7 Content Marketing Best Practices to Keep Your Readers Engaged
By Guillaume Deschamps February 15, 2022
As consumers shift their attention and spending online, a content marketing strategy is no longer an option. It’s a requirement.
By delivering valuable content that resonates with your target audience, you can improve your reputation online and turn more visitors into customers. But as with any marketing strategy, you can’t simply dive in and hope for the best.
We put together these content marketing best practices that will help get your business noticed online and stand out from the competition.
- Identify your target audience
- Use different content formats
- Map your content to the customer journey
- Optimize your content for SEO
- Write more inclusive content
- Identify the most relevant channels
- Update and refresh outdated content
Why is content marketing important?
Think about a recent purchase you’ve made.
Chances are you did some research online. You might’ve read a few articles or product reviews before making that purchase.
The example above describes a typical buyer’s journey — the stages that prospects go through as they research a problem, find potential solutions, and make a purchasing decision.
Consumers rarely make purchases on a whim. They’re looking for informative content that helps them solve a pain point or fix a problem they’re facing.
An effective content marketing strategy can help your company:
- Raise brand awareness: Creating content opens up more opportunities for prospects to discover your brand on channels like organic search and social media. Staying top of mind will help your business stand out.
- Improve your brand reputation: Publishing great content allows you to demonstrate your expertise. Those who find your content useful are more likely to view you as a credible source of information and trust your recommendations.
- Generate more leads and sales: Each piece of content you publish can rank in Google and drive organic traffic to your landing pages. You can capture and nurture more leads by placing forms and calls-to-action (CTAs) on your pages.
Finally, content marketing is a cost-effective strategy that delivers long-term return on investment (ROI).
Paid marketing channels like Google Ads stop driving traffic if you pause your campaigns. But articles that you create today can drive traffic and sales for years to come.
In short, content marketing has become a necessity for any brand. That’s why 60% of marketers say that content marketing is “very important” or “extremely important” to their overall marketing strategy.
Now let’s dive into the content marketing best practices that will help your brand get noticed.
1. Identify your target audience
Content marketing is all about delivering value to your audience. But you’ll have difficulty getting noticed online if you create content that doesn’t align with their interests.
Before you write a single word, you need to identify your target audience. Understanding who you’re writing for and the problems they’re facing will help you create better content.
Ways to identify your target audience include:
- Existing customers: Look at the people currently engaging with your business. What are their demographics? What are their interests? What characteristics do they have in common? Consider creating a survey or even speaking directly with your customers to identify their most pressing challenges.
- Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a great resource that you can use to learn more about the people visiting your site. These web analytics show data like age, gender, and even interests. It also shows the channels that your visitors are coming from.
- Facebook Data: With Facebook Business Suite Insights, you can view data like age, gender, education levels, job titles, and purchase behavior for people who visit your page and interact with your ads.
- Your competitors: Researching your competitors can shed more insights into your target audience. What social networks are they using? What type of content are their users interacting with? These answers can inform your research.
Use the information you gather to create a buyer persona — a profile that describes your ideal customer in detail. A buyer persona will give you a clearer picture of your target audience and enable you to create content that resonates with their needs.
2. Create content in different formats
Creating and publishing content in different formats such as informative guides, blog articles, guest posts will help you get noticed.
As an example, Codeless understands that choosing an online learning platform isn’t easy, especially for people who are still new to online classes.
In its article covering this MasterClass review, Codeless positions itself as a source of information in this industry. It offers an overview of classes that beginners can use to learn more about learning new skills to further their careers or hobbies.
Similarly, you can create an ebook that addresses a pain point and position your products or services as the solution. This will help you build credibility with visitors.
However, sticking to just one content format will limit your reach. People consume information differently — some prefer reading articles, while others prefer watching videos.
A Demand Gen Report identified the following content formats that B2B buyers engaged with during the buying process:
The data shows that B2B buyers rely on different types of content to inform their decision.
In addition to blog posts and guides, use content formats like videos, webinars, and reports to get your company noticed online. This will give your audience more opportunities to discover and learn about your products or services.
Consider the following content formats:
- Case studies
No matter what formats you use, ensure that you’re creating content that is relevant to your audience. You should also keep your messaging and brand voice consistent across all channels.
3. Map your content to the buyer’s journey
The most effective content marketing strategies cover the entire buyer’s journey. This will help you move prospects through your marketing funnel and toward a purchase.
Here’s a closer look at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
During the awareness stage, prospects are experiencing a problem and are actively looking for a solution. However, they don’t know about your products or services yet.
This is where you can start building a relationship with your prospects.
Think about the pain points and questions that your prospects are asking. Then answer those questions with content like blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, and videos.
This piece from Fivetran, asking, “what is a data pipeline?” offers a good example of an educational blog post. It answers a question that prospects are likely searching for in Google without pushing its services.
