6 content marketing tips for businesses

It’s hard to deny that content marketing is among the most important forms of customer outreach and engagement available to companies right now. By producing great content, a company can increase its site views, improve its search engine rankings and develop deeper relationships with its customers.With that in mind, here are six tips to help you leverage content when marketing your business.

content11. Ask first, answer second
For content marketing efforts to prove successful, they need to be engaging. When your target audience comes across a piece of content – be it a blog, a newsletter, a social media post or anything else – you want that person to feel compelled to read it all the way through. If your analytics tell you that most people skip over your content, you need to make a change.

One of the best ways to encourage engagement with your content is by asking a question early on, then answering it through the course of your content offering. Questions are naturally more intriguing to most viewers than statements, making this a powerful rhetorical device that your company can take advantage of. What’s more, asking a question and then answering it is a great way to make sure that your blog or other content stays focused, rather than meandering through a series of semi-related topics.

However, you need to be careful to not rely on this strategy too often. If every single one of your content offerings has a question in the headline or first sentence, you’ll eventually stop seeing the same level of engagement, as the technique will lose its impact on your target audience.

2. Find a need
When it comes to content marketing, you need to provide your audience with value. A consumer who finishes reading one of your company’s blog posts or other offerings should feel that he or she gained something from the experience, be it knowledge, amusement or anything else. If instead your readers feel like they wasted their time, then they aren’t going to come back for more content, or even pay attention when your company reaches out to them in the future.

So how can you make sure that your content marketing efforts deliver value? An excellent strategy is to first identify a problem or need that your audince has and then structure your content around solving, or at least dealing with, that issue.

content2Say, for example, that you own a restaurant and are looking to use content marketing as a way to increase consumers’ awareness of and fondness for your business. Instead of relying purely on self-promotion, you might want to consider offering recipes and other cooking tips for your readers. This may seem counterintuitive – after all, why should they come to your restaurant if they’re cooking at home? But people will appreciate the information you provide, and that will build good will among your readers, which in turn will make them more likely to remember your restaurant the next time they are looking for a place to eat. Additionally, providing appealing recipes will add credibility to your chefs and their food offerings.

A similar approach can work in a lot of different sectors. It all comes down to figuring out what your audience may benefit from and then delivering.

3. Don’t patronize
As you strive to help your audience solve their problems, though, you need to be careful not to come across as patronizing. No one wants to feel like they are being talked down to, and if your content carries that tone, you can be sure that your readers will look elsewhere in the future.

This can be a tough balancing act to achieve. On the one hand, you want to make sure that your content is easy to understand, even for non-experts, and so you have to take a relatively base-level approach to a lot of subjects. On the other hand, though, you want to achieve a level of sophistication in order to avoid boring your readers or restating the obvious.

A good way to help combat this problem is having someone outside your business read your content, at least on occasion, and provide feedback. This must be someone you trust, and someone who does not have your level of expertise. That way, they can provide the perspective of someone in your target audience who happened to come across this content.

4. Short, but not too short
It’s a cliche, but it’s true: People do not have long attention spans. There’s only so much time that anyone will be willing to devote to your company’s content marketing efforts. If you make your content too long, too in-depth, then you’re going to lose readers’ interest. Make sure to cut to the chase with your content, delivering the information quickly and efficiently.

However, that being said, it’s also important not to shortchange your readers by creating content that is excessively brief. If you emphasize brevity too much, you may drain the content of all value, leaving nothing but vague recommendations or shallow insight. Value should always be your overriding concern, even if it takes a few more words to get your message across than you’d like.

content35. Keep it up
Content marketing is a long game. You need to have a view to the future when planning your content marketing initiatives. That’s because these campaigns can take a lot longer to yield significant results than other forms of marketing. You need to build up credibility, build up a fan base and gradually establish yourself as a leader in your field. That doesn’t happen overnight.

This can be a frustrating process. It is very possible that long stretches of time will pass without any significant results to show from your content marketing efforts. It is easy to become discouraged as time goes on and there’s not discernible reward for your campaign. However, patience will eventually pay off.

It is also important to continue with these efforts so that you have a robust archive of material available to your customers and fans. With more material available, you can offer recommended reading to anyone who finishes one of your blog posts, keeping them on your site longer. If there’s nothing left to examine, though, that person will just navigate away immediately.

6. Find a model
In order to focus and optimize your content marketing efforts, it is useful to have a specific model in mind that you can learn from and, to an extent, imitate. This should be another company that in some way resembles yours. Perhaps it has a similar target demographic, or you want your own organization to achieve a similar tone with your outreach efforts. By choosing a good model, you can save your company a lot of time and effort as it experiments, hoping to find the right balance and plan.

However, when you choose a model, you must continue to produce your own unique content. The model should provide a general strategy for your company, but not the actual material itself for your content marketing campaign.

How does your company currently use content creation for marketing efforts?

Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.