43 Ideas to Effectively Level Up Your Content Marketing Efforts

Content marketing is the new SEO. If you can create great content, you will be able to spark the interest of real people and Google will reward you for that. A lot of content marketers see content solely as a way to increase their search rankings and nothing more. In reality, content marketing is a dynamic approach to communications that encompasses a variety of key benefits. Whether it’s brand building, generating backlinks, streamlining the sales process or telling the brands story through an effective and compelling story; content marketing can generate meaningful and measurable results for businesses.

However, when it comes to content marketing, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about implementing these tactics. Furthermore, there is a variety of different tactics that will work well for some businesses but won’t work for the next. As we strive to be effective content marketers, it’s important that we place value on identifying the best approaches for our businesses, brands and clients.  Take a look at the following content marketings ideas and think about how you can use these tactics for your business:

photo credit: fstop186

On-Site Content Marketing

Create a Blog

If you’ve been following Steamfeed for a while you are familiar with the various authors who reiterate the importance of blogging. It’s one of the most effective content marketing tactics that you can utilize in today’s landscape. When developing a blog you must first identify the consumers who you’re aiming to connect with and ensure that the content you deliver is relevant and valuable. In doing so, you will build a following of individuals who are passionate about your business and are willing to share your brands story.

Offer Content for Download

Creating valuable content is the main muscle behind many businesses and startups using content marketing. The majority of these businesses identify their target audiences needs and wants as it relates to information. From there, they develop a variety of types of content that their audience would be willing to give up their email in exchange for. As an example, a business in the content marketing industry is likely to offer up a guide to content marketing or a webinar on blogging.

Have a Landing Page for Content

Forgetting about landing pages is one of the most frequent content marketing mistakes made by the experts. It’s important that you develop great landing pages that are built with the intent of driving conversion. Whether that’s capturing a lead or converting a user directly into a sale; you need to analyze your landing page design and copy and optimize it for success.

Share Your Blog Posts

It’s not comfortable sharing your own posts over and over again but sometimes it needs to be done. Now, I’m not saying go crazy and only share the blog posts that are penned by you. I’m saying recognize that it’s okay to share your own content. For every blog post or piece of content you share that was written by yourself, share four that was created by someone else.

Utilize Social Media Plugins

Too often do I come across a blog post that is amazing and have to copy and paste the URL to share it on Twitter. Instead of making users work to share your content, make it easy for them by integrating social media plugins directly into your posts. You see the twitter and facebook buttons on the left of this post? Those are plugins. You need them too.

Provide a Form for Feedback on Your Blog

There are a handful of ways to do this but the essence behind asking people for feedback is simple. Data can only tell you so much. It’s important to embrace and utilize a combination of both qualitative and quantitative data to make educated decisions. If you’re able to add a form to your blog asking people what type of posts they want to see, you have a chance to increase the relevance of the content you’re developing for your audience.

Create the Ultimate Guide to [Industry Related Topic]

No one likes to be in the dark when it comes to knowing something. Earlier we talked about how you can develop content for people to download on your site, this is one of those types of content you can create. Developing ultimate guides have worked well for many businesses such as KissMetrics and Salesforce. Think about your industry and consider creating similar content for your business to generate an increase in leads. For example, if you’re in the tourism industry, create the ultimate guide to backpacking in your city or ultimate guide for hipsters – Trust me, those will get buzz.

Place Promotions Front & Centre

Stop hiding your promotions on internal pages! If you’re going to hold a promotion it only makes sense to share the details about it with your audience. Yes, you’re not going to make as much off a user who would have bought from you without the promotion but it’s very likely that you’ll increase the volume of sales because of this approach. Meaning, if your product is great, there is a chance for spin-off business through repeat and referral business.

Focus on Blog Posts that Go Viral

Google Analytics is a great channel to capture key insights and ideas as they relate to your target audience. Use your analytics program to track which blog posts are generating the most shares and if necessary, pivot your content marketing approach to ensure that you’re delivering the most valuable content possible to your audience.

