Content Marketing Best Practices: Part I

Many conversations about content marketing seem to assume that you not only understand exactly what it is, but that it’s easy and obvious to go about doing it. You may feel a little hazy on one or both of these points. Luckily, we’re here to help!

Content MarketingLet’s start with a quick definition: Content marketing is the practice of posting material on your website that is useful and interesting to potential customers, and that demonstrates why you’re the go-to guys in your field.

How to go about doing it is obviously a wee bit more involved. We’ve put together a best practices checklist to get you on track for content marketing success. To give each of the points the attention it needs, we’ll build the list over a series of three posts. Here are the first three points:

1. Be the master of your domain. You should be writing for your own website and you should own the platform.

This is number one on the list because it’s crucial. Before you start worrying about content, you need to be sure you’re placing it on a site that you control, both what you say and how you say it — words, images, and navigation. Your best material should always exist on your own site. You’ll want to promote it via social media, but that promotion will involve links to your site, not posts that will get lost in the ongoing Facebook stream.

Getting started can be quite simple: WordPress not only provides CMS tools that are flexible, robust, and easy to use, it can also get you the domain you should be using. If your needs are more complicated, either now or in the future — you need a sophisticated search function, for instance — you’ll be working work with a developer, but these days they are all fluent in the WordPress interface.

2. Have a coherent vision of your message. Know what you want to say and map out a strategy for how you’ll go about saying it. Develop a schedule of blog posts for the next six months. Yes, it’s definitely more work up front, but it will guarantee that you stay on topic. (And, obviously, your schedule can have a little wiggle room to it, so you can report on or respond to breaking news in your industry — but those news stories should be in addition to, and not instead of, your core message.)

If you’ve got a fair amount of content posted already, organize the material that’s there before you develop your schedule. Figure out the unifying themes or issues and create a separate landing page for each. You’ll not only have a more SEO-friendly site, you’ll be clear where the holes in your coverage are so you can go about plugging them.

3. Write content people want to read. Look at your metrics. If page views, average time on page, and bounce rates are all solid — and if it’s material that people are linking to, sharing on social media, and commenting on — that’s the material people want to read.

If not: well, you’ve got a problem. Start with this post,  Six Content Lessons From Newspapers, and this post When Creating Content, Look Beyond the Experts, but we’ll definitely talk more about this in the future.

This should be enough to get you started; click here for Part II!

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