I’ve been writing about content marketing for quite a while now, and while I’m well-versed in all things strategy and digital, I always find I can learn so much more looking at content from the perspectives of my peers working in different departments.
One of the perks of an all-inclusive agency is that we each think about content differently. The writer who loves to read and create 4,000-word blog posts will undoubtedly bring a different set of eyes to a project than the videographer who aims to convey an entire narrative in less than a minute.
Educating others on topics you understand helps you to become better at your job. Albert Einstein said it best when he was quoted saying “If you can not simply explain it, you don’t understand it well enough.” And perhaps I’m embracing the community manager in myself, but I think we all work a little better when we’re on the same page.
Here are 15 pieces of marketing wisdom I’ll be taking with me this year from our different creative departments:
Don’t invest more, invest smarter
When we saw a statistic that 52 percent of marketers don’t plan to raise their content budgets this year, we obviously launched an investigation to find out why. Katherine pointed out that while this may have suggested that content marketing has hit its saturation point, it’s a sign that marketers aren’t just throwing money at content marketing anymore – they’re investing smarter instead of more.
Don’t be too obvious: Design the unexpected
Visuals are more effective when they support a story – not when they beat you over the head with the message. When you’re creating graphics about topics that aren’t visually appealing, try “peeling back a layer” and think about the core message that relates to your audience.
(Pro Tip: Ask a few teammates who aren’t involved in the project if they understand the message you’re trying to convey. If they don’t, chances are your audience won’t either.)
It’s OK to take some grammar risks
Maybe it’s my seventh grade teacher’s fault, but I was taught at an impressionable age not to fool around with grammar. But, when it comes to writing creative and engaging blog content, Chris said it’s okay to take a risk when you want to come across as conversational.
Your content strategy is so much more than a calendar
Having a well thought out calendar is integral to the success of content marketing, but you need to think bigger. Before a pen gets put to paper (or a calendar gets filled out), lay your strategy out and pinpoint what content types will help achieve your objectives.
Ask: ‘How can I get people to read this?’
Since Dylan took over a client’s social media campaign, he’s adopted a new approach to writing blog content, always balancing click-appeal and content value. “An article won’t be read if it’s never clicked. And by that same token, a click is pretty meaningless if the content isn’t read. Making sure that both things are accomplished is about integrating the two.”
Dylan’s advice is applicable to anything – from a blog title to an email message to a Tweet.
Learn more about how this approach resulted in readers stayed on this client’s blog posts for an average of 6 minutes.
Thought leadership is the idea, not the jargon
Andrew believes that speaking simply is more powerful than showing off with complex jargon. When we truly understand subject matter, we can speak educationally about it without dumbing it down or throwing around overly complex terms. This is the tone to strive for.
Take a walk in your readers’ shoes
As marketers, we’re constantly thinking about what we want readers to get out of our online content, but it’s more important to give consideration to what readers are thinking. Through an understanding of what they think and care about, you’ll find the voice that will actually speak to them and make a bigger impact on your results.
Start with a good story, then sprinkle in stats
To prove that we know what we’re talking about, we use qualitative data and statistics. This is important to earn trust, but a good story is what makes content memorable – especially when we’re talking about visuals like infographics and videos. Greg reminds us that “audiences understand that not every important insight can be neatly explained with numbers.”
‘Content is king’ is a mantra that’s gotten us in trouble
Content is king is something we hear everywhere, and I admit I’ve bought into the concept . But as Brendon warned: “This mantra has unfortunately led many marketers to develop content without a defined focus, and then get frustrated when they don’t see the ROI they were expecting.”
Watch more: Brendon explained how marketers can avoid this fate and end up with highly successful strategies in our webinar about Content for Business Goals. It can be viewed on-demand here.
Don’t speculate when you need watertight conclusions
If you had a high bounce rate on your blog post or low engagement on social, would you write off your marketing efforts as ineffective? Jeff walks us through a situation he faced with a client, which serves as a reminder to not jump to conclusions – use data (like a 5-second test!) to determine exactly what’s happening with your blog posts and how you can make effective changes.
Overlooking keywords is a cardinal sin
We used to talk about how keywords were critical. Then, keywords became spammy. It’s hard to keep track! In Matthew’s blog post, he brings up a good reminder: “There is a lot of surprising data out there, alerting you where there is high search volume and low competition for terms. There is nothing wrong with this type of low-hanging fruit, and it should definitely be picked when it’s within reach.”
Be a brand people care about (because most aren’t)
People admit they wouldn’t care if 70 percent of brands disappeared tomorrow. To be a brand people care about, you need to provide value – whether that’s through your products and services, educational resources or entertainment.
Diversity matters (A LOT) in content marketing
Leveraging a great piece of content is essential – and it’s important to remember content isn’t like a wedding dress – it can be used more than once. Lori reminds us that content that performs well across channels is a no brainer. “A really great video blog strategy can augment a site’s organic traffic, enhance social media engagement and even be used in email campaigns to increase click-through-rates.”
Your marketing, conversions and sales depend on good data
Content is the gateway to new business, but behind the scenes you need to have an database marketing expert who can turn leads into an actual opportunity. Ryan says an effective database isn’t merely a game of addition and cleanup; it’s also dependent on keeping up with your good information and adding new insights whenever possible.
The most important perspective isn’t any single department – it’s your audience
This piece of wisdom ties together everything I’ve learned. At the end of the day, we all have different perspectives, and we’re each going to think about the way we can best achieve our goals. But before each department chimes in with the best approach for content, it’s important to take into account what formats the audience will be most receptive to – and make sure what you produce is for them.