Content marketing—using content to promote our product or service—is a favorite promotion method of today’s bloggers. Many of us are in the content business, so content marketing makes sense.
The activities that come under the umbrella of content marketing are broad. They cover everything from guest posting to uploading content to purpose-built networks (like YouTube or Soundcloud), to offering your own free, downloadable content products on your own blog.
Content marketing opportunities are, literally, limited only by your imagination. But this isn’t to say that all content marketing is good content marketing. Or that all strong content marketing is as great as it could be.
What makes good content marketing great?
The answer to this question depends on your blog, target audience, and the content marketing goals you’ve set yourself. There’s not really a one-size-fits-all solution, though as we know, some solutions are used more commonly than others.
However, if you’re looking at new ways to use content marketing to promote your blog, these are some of the main factors you’ll probably want to think about before you jump in.
Does the opportunity support your brand values?
When we’re promoting our blogs, we’ll often look for the opportunity that gives us the biggest bang for buck. For example, we’ll aim to have our guest posts published on sites that have larger readerships rather than on those with smaller audiences.
While that’s fine, it’s also important to look at the outlet itself, and see whether it supports your brand effectively.
For example, both my Digital Photography School and ProBlogger brands use image content. So, in theory, I could use that content to market both brands on Pinterest. While the content is highly appropriate for the outlet, it’s easy to see that Pinterest is more closely aligned with the brand values of a visual brand like dPS than it is with those of ProBlogger.
While Pinterest could be a good way to market both brands, it’s a no-brainer for dPS. If only I had time to be active on Pinterest!
Is the format appropriate?
There’s sometimes a tendency among some content marketers to jump on whatever bandwagon comes by—whether it’s creating video, or publishing a free blog manifesto, or something else.
The thing is that not all formats for content marketing are going to be appropriate for you. Let’s look at video. If you don’t use video on your blog, and have never made a video, then creating videos just to market your blog may not be the best idea. It may well take you a lot of time, and since you’re not experienced with the format, the content you produce may not be of a level of quality that supports your brand as best it could.
This isn’t to discourage anyone from trying something new—it’s just that you can make content marketing as difficult or as easy as you like. Embarking upon a brand new format purely for marketing purposes is going to be time-consuming and challenging. And the results may not do as much for your blog as you hoped, especially if (tying in the point above) the format doesn’t complement your blog’s branding.
Does the content offer a doorway into your blog?
In some ways, content marketing is like providing free samples of your product, so it’s important to make sure the content you use is a fair representation of what your blog offers. If you create a great video to promote your blog, but the blog itself contains no video, then you may risk disappointing the new visitors who were attracted specifically by your promotional video.
However, this issue goes deeper than formats. Look at what you’re communicating through the content marketing piece, and consider whether that message a) resonates with new readers and b) reflects a core characteristic or value of your blog.
Once the reader consumes that promotional piece, and arrives at your blog, is there a natural pathway for them to follow to engage more heavily with your blog on the basis of the expectation that your content marketing has set?
I’m not just talking about a conversion funnel here—I’m talking about an emotional and intellectual sense of engagement. That process may be upset if your promotional content looks different, sounds different, or delivers differently than your blog does. Consistency of message and tone is as important as consistency of look and feel and formats.
Is the content targeted to the audience?
Any potential content marketing outlet will have an audience. Does that audience reflect a market that you want a foothold in? And does your content speak to that audience?
This consideration is particularly important if you’re repurposing existing content for an outlet whose audience is slightly different from your own—and that’s likely to be the case with most content marketing opportunities.
To be successful, your content marketing efforts will require you to micro-target your brand and message to new audience sub-segments. So simply rehashing the same content over and over in different formats or outlets probably won’t be as effective as targeting each communication to each specific opportunity and its particular audience.
That means more work for us, but also a better return on the investment we make, in terms of time and effort, to promote our blogs.
Does the content provide real value in and of itself?
What constitutes “value”? The answer to that question lies with your target audience. A recent, very successful content marketing effort by CollegeHumor.com makes that point—here, value is measured in terms of laughter and fun. For your brand, “value” might mean practical outcomes, inspiration, or something else.
The important thing is that the content you’re using in your content marketing strategy provides real value. That’ll get it shared more often, backlinked more often, and more search traffic than lower-value content that exists merely to beat your own drum. Also, high-value content is likely the only kind that will meet the points we talked about above.
Your content marketing plans
As I said, the possibilities for content marketing are almost endless, but the factors I’ve touched on here are among those that make good content marketing really great. Which ones are you using, and which have been the most successful for you? Share your experiences with us in the comments.