Break out your stone tablet and chisel, it’s time to unearth the ten commandments of content marketing. Ok, these commandments aren’t quite as old or historic as the biblical ones, but they should serve as guiding principles in your pursuit of content greatness.
1. Honour thy audience
To be successful in content marketing, you have to know who your audience is. Every time you sit down to write you should be crafting content that appeals to that group.
“This is probably the most important commandment of all,” Ryan Scott, marketing consultant with Lean Labs, says. “Too many brands create content expecting it to be a magic pill that brings them customers.”
If you don’t know your audience, your content won’t have an impact.
2. Honour thy strategy
You need to have a strategy in place to maximize the return on your efforts. It’s okay to review your content strategy and tweak it as needed, but don’t stray from it. It should serve as your roadmap to success.
3. Thou shalt not steal content
Ok, you’re probably thinking that this commandment goes without saying, right? Well, sometimes even the obvious should be restated. After all “Thou shalt not kill” seems like a no-brainer, but it still ended up engraved on still had Moses’ tablets.
You can draw inspiration from your favorite blogs, magazines and newspapers, but make sure your ideas are your own. If you use part of an article or a quote, give that person and publication credit.
A BuzzFeed political reporter failed to do this and was fired when 40 different instances of plagiarism were found in his work. The point is, it happens and not only is it unethical, it can also really hurt your brand.
4. Thou shall create fresh content henceforth
As a content creator, you’re tasked with writing fresh, new content on a regular basis. That’s the best way to attract readers and keep them coming back.
However, coming up with new ideas can be tough. If you sell widgets, how many different stories can you write about them? It’s not always easy, but try holding brainstorming sessions, drafting content that relates to an upcoming holiday or even developing how-to articles when you’re stuck.
5. Thou shalt not create sales pitches
Content might be created with the intent to encourage sales, but that doesn’t mean your content should read like a sales pitch. It’s a turn off to your readership. Content is created to generate brand awareness, maintain brand loyalty, educate customers and engage with them. These efforts naturally result in sales, so focus on quality content without the promotional lingo, Scott says.
“I see a vast majority of the content being created with a focus on how great the company is,” he says. “Companies need to do a better job of writing content that is valuable to their customers and is genuinely helpful.”
6. Thou shall offer value
That’s a good segue to our next commandment: offer value. You shouldn’t create content just to fill a void; customers will see through it. Content should offer value. Try to teach customers about a new product, educate them about a change in the industry or provide information that customers care about.
For example, Wayfair, an online home goods store, recently published “How to Hide a TV with Wall Art.” It’s relevant to their brand, it’s a fun topic that Wayfair readers will find interesting and it gives useful decorating tips. To a Wayfair reader, it’s valuable content.
7. Thou shall consult metrics
Content marketing starts with a good strategy but is perfected through metrics. That’s why the content gods have deemed this a commandment.
Scott suggests looking at the number of visits, comments and other social signals, like shares. Use the numbers to your advantage and improve your content.
8. Thou shall captivate through stories
Stories are powerful tools. People want to feel a connection to your brand, so help them do so through stories. For example, on its blog, Walmart featured a story about one of its store managers who worked her way up from cashier. Stories like this create a “feel-good vibe” around your brand.
9. Thou shall strive to solve a problem
The pen is mightier than the sword, or in today’s world, the laptop is mightier. To make sure your content is living up to that saying, write material that solves a problem for your readers.
It’s actually a great way to brainstorm topics, too. Ask yourself, what issues are customers facing? Use those issues to provide solutions via your blog. For example, Sears, which offers home service repairs, wrote this post about common dishwasher problems.
10. Thou shall promote content
Not promoting your content is like putting dinner on the table and not telling anyone it’s ready. Don’t post content and hope people find it; instead, help people locate it. Use social media and email to cross promote your content.
If you can think of an 11th commandment, share it with us on Twitter @Ebyline or in the comment section below.