Content Marketing Best Practices You Should Be Following in 2018

Content marketing has gone back to the basics. Rather than aggressively pushing a product or trying to outsmart algorithms to achieve a coveted spot on the first page of Google, content marketers are focused on forging meaningful connections with humans. In 2018 we’re about connecting with a human with a specific need at a specific point in their customer journey, and then meeting that need.

Content-Marketing-2018-B2B-CMI

Source: Content Marketing Institute

We’re finding that if our strategies and practices are informed by this simple idea, people are landing on and engaging with our content in a measurable way. They’re subscribing, downloading, clicking through to the next thing, buying in, buying.

How are we driving this behavior and what can you do to better lead your prospects along their customer journey? Here are the content marketing best practices that we employ and that you should be following:

Don’t Sell, Inform

The golden rule of content marketing: It’s not about you. Unlike conventional marketing strategies that engage in hard selling and place brands at the front and center, content marketing positions brands as trustworthy and worth doing business with.

Rand Fishkin

@randfish

Best way to sell something – don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, & trust of those who might buy.

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Your content should be educational, answering questions and solving problems. If you’re pre-occupied with selling and talking about your brand, you’ll put off rather than attract prospects.

Content-centric vs. Audience-centric

Source: The Connected Blog

Create Content for Target Audiences

Who are you talking to and what do they want to know? Creating content with target audiences in mind is not only easier because it’s focused on specific interests and pain points, it’s also more effective. It’s customized to meet the reader’s needs, mapped to certain stages of the customer journey, and designed to elicit a specific response. It offers a level of efficiency that should excite your CFO.

Optimize Your Content for Search Engines

Ensuring that your content is easy to deliver and discover without sacrificing quality and readability is key. You can do so by sticking to the following guidelines:

  • Title: Lead with keywords (place them as close to the left as possible), and don’t exceed a character length of 75 (50 is the ideal).
  • Subheadings: Use H2, H3 etc. header tags and phrase the subheads as questions/long-tail keywords.
  • URL: Match the URL to your title where possible, excluding conjunctions and prepositions. Use lowercase letters and hyphens to separate words.
  • Meta Description: Provide an accurate summary of the content that is also enticing enough to prompt a click – without exceeding 300-320 characters.
  • Images: Image selection should be thoughtful, and all images should be descriptively named and appropriately sized (100kb max). Alt tags and captions should also be utilized for image optimization.

Publish Content Frequently and Consistently

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, the most successful B2B content marketers deliver content consistently, whereas the least successful content marketers publish less frequently. How do your efforts compare?

B2B Content Marketing Top Performers

Source: Content Marketing Institute

Creating a content calendar that is realistic and easy to implement should help with consistency. The frequency at which you publish will depend on your resources, marketing goals and audience preferences. Do some testing to find what works best for you but do publish content consistently.

Share Your Content Strategically

Promotion and distribution should be a component of your content marketing strategy, even if you aren’t doing it yourself. Approximately 23 percent of B2B marketers surveyed by CMI outsource this marketing activity, but all of them share their content, noting that email and LinkedIn yield the best results.

Content-Marketing-2018-B2B-CMI-Purposes

Source: Content Marketing Institute

To cast the widest possible net, develop a content amplification strategy that includes a combination of organic and paid channels.

Measure Performance to Improve Your Content

Aside from measuring performance against benchmarks, setting up goals in Google Analytics or whatever data reporting tool you’re using allows you to connect performance back to your KPIs. Last year marketers were successfully able to demonstrate engagement, number of leads, and number of sales, according to CMI.

Content-Marketing-2018-B2B-CMI-Metrics

Source: Content Marketing Institute

Furthermore, 35 percent of the marketers polled believe that measuring the performance of their content played a role in the success of their content marketing efforts even though 11 percent of them outsource this activity.

Diving into qualitative engagement metrics like time on page and conversion rate allows you to take a closer look at what is and isn’t working, and then use any learnings garnered from this analysis to further inform and refine your content marketing strategy.

And as you refine your strategy and redefine what successful content looks like to you and your organization, your content will become better and better at reaching and converting humans who have needs because it’ll be meeting their needs in real time.

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