Co-evolution is the process of two species evolving along with each other to form a symbiotic relation, such as a bird developing a long, skinny beak along with the development of a long, skinny flower. This process allows for each species to have a beneficial, yet relatively exclusive, relationship with each other. The flower feeds the bird, which in turn helps to pollinate the flower. This natural occurrence is very similar to how an organic content marketing campaign should be; mutually beneficial and developing along with the audience.
Just like any marketing product, your content should exist to a fulfill a need. Your content will be inextricably tied to your audience, therefore should be valuable to them, but this doesn’t mean your content shouldn’t also reflect your interests and yourself. People are becoming more and more interested in the genuine, human side of the companies that they do business with.
In search engines, content serves as a signal that helps rank websites for thematically similar keywords, which can increase brand exposure and traffic to the site. Content can also be carefully placed into your sales funnel to effect conversions. Good content is valuable for many reasons.
Content comes in many forms ranging from blog posts to everyone’s favorite easy read- the infographic. It’s important to define your audience and research what content resonates with them. Here, we will discuss some theories and data about which content is best for your audience, as well as your goals.
Defining Your Audience
Audience research is not solely focused on just identifying their demographics or even psychographics. Content marketers must also utilize keyword research to identify questions, trends, and information important to that audience and tied to their industry.
First, you must define your own niche and what your content seeks to discuss. This will provide you with keyword ideas to begin your research. Are you interested in increasing sales or brand recognition? Are you reaching out to consumers or other industry experts? Something else? Each goal will need a different tactic. Use keyword planners, such as SEMrush or Google AdWords, to identify commonly searched keywords that are related to your niche. Decipher which keywords are trending and which provide room to rank.
It’s important to cover as many themes relevant to your niche as possible to develop brand authority. Identify specialized keywords that will help your website rank for specific searches, then write well-thought out and informative content. Use your industry knowledge along with the keyword research to become a thought leader in these subjects.
Research what social networks your audience uses to target them there and uncover their interests. This will vary by vertical and the specific brand image you wish to display to the world. Google Analytics Custom Kit provides leads on social networks your posts are being shared on already. Followgen remains an excellent tool to post your content directly in front of targeted audiences. There exist numerous tools, such as Intellefluence, to find social influencers, and Buzzsomo, which researches trending Twitter handles, as well as the most shared Facebook posts in your industry.
Most likely, you’ll already have a pretty good grasp on what your demographics are based on your niche. Consider talking to some of your customers or interested parties to discover keyword ideas and topics for your content. More importantly, uncover which types of content best suit their needs. Analyze your competition for the types of content they’ve been successful with and keywords they rank for.
What Content Fits your Goals
According to a survey by LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community, the content that sells most contains:
- 58% Audience relevance
- 57% Storytelling mechanisms
- 54% Triggers a response
Marketers create content distribution channels most commonly for lead generation, thought leadership, and brand awareness. It’s crucial to optimize content to fit your own marketing goals to generate a higher ROI. Know which content fits your goals.
Infographics, whitepapers, and research papers develop thought leadership and brand authority over a subject. If you’re looking to drive leads to your website, then promotions, ‘why’ articles and e-books are the most effective sources. How-to articles, consistent blog posts, and long-form content will develop brand awareness and help your website rank organically.
Note how you will use your content to help your audience reach a desired task. Does your content contain a call-to-action (CTA) and is it being marketed through the right channels? No matter what content form, there are common practices you will utilize to optimize your content to achieve a certain goal.
Content Best Practices
First, content marketing should be multi-channel and always contain backlinks to your native website. Evergreen content can always be shared again for renewed engagement. It is important when marketing your content to not oversaturate your audience, but to post on a consistent schedule. Assess all backlinks generated from your content to further analyze how well it’s performing socially and organically.
In terms of production, content should seek to fulfill a need. Successful content presents a sense of urgency, looks toward trends, and shares benefits with their audience. A hook should be present at the start of any post and seek to persuade a reader toward some desired goal.
According to the same Buzzsomo survey, content with images were 1x more likely to be shared over Facebook and were more likely to be shared over Twitter. Whether your content is long or short-form, whitespace and images remain important for easy scanability.
A CTA should be clearly visible for users to view, as well as relevant internal links with keyword specific anchor text. The Pew Research Center found that mobile users spent 25% more time reading long-form articles arrived at them from an internal link, as opposed to a social media link.
In terms of writing there are some common practices you can follow to make your content readable and shareable:
- Limit sentence length to under 20 words and eliminate run-ons
- Use active verbs and convey an active voice
- Write for readers on an 8th grade level
- Eliminate most jargon (unless writing to an industry audience)
- Keep paragraphs at 2-3 sentences a piece
- Add lists, bullets, or graphs to break up writing
- Insert at least 1-2 images for written content
- Use headers to categorize different blocks of content