10 content marketing spring-clean tips

The first signs of spring are in the air. At least they are in my mind’s eye in a still-windy west of Scotland. So a spring clean using a look at content marketing trends is now in order. If anything, it’s a challenge to myself to make sure I practice what I preach.

Time for a content marketing spring clean? shutterstock.com |new photo
Time for a content marketing spring clean?
shutterstock.com | new photo

1 The lines they are a blurring

With so much engagement now taking place online, the lines between PR and marketing communications are blurring. PR and marketing professionals alike need to be conversant with paid, owned and earned media channels and understand how to blend these depending on the niche markets and publics of their organisations.

2 Chewin’ the fat

So called ‘fat content’ is becoming more of a requirement for becoming recognised as an influencer and credible brand. For many this will mean authoring or delivering fresh and compelling content, from blog posts, webinars and ebooks to infographics and web video. Having mastered the ‘canaries’ of social engagement such as tweets, facebook updates and pins, it’s important to wheel out the ‘elephants’ – the larger executions that will have a longer shelf life and draw stakeholders to engage with you and your content.

3 Sustainable goals

One of the key challenges for brands is producing good quality, compelling content. Rather than setting unrealistic goals for frequency of publishing and posting, it is better to create valuable content pieces and at a sustainable frequency that takes account of the resources available to your business. With content planning, less can indeed be more.

4 Meaty posts

Blogging has already become the content marketing home base for many businesses, and works especially well for companies and their individual specialists that need to position themselves as expert advisers. In this medium – in keeping with the trend towards ‘fat content’ – meatier posts are especially important. Long-form blog content, albeit structured in easy-to-read, bite-size chunks, has the added plus-point of being search friendly.

5 Relevant timing and context

Another factor that is affecting engagement with your content as the competition for online attention intensifies is relevance. Good old-fashioned ‘news hooks’ that every PR professional grew up with are coming more to the fore. What are the time-based hooks (like my slightly premature spring clean!) or current topics in your industry that you can hang your content on?

6 The online/offline balance

A business friend said to me today he’s telling his clients to write new business letters to prospects, as it’s the only way to get new work. I don’t fully agree, but believe he touches on an important point: online and offline need to work hand-in-hand. That can mean writing new business letters. And, yes, even sending them by snail mail.

7 Repurposing

From experience, many businesses struggle to come up with material for maintaining a content programme, but the answer is usually staring them in the face. Do a trawl of existing information resources held internally – reports, research, presentations, cases studies, customer feedback, white papers, videos, animations – and decide how these can be repurposed as online content. Some of the longer existing material could be sliced and diced into several content pieces.

8 Visual content

The old adage that a picture tells a thousand words has a ring of truth. But, as with balancing online and offline, it’s not an either/or proposition. Do both. For example, use long-form posts (still interspersed with shorter ones!) backed up with strong supporting images, whether still or moving.

9 Balancing content creation/content promotion

There can be a tendency (raising my right hand here!) to breathe a sigh of relief after completing a content piece and think ‘job done.’ Content creation needs at least the same effort again on content promotion to make sure that relevant stakeholders engage with your efforts – and with you. As well as trailing your latest post in your eNews and in social media updates, this could mean selectively using a paid-for channel such as an e-campaign via a reputable industry magazine’s opted-in list to boost click-through.

10 Measurement

In an influential survey¹, 60% of B2B marketers with documented content marketing strategy said they were effective versus 32% of those with a verbal strategy. Again, measurement, like realistic frequency of content output needs to be in keeping with your capacity for managing it. But having a document strategy, which sets measurable goals and tracks them meaningfully and sustainably, definitely works better than just having one in your head.

Above all, sow some planned, proactive and focused content marketing this spring, so you’ll have something to measure come the harvest that will have helped grow you business.

¹B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, CMI and Marketing Profs.

How to get your blogger outreach buzzing

For some marketeers and PR types, finding one’s way around the blogosphere is probably a bit like an outsider trying to carve a route across central Edinburgh through the various tramworks-induced traffic diversions.

Creating a buzz: new inkybee tracking tool finds bloggers and brings back the pollen Image istockphoto.com/hkraty
Creating a buzz: new inkybee tracking tool finds bloggers and brings back the pollen
Image istockphoto.com/hkraty

I speak from personal experience. A couple of weeks ago, after wending my way in and out of two dead ends in said city’s St Andrew Square, I was rewarded for my perseverance by a CIPR-hosted presentation from Forth Metrics on their new blog-seeking missile, inkybee.

Purposeful

Inkybee – http://www.inkybee.com – is a clever, web-based blog search and tracking tool, designed to simplify blogger outreach – the encouraging of bloggers and their followers to engage with your brand or issue. The neat inkybee brand mark is a bee in full flight with a purposeful expression – another reminder of me and no doubt sundry hapless tourists, delivery drivers and newbie tramworks subbies doggedly circumnavigating the city centre road closures.

Why the name? Well, apparently, the inky bit is about writing and the bee part is about buzzing around the web.

Engagement, engagement, engagement

Forth Metrics director, Hugh Anderson, rightly stressed that high levels of online engagement are SEO-friendly. Google increasingly favours meaningful content and interaction – whether blogger outreach, blogging or social media engagement.

The supreme search engine has got wise to old hat approaches like ‘black hatting’ – stuffing the top of a web page with hidden keywords to grab higher search rankings, and penalises sites accordingly. The future smiles on those with good content and interactivity – which should be second nature to good PR practitioners.

Finding the ‘magic middle’

The importance of finding the right receptive influencers was emphasised. Key among these are what digital analyst Brain Solis – @briansolis – calls the ‘magic middle.’ These are the mid-tier bloggers, dedicated to niche specialisms and with followings ranging from the mid-hundreds into the thousands.

Other pointers included the sound advice to ‘behave like a friend’ towards your target bloggers. Read their blog, comment sensibly on their site from time to time and follow and retweet them on twitter.

How it works

The blog tool helps simplify these four stages of blogger outreach:

  1. Discover: inkybee’s search algorithms find relevant blogs by target audience
  2. Research: rank lists of blogs by the reach and engagement metrics that inkybee captures
  3. Track: follow the progress of outreach efforts and produce reports on the time invested
  4. Measure: create reports to demonstrate campaign success based on objective metrics.

Competitive introductory pricing ranges from $19 to $119 per  month, dependent on the number of users, campaigns per month and analytics required, and a free 30-day trail period is offered.

Practising what they preach, Forth Metrics have also produced an excellent e-book – 8 Reasons Why Blogger Relations Are Essential To Your PR Strategy – available to download free at http://www.forthmetrics.com.

Worth making a beeline to.