By Neil Patel published August 24, 2015

7 Surefire Ways to Get More Impact From Your Content Marketing

impact-content-marketing-cover

Why is there a disconnect between doing content marketing and getting results from content marketing? Although it’s a ubiquitous method, content marketing is not automatically an effective method unless you leverage it in the right way.

Follow this checklist of tips, tricks, hacks, techniques, and practices to improve the impact of your content marketing.

1. Be consistent

Content marketing usually “fails” because people quit. Never, ever quit.

Many businesses function on the microcosm of the annual quarter. Quarterly earnings, key performance indicators, and metrics must be up and to the right on the graph to validate a current marketing technique. The problem is, content marketing doesn’t work that way. Results – let alone conversions – don’t come instantly.

Organizations must develop a long-term vision of their content marketing efforts. Instant results are unrealistic.

2. Hire the best

The mantra, “Content is king,” has been modified by the more nuanced expression, “Quality content is king.” To have great quality content, you have to have high-quality writers.

Tip: If you pay $25 an article, you may not find the best writer. The elite writers and content creators usually work at a far higher level of pay.

With the rise of quality as a ranking factor, marketers realized that they couldn’t simply push out vast amounts of content. Instead, they needed to selectively push out the best content.

What constitutes good quality? Here are some guidelines:

  • Go deep. Articles that treat the issue in depth are far more successful at reaching and convincing an audience.
  • Go long. Long-form content has a higher chance of converting audience. Articles that exceed 1,000 words have a greater chance of appearing in the search engine results pages and prompting user engagement.
  • Use a variety of content. Today’s content needs a strong dose of variety – images, infographics, embedded tweets and Facebook posts, and videos.
  • Be readable. The user’s experience is a crucial factor in the ongoing reliability, authority, and success of the content. Issues such as mobile readability, formatting, style, and layout affect the experience.

3. Trace every strategy or campaign back to three essentials

I rely on a data-driven approach to my content marketing efforts. It’s not enough to publish, publish, and publish. To truly have an impact, my content must make a bottom-line impact on revenue.

I use the pyramid approach as explained by Joe Pulizzi.

pulizzi-pyramid-primary-indicators-image 1

Image source

It looks complicated, but at its core, the pyramid is about three things:

  • Is the content driving sales?
  • Is the content saving costs?
  • Is the content making our customers happier, thus helping with retention?

I’ve seen content marketing work, so I intuitively expect it to move the needle on sales, cost-savings, and customer retention. I insist, however, on seeing actual impact.

If you can’t see how your content marketing efforts connect to one of the three objectives, you need to re-strategize.

4. Imitate the world’s best brands

While I like to see myself as an innovator in content marketing, I don’t claim to have a corner on the market of content marketing strategy.

I’ve benefited in incredible ways from observing some of the world’s best and biggest brands. Here are some of the things that I’ve seen to be successful:

  • Deep, thorough, and authoritative content
  • Content syndication
  • Humor
  • Lifestyle-marketing techniques
  • Infographics
  • User-generated content
  • Heavy social promotion of long-form content pieces
  • Storytelling

The world’s best brands aren’t necessarily the world’s biggest brands. Big brands often have huge budgets that allow them to mass-produce content. Yet, it’s often the small brands that possess the creativity to push the envelope on content marketing strategy.

5. Don’t try to innovate; just try to be valuable

In an attempt to be innovative, some brands have lost their way. In the wake of a major event, marketers often rush to capitalize on the news for their own gain. When such major events – the death of a celebrity, a natural disaster, or maladaptive cultural issue – are tragic, marketing is cheapened and disgusting.

Innovation for innovation’s sake is not admirable. What is admirable is listening to what your customers need and want, and serving them. Focus on giving value, and you’ll get value back.

6. Focus on what you do best; forget the rest

I want to repurpose the cliché, “Do your best and forget the rest,” to “Publish your best content where it does the best, and forget the rest of the content platforms.”

There are dozens of places where you could publish content. Just because it’s possible doesn’t mean that you should. If you have the resources and personnel to manage every social account, publish on every blog, comment on every forum, and manage every profile, then go for it.

However, if you can’t do a great job because you’re in too many places, stop. Select the one or two channels where your awesome content gets high engagement, and focus on those.

There’s a cognitive bias known as the “sunk-cost fallacy” – you believe that you should continue on a path that is obviously not the best because you’ve already invested so much time or resources into it.

If something isn’t working, stop it. Reject the sunk-cost fallacy, and do the things that are truly effective.

7. Do less with your content marketing

What are you trying to do with your content marketing? Your list may look something like this:

  • Drive more sales
  • Increase revenue
  • Increase user sign-ups
  • Grow Facebook “likes”
  • Get more email addresses
  • Increase number of trial users
  • Boost engagement of newsletter subscribers

A list is useless. Why? There is no priority.

