This guide to content marketing fundamentals is designed to help you understand the most important building blocks of any great content marketing strategy. View all chapters in this guide.
Building a content marketing strategy is like a very difficult, but simultaneously rewarding, video game with multiple ways to complete it. It may take a longer or shorter time to finish depending on the moves you make and how much effort you’re willing to put in.
Content marketing tactics are like cheat codes for that very difficult game. Sure, you can get by without them and still complete the game, but why make things that much harder on yourself when you don’t have to?
To help you save time and get you the best content marketing tactics possible, we decided to go straight to the source for this chapter and ask six experts about their favorite content marketing tactics.
Implement 10x Content
The basic principle that dictates 10x content is pretty straightforward. You’re essentially trying to create content that is 10 times better than the current top-ranking Google search engine result for a specified keyword.
Moz Co-Founder Rand Fishkin coined the 10x content term in 2016, and it has since become a popular tactic utilized by many content marketers. Geoffrey Keating, managing editor, content marketing at Segment, says 10x content is “an old tactic, but one that’s stood the test of time.”
How to Do It: Keating suggests that the secret to great 10x content is “adding proprietary data or research you can’t find elsewhere.” In other words, you’re going to have to do some digging. The more unique data and/or research you can incorporate into your piece of content, the more value it will have with your target audience.
Whatever type of content you plan on creating (blog content, case studies, infographics, whitepapers, etc.), make sure it includes exclusive data or research that you won’t find in other pieces of content for that keyword. That extra effort can go a long way in securing future backlinks or even getting mentioned on social media, which can raise your overall brand awareness.
Always Return to Brand Values
Brand values essentially refer to the collective beliefs you have as a company. In a content creation context, they can help you create the right content for the right people who share and respect those brand values.
Oskar Duberg, content director at Frontify, says, “By always returning to our brand values before deciding on content approaches (what we say, to whom, when, and where), everything created — in every shape and form — resonates with our audience because those values have been silently agreed upon from the get-go.”
How to Do It: In order to have a strong understanding of your brand values, you need to ensure that you already have an established brand identity. What are the most important things to your brand? What kind of responsibilities do you have as a brand? These are the types of questions that can help you determine your brand identity and, as a result, the brand values you can always return to and apply to your content strategy.
If your brand values change over your company’s life cycle, it’s not the end of the world either. That said, make sure your customers and potential customers are made aware of those changes. Be transparent with them. Tell them these are the reasons you made changes to your brand values, and this is the new direction the company is headed, complete with new content pieces that will reflect the direction.
Find “Gaps” in Crowded Search Results
Google is filled with keyword search results that all seem to look alike. Instead of harnessing original perspectives through their content marketing strategies, many companies simply take what’s already been working on the first page of Google and mimic it.
Ryan Law, director of marketing at Animalz, proposes that “in the midst of so much competition, great content finds a way to stand out. It asks: what is missing from these search results? What can we add to the conversation that nobody else has said?”
How to Do It: Law explains there are many ways to fill these gaps with content that isn’t simply “copycat content” — ‘ultimate guides’ and listicles that try to outcompete each other in an arms race of length.” Some solutions Law highlights include using original data, sharing a strong opinion on your chosen topic, bringing in personal experiences, or anchoring your piece of content on the authority of a well-known brand or public figure.
Essentially, finding these gaps is really predicated on establishing a unique value proposition for your content. What is going to make someone want to click on your piece of content on a search engine results page (SERP)? Whether you’re offering a fresh blogging perspective through personalization or curation or using a thought leader or influencers — you need to find the types of content marketing gaps that haven’t been filled yet.
Find the Most Valuable Content Topics
It’s not good enough just to have well-written posts; the topics need to matter to your industry. All the money you spend won’t result in increased conversion rates or lead generation if the topic is irrelevant and, ultimately, unimportant to the audience.
Morena Simatic, VP of marketing & growth at OptimoRoute, says finding the most valuable content topics at her company was “a great foundation to build because once we built the engine around those, everything else came easy. From a results perspective, we’ve already gotten some short-term SEO ROI — which makes sense because subjects tied to our topical authority are easier to rank for.”
How to Do It: Alexa’s Site Overview tool is a great way to get a high-level look at valuable topics in your industry. You can find what pieces of content already have high engagement among your competitors and create your own content based on those topics. The example below, from Realtor.com, shows the company’s top industry topics:
Deciding what topic to center a piece of content around can be almost as difficult as actually creating it. Finding the best topics can also help you decide on the most appropriate content format for that particular topic. For example, maybe an expert opinion on a topic would benefit more from creating a podcast episode or a webinar versus a traditional article.
Create on Purpose
Choosing the right content marketing channels needs to be at the forefront of every great content marketing plan. A tweet won’t play well on LinkedIn, for example. You need to fill your content calendar with content that is specifically tailored to the content marketing channels you want to post on, so it’s done deliberately with that particular channel in mind.
Pro tip: You need to fill your content calendar with content that is specifically tailored to the content marketing channels you want to post on, so it’s done deliberately with that particular channel in mind.
William Harris, marketing manager at Sellbrite, says, “It might sound silly to list as a ‘tactic,’ but I’ve found that you can be more successful with content marketing across every channel if you create the content on purpose. By that, I mean you should think about who the audience is, what your goal is, what channel this is for, and the type of reaction you anticipate.”
How to Do It: Harris further explains how to create on purpose and says, “If your goal is for something that gets a ton of engagement on Facebook, it doesn’t need to be on your blog; you can create that just for Facebook. You’ll probably get more engagement, comments, shares, etc., without diluting the quality of your blog and likely for less time and cost than if you tried to turn a social objective into a quasi-blog post.”
Write for the Human in Us
At the end of the day, content is meant to be consumed by people. Things like link building and optimizing web pages are very important to the technical success of your content, but don’t forget to tell a story with it.
Shannon Healey, communications lead at Frontify, says to consider the creatively human component of content marketing: “all good stories have a hook, balance value with delight, and continue with a pull — keeping our audience on the line and wanting more. Spinning a good yarn goes beyond engagement; it’s about retention — the customer loyalty we’re all after in the end.”
How to Do It: This is where you need to get your creative juices flowing. Find an interesting angle, pull your audience into the story, and guide them through it. Even content created for highly technical industries can have a story; it just needs to be presented the right way. Stories don’t have to be fantastical or fictional, but they do need to hold a person’s interest throughout — that is the main goal of any great story and, by extension, any great piece of content.