3 essential content marketing lessons

Add value to your users and make your content work harder: follow these 3 essential content marketing tips and you can avoid the mistakes we see all too often…

 3 essential content marketing lessons

1. Plan your content

According to our survey last year, the biggest headache for content marketers is creating original content, and only 38% of brands we spoke to had a defined content strategy.

Every piece of content you publish should have an end goal in mind. Increasing bookings for an upcoming event, increasing sales or letting customers know about a new product – whatever they may be, knowing what your goals are before you start writing helps you target your content more effectively.

Plus, you’ll know what success looks like, so you’ll be able to review, evaluate and tweak your plan as you go along and improve future content.

What we’ve learned: Plan like a publisher – maintain an editorial calendar to track frequency, timelines, channels and metrics. Brainstorm ideas regularly and allocate specific roles to members of your team to make sure you stay on track. And of course…

2. Review your plans regularly

When Tesco scheduled their nightly tweet for January 17, 2013 to say: ‘It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets,’ nothing in that could have seemed controversial.

It's sleepy time so we're off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets

— Tesco (@Tesco) January 17, 2013

Except, before the tweet was published, the horsemeat scandal broke. Social media was not impressed with the choice of words and of course Tesco was forced to publish an apology.

More recently, Made.com was on the end of a similarly fantastic error in judgment. On the eve of the Scottish independence vote they’d prepared two emails – one to celebrate a ‘No’ vote and another to celebrate ‘Yes’.
Only, they sent the wrong one…

What we’ve learned: While it can be useful to plan tweets, posts and emails in advance, always review them regularly. You don’t know how the news agenda will change between now and then, so check to make sure it’s still appropriate and try not to schedule anything much more than 24 hours in advance.

However, it’s also important to bear in mind the power of evergreen content. As long as your content is very carefully planned; it is not time sensitive; and it will stay valuable to readers at any time, no matter when they visit, then it can potentially pull in a very steady stream of visitors to your site. Make sure you keep linking to it from new updates wherever possible, and evergreen content can truly deepen people’s interaction with your site. Read more about evergreen content in this Econsultancy post.

3. Stick to what you know

Everyone’s a publisher now. But that’s not to say everyone should publish about everything – would you really want to read an article called ‘The World’s Most Inspiring Rooftop Spaces’ published by your favourite sportswear brand? Or ‘Our favourite Shepherd Pie Recipes’ on your local pet shop’s blog?

There are some infamous examples of this. For instance, one nappy company wanted to create a portal advising parents on how to choose the right school for their children. This sort of delicate advice is probably not what you turn to your nappy provider for! There was also the case of a broadband provider that used its online channels to mourn the death of Margaret Thatcher. As you might imagine, the conversation quickly got out of hand…

Such digressions can feel awkward and can make readers question why they’re seeing such content. Remember that going off-topic can hurt your brand, rather than grow it.

What we’ve learned: Content marketing is an opportunity to share your specialist knowledge with your audience. Success is about hitting the sweet spot where your domain of expertise and your users’ need for information overlap. Like this…

An audience of running enthusiasts + summer holidays + a team of running experts = ‘How to run on beaches’.

You must understand your audience and what they want to know from you that they can’t get anywhere else. Creating defined user personas is a great starting point for any brainstorming session and will help to quickly fill your editorial calendar with ideas your customers will love.