of simply or casually engaging with your audience and having a little fun. Take the Discovery Channel, for example. It promotes the channel’s shows and encourages viewership, but also has a “Photo of the Day” to share educational, fun tidbits about different animals.

    Discovery Channel Screen Shot

Remember: It’s okay to loosen up a bit and talk to your customers like you would your friends. Audiences respond well to brands that have some fun with their social media accounts (hence, Taco Bell’s continued success).

Have you used any of these best practices to extend your content marketing? Are there other best practices you’d recommend? What has your experience been?

This article was originally published on April 24, 2015, and has since been updated.