The online world has reached a point where the battle for attention is fierce, and only the mightiest content can conquer the eyes of the ever-evolving internet user. Blogs and social media sites are changing the game’s rules faster than ever.
To run a successful blog today means to embody the role of a content marketing champion – the new maestro of the digital world. You must blend various ingredients to create a compelling narrative that captivates audiences, morphing a casual reader into a fan and, ultimately, a loyal customer. You must become the blogger’s version of David Bowie meets Mad Men – mixing creativity, charisma, innovation, technology, and strategy in a perfect symphony.
While this might seem like a Herculean task, you’re at the right place to start your journey toward becoming a content virtuoso. This article will delve into the eight principles of modern content marketing that should shape your blogging strategy. We’ll talk about understanding your audience, creating engaging narratives, harnessing the power of SEO, utilizing multimedia content, and staying on top of emerging trends.
This isn’t just a one-size-fits-all checklist. It’s a dynamic guide to the methods enabling you to outshine all that internet fluff. Let’s get started.
SEO Is (Still) Incredibly Important
Considering content marketing, SEO should be your bread and butter, creating an irresistible aroma that guides hungry internet users to your virtual doorstep. Despite the evolution of algorithms and the introduction of new technologies, SEO is still a critical pillar of a successful content strategy. Even in 2023, organic traffic remains the crème de la crème, the golden ticket to your blog’s success.
First and foremost, let’s talk about keyword research. Consider this your treasure map, leading you to the gold nuggets of attention amidst the vast terrain of the internet. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or SEMRush, are amazing for discovering terms and phrases your target audience uses when looking for something.
Your goal? To identify high-volume, low-competition keywords that are relevant to your brand. Once you’ve secured this intel, infuse your content with these phrases, ensuring each keyword is naturally integrated and contextually relevant.
Next on the menu is link-building. Your goal is to create high-quality content that people will genuinely want to share and reference in other pieces of content so that it naturally generates backlinks. This increases your website’s visibility and helps Google see these backlinks as votes of confidence, bolstering your site’s authority and improving your search engine ranking.
And while we’re on the subject of ranking, let’s touch on topical authority. Gone are the days when a scattershot approach to content could secure a top spot on Google. Now, search engines prefer sites with deep knowledge of a particular topic.
You build your topical authority by focusing on a niche and consistently producing high-quality, detailed content around it. That way, you’ll position your blog as a go-to resource in your field. That, in turn, will improve your search rankings and drive more organic traffic your way.
SEO shouldn’t be an afterthought or a cherry on top; it’s the main ingredient in your content marketing recipe. Combine keyword research, organic link-building, and establishing topical authority, and you have a winning SEO strategy.
Forced Product Mentions Damage Your Content’s Main Objective
Your blog is not the stage for a blatant sales pitch. It is a platform for building relationships, offering valuable insights, and establishing yourself as a credible resource. Your audience isn’t there for a self-indulgent monologue about your product but for engaging advice that addresses their problems and provides meaningful solutions.
The golden rule of content marketing is understanding your reader’s motivations. Most of the time, they’re hunting for solutions, craving knowledge, or seeking inspiration. Contrary to what some marketers might believe, they are not pining for a forced, awkward plug of your product.
However, this doesn’t mean your product should be banished into the shadows, never to be mentioned in your content. The key is subtlety and relevance. If your product aligns seamlessly with the topic and provides a viable solution to a problem you’re discussing, then a gentle, organic mention can be appropriate and valuable.
A well-placed product mention can boost your content’s value, but overzealous self-promotion can leave a sour taste in your reader’s mouth, damaging trust and credibility.
Look at a blog post by Headspace, a popular meditation app. They have a blog post titled “How to Relieve Stress.” In this post, Headspace provides detailed advice and strategies for managing stress. These tips are useful regardless of whether you’re a user of their app. However, through these universal tips, they gently introduce their app.
The mention of their product is relevant and naturally woven into the context of the article. It doesn’t feel forced or salesy but is another potential tool in a reader’s stress-management toolbox. The focus remains firmly on providing value and high-quality, objective content.
