Aquent Aquent

How to win the content marketing game

by Craig Badings

How to win the content marketing game image
How to win the content marketing game

What was the last piece of content you or your team produced? Why did you do it and did it work?

Most content disappears down the content marketing black hole never to be seen again and this is why there is increasing disillusionment with the content game.

The question is where is content moving and how do you start winning at the content game?

To answer this I will profile an individual — social media influencer, Jeff Bullas — and a multi-national EY (formerly Ernst & Young), both of whom are playing the content game extremely well.

Producing less content but doing a lot more with it

In EY’s case they took the brave step of cutting back on their content. Merryn Stewart, EY Oceania’s brand marketing and communications (BMC) director said “We’re producing a lot less content, but doing a lot more with it. This required refocusing the team and the partners, not only on cutting back on the volume of content, but personalising it as far as possible.”

EY’s last report, Digital Australia: State of the Nation 2014, which will soon be benchmarked with their 2015 report, captures everything the BMC team set out to achieve and more. In EY’s case one of the best learnings was how they leverage, or, as I like to say ‘sweat’ their content. Says Merryn “We needed something from which we could run a year-long content and engagement program".

Content fractionalising — what is it and are you doing it?

EY cut down on their content but then superbly implemented what I call 'content fractionalising' i.e. breaking it down into multi-format, digestible, client-friendly chunks. In EY’s case this included:

  • Internal launches educating everyone about the research key findings, what content was available, and how to use it.
  • A microsite linked to their main site.
  • Multi-media touch-points including video, infographics, and PDFs for download.
  • One-on-ones with clients and partners (presentations and leave behinds).
  • Media releases.
  • Social media sharing.
  • Individual sector reports.
  • Use of the content in CEO and CFO speaking events.

Merryn and her team took the time and effort to leverage the content across multiple channels and stakeholders. So far, so good, and the client engagement has been fantastic.

In Jeff Bullas’ world, content is everything. It is how he has built a niche for himself as a social media expert and today is invited all over the world to talk about social media.

I have had the good fortune to spend a lot of time with Jeff and he is very single-minded about the content game. He can afford to be — after all he has spent the better part of six years focused on producing daily content for his blog where he has written about his approach to content.

Top 10 content tips

Jeff’s content discipline has earned him recognition by luminary titles such as Forbes as one of the leading global social media influencers. He recently shared his top 10 content tips with the co-author of my blogDr Liz Alexander:

  1. Stick to what you do best. If you’ve got a business to run that doesn’t hinge on content, bring in professional writers. Not just people who can string words together but those who know how to write an attention-grabbing headline, a great opening line, an engaging first paragraph, and can hold that standard through to the end.
  2. Know what your audience cares about. In the past you had to engage expensive research firms. Now Jeff says “Crowdsource your research yourself by listening to your customers and prospects online".
  3. Read more. A LOT moreSays Jeff “The only way in which you’re going to get ideas and inspiration for your content is to read industry blogs and buy and read books".
  4. Stop talking just about YOU. “Most of your marketing funnel should be involved in education. That’s where content also comes into play — adding value that doesn’t talk about your products and services,” says Jeff.
  5. Vamp up the visuals. Today, on average, Jeff uses seven pieces of relevant visual content per post appropriate to the points he’s making.
  6. Write with rhythm. We don’t speak consistently, we speak in bite-sized chunks. Jeff advises using the art of conversational writing.
  7. Repurpose your content. Your audience likes to consume content in different ways. So turn that video interview you shot with an expert into a transcript and adapt it into a podcast or an infographic. Remember to always listen to and watch your audience to see how they engage with your content.
  8. Think quality, not quantity. As Jeff says “If your content is crap and is just focused on selling stuff or if it appears irrelevant, people will quickly click away. You’ve got to have consistent quality".
  9. Content marketing is two words. You have to hustle your content — make it discoverable and play your part in bringing it to the attention of people who will benefit from it.
  10. Persevere. As Jeff knows too well, building an online digital brand takes time. His advice is to persist and create content on a regular basis, but content that will rank higher and higher on search engines.

How do you think you are faring at content marketing? Do you have any tips to add? I would love to read them in the comments.

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