A priority is a thing that is regarded as more important than another. If you had to pick a single goal of your content efforts, what would it be?

Focus on that until you achieve it in a measurable way. What about side effects like growing your social media presence? Forget it.

Gary Keller, author of The One Thing, wrote “You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”

Focus on your one thing.

For example, let’s say your business objective is to sell more consulting gigs. You know that most of your leads come from your email list. Your goal, then, is to increase sign-ups to your email list. So, instead of frittering your time on a Facebook strategy, Twitter strategy, Google Plus strategy, Reddit strategy, Pinterest strategy, LinkedIn content strategy, guest-posting strategy, and whatever else, nail your one thing:  email sign-ups.

From now on, everything that you do hones in on that one thing. Sweep everything else off the table. From now on, you’re going to have a laser focus.

With email sign-ups as the single focus, what’s the process to achieve your goal?

Write killer content for your blog with the call to action for email sign-ups.

Entrepreneur, author, and speaker, James Clear, offers a good example of this focus. Nearly every page of his website has the form you see below. On some pages, you’ll see more than one form.

james-clear-email-signup-image 3

James has social media and other channels, but he has a single focus: Get more subscribers. All of his best content is gated. You have to be a subscriber to access it. He reports more than 180,000 subscribers.

Conclusion

There are ways to get better at content marketing that don’t cost a lot of money, don’t require a lot of time, and aren’t insanely complicated.

We won’t get any better at content marketing by simply doing the same things over and over. We’ll get better by thinking strategically and targeting impact, not repetition.

What are some ways that you’ve gained more impact from your content marketing efforts?

We’re just a few weeks away from an intensive few days focused on helping you improve your content marketing. There’s still time to register for Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio. Use code CMI100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he has created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. You can connect with him on Twitter @neilpatel.

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  • http://careersreport.com Theresa Thomas

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  • http://www.limwriter.com/ Clement Lim

    Hi Neil

    Helpful insights as always.

    My strategy so far is:
    1. Try a bunch of stuff.
    2. See what works.
    3. Improve on what’s working.

    Having said that, I think you put it a bit more eloquently than me.

    • https://expresswriters.com Julia McCoy

      Hi Clement,

      I think you have a good start! Neil once again nailed it in this post. What are the bunch of stuff you’ve been trying, by the way? And, what have you been finding to work best so far?

      As for my team, we’ve been socializing a lot (Twitter chats, blog, social media posting & commenting) – it’s fun and something we look forward to each time we check on notifications! I run a copywriting agency, by the way. :)

      Cheers,
      Julia

      • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

        Julia, great questions. Looking forward to hearing the answers from Clement as well !

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Clement, basically that’s what I suggest 😉

  • http://www.igsmgmt.com Soma Jurgensen

    Neil, thank you for this thoughtful post. I’ve just started my business and am working on connecting my name to quality content that helps people learn to be successful. Here’s my value proposition, “Intentional Growth Strategies
    consults with small business owners to increase their sales and industry
    thought-leadership using B-School theory in real-world practice.” As an educator at heart, my passion is to help people learn. Now, I need to help people convert as well.

    Soma

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Soma, I like it! Sounds like a great strategy that I believe will provide a lot of value to your audience.

      • http://www.igsmgmt.com Soma Jurgensen

        Neil, if flattery will get me anywhere I’ll confess I read a lot of your work because I learn from it. If you’re interested I’d love for you to take a look at the last two posts I’ve written at igsmgmt.com/blog

  • Kieth

    Thanks Neil for speaking up your mind about content marketing. Writing a wonderful blog post is not effective until and unless it is not marketed well among your targeted readers so as to improve the online presence and visibility of your website content. Focusing on the content quality, word length, keyword instance, non repetitiveness, unique information and other such factors can help a lot in increasing the appeal of your content. Apart from this, business organizations can also take the help of various heat map tools like Click Tale, Mocking Fish, Lucky Orange and such others so as to create content according to the choice and preferences of the site visitors.

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Keith, glad I could help. Thanks for sharing these insightful tips and mentioning these additional tools. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  • Marina Kirushkina

    Thanks for sharing this tips and idea, Sure it is a big help for beginners like me.

  • Kenethe1234

    Thanks Neil for sharing such great post. As a content marketer i personally feel you are right to the point. Waiting for more posts from you!

  • Ross

    Great post. Straight froward tips for content generation. The most important thing to remember is that not every post has to be the next best thing that your company or product is doing. Just show the value of what you do and people will connect with it, but only if it’s relevant to them. However, it doesn’t always have to be relevant!

  • Jaqui Lane

    Neil, terrific post. Agree with Ross (below). Great, actionable tips. Really like the focus on quality and being valuable.

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