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Content Marketing Tips for 2021

John Hurley 0

Successful content marketing campaigns have a ton of moving parts. There’s so much to this topic that the internet is overflowing with strategies, tips, guides, and tactics for people who want to get more value out of their company’s blog.

If you’re one of these folks and you’re getting ready to re-energize your approach to content marketing, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’re presenting an expertly-curated list of the best advice the web’s content marketing boffins have to offer.

Let’s get started!

1. Offer Exceptional Value with How-to Guides

Paying some attention to your post titles can have a very positive impact on their clickability. People are enticed by topics that promise them something valuable and then deliver.

No one wants to go on a never ending quest to find a bunch of articles that answer all the questions they have on a topic. They’d much rather click on one search result that says: “Hey! Over here! I’ve got everything you need!” and then never Google the topic again.

That’s why using phrases like: “How to,” “A complete beginner’s guide to,” or “Everything you need to know about…” in your title will help your article stand out from other search results.

Just bear in mind that you’ll need to follow through with this promise. And I mean really follow through. A “How to guide for beginners” isn’t going to be a 1,000-word article. It shouldn’t even be a 3,000-word article.

If you make an exceptional promise in your post’s title, you better deliver – and skimping on the word count or the sub-topics you cover is not the way to do this. Aim for the stars here!

Take a look at this excellent example from Gili Sports. The paddleboard manufacturers have gone all out with their beginner’s guide to stand-up paddleboarding.

image source: gilisports

They’ve addressed absolutely everything a novice paddleboarder needs to know, from using the board to transporting it. On top of that, they’ve incorporated a ton of visuals and videos to keep the reader engaged.

2. Give Your Posts Google-Friendly Titles

I (sort of) touched on this topic in the previous section, highlighting how important your blog posts’ titles are.

This section on post titles, however, is about creating titles that Google likes. Because, believe it or not, the search engine superstars pay a lot of attention to this.

Google’s main priority is to serve their users satisfying search results. Google wants the user to find what they need on the first search – it’s what makes them such an exceptional search engine.

To help them do this, Google has updated their search algorithm to look for certain “signals”  of quality – signs that a particular web page can be trusted to contain useful, meaningful content.

One of those signals is a page title that understands the searcher’s intent, or the reason they are looking for specific content. To simplify, Google wants to see detailed titles that show an interest in why the reader is looking for something.

Take a look at this post from Skillcrush for an example of such a title: “Exactly What You Need to Know to Become A Front End Developer In 2021.” There’s a lot going on here, and all of it shows that the writer has the reader’s interest at heart.

Populating their blog with exceptionally titled posts is a tactic Skillcrush uses to great effect. 

Other great examples of posts that use words showing an interest in why the reader is searching include: “How to Update Your Professional Online Presence And Why It’s So Important” and “How to Set Up Your LinkedIn if You Want to Get Hired in Tech.”

image source: skillcrush

Skillcrush could very easily have gone through the motions here and simply called these posts: “How to become a Front-End Developer,” “Getting the most out of your online presence,” or “Optimizing your LinkedIn profile.”

3. Promote Your Content… Inside Your Content

Once you’ve managed to lure a visitor to your site with a particular post, you should do what you can to keep them there. 

Remember that the longer you manage to keep a visitor engaged with your content, the more time you have to turn them into a customer. 

No matter what you consider a “conversion,” whether it’s making a sale or harvesting an email address, your chances of doing so increase dramatically with each page your visitor engages with.

Many blogs make use of a “related articles” section in the site’s sidebar for this purpose – a decent strategy, but one with limited visibility.

A more effective approach would be to find ways of promoting related content INSIDE the text of your blog post. A skilled writer should have no trouble linking to several of your other articles in an elegant, unobtrusive way.

Take a look at how well Zoma pulls this off. Their “Best Mattress Under $1000” post contains no fewer than six links to other pages on their site.

One way Zoma manages to slip these links into their post without overwhelming the reader is to also include a healthy number of links to external resources. This makes the reader feel comfortable that they’re dealing with content that has their interests at heart – a brand that isn’t just desperately grappling for every scrap of their attention at the expense of providing valuable information.

4. Tell Your Customers’ Success Stories

Detailed case studies are an excellent way to nurture a warm lead, especially if you’re operating in the B2B space. 