Some of Your Readers are Ready to Become Customers
When thinking about content marketing, getting lost in a sea of buzzwords like lead generation and brand awareness is easy. While these are undeniably vital aspects of your strategy, it’s crucial not to overlook a straightforward truth: you’ll always get readers ready to convert.
Just as your content shouldn’t resemble an overzealous commercial, it shouldn’t shy away from inviting readers to take the next step in their customer journey. After all, your content is the enticing path leading your readers toward a decision. And a good portion of your readership is only waiting for the right push.
That’s where bold conversion CTAs (Call-to-Action buttons) enter the scene. These aren’t just fancy buttons or flashy endnotes. They are powerful psychological triggers that can turn a casual reader into an active customer. However, like a perfectly timed punchline, the impact of your CTA depends on its relevance, placement, and appeal.
If your content has successfully engaged a reader, addressed their concerns, and presented your product as a desirable solution, a bold CTA at the end can serve as the final nudge towards conversion. This could be a direct invitation to purchase your product, sign up for a free trial, schedule a consultation, or download a helpful resource.
Take a look at how Shopify tackles this strategy. Known for its ecommerce solutions, Shopify maintains a rich blog with insightful, actionable content for business owners and entrepreneurs.
A guide about starting an online store includes a clear, bold CTA offering a free trial of Shopify. That’s an effective conversion strategy because it aligns perfectly with the content topic, provides immediate value to the reader, and invites them to take a tangible step towards solving the problem discussed in the post.
Not All Your Leads Want to Read
Not every visitor to your site will be drawn to written content, just like not everyone prefers a Kindle over Netflix. Some are more inclined towards dynamic video content, while others might gravitate towards the auditory stimulation of podcasts. Embracing a multimedia approach ensures you cater to different audience preferences, effectively broadening your reach.
When it comes to video content, it’s all about engagement and value. Keep it short, engaging, and full of valuable information. Break up longer content into bite-sized pieces for better digestibility. Don’t forget about SEO for video content – use relevant keywords in your video title, description, and tags.
Podcasts have emerged as a beloved form of content for those on the go or those who prefer audio over text. They can make commutes, chores, or lunch breaks into learning opportunities. When crafting a podcast, focus on providing actionable insights, hosting interesting guests, and maintaining a consistent release schedule.
We’ll use SellerPlex as a case in point. This Amazon consulting service runs an e-commerce-focused podcast that’s done an exceptional job of carving a niche for itself. They zero in on delivering in-depth, actionable insights about running a successful online business.
They regularly invite seasoned experts and successful entrepreneurs to share their experiences, successes, and failures. This provides listeners with diverse perspectives and adds credibility to their content. They also excel in maintaining a consistent posting schedule, which is vital for keeping their audience engaged and looking forward to the next episode.
Traffic Is Pointless If the Content Doesn’t Resonate
Keyword research is vital to creating successful content – it helps you attract the right audience, the organic traffic. However, your job doesn’t end there. Like a masterful marketer, you must create content that caters to SEO objectives and deeply resonates with your audience, addressing their pain points and fulfilling their needs.
Falling into the trap of prioritizing vanity metrics, such as traffic over substance, can be a mistake. The number of visits might be skyrocketing, but if your content doesn’t truly connect with the audience, visitors will bounce faster than a ping-pong ball, seeking answers elsewhere.
This can be catastrophic to your brand’s credibility and engagement. The key is to create engaging content that provides value, answers their questions in detail, and presents solutions to their problems.
An excellent example of content that ticks all these boxes can be seen in a blog post from Backlinko titled “How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy.” This article ranks at #1 for the keyword “best SEO strategy” on Google. The reasons for its success are manifold.
The post isn’t just optimized for a highly searched keyword and provides a comprehensive guide to SEO strategies. It’s broken down into digestible sections, each focusing on a specific aspect of SEO. The language is clear, relatable, and engaging, and the content is thorough and backed by data. Moreover, it’s peppered with helpful images, screenshots, and infographics to clarify the points further.
Your Readers Need a Reason to Return
Once you’ve captured your audience’s attention, the next hurdle is ensuring they return for more. This is where the magic of continuous touchpoints and evergreen content comes into play.