Integrate H1 and H2 Tags

Some of you might think that this is an SEO idea and not a content marketing idea. I believe that you can’t talk about content marketing without talking SEO and you can’t talk about SEO without talking about content marketing. In many ways, they both have the same goals and for that reason, I include SEO as a part of the content marketing mix. When you’re writing the copy on your website remember to use H1 and H2 title tags for headers that include important keywords.

Communicate Your Value Proposition Clearly

The first step to having a great strategy for turning visitors into leads is developing a value proposition that is aligned with your customers wants/needs. When a potential customer finds your website they will typically find it by searching for their wants and needs or their actual problem. When they land on a search results page they will typically look for the headline that expresses the most feasible solution to their problem. Make sure that the message you offer them in the search results is compelling and worth clicking.

Use Call-To-Actions on your Site

If you’re offering a free trial, tell people about it. You’ll be surprised how much more likely people are to click something simply because you ask them to do it. It’s important that the buttons on your site are not simply there to take users to read more information and not get closer to the sale. Ensure that your businesses website is built in a way that has forms and buttons focused on generating leads and sales.

Create Unique Infographics

I’ve worked with a handful of businesses on developing infographics over the last few years and I’ve found that the market and interest for infographics is definitely changing. That said, it’s changing for the better because no longer are people able to get away with crappy infographics as people are seeking out the best infographics around. Today, you need to create infographics that are compelling, unique and provide jaw dropping stats. Essentially, the public is sick of being met with poorly designed infographics and are now demanding quality.

Provide Case Studies & Testimonials

For one reason or another, businesses have a lot of difficulty in being authentic when it comes to providing testimonials. There have been a handful of cases where businesses were caught creating fake profiles and writing phoney testimonials. In reality, customers are already skeptical of third party endorsements and brands so it’s important to be authentic and do everything possible to get people to believe what you write.

Develop an Explainer Video

An explainer video is the video you see when you land on a businesses website that explains the value proposition by also highlighting the target audiences problem. These videos aren’t that expensive if you shop around a bit and can dramatically increase your conversion rate if you develop a compelling video.

Spice Up your Directions Page

A lot of businesses don’t take advantage of their copy to their full advantage. Instead of simply sharing your address with people, tell people a bit about the area in which they’re trying to get to. Let them know if they have to park in a dark corner or if there’s a secret passage way they can sneak into if their special. Spice this section up a bit by giving your brand a bit of personality and telling your visitors a secret or two about where to park.

Develop an FAQ Section

How many emails do you get from customers on a weekly basis? How often are those questions the same questions as you answered the week before? Instead of breaking up your day answering questions, provide your customers and website videos with a chance to find the answers to their questions directly on your site.

Embrace Pop Culture References

Everyone loves a brand who can show a bit of personality. The hardest part about being a business is the fact that people like people more than they like businesses. What I mean is, it’s hard for a business to connect with someone on a personal level because they aren’t a person. That said, we can make a business have traits of a person or at least try by injecting it with a variety of tactics like imagery, copy and design. Another great approach is embracing pop culture. Whether it’s creating a video about the Muppets and Marketing or Fresh Prince and Business Lessons; brands can benefit from referencing human interests.

Showcase News Mentions

Again, I know this sounds braggy but it’s okay to talk about yourself every now and again. Showcasing the fact that your business has been featured in the news, in an interview or in the media is a great way to build credibility. The logos of some of the big players in media automatically provide your business with an increase in street-cred and legitimacy for prospects.

Develop a Cool “Our Team” Page

There is something to be said for a business that puts effort into their “our team” page. It shows that the business cares about the details and typically, if the page is unique enough, it tells the visitor a little bit about the corporate culture and atmosphere. Here are two of my favourite “our team” pages; one from Lateral and the other from Kickstarter.

Link to Social Media

No those little tiny icons that nobody can find don’t count. Make it easy for the user to connect with you and your business how they want, when they want. If a potential customer is more comfortable reaching out to you using Twitter than using a form on your website; make it easy for them to take that approach.

