Content marketing for bloggers and businesses seems to be more than just a buzz word with just about everyone jumping on the band wagon and producing content. In fact the volume of content is enormous.
It is becoming a very crowded market place and to have your voice heard is becoming increasingly difficult. So just how does one engage in content marketing effectively in 2014 and is it just a passing fad or something that will stand the test of time?
Here are a compilation of perspectives and actionable resources for this year from authorities in the industry with a wealth of experience behind them. They cover challenges for content marketing for bloggers and what it takes to successfully engage and build an audience.
Are You Missing the Content Marketing Goal?
Lee Oden from TopRank highlights two common points of view in the industry in this post. Content is being produced for the sake of more content which receives increased search visibility and as a result more traffic and in turn more leads and or sales. The other perspective on producing content is producing content based on an understanding of customer’s needs, interests, goals and information expectations along with a thorough understanding of the customer’s journey through the sales cycle. Investing in quantity of content as opposed to customer focused experience will not necessarily provide for a high performing inbound customer acquisition channel. Sure content may rank well but will it stand algorithm changes and does it really do anything to further the buyer experience or the brand?
Jay Baer from Convince and Convert and Sonia Simone from Copyblogger shares a similar point of view in that the term content marketing is too broad to be meaningful to anyone. Jay predicts that “Eventually, the content boom will weed out the weak and the lazy and the misguided.”
Sonia Simone expressing concern for the large volumes of content being produced says that Rainmaker Content can make a difference in building a profitable audience for businesses by solving real audience problems, making for an interesting, easy read, providing a fresh perspective and reflects the character, passion and knowledge of an authoritative person.
Google still is the dominant go to search engine for queries in most parts of the world, so staying in touch with their updates and changes makes sense. Jay Baer and Kyle Lacy of Exact Target share the impact of Google changes on content strategy and the manner in which content marketing needs to be undertaken as a result. They also cover Google’s Knowledge Graph and its implications for content marketing as well the implications of Google making all searches anonymous.
With all that’s being said about content marketing it sometimes seems to be to be made rather more complex than it should be. Tommy Walker in this post on Unbounce, reminds us that yes, while people do business with those they like, know and trust, it is not a measurable outcome and therefore cannot be a marketing core focus.
In its simplest form marketing, even content marketing is about engaging a potential audience and compelling them to take action. He also provides goals or outcomes to look for with content marketing that are measurable and can help keep marketers in touch with how content being produced is faring.
With all the information that we are surrounded by it is easy to be overwhelmed. As a result customers or potential customers have to make decisions on what to read that maximizes the use of their time and adds value to them or their lives. Henneke Duistermaat in this post provides a list of common mistakes that bloggers make that don’t help in earning the trust of their intended audience.
How to Gain an Audience with Content Marketing for Bloggers
Content marketing is often made out to be harder than it should be and needs to be. This post provides tips that can make a difference to any content marketing efforts. Providing tips backed by research and psychology any content marketer or blogger would come away wiser and better for having read through the post.
For a comprehensive guide to building a blog audience it would be hard to beat this guide by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius. This is a must read for any blogger given it is full of actionable steps. Writing and publishing blog posts alone won’t get you much traction in building an audience. You need to market your blog posts as well.
How to Develop Content that Converts
Why does writing matter when engaging content can often be short, concise and non-text like a video?
Ann Handley reminds us that written content is often the origin of any content you watch or listen to for example the Skype Born Friends video started with a storyline and script. Yet this basic need is often overlooked and undervalued. She outlines 9 qualities that work towards helping create good content that your audience recognizes as being of value and distinctly yours with your unique voice and style.
For bloggers irrespective of the industry or niche that your blog may be on, it is almost certain that you face competition. To stand out you need to grab the reader’s attention and then engage them. Joshua Hardwick along with an infographic from WhoIsHostingThis provide insights into what makes for a killer blog post based on tips from successful bloggers. The process starts with crafting the perfect title. After all if the title doesn’t draw your audience in to click and read more the blog post will not achieve its purpose.
How did Chris Haddad a master copywriter and founder of Moneyfingers Inc go from zero to seven figures?
Simply with the magic of emotional words and storytelling. There is a lot being said about story telling of late and Chris in this video on the Mindvalley Insights blog explains why being able to harness emotional engagement of your readers makes for a profitable yet thriving audience.
