As a marketer, no time is like the present to ripen and boost your content strategy.
As content marketing continues to grow and change, there are dozens of innovative, new content tactics developing that are proving to be very successful. Don’t miss out on some of the key ways that will help you make your content truly great this year (and beyond).
5 Killer Content Creation Tactics to Never, Ever Forget
Regardless of whether you’re a new marketer or an old content pro looking for a few new tricks, these content tactics can help you win big in content marketing this year.
1. Content Planning
It’s nearly impossible to become a content all-star if you don’t make time for content planning. Everything from Google’s extensive list of algorithm updates to its recently released Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines has proven that content is still incredibly important and, in light of that, one of the best ways to knock content out of the park is to dedicate some time to the careful planning of it. While “content planning” looks a little different for every marketer, all content planning strategies share a few basic fundamentals.
These are as follows:
- Extensive brand knowledge: In order to plan content adequately, you have to have a deep understanding of who your brand is and what it’s trying to achieve.
- Specific target personas: To plan content effectively, it’s important to know which target audience you’re trying to reach. Developing a marketing persona is an important step in the content planning process.
- Idea generation: Once you’ve determined the specifics of your brand and your audience, it’s time to generate ideas. There are many ways to do this, varying from consulting sites like Quora, to polling users, or scanning a content analysis service like Buzzsumo for the most-shared content in your industry. It’s important to have a large pool of topic ideas in order to organize an actual content plan down the road.
- Segmentation: Once you’ve gathered a large number of topic ideas, you’ll want to consider which ideas are best-suited to which delivery medium. For example, some may make a wonderful blog post while others lend themselves nicely to an infographic or podcast. Matching idea type with content type can help make your content more effective in the long run.
- Planning: It’s finally time to put it all into an actual plan! There are dozens of free content calendar templates on the web, although many marketers simply use an excel or Google spreadsheet segmented into months and weeks. By using a system like this to organize and plan your ideas, you save yourself hassle, produce better content, and allow for more effective long-term planning.
2. Content Auditing
A content audit is a little bit like spring cleaning for your content. During a content audit, you review and evaluate each piece of your website’s content. This allows you to locate and identify content that is irrelevant, un-read, or stale and replace it with content that helps your site draw traffic. Employed by the best content marketers far and wide, regular content audits can help you improve your site’s SEO and earn a boost in visitors. While the term “content audit” may sound intimidating, you can rest assured that it’s actually quite simple.
While there are many complete tutorials on conducting content audits, I’ll give you a brief run-down here.
Conducting a Content Audit in 3 Steps
Step 1: Create a Spreadsheet
At its core, a content audit is predominantly data entry, so it’s important to have a system to keep the process organized. One of the best ways to do this is to create a spreadsheet. Most marketers choose to use Excel or Google Sheets for this. The spreadsheet should contain the following categories: URL, date audited, page title, page description, page content, keyword(s) targeted, alt tags, last updated, and internal link(s).
Step 2: Compile a Full List of Pages
Once you’ve created your spreadsheet, you’ll need to organize the pages you plan to audit. The easiest way to do this is to head to Google Analytics. From the “Behavior” tab, navigate to the “All Pages” section. This will provide you with a list of the pages on your site. You may want to pull the URLs from the most popular pages first in order to assure that you’re auditing the content on your most visited pages first.
Locate the “page” column and navigate to the button next to the page title. This will provide you with the page URL, which you should then copy into your spreadsheet. Repeat this step for every page on your site. If you use WordPress, you can do this by pasting the edit URL for each page into your spreadsheet.
Step 3: Start Reviewing
Once you’ve compiled a full list of your pages, it’s time to start your content audit. To do this, you’ll want to review the following pieces of each page and mark the results of each evaluation on your spreadsheet:
- Page URL and title: Is your page title unique and descriptive? Does it use your target keywords organically? Is your page URL text rather than a random string of numbers? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, going back and fixing the problem can make your site markedly stronger.
- Page description: Is your page description succinct, easy to read, and informative? Does it read well for people and search engines? Does it use relevant keywords?
- Page content: For every page on your site, the content should be valuable, relevant, current, and helpful. It should be free of typos and grammar mistakes and, as a general rule, each page on your site should feature at least 300 words of content. This includes “About Us” pages and the like.
- Keyword use: Are you using target keywords often enough without keyword stuffing?
- Alt tags: Each image on your page should have a title and alt tag. These tags should use relevant keywords.
- Last update: As a general rule, pages should be updated every 24 months. If you find a page that’s been updated less frequently than that, revising it can help your site’s SEO.
