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What’s the Secret of the Most Powerful Content Marketing Strategy? Simplicity

be-the-best-answer

Imagine all the content created from the dawn of recorded history all the way up to 2003. Cave paintings, Renaissance artwork, Egyptian hieroglyphics, sacred texts, romance novels. The whole grand multicultural enchilada.

How long would it take us, in 2016, to replicate that staggering volume of content? According to Google’s Eric Schmidt: 48 hours.

Humanity creates more content every two days than our ancestors managed in 6,000 years. Those slackers.

Sure, that’s an impressive achievement for the human race (quality of the output notwithstanding), but it’s a challenge for every marketer hoping their content finds an audience. With multiple civilizations’ worth of data published every day, how can even the snazziest of infographics earn attention?

TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has spent a decade learning what kind of content stands out from the rest. The solution is simple to say, but complicated to implement: your content must be the best answer to your customers’ questions.

To get the maximum amount of links and shares, to drive long-term search engine results, your content must be the best answer. Not content that showcases your products’ features. Not content that features .gifs of dancing cats (though it couldn’t hurt). Not even content that’s the second-best answer.

So, there you have it. Just be the best answer, and your audience will come to you. Now there’s just one small detail to figure out: How?

Lee tackled this issue in a recent webinar hosted by BuzzSumo Director Steve Rayson. Under Lee’s direction, TopRank Marketing has helped countless clients be the best answer in their respective industries, from small local businesses to Fortune 50 enterprises. You can watch the presentation below, or scroll down for the takeaways.

#1 – It Starts with a Question

Creating great content starts with finding out what questions your customers are asking. There are many ways to get inside your customers’ heads. Lee suggests:

  • Asking customers directly through email, surveys, etc
  • Asking sales staff what questions they answer every day
  • Having customer service CC the marketing department when they answer a question
  • Analyzing text from “Contact Us” form submissions
  • Using tools like BuzzSumo, Ubersuggest and Huballin

Look for correlations across multiple data sources to build your list of frequently asked questions. Then map them to stages in the buyer’s journey:

Customer Questions Drive Research

#2 – Write Valuable Content to Answer Questions

With your list of questions correlated and prioritized, it’s time to create valuable content that addresses them. Valuable content is:

  • Useful and informative. It seeks to answer a question, not bait-and-switch customers into purchasing a product.
  • Is your company qualified to answer the question? Do you have a reputation for knowledge in the field? If you need help here, consider partnering with influencers to add credibility.
  • High Quality. The best answer tends to be an in-depth exploration of the topic, including related topics where relevant. 5-point blog posts are all well and good, but you can show more value by going in-depth.
  • The content is not only relevant and informative, it’s entertaining to read.
  • Better than the Competition. Writing content that is better than your competitors’ requires research. Read what others have written on the topic, find unmet needs, and use your content to fill in the gaps.

#3 – Optimize for Humans (which Optimizes for Search Engines)

“Great content isn’t really great until it is found, consumed and shared.” Click to Tweet 

While SEO best practices are still important, quality content is the best SEO. When people are compelled to share and link to your content, search engines move you up in their rankings.

Good Answers Are Great SEO

The key is to go deep while still being entertaining. Use video and photos to keep readers’ interest. It’s worth investing in the resources to create visual content that pops.

And don’t forget crosslinking: Your comprehensive “best answer” content should link to external, and especially internal, resources that provide more information or offer next steps.

#4 – 10 Elements of Good “Best Answer” Posts

  1. They’re focused on one specific problem
  2. They provide social proof with social share count buttons
  3. They include great visuals & video
  4. They break it down step-by-step
  5. They showcase real-life examples, storytelling to boost reader understanding
  6. They’re informative and entertaining, not one or the other
  7. They’re serialized to keep audiences in a state of anticipation
  8. They follow a format that resonates, but with new content each time
  9. They’re timely, deep resources
  10. They make a big promise in the title, and actually deliver in the content.

The Ultimate Takeaway:

So what’s the best way to compete with the mountains of content out there? According to Lee: Stop creating content. Just stop.

There has to be more to that quote. Let’s see…Ah, yes:

Stop creating content, and start making answers relevant to your buyers at each stage.Click to Tweet

People don’t think, “I need to consume some content about rollerblades before I buy a pair.” Instead, they have questions: What safety equipment should I use with my rollerblades? How durable are different types of rollerblade wheels? How did I get here from 1994 when rollerblading was a thing?”

When you answer these questions with deep, informative, entertaining content, you can earn attention. Continually deliver quality content that speaks directly to your customers’ concerns, problems, and pain points, and you can earn their trust.

Address each part of the buyer’s journey with “best answer” content, and you can gently lead them to the logical conclusion that your solution is what they’ve been searching for.

Want to learn more about content marketing strategy?

Header image via Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
What’s the Secret of the Most Powerful Content Marketing Strategy? Simplicity | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post What’s the Secret of the Most Powerful Content Marketing Strategy? Simplicity appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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