To provide an analogy, think of your blog as a favorite restaurant. Evergreen content is like the signature dish of that restaurant. It’s content that remains relevant and valuable over time, immune to trends or temporary events. It’s that piece of content that will continuously serve your audience and keep them coming back for more, just like a fantastic dish would.
Creating a touchpoint through evergreen content isn’t just about getting your audience to return – it’s about building a lasting relationship with them, providing value, and establishing your site as a go-to resource. It encourages repeat visits, fosters trust, and helps convert casual readers into loyal followers and customers.
MarketBeat’s page on holidays for the US Stock Market is a sterling example of this approach. This page is a simple but useful resource that outlines all U.S. stock market holidays. Because these dates change slightly yearly, the content remains perpetually relevant. It’s a page that traders and investors will bookmark and revisit, making it a continual touchpoint.
Additionally, MarketBeat ensures to update this page annually, reflecting any changes in dates for the coming years, thus reinforcing its utility and relevance. This fosters trust with their audience, as they know they can rely on MarketBeat to provide up-to-date, useful information.
There’s No Better Social Proof than Customer Stories
Marketers have a saying that goes: “Don’t tell them; show them!” Customer stories and case studies greatly resonate with that saying. They’re the compelling narratives that demonstrate your brand’s real-world value, offering a first-hand account of how your product or service helped solve a problem or achieve a goal.
In a sea of promotional content, these genuine, relatable narratives act as lighthouses of trust, drawing in prospective customers.
When crafting case studies or customer stories, the best practices include:
- Setting the scene: Start with an introduction to the customer, their background, and the problem they were facing.
- Detailing your solution: Describe how your product or service came into play, explaining its implementation and strategies.
- Presenting the results: Showcase the benefits the customer experienced, using quantifiable metrics where possible.
Zendesk, a customer service software company, offers an excellent example of a complex case study. They have an entire section of their website dedicated to case studies from diverse industries. Each case study sets the scene, describes the customer’s problem, and details how Zendesk provided a solution. The results are quantifiable, showcasing customer satisfaction, efficiency, and service quality improvements.
For a more informal customer story, Slack hits the mark with its blog post series “Customer Stories.” Each post features a video where the customer talks about their experience using Slack. They cover various topics, from team collaboration to remote work, and each story includes practical insights and real-world use cases. It’s an engaging, relatable way to highlight their product’s benefits from the customers’ perspective.
Readability Improves Engagement
When attention spans are shorter than ever, readability is king in this age. Quality content is just half the battle. The other half? Present that content in an easily digestible, engaging, and visually appealing way to your audience.
Here are some key principles of readability to bear in mind:
- Keep paragraphs short and sweet: Long blocks of text can be intimidating and hard to digest. Breaking down your content into shorter paragraphs makes it easier to read and understand.
- Use clear, simple language: Avoid jargon and complex sentences. Keep your language straightforward and accessible.
- Leverage visuals: Images, infographics, charts, and emojis can break up the text and provide visual interest.
- Use whitespace: Empty space around text and images can make your content less cluttered and more appealing.
- Embrace variety: Use bullet points, subheadings, and fonts to create variety and maintain interest.
- Create content summaries: A brief summary of your content can give readers a quick snapshot of what they’ll gain from reading further.
Medical Alert Buyers Guide, a medical alert systems reviewer, is a perfect example of a creative and readable content layout. Instead of sticking to conventional text blocks or bullet lists, each of their product reviews comes with an engaging, creatively designed summary.
These summaries in a visually appealing format encapsulate key product details (rating, price, type, and who they’re best for). The information is concise, easy to understand, and visually digestible – a concept far more attractive than a wall of text and draws the reader in.
Those were the eight modern principles to help shape your blogging strategy in this digital age where content is king and kingdom. From SEO to readability, customer stories to strategically placed CTAs, these principles offer a comprehensive guide to navigating the ever-evolving landscape of content marketing.
You need to note that it’s not about just ticking off boxes. True success lies in authentically connecting with your audience, addressing their needs, and providing value at every touchpoint. So, keep your creativity flowing and your strategies sharp, and let your content be the guiding light of your business’s success.