A thorough breakdown of how a customer implemented your product and the many ways it benefitted their business is a very effective sales mechanism.

A traditional case study does tend to be a little “sterile” to be used as marketing content, though. Case studies are extremely objective, information-driven, and kind of a slog to read. 

In recent years, smart marketers have started using the term “customer success stories” to describe case studies that are shorter, easier to read, and have a less formal tone. 

More accessible case studies make for incredibly engaging marketing content. They’re unashamedly promotional, but since they’re told entirely from a customer’s perspective, they don’t come across as overly “salesy.”

Keap shows us how to package data-focused information in a friendly, super readable way with the customer stories section of their blog.

image source: keap.com

All of the posts share the same format and layout. They give us an overview of the customer’s business, a summary of how the project succeeded, a candid interview with the client, and then the implementation story.

By humanizing the customer in a video interview, Keap makes it easy for us to invest emotionally in the story. It helps readers project themselves into the position of the customer. This is an incredibly intelligent way to use content as a lead-nurturing mechanism.

5. Get Featured as a Google Snippet

For those unfamiliar with the term, a snippet is the extract from a specific web page that Google displays above their usual selection of results. 

Google’s intention with the snippet section is to provide the user with the answer they’re looking for without having them click through to one of the search results.

Getting your content pages featured in the snippet section has a tremendously positive influence on your site’s capability to generate traffic. This particular case study shows a 500% increase in a page’s click-through rate after Google started featuring it as a snippet.

Getting featured as a snippet isn’t easy, but the overwhelmingly positive results make it a worthwhile pursuit. There’s more to this than can cover in this tip-section, so feel free to explore the web for more in-depth answers

Here’s a quick summary of the fundamentals:

  • Create content that answers very specific questions.
  • Write paragraphs that are worded the exact way you would answer the question verbally.
  • Apply an organized, logical content structure and use HTML “heading” tags liberally.
  • Use numbered bullet-points when your answer conveys a step-by-step process.

There’s a lot more to getting featured as a snippet than these tips. If you’re interested in implementing this tactic, make sure that you do your research. There is no shortage of excellent posts covering the topic.

6. Invite Experts to Create Content for You

Commonly referred to as “roundup posts,” content pieces that invite several thought-leaders to give their opinion on a specific matter are becoming incredibly popular. 

Roundup posts consist almost entirely of content provided by external parties. Basically, you send out a nicely worded, personalized invitation to a bunch of relevant subject matter experts or influencers, asking them their opinion on something. 

You’re fully upfront with them about the opinion getting published in a roundup and offer them full credit, a bio, a link to their web presence, and a portrait shot of their smiling face.

Aawebmasters show us how it’s done with this superb roundup post: “48 Experts Share Their Best Tip on How to Choose the Best eCommerce Software Platform.”

image source: aawebmasters

Compiling the roundup isn’t an easy task. The outreach process can be particularly frustrating and cumbersome, but the rewards are exceptional.

Firstly, readers love them – for the same reason they love extensive “how-to” guides. They know that the post is likely to contain a ton of extremely helpful advice from people who know what they’re talking about.

Secondly, roundup posts are a great way to improve your site’s domain authority. Expert opinions are highly referenceable, and blog writers are frequently looking for specialist quotes that back up a statement in a post they’re working on. If one of these writers finds a winning quote in your post, you’ve scored yourself a backlink!

Some time ago, Neil Patel published a masterclass on how to create an effective roundup post. Read it here if you want some more detailed advice.

Some Closing Thoughts

Okay, we’re already three months into 2021, and it’s possible that we may have lost some of the energy we took with us into the new year. 

Let’s not allow this to stop us from getting proactive! Let’s continue researching new content marketing tactics. Let’s bravely implement those that will work for our brand. Let’s monitor and test the results so that we know when we’re on the right track.

Most importantly, let’s remember that improving our marketing strategies is an ongoing process. We don’t have to wait for the start of the year (or any other significant date) to critically assess and overhaul everything that isn’t working in our business.

Saving up site improvements for a time when inspiration and motivation strikes will have diminishing returns. It’s far more effective to implement improvements in smaller increments throughout the year.

While it’s tempting to use the dawning of a new year for motivation, you’ll undoubtedly see better results if you make a more frequent habit of rethinking your marketing strategies.

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