Content Marketing Tips & Strategies for 2021

Content Feb 15, 2021

Content marketing is a long game, but you can’t let its low turnaround times lure you into complacency. Once you can start tracking the results of your various content marketing efforts and seeing performance analytics, you’re in a position to start making measurable improvements.

Because there’s always room for improvement. No marketing campaign, regardless of the channel, is ever perfect. Constantly seeking ways to attract more leads and boost conversions should be built into your company’s culture – even when you’re satisfied with your current results. 

With that in mind, here are some strategies and tips that might help your content marketing team deliver even better results than you’re accustomed to.

1. Give Your Readers Serious Value

So many blog posts don’t even look like they’re trying to give the reader something they can really sink their teeth into. This is usually a symptom of having keyword targets as the main driving force behind a particular piece of content.

Even though getting the right keywords into a post is a crucial part of generating organic traffic, it shouldn’t be the only problem you’re trying to solve with a blog post. You have to remember that it’s not only Google that’s going to be critically assessing your content – your readers must find value in what you’re publishing.

Exceptional value means pouring some extra effort into your post. Don’t be scared to seriously commit to research and overwhelm your reader with helpful information. Obviously, you’ll want to bear your target audience in mind.

Ask yourself: Will my readers benefit from an in-depth study on a very niche topic, or would they like a very broad aggregation of helpful info snippets.

Either way, go the extra mile. Don’t simply regurgitate what one specialist has to say on a particular topic. Spend a lot of time finding several contrasting expert opinions, and throw your own in the mix for good measure. Then write a post that really goes beyond what readers are typically served up in a company’s blog.

Alternatively, don’t just create a listicle with ten or twenty entries. Get ambitious! Really throw yourself into the topic and give your readers a resource they’ll be referencing for years. Skillcrush, for example, makes great use of this strategy with its extensive list of resources for learning to code.  

2. Consider Podcasts as Alternatives to Written Content

When most people think about content, they still think about a written post – perhaps one containing some statistical imagery or an infographic thrown in to mix things up a bit.

Again, this could be a symptom of prizing SEO above value for the audience. Gotta get those keywords in there, right?

It could also simply be that it’s never occurred to some marketers that their audience finds other formats of content – like podcasts – equally, if not more, engaging. That engagement boost has other benefits that could negate the keyword issue. 

Podcasts are increasingly becoming a viable alternative to traditional blog posts exactly because they offer things that written content doesn’t.

Listening is extremely convenient. Unlike written content or video, for that matter, podcasts are great for an audience that’s consuming content while using their eyes for something else. This makes a podcast super convenient to engage with, especially if you’re diving deep into that topic. 

Some members of your target audience may just be people who prefer to listen rather than read. And if the increasing popularity of podcasts is anything to go by, there may be many more of these than you think.

Podcasts also help you reach people who are likely to engage with you on social media. Edison Research found that podcast listeners are almost twice as likely to follow brand accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

3. Treat Prestige Content Like Reusable Assets

With many companies adopting a multi-channel approach to digital marketing, it’s becoming more and more possible to “repackage” content into different formats. This allows you to get even more return on your content marketing investment since you’ll be doing most of the legwork in the initial creation phase.

Let’s say you’ve spent $1000 on a highly detailed think-piece that positions your CEO as a thought-leader in your industry. To maximize your return on this effort, consider how many other channels you can repurpose this content for.

With the amount of research you’re likely to have done for this article, it’s possible that you could convert it into a highly impactful podcast or video, with only the production costs to worry about.

Use the blog post, the video, and the podcast to generate conversations about it on each of your social media channels. Post each one of these links wherever you can and incentivize your followers to engage with it. Ask them what their opinions are. Even urge them to disagree with you – anything to generate engagement on as many channels as possible.

Another communication method that’s becoming incredibly popular as a marketing channel is a webinar. If done correctly, these online events are an incredibly effective way to generate trust and position your brand as a genuine authority on a specific topic.

When you’ve already drummed up enough interest in the content piece and the subject warrants further discussion, seriously consider hosting one of these. If it’s your first time, do some research on ensuring its success, and remember to partner with a reputable hosting platform. The last thing you want is for technical hiccups to damage all the hard work you’ve done.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Focus on a Specific Niche

Some companies make products and offer services for a very specific target audience. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to get focused with your content marketing strategy.