The key here is to provide value as prospects aren’t looking to buy anything just yet.
Once a prospect moves past the awareness stage, they enter the consideration stage.
In the consideration stage, prospects have clearly defined their needs and are researching potential solutions, including yours. Your job here is to focus on the solution.
Content you can create for the consideration stage includes webinars, expert guides, and videos. The goal here is to show how prospects can overcome their challenges with your solution.
Here’s an example showing off the webinars that Intercom offers:
Prospects can sign up for upcoming webinars to learn more about what Intercom offers and whether it’s right for them.
The decision stage is where prospects have narrowed down their choices. They’re ready to make a purchase but need a nudge to help them decide.
Content that you can create for this stage includes case studies, product comparison pages, and landing pages for free trials.
Here’s an example of a product comparison page for AWeber and Mailchimp:
Visitors can see the difference between AWeber and Mailchimp to help with their purchasing decision.
4. Optimize your content for SEO
Each piece of content you publish can rank in the search results and drive organic traffic to your landing pages. However, if your content isn’t on the first page, it may as well be invisible.
The following chart from Advanced Web Ranking shows the clickthrough rates for the first and second page of Google:
More than half of all clicks go to sites on the first page.
Follow these tips to optimize your content and improve its visibility in Google:
- Target relevant keywords: Use tools like Keyword Planner to identify keywords that your audience is searching for.
- Optimize on-page factors: Include your keywords in the title, headings, URL, and throughout the content. Be sure that you don’t stuff your content with keywords.
- Add internal links: Internal links help search engines determine which landing pages are more important. They also help reduce bounce rates by keeping visitors on your site longer.
- Ensure your landing page is mobile-friendly: One of the top ranking factors Google considers is the overall user experience (UX). Optimizing your site for a mobile-friendly experience improves your UX.
Finally, make sure that your content satisfies your audience’s search intent. If someone searches for “how to build a PC,” they’re looking for informational content.
In this article on how to trademark your logo, Tailor Brands does a great job at satisfying search intent. It provides detailed descriptions of the different ways of protecting your brand, how to do it and why it’s important.
5. Write more inclusive content
Inclusive content is content that appeals to a broader audience without excluding anyone.
For blog posts, it means being more selective about the language you use. For images, it means using pictures that represent people from different backgrounds.
A report from Zendesk found 54% of consumers want to buy from companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion.
A study from Microsoft Advertising also found that the purchase intent for inclusive advertising was 23% higher than non-inclusive ads.
Making your content more inclusive is yet another way to help your brand stand out and even drive more sales.
- Use inclusive language: Adopt gender-neutral language in your content. Instead of words like “mankind” and “manpower,” use words like “humankind” and “workforce.”
- Include more diverse images: Use images that feature people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. You can also feature people with a range of disabilities.
- Use plain English: Use conversational English to make your content relatable to your audience rather than using highly technical or academic writing styles.
- Translate your content: Make your content more accessible by offering language translations like Chinese, Spanish, and French.
- Make your content accessible: Create content that people with disabilities can understand and interact with
Taking these steps will signal to your audience that your company is making efforts to be more inclusive.
6. Identify the most relevant channels
There’s no shortage of channels that you can use to promote your content. However, unless you have sizable resources, you should be more selective in the channels you use.
The following graphic shows the demographics of popular social media platforms:
If your audience consists of working professionals, then LinkedIn would be a better fit than TikTok. Likewise, while Snapchat has a younger audience, it could be a key channel if you’re marketing to Gen Z.
Refer to the buyer persona you created in the first step and look at the demographics of your target audience. This will help you determine which channels you should focus on.
7. Update and refresh outdated content
Google doesn’t just look at relevance when ranking content. Its algorithm considers other factors like how “fresh” or recent your articles are.
This means some of your older articles can slip in rankings over time. Other pages from competing sites may outrank you simply because they’re more recent.
Follow these steps to breathe new life into your content:
- Identify the content you want to update: A good place to start is content that ranks at the bottom of the first page or the top of the second page.
- Update the post with new content: Go through the content and remove any outdated information. Then update the post with new sections and add multimedia, like images.
- Optimize the post for SEO: Make sure that you’ve optimized all on-page factors like titles, headers, meta descriptions, and the content itself. Consider optimizing the post for additional keywords to drive even more traffic.
Be sure to also improve the readability of your content. For example, this meal delivery trends report includes clear headers to help visitors navigate and read through the content.
Standing out in today’s competitive market is more difficult than ever. A strong content marketing strategy is one way to cut through the noise and differentiate your company.
Delivering valuable content can help raise brand awareness, drive organic traffic, and establish your company as an industry authority.
Of course, you can’t publish a single blog post and call it a day. Content marketing requires a long-term investment to be effective. Start by implementing the best practices as covered here to get your company noticed.