12 Steps to Take Your Content Marketing From Ho-Hum to Humming [Examples]

Give Your Content Marketing a Facelift to Make It A Social Media Darling

In today’s information filled social media world, your content marketing must standout to be noticed. Let’s face it while white papers and research have been B2B marketing mainstays, they don’t necessarily attract sufficient attention to get prospects to take a desired action. While the information conveyed is useful, these content offerings need a marketing facelift to transform them into social media darlings.

Two content marketing offerings compared

To understand what makes an effective content marketing presentation, here are two examples of B2B ebooks.

IBM recently released “From Stretched to Strengthened,” a white paper on the challenges facing today’s CMO. While its top findings should be easy to state and translate into Twitter bait and blog posts, it’s not that accessible. Here are four ways it could be improved.  

  • It needs to highlight the important points. The white paper needs better layout and organization for online and mobile consumption. Nothing’s bolded or outlined so readers need to plod through.
  • It lacks easy-to-understand charts. The paper presents its information in complex charts that obfuscate the major points. While the paper contains some useful marketing findings, they haven’t made it into the marketing discussion because the main points are buried. Here’s one that’s very wordy.
  • Has boring graphics. The paper contains graphics that neither enhance reader understanding nor draw the reader in. Here’s an example of a graphic.
  • Looks hard-to-read. Despite targeting CMOs, who are most likely over 40 and need reading glasses, the paper uses a delicate typeface that is hard on older eyes.

By contrast, Exact Target’s “The Social Breakup” is a sexy, branded ebook that attracted readers and commentary on a range of online media and blogs. Here are three reasons it succeeds.

  • Positioned to take advantage of a hot topic, namely social media. If it had only discussed email, its readership would have been significantly lower.
  • Created attention-getting charts. In addition to integrating attractive charts and graphics, they made it easy for readers, journalists and bloggers to use and spread the word by putting the data front and center. Here’s a graphic that incorporates the idea of break-up with Valentine’s Day heart candy. (Note: Report was release in February so the timing was good.)
  • Extended corporate branding. The ebook uses corporate colors, design aesthetic and voice.

12 Steps every marketer can use to take content marketing from ho-hum to humming

To get your content marketing on track, here are twelve steps that every marketer can use.

  1. Set goals for your content marketing. Like any other form of marketing, it’s critical to set content marketing goals. Are you looking to attract new leads or position your firm as a thought leader in the industry? Exact Target positioned itself as knowing how to integrate email into social media. By contrast, it’s difficult to get IBM’s message condensed into a sentence or two. Even if you’re trying to maximize research that was created for another purpose, spend time determining how to present it to achieve your goals.
  2. Determine your content marketing’s target audience. Think beyond potential buyers to include those who will read your content, who will share it and who will write about it. These can be very different audiences. Therefore create marketing personas for each.
  3. Decide the key points you want to make. You need a combination of marketing and editorial to ensure the finished content is professionally written and attracts your target audience.
  4. Select the brand attributes. As part of your marketing collateral, it’s critical that this content incorporate your firm’s branding. This means using the appropriate colors, voice and presentation.
  5. Choose a typeface your audience finds readable. In addition to being in-line with your brand, typeface has to be able to be read by your target audience on the devices they choose to consume your kind of content on.
  6. Create appropriate graphics. Select the charts and other points you want to highlight. Ensure they simplify what’s written in the text and provide easy-to-understand points. Use related graphics and photographs that draw readers in and make them want to keep reading.
  7. Add other media options where appropriate. Include powerpoints, videos and audio.
  8. Include relevant links to products and other internal information. Add links to appropriate content and products. Since this can influence your search efforts, make sure to consult the people leading these initiatives.
  9. Develop related landing pages. Don’t get over-zealous with your information collection here or it could hamper your response. This is where less is more. Also, include related call-to-action and targeted offer where appropriate.
  10. Promote your content marketing. Use internal media such as your website, blog and email lists; PR such as an online press release or blogger outreach, and your social media presence to expand your content’s reach. Also, encourage social sharing.
  11. Track content marketing effectiveness in achieving its goals. Measure results associated with the goals initially set.
  12. Determine how to improve your next content marketing initiative. After you’ve finished, have a debriefing to assess what worked and what didn’t to increase your next effort’s results.

When creating content marketing, start by setting your objectives, understanding your audience, and determining the related metrics. Then develop appropriate content that’s professional and maximizes your marketing efforts with strong graphics and promotion.

Do you have any other suggestions for developing effective content marketing?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Here are some related content marketing articles you may find of interest.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hammer51012/4850679821/sizes/m/in/photostream/

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