- Internal links: Each page on your site should feature at least 2-3 internal links. These should point to other content-rich pages within your site.
3. Social Media Management
Roughly 2.1 billion people maintain social media accounts and social networks earned an estimated $8.3 billion on advertising in 2015 alone. In light of that, it’s clear that social media is an important tool for marketers who want to improve their content strategies. By building and maintaining a variety of social media accounts (on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, for example) marketers can expand their content’s reach, earn new leads, make new connections, and conduct better industry research.
Social media should be a large priority throughout the new year. This means maintaining an active presence on social media by posting often and engaging users by responding to comments, offering polls, soliciting user-generated content, and sharing content through multiple channels. Be careful not to create a social media account you can’t adequately maintain, as a stagnant social media account is often worse than no content at all.
4. Interactive Content Creation
We’ve known for some time that content variation is important and that visual content, in particular, is incredibly powerful, but what about interactive content? Now more than ever, users want to feel involved in their favorite companies’ content, which means that interactive content is a must in 2016. For those of you who are unfamiliar with interactive content, there are several main types:
- Assessments (quizzes, calculators, etc.): These are probably the most common forms of interactive content. Made popular by sites like Facebook and Buzzfeed (remember the “Which Twilight Character Are You?” quizzes?), quizzes can be used for everything from fun to serious, marketing-focused self-evaluation. Helpful for understanding and evaluating a given group of users, quizzes and assessments can help you poll users for content ideas and gain feedback on the functionality of your site and content as a whole.
- Infographics: Infographics straddle the line between straight-up visual content and full-blown interactive content. Designed to deliver a large amount of information in a small package, infographics (and their moving counterparts Gifographics) are a great way to provide concentrated value to readers. As a general rule, infographics earn more views and more shares than virtually any other type of content, which makes them a fantastic choice for the marketer who wants to get their feet wet with interactive content.
- Idea generators: Designed with convenience and functionality in mind, idea generators are the perfect tool for readers who need a little help with idea generation. Take HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator, for example. You simply input a bit of information and the interactive generator helps you come up with a unique, interesting idea that’s all your own. How’s that for interactive and valuable?
5. Custom Landing Pages
Often associated with bad promotions and over sales-y sites, custom landing pages have gotten a bad reputation for years. Fortunately, smart marketers know that, when used correctly, custom landing pages have the potential to provide a huge SEO and traffic boost for a website.
The reason landing pages are so important is they provide the essential function of giving users a designated spot external of your actual website to gain information and complete the desired action. Because of this, they’re essential to effective content marketing. Whether you’re trying to sell a workshop or generate leads for your email subscription list, a well-designed landing page can do a respectable amount of legwork for your overall goal.
To ensure your landing pages are working as well as possible for you, remember the following things:
- Shorter is better: In the world of landing pages, the less flowery language you use, the higher your conversions will be. Because landing pages are designed to be short, sweet, and to-the-point, an uncluttered design with nothing but the needed information will generally outperform a clunky page with too many extras.
- Actionable content rules all: A landing page is no place for wishy-washy content that fails to get to the point. Instead, ensure your landing page offers high-quality text and a strong CTA. This step, while it may seem simple, can be huge in terms of increasing your conversions and helping readers take desired actions.
- Coordinate your hyperlinks: Ideally, a landing page should be a one-stop shop, but if you must have hyperlinks leading away from your page, it’s important to be intentional about them. If you’re going to offer links that lead out of your landing page funnel, it’s important that the links you provide serve some other purpose, like leading readers into a separate yet equally valuable funnel.
- Make conversion obvious: Again, simpler is better. When readers come to your landing page, they should be able to determine, in a matter of seconds, what you want them to do. If your goal is to have them enter an email, make the subscription box prominent, obvious, and easy to use. If you want them to click, show them exactly where to do it. If you want them to share content, give them limited options and a strong reason for doing so. Being direct about your conversion goals will help them come true.
- Make it appealing: Above almost all else, your landing page should look great. This means it should be easy to navigate, free of broken features, cohesive with your larger site design, and generally well-functioning and attractive. Bad designs earn high bounce rates and keeping yours elegant will help you produce more conversions.
It’s never too late to beef up your content tactics. By employing these five innovative content tactics, you can ensure you’re getting the most value possible from your content strategy, while also providing useful and relevant material for your readers. While we’re sure to see the climate of content marketing undergo some big changes in the next year, these five tips provide long-lasting value for your content strategy.