Your content marketing strategy is sinking. What’s your next move? Perhaps it’s time for a rethink. Seven executives who specialize in content marketing shared their stories of how one small change sparked a significant shift in their business.
Connect on a personal level.
Ann Handley, chief content officer, Marketing Profs. At the start of this year, I got an inquiry from a reader at my personal website, asking me why he hadn’t received my email newsletter in a while. First I documented a lengthy list of excuses. Then I put my dukes down and dialed back the defensiveness…. and used his question to fuel my thinking, asking myself: What is the real value of an email newsletter? In this age of AI and Facebook Live and video, is an email newsletter even necessary?
After weeks of soul-searching and research, I came away with two thoughts: 1) An email newsletter is the only place where individuals—not algorithms—are in control. So what if marketing leaned into that inherently personal space? 2) Most companies use their email newsletter as a distribution strategy. What if we focused not on the news but on the letter? So in January I relaunched my personal email newsletter as a way to talk directly to my audience. It’s taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t in content and in marketing. Because I think the best email newsletters are also a kind of proxy for the best marketing, period.
Create value, not ads.
Juntae DeLane, chief strategist, Digital Delane, LLC, and founder of the Digital Branding Institute: One change that made a big difference in our marketing is prioritizing our brand website over our agency website. When introducing the benefits of digital branding to a prospective client, providing value to the target audience is the best way to get attention. We showcase insights instead of promoting our services. This small but significant change has generated more qualified leads and a smoother client onboarding process.
Ed Breault, VP, head of marketing at Aprimo: We’ve shifted our mindset by taking the approach to give our audience relevant, remarkable, and truthful content that they can talk about—instead of just product-centric content. This transformation, however, forced a more comprehensive approach and analysis of our entire marketing operation including envisioning our content from a lifecycle point of view. This served as the trigger point driving us to look at the bigger picture of how we could better integrate our processes, people and technologies to manage this new content strategy, and ultimately deliver improved value for our audience.
Take a holistic approach.
Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Skyword: The most significant change we have made in marketing is shifting from standalone content marketing initiatives to putting content at the center of everything we do. People will pay attention to what brands have to say if brands offer something worthy of their time. Once we recognized that value exchange was at the core of modern marketing, we started to think about creating value for our prospects each time they encounter us.
Prioritize audience experience.
Shachar Orren, chief storyteller, Playbuzz: I was originally the VP of Content at Playbuzz, a role in which I was constantly ensuring that content our brand and publisher partners were producing with our platform, would result in highly engaging environments for users and ultimately, meaningful two-way dialogues and deeper relationships. When I transitioned into the role of Chief Storyteller (Playbuzz’s take on a CMO role), I have continued to focus on what the end user will feel when interacting with Playbuzz-powered stories. This has taken our marketing focus from that of B2B, to B2BC with UX top of mind.
We have coupled this approach with our unique understanding of global content consumption habits. Today’s average user cannot be expected to simply scroll through text-heavy content; they expect content placed in front of them to be involving and high-quality. Our team keeps that in mind when producing our own marketing materials, to make sure we are practicing what we preach. Because of it, we have strengthened our relationships with partners, forged new ones and have seen more message consistency in organic mentions of the company – both internally and externally.
Give readers a reason to opt in.
Ian Cleary, founder of Razor Social: When I started creating a summary of blog posts and gave them away in exchange for an opt-in, my email conversion rates went from 2% to 3% to 10% to 15%. I include an opt-in within the post and again as part of a popup that appears when exiting my website from a blog post. Your website visitor is more likely to opt-in when the incentive is directly related to the blog post. When I capture the email address, I have a lead nurture series that generates sales, but even if the person is not interested in buying now, I can continue to build the relationship in the future. So this small change meant a significant increase in revenue.
Tap your networks.
John Hall, co-founder of Influence & Co. and author of Top of Mind: I stopped relying on others to distribute content for me. It’s important that you have a distribution plan in place to reach your audience. Encourage employees to share content, or send it to influencers you know. The list goes on. Just make sure you leverage the content across your company and outside it. That’s the beauty of good pieces of content: If they’re truly valuable, you’ll have plenty of uses for them.
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