While we can learn a lot from successful bloggers, the field of psychology and neuroscience has a lot to offer as well for both aspiring and veteran bloggers. This is true especially in the area of persuasive writing. Gregory Ciotti has pulled together research from various studies to provide a comprehensive list of tips that can only serve to complement the other posts you have read above and to help develop your writing style.
Creating Conversations with Content Marketing
Coca Cola has for a very long time conducted its marketing in a way that connects with its audience in order to stand out from its competitors. While known for its creative excellence for a long time the company has come to the realization that content excellence needs to be the focus of marketing from here on out and is becoming quite adept at creating conversations with their audience. Jeff Bullas on his blog provides some takeaways that bloggers can learn from Coca Cola and implement to make their own content more liquid, linked, dynamic and multi-faceted.
Big established companies are not the only ones bloggers can learn from. There are examples of ecommerce companies that are creating free yet valuable online content that breeds a fan base and followers. Companies like Luxy Hair and VivaLaJewels are a couple of the companies that a post by Mark Macdonald (5 Ways Ecommerce Sites Are Killing It With Content Marketing) looks at in their use of content marketing. The post shows that just about any blogger or business can inspire to and build an audience that will become loyal customers.
Brian Zeng (Lessons From Big Brands: How 7 Brands Benefit From Content Marketing) provides insights into how big brands are utilising content marketing to engage their audiences and drive sales. What can you take from these examples in your content marketing approach?
In the past year there were a few posts on creating content in so called “boring” industries. By these I am referring to industries like insurance, finance, engineering, dental etc. There isn’t a lot of competition in these industries as yet with regards to content marketing.
How to Leverage Visual Media in Content Marketing
When looking at why visual media has become such a popular content form, I think Martin Wattenberg said it best. “Every field has some central tension it is trying to resolve. Visualization deals with the inhuman scale of the information and the need to present it at the very human scale of what the eye can see.” Via the Economist, 2010.
Maria Popova in her post provides insights into why visual media and storytelling has gained such popularity along with some great examples.
Amanda Sibley provides research and statistical reasons as to why you should include visual content in your marketing in a post on Hubspot.
For those who prefer a visual form of information, the infographic included by Jennifer Beese in her post is for you.
Pamela Vaughan helps provide ways in which to leverage the fact that people are naturally attracted to images more than text in her post .
Donna Moritz has a great post on ways in which to include bite sized visual content in blogs. While Donna Moritz’s article is a great read, Jason Cormier in a post (Visual Storytelling: The Key Weapon to Content Marketing) on the Search Engine Watch blog provides some insights into using video as a content and storytelling medium.
Actionable Resources for Bloggers
Content marketing decisions like any other form of marketing needs to be backed by data driven research. The following are a compilation of posts that provide insights or the know-how of how to do just that.
The folks at Buffer experiment quite a bit with different content marketing methods and provide excellent posts on their findings. Leo Widrich’s guest post and Belle Beth Cooper with a post on the Buffer blog titled “A Scientific Guide To Posting Tweets, Facebook posts, Emails and Blog Posts at the Best Time” provide some great data backed insights into how to best leverage content marketing and engage with your audience.
This is a must read for any content marketer or blogger. It is a very comprehensive guide by Neil Patel and Kathryn Aragon, and I would be surprised if any one did not come away richer from actually implementing the actionable ideas available in the guide.
The Quicksprout post is especially good reading for anyone who comes from an SEO background or perspective. The 7 tactics are great ways to increase visibility whilst also producing content that your audience is looking for.
Story telling is very much a hot topic given the rise of content marketing. However being able to make story telling an accountable form of marketing is an issue for most people. Ensuring a return on investment from storytelling is still a challenge for many bloggers and content marketers. Scott Donaton’s post on Fast Company encourages us to not invest in content purely because it is opportunistic or the current trend but rather because it an effective part of the marketing mix that can help achieve business goals.
I think it would be a mistake to not to round up with this post by Mauro D’ Andrea found on the Kissmetrics blog. The fact is that content produced for content marketing that successfully resonates with an audience is becoming quite in-depth and of a higher quality than before. Add to that the rise of visual content and non-text content like podcasts and videos to name a few. Anticipating the trends before it becomes a standard will help you as a blogger stand out from the crowd.
So there is my round up of the best of content marketing for bloggers for the year 2014. I am sure you would have read more too – so what were your favorites? Did I miss anything? Are any of the above duds? Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on twitter with your suggestions.
If you liked these and would like more insights and science backed persuasion tactics be sure to sign up for the newsletter. It’s free.
photo credit: opensourceway