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Want to Be Successful at Content Marketing? Here Is What You Must Know

Updated on September 28, 2017
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Russell Fry is a highly experienced copywriter with millions of words and hundreds of successfully published articles under his belt.

A Beast Has Risen - That Beast Is Called Content

The Content Marketing Institute (yes, an institute for content marketing exists) released a study this year showing that content marketing is gaining in popularity. Over 35 percent of companies in North America are starting to embrace one form of it or another.

From that number, 42 percent of those companies surveyed stated that they regularly published content at least every week or so, while 55 percent plan to boost up their content marketing strategies in 2018.

Despite the wide acceptance of content marketing in the world of business, marketers are still totally lost in left field somewhere when it comes to this topic - they simply don't get how it works. If they had an understanding of this beast, they would have shown consistency and capability in integrating a successful content strategy as a cohesive aspect of their marketing activities.

From a Simple Term to a $20 Billion Industry in Less Than Five Years

Don't get it confused, the practice of content marketing is not new in and of itself. Remember those short cinematic films that played in movie theatres before the actual film began? Maybe it was a Jeep commercial or a Coke commercial. Those were early forms of video content marketing. It was the birth of the World Wide Web that breathed life into traditional print and media-based forms have evolved into something alive.

This "living and breathing organism" that totally encompasses websites, blogs and YouTube videos, only to name a few distribution channels, has completely disrupted every corner of the business world. What we see today as content marketing was birthed in the late 1990s. This was when AOL still mattered.

If you would like me to get even more specific, it was a man named John F. Oppedaul who came up with the term "content marketing." He was the leader of a "roundtable" for journalists at the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In 1998, Microsoft became the very first major business to start running a blog. Amazingly, it only took short three years for spending on content marketing to skyrocket to $20 billion.

How Can Marketers Improve Their Content Marketing Skills

The Answers Are Not Hard to Come By

The big question every marketing team needs to be asking themselves at this very moment: How can I improve our company's content marketing skills so that we can earn our ROI? Of course, the favourite answer is always "Learn from the experts." Lucky for you there are a few high-end courses out there in cyberspace that are totally gratis.

Take Hubspot Academy as one example. Don't let the absence of a hefty price tag fool you into believing it isn't worth it - it very well is, especially if the marketing person in question is still clueless to a vital marketing strategy that has existed since the late 1990s.

Then there is Internet Marketing for Smart People - again, totally free. Both of these courses offer certificates as well, just in the event, you feel the necessity to hang something fancy from your wall.

1. Understand Your Buyer Persona From Top to Bottom

Every human being on the planet has a persona of some kind. Since customers are also human, brands are able to tap into that persona known as the "buyer persona" (a customer's alter-ego), which is a fictional "representation of your ideal customer."

If you want to better reach out to your target audience, it is vital that your brand, products and services totally cater to the consumers' personalities, wants, needs, desires, dreams, and even fears if need be. The best place to start is with what you know about your best customers and each product or service they connect to, then go vertical with it.

2. Think About Creating Social Equity - Not Just Chasing Conversions

One thing I have picked up throughout my arduous trek in the content marketing game: never underestimate the goodness created by giving people honest, well-researched knowledge provided in your content. For so long I was caught in the SEO trap thinking that it was all about buying links, spamming sites and basically ignoring all the advice I was ever taught.

Consumers know when they have stumbled onto a BS site only designed to attract page views and nothing more. On the flip side, gaining the consumers trust with high-quality content will see about 10 percent of those consumers your content touched purchase anything you put out there - without question.

That is only my humble estimation, nonetheless. These sorts of things vary brand to brand. Though, we can take the extreme side as an example for a moment with The Oatmeal's impact on the Exploding Kittens Kickstarter campaign.

3. Invest Time in Longer, More Informative Pieces

For as long as I could recall, those who were into content marketing - or even into writing basic blogs for that matter - have been on one page concerning how long articles should be in order to catch potential readers' attention. I can tell you from personal experience, if I run across a post that isn't at least 600-words, I click the back arrow button. I don't even give it a second thought.

The industry standard is 300-words or more, but I have never even wasted my time writing articles that short - ever. Content that is under the prescribed 300-words won't even be noticed by search engine crawlers. If that is the case, it basically means it doesn't provide much information for human readers.

Organizations such as Medium invested a lot of time measuring data to figure out what exactly the optimal post length should be. The data released by the publishing platform explained that its readers spent an average of seven minutes reading articles. The typical reader was able to consume 1,600-words in a little over seven minutes.

A lot of great, useful and valuable information can be placed in a 1,600-word article. Being that my average article length is around 600 to 700-words, and for me, it seems sufficient, imagine 1,600-words. The longer your post, the more the customer will trust what you have written.

Even though not all website audiences are interested in longer articles, content marketing trends going into 2018 show that more of our clients will start requesting 1,000 to 1,500-word articles more regularly. And even though you'll still run across clients who request 300-word posts, the greater majority will start wanting to provide their readers much more substance.

Examples of Content Videos That Went Viral

4. Video Content Is Becoming a Heavy Contender

Don't think this is all about long articles filled with heart-warming content. Video content marketing is poised to make big strides in the near and on into the unforeseeable future. You can already see it as you surf the web: more and more brands are harnessing the immense power of videos to melt the hearts of their target audience, ultimately converting them into loyal buyers.

Though creating a medium to high-end video advertisement is far more costly than simply writing a good old fashion article, companies are finding short and to the point, educational videos on how to use their products convert far more people into dollar signs - call society lazy as reading losing its romantic connection with the younger generation. So, no matter the cost, the value of video is proving to be a winner.

Those content marketers who take the time and learn how to write video scripts will find that they have a special and reserved spot in this growing sector of content marketing. Those who stop and take time to watch such videos have high expectations: they're looking to receive direct, information-rich content. Being able to break down complicated instructions into simple to understand, step-by-step directions is definitely a winning skill set.

Consumers Are Gullible Anymore

5. Transparency Is Actually More Important the Number of Words or How Fancy the Video

You can blame dubious tactics such as brand-sponsored influencer content and native advertising for customers becoming more sceptical and downright cynical of any sort of branded content. It has almost become useless for brands to continue down that road.

Nevertheless, you still find uncreative marketers resorting to these strategies over and over again. In some cases, brands have learned the hard way that to use the wrong influencer can completely destroy any trust customers once had for them. If you want to survive this consumer-ran market, better changeup and start practising transparency and honesty rather than trying to convince and coax your target audience.

© 2017 Russell William Fry


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