Social Media Content Marketing

Start a Twitter Chat

Every week a handful of people gather behind their computers and partake in Twitter chats. A twitter chat is when a group of people come together on twitter and have a discussion about something important or relevant to them. For example, there are chats held every week specific to bloggers like #BlogChat where individuals come and talk about their challenges and insights as they relate to blogging.

Mention & Retweet Influencers

Wondering how you can get on the radar of someone? Follow them, retweet them, mention them, rinse and repeat. Everyone checks to see who is mentioning them on Twitter so mentioning people on a regular basis will definitely get you on their radar. If you retweet their content and take part in meaningful conversation with them you have a chance to see them start scratching your back in return. Some might retweet your tweets, others might give you a follow friday shout out – Try and find out!

Start or Sponsor a Tweet Up

If you’re looking to take your online relationships to the next level, look no further than meeting someone in person. A connection with someone over Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook is great but it’s always better to go from pixels to flesh.

Mention other Accounts in Bio

Do you manage multiple accounts? Is your business page managed by multiple people? If so, it’s a good idea to mention other twitter handles in your bio so those who stumble across your page are likely to click those hashtags and follow the other pages. If you’re a brand that has multiple community managers, it might be worth saying something like: “This page is managed by @thisguy and @thatgirl” directly in the bio.

Target Niche Groups on Facebook

Facebook now allows business pages to target specific posts to specific audiences. The benefit to this is that you’re able to specifically target people with messages that are directly relevant to their interests, personality and demographics. For example, if you run a global account and want to tell your Toronto Maple Leaf fans how much you love the Leafs and your New York Islanders fans how much you love the Islanders; you can target both groups based on their city.

Do Something Unique with Fiverr

So Fiverr is this marketplace where people all over the world are waiting for people to pay them five dollars to do a variety of different things. Whether that’s drawing a cartoon, plastering a university with posters or spending an hour simply listening to someone talk; they’ve got you covered. People will do some crazy things for five dollars and I’m sure you can either (1) find someone offering something that could help you create great content or (2) make a listing looking for someone to do something that will make great content.

Sponsor Posts with Call-To-Actions

As I stated before, it’s easy to get people to do things when you tell them to do it. Create status updates on Facebook that say share this post or like this post and you’ll be met with an increase in the level of engagement on that post. Sponsor that post using Facebook advertising and you’ll see a huge increase in the number of people interacting with that content.

Embrace Hootsuite to be Efficient

Hootsuite is a great channel for anyone looking to optimize their time effectively on Twitter for productivity. Other apps exist like Tweetdeck and BufferApp but Hootsuite is my personal favourite for Twitter management as a whole. My favourite part about Hootsuite is the ability to schedule your tweets in advance. Meaning, you don’t actually have to be on Twitter on Christmas to send out a tweet on Christmas; you can schedule it a week in advance.

Test Various Titles of Your Blog on Twitter

If you’re using Hootsuite you can shorten your links and track which tweets are the most popular. The Hootsuite link shortener is connected to a Hootsuite analytics program that you can use to monitor ongoing results of your tweets. Experiment with the titles of your blog posts on Twitter and you will be able to start making educated decisions as it relates to what people are clicking.

Run Unique Contests on Facebook

Think about how you can utilize applications like Wildfire to run contests that will make users want to provide you with their information. At the core of a contest, you need to ensure that there is an objective or goal associated with it. Too often do brands think they should run contests for the sake of running contests and not taking into consideration the actual return. For example, if you’re running a carpet company, you shouldn’t run a contest that involves giving away an ipad. Why? Well, what does an iPad have to do with carpet? The people entering your contest could care less about your value proposition and care more about winning that iPad.

Embrace Photography

Content marketing isn’t limited to great promotion and explainer videos. It’s also important that your business recognizes that photos can play an important part of your content marketing mix. As it relates to photos, you’re probably already using images on channels like Facebook but have you thought about using Instagram for content marketing? If not, now might be the time.