If you’ve done your research and you’re confident that your buyer personas all have one or two specific traits in common, make sure that everything you publish in your company blog takes this into consideration. You don’t have to cast your net super wide if you know who you’re targeting with your content. 

What’s critical, however, is that you base these decisions on research, expert analysis, and industry knowledge. Don’t decide who your target audience is based on a hunch.

For instance, if you’ve been running a blog diligently for many years, it’s likely that you’ve seen certain content pieces outperform others in areas like bounce-rate, social media shares, click-throughs to product pages, lead harvesting, and conversion. 

If so, is it possible for you to draw any conclusions about the readers’ demographics and interests? It’s likely that you can, based on the topics of these articles. Once you’ve established what these common denominators are, you’re in a seriously powerful position.

Take a look at what medical alert system GetSafe did on their company blog. Do you notice that almost every one of the blog posts featured on its inventory mentions a combination of the terms “elderly,” “senior,” and “parent?” 

GetSafe has an incredibly clear understanding of who they’re writing content for: either the children of elderly parents or senior citizens themselves. Their content clearly speaks to the needs of these people, directly answering the question: “How do I keep my parents or spouse comfortable and safe in their old age?”

Another good example comes from JOI’s blog. Instead of only blogging about their product (almond plant based powder) they have diversified a little to provide interesting and engaging recipes for delicious looking meals. But make no mistake, they are clearly keeping the content very relevant and niched focused for their target audience of people looking for healthy plant based food options.

Are you in a position to do the same with your content? If you’re not building content performance data to help you establish a more granular view of your target audience, it may be time to consider doing this. Google Analytics is your friend!

5. Cast Your Content Net Wide if Your Product Warrants It

This strategy is essentially the exact opposite of the one outlined above, but it’s no less effective if deployed correctly. 

When developing your buyer personas, you could find out that all of them have a ton of things in common. Or maybe the one thing they have in common covers a massive spectrum of topics.

If this is the case, take a leaf from Havoc Shield’s site and get ambitious with content diversity. Cybersecurity is an incredibly broad topic, and the amount of content that can be mined from it is significant. What Havoc Shield does well is create content that not only covers the many technical aspects of digital risk but also caters to different personas interested in the topic.

Highly technical, niche pieces about the implementation of specific security solutions are punctuated with broader posts that speak in more general terms about the importance of cybersecurity and risk. The company knows that its audience isn’t comprised entirely of techies. Some of their prospective customers may be business owners with no interest in getting granular about specific solutions yet.

This is another excellent example of a company making a concerted effort in getting to know their customer base and addressing their content needs.

6. Get the Basics of SEO Right

Expecting your blog to generate traffic purely because the topics are interesting and the content is well-written is not a great approach. Yet, it’s one that so many marketing teams still take. “If you build it, they will come” is a phrase that only works in cheesy movies.

Your content can be of exceptional quality and speak to the needs of all your prospective customers, but that won’t mean you’ll get eyes on it. 

Generating organic traffic is still the most cost-effective way to generate leads. No other approach scales better than getting your content to rank on Google. That’s why content marketers need to learn how to apply the basics of SEO to their content marketing strategy. Later you can delve further into advanced techniques that will help you compete for keywords with very high search volumes.

SEO can be overwhelming, though. Even the fundamentals consist of so many moving parts that it can be difficult to know where to start. 

Here’s what I recommend.

First, you should build an in-depth understanding of how to research keywords and work them into your content appropriately. Despite Google’s varied machinations, keywords are still its primary method for delivering the content a user is searching for.

Secondly, learn about building SEO credibility for your posts and domain. Learn the art of outreach and how to generate backlinks to your blog posts. Google loves seeing high-authority websites link to your site – it shows them that they can confidently serve your content to their users.

Pour your efforts into upskilling on these two SEO topics, along with others. Understand the important role that Google plays in your content marketing efforts, and commit to staying up to date with the many changes the company makes to its algorithm. It’s also extremely helpful to learn what common SEO pitfalls to avoid.

