February 16, 2016: Each year, typically during a weekend in mid-February, the NBA’s best players flock to a designated city for NBA All-Star Weekend. During this three-day long annual celebration, a handful of selected players participate in a 3-point contest and dunk contest before joining the rest of their peers for the All-Star Game, which caps off the weekend.
However, before these players can become NBA All-Stars, they’ve spent countless hours practicing and honing their skills. While content marketers don’t necessarily have an annual celebration to match the glamor of NBA All-Star Weekend, we still practice and hone our content marketing skills with hopes of being seen as all-stars within the industry.
It’s common for NBA All-Stars to excel in shooting, passing, dribbling, defense, and rebounding. But, what kinds of skills are needed to become a content marketing all-star? Let’s take a look:
“87 percent of B2B marketers say they struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers.” – Forrester
Before you can even begin a successful content marketing strategy, you must first be a listener. Identify what it is your buyers are looking for by monitoring forums like Quora, utilizing social listening tools, interviewing subject matter experts, analyzing search results, and more. Doing these things will allow you to come up with a number of content assets that answer buyers’ questions before you have to write a single word.
“44 percent of marketing professionals say writing is their most outsourced activity.” – LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community
This one may seem obvious, but with the role of a content marketer being stretched further than ever before, it’s possible that quality writing could be lost in the shuffle. As seen in the above statistic, marketing professionals are oftentimes outsourcing strictly with writing in mind. Additionally, producing content that’s riddled with grammatical errors will likely make visitors think twice about the legitimacy of your website or brand as a whole.
“57 percent of marketing professionals say engaging and compelling storytelling is a main priority when creating effective content.” – LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community
I was fortunate enough last summer to attend Skyword’s Content Rising Summit, which focused on exploring the brand story in ways that make it stand above the rest. One of the main takeaways from the conference was that brands that are able to elicit immediate emotional responses from readers are the ones that will experience the greatest success. Yes, this is a challenging task to take on, but with practice and some outside-the-box thinking, it can be achieved and the results will likely be dramatic.
“Companies with a documented content strategy are much more likely to be very or extremely effective (36 percent) than those without a documented strategy (11 percent).” – LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community
Not too long ago, some new members of our content team asked Stacy and myself how we stay organized and on top of our initiatives. We both sort of laughed and then shared our way of doing things, which is a color-coded list (not the most appealing to the human eye, but effective) in a Word document. On the organizational level, we have well-structured documents (editorial calendars, buyer personas, etc.) and training materials available to keep the team on the path to success. The point here is to remember organizational skills are critical to successful content strategies. How you stay organized on a personal level? Well, that’s up to you.
5. Data Analysis
“Performance data of past and current campaigns is the top factor in determining what content the audience is interested in.” – Percolate
Once your content strategy matures a bit, it’s time to dig into the results. Two of my best friends as a content strategist are Google Analytics (and Search Console) and BuzzSumo. Google’s products allow me to dig into the traffic numbers, search queries, referring links, location, and much, much more. I use BuzzSumo to get a snapshot of my clients’ (or competitors’) most shared (on social media) content on the site. By analyzing data from these platforms, I’m able to identify what’s working, what isn’t working, and where the next opportunity for success may be.
“Annual growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers.” – Aberdeen
This is a skill I have been really focusing on lately. If your brand (or a client’s brand) comes out with a new product, service, buzzword, etc., try to be the first to provide content around it. The same can be said about the industry as a whole. Stay on top of the latest trends and try to be one of the first to cover it, as Google appreciates fresh content. With this in mind, especially with the prominence of Google’s Answer Boxes, it may be beneficial to provide quick, accurate coverage versus long, thorough analysis in some cases. Arriving late to the party can make ranking on the first page a tough task.
“B2B buyers in 2015 accessed white papers (83 percent), case studies (67 percent), webinars (75 percent), eBooks (68 percent), videos (63 percent), blog posts (56 percent) and infographics (52 percent) before making purchasing decisions.” – Demand Gen Report
As you can see from the stat above, B2B buyers do not rely on a single form of content to gather information. This means as content marketers, we have to be able to adapt with the trends and provide the types of content that are most likely to be consumed. Today (the beginning of 2016), videos seem to be the content asset of choice. However, a whole new trend could come into the picture in the very near future. Work on your all-around skills and be prepared to offer whatever the audience desires.
“61 percent of the most-effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly with their content marketing team either virtually or in person.” – Content Marketing Institute
Don’t try to be a content marketing superhero. While you may have great ideas and understand what it is your buyer wants, there’s always room for more. Here at KoMarketing, we have a very open line of communication among our team members, always sharing success stories and failures with hopes of growing as a team. While these conversations happen daily, we also have formal bi-weekly “team trainings,” where we discuss relevant topics in the online marketing space.
“Only 30 percent of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing.” – Content Marketing Institute
This is one I learned early on as a Journalism major at Suffolk University. My freshman professor, who was a well-respected reporter at the Boston Globe, loved walking around as we were writing and looking over our shoulders. If he didn’t like something we had written, he would yell loud enough for the whole class to hear. At first, I found it embarrassing, but it ended up being one of the most valuable lessons I learned and very much applies to my life as a content marketer today. Be prepared to fail. Not all your content will be well-received or “go viral.” The ability to learn from past experiences and apply what you’ve learned as a result is critical to content marketing success.
“Creating successful businesses based on #content takes time, often between 15 and 17 months, sometimes longer.” – Content Marketing Institute
Content assets are like a fine wine that gets better with age. While you should expect some level of success soon after you hit “publish,” remind yourself and others that it will likely take time for your content to mature. Give your industry a chance to discover the asset and share it. If you’ve paid attention to Google’s ranking factors and have created a quality piece of content, it will likely climb search results and drive organic traffic and links back to your site with time.
Keep in mind, these aren’t the only skills that should be considered when trying to become a content marketing all-star, but I hope this list provides a nice starting point. What are some of the content marketing skills you think are most important?
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