Like & Engage with Other Brands

Some brands have sister brands they can leverage on social media for support and ongoing engagement. Others are in the wild alone and forced to go up against their competitors alone and develop their brand as a sole entity. Instead of simply sharing content through your own network over and over again, look at other brands and engage on their page. Don’t spam their page and promote your products but instead chime in with value or entertainment. Just Google “Oreo vs AMC Theaters” to see what I’m talking about.

Use Tags on Instagram

Similar to the hashtags found on Twitter or good old tags on a blog; Instagram users have the ability to use tags for their photos. In doing so, users have the ability to monitor tags for relevant content and overtime it has become clear that users prefer certain tags over others. If you use these tags within your photos, they are more likely to be discovered by other users. Here are the top 20 tags on Instagram.

Use Images + Text on Instagram

The combination of photos with an overlay of text have picked up lots of steam with the launch of instagram. Whether it’s an inspirational quote or a funny line from the folks at Mens Humor – the combination of an image with text is a winning duo. Here are a few examples of inspirational quotes that would work great on instagram.

Share Photos on Facebook

The introduction of “share” on Facebook has presented brands with an opportunity to see an increase in their reach like never before. It’s very rare for a user to go on Facebook and not be met with an image of some sort placed on their newsfeed. Whether it’s the latest meme, photos from last night or an interesting photo shared by a brand; photos rule the newsfeed.

Embrace Reactive Storytelling

Instead of simply sharing status updates that are all about your brand you should share updates that are relevant to your fans. Furthermore, you should strive to create content that they will feel is worth sharing with their friends. An easy way to develop content that goes viral is through reactive storytelling. Reactive storytelling is the combination of a top of mind idea and a brand relevant marketing message. An example of this can be found in the most recent initiatives from Oreo.

Ask Question on Facebook

Social media is a social place. Instead of simply using Facebook to push a message on your audience you should use it to take part in a dialogue. A simple way to do that is to ask them a question. The format of the question can range from multiple choice to “this or that” – Both of these different approaches can spark a conversation through interesting content.

Utilize Facebook Timeline

Instead of simply using Facebook timeline to showcase the efforts you’ve made on Facebook since launching the page, look back into your old photo albums for a blast from the past. Upload images from when your restaurant first opened it’s doors and show pictures of the first logo your business ever had. Share videos of the original founders or pictures of the first team luncheon. Nostalgia is a powerful tool and one that you should be looking to utilize on Facebook.

Upload Photo Albums

After an event, share a photo album filled with photos of those who attended. Everyone wants to see their photo online so if you’ve captured their picture, you can surely expect to see some new names getting tagged in your photos. As they get tagged a few of them will like your page and possibly become brand advocates in the future.

Create Branded Cover Photos

Some people are still trying to figure out what they should have in their cover photo. As you develop your content plan, think about whether or not your brand has a message or concept that would work well as a cover photo for consumers. If it is, create the cover photos and upload the batch as a photo album. Share that album as an update and encourage people to use their favourites.

Create Something Worth Pinning

A lot of brands want to get into the Pinterest world but don’t quite get it. They start by creating boards that no one is interested in and not really embracing or seeing the number one benefit of Pinterest. The number one benefit that Pinterest holds is the ability to share relevant content with a highly relevant and engaged audience. Thus, brands need to think about what type of content they can put into the internet ecosystem that is worth pinning. (Example: Recipes, DIY, Fashion, etc)

Email Marketing

Don’t forget Email Marketing

It’s not new. It’s not shiny. It does work. Don’t get caught up in the hype and buzz around social media to a point where you forget what great results you can generate from utilizing email marketing. It’s a channel that people have been using for years and it’s a channel that can still drive meaningful results. Think about how you can use email to drive users to your landing pages and ultimately convert.

What tactics do you use to take your content marketing to the next level?

Ross Simmonds
Ross Simmonds is a digital strategist, public speaker and entrepreneur. He's currently writing  Stand Out: A Content Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs which highlights how businesses can use content marketing to drive meaningful and measurable results
Ross Simmonds

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