7. Get Mobile Friendly

Just in case you weren’t aware of this interesting little fact – as of 2016, mobile devices account for the majority of the world’s web traffic. This was a significant milestone that every single business with digital touchpoints needs to be aware of.

Fortunately, the implications this stat has on the content marketing industry are relatively easy to cater for. In fact, there don’t seem to be any experts who feel that the increase in mobile content consumption should have an effect on content strategy.

What it does mean, however, is that the platforms on which content is read must be mobile-friendly. Mobile users have extraordinary expectations, and these must be catered to if you want to avoid alienating a massive segment of your blog’s target audience.

What do these facts mean for content marketers? 

Websites and blogs must be responsive and offer a customized, highly-streamlined UX for all types of mobile devices. It’s a simple enough concept but one that many website owners are reluctant to implement. To many business owners, responsiveness doesn’t feel like a priority – not when you can throw your resources at exciting new website features or at resolving important bugs.

However, ask yourself if you’re willing to compromise your content’s reach so severely by refusing to cater to mobile users? 

The number of mobile internet users continues to grow faster than their desktop counterparts. Can you really afford not to optimize your site for them?

8. Use Content to Get Extra-Granular With Retargeting

It’s easy to overlook how granular you can get with your retargeting efforts. It’s also not always obvious how big a role content can play in a successful retargeting campaign.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been served an overly generic advert from a website that I recently visited. Even if I spent fifteen minutes there and read three or four of their blog posts, I still get shown a bog-standard advert that simply links to the site’s home page.

Do brands not understand that there are tools enabling them to create detailed behavior-based information on their visitors? Don’t they grasp that they can use this information to serve personalized adverts linking to unique landing pages?

What’s the point of retargeting if you’re not going to be segmenting your site visitors intelligently and guiding them to a page that’s most likely to convert them into customers?

If you already know that a visitor has read three posts about a specific topic on your website, you know something about this visitor’s interest. By knowing which blog posts they’ve read, you can draw relatively accurate conclusions about their needs, and your retargeting platform allows you to segment them according to these.

Think about this for a second. Once you know that a particular lead has a specific pain point or requirement, why show them a generic advert that’ll simply guide them to your home page?

Why not create a customized advert using language you know will speak to them? Why not take them to a landing page that expands on their pain point and shows them how your product will solve it?

The intersection between content and retargeting is something that remains unexplored by many marketers. Think critically about how effectively you’re using your blog to segment and target your site visitors. Can you do more? 

9. Mine Customer Successes for Case Studies

If you operate in the B2B space, successful implementation of your product can be mined for exceptionally valuable content. Case studies or customer stories are not only incredibly informative about the industry you and your leads operate in, but they also go a long way towards creating credibility for your product.

Think of these posts as highly informative, entertaining testimonials. The tendency with content marketing is to avoid the hard sell. To avoid making the piece about your brand. Because doing so hurts the objectivity of the post and undermines the value a user will gain from it.

Content marketing is about providing value for the reader, and it’s incredibly tough to do that when your objective includes shining a spotlight on how awesome you are.

Case studies are an established method of giving your readers valuable insights into the problems their peers face and how they solved these with a specific solution – yours.

For examples of brands doing this right, look at HubSpot or Outreach.

Both of these brands have perfected the art of creating compelling, highly educational narratives around specific implementations of their products.

Finding this balance between informing and revealing the benefits of your product is the foundation of using case studies in a content marketing context.

Some Final Thoughts

As a CEO of a small company or the CMO of a large one, it can be tough to read an article like this one and instantly know which tips and strategies are applicable to your brand. There’s no paint-by-numbers approach to this complex and nuanced digital marketing channel. And there’s almost no way for an outsider to say what’s going to work for you and what isn’t. All an expert can do is suggest that you always try to think of your customer’s needs when devising improvements to your current marketing strategies.

When researching new ways to inject life into your company’s messaging, consider what your target audience wants and needs. Meeting your leads and existing customers where they are should be your top priority, rather than simply making strategic changes for the sake of it. Always bear this in mind.

This article is about:

John Hurley

John Hurley is a professional nerd. He loves staying up to date on the latest trends in digital technology, and delivering outstanding results to his (mostly SaaS & e-commerce) clients.

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