Four Keys to Effective Content Marketing

Content marketing is an incredible tool for any business owner, but particularly for someone whose domain is largely online. Content marketing allows you to create content – writing, social media posts, video – that can be helpful or entertaining to your customers and potential customers while also pointing them toward your business. It’s a win-win.

But how can you make sure your content is performing up to its potential?

Content Marketing Key #1: Purpose

Every piece of content you create for your business must have a conscious purpose. Ask yourself exactly why you’re writing whatever it is you’re writing, be it a blog post, a marketing email, ad copy, or a social media post.

On some level, the purpose of ever piece of content is “more business.” That’s the underlying truth. But there are sub-levels to that goal as well.

To whom are you writing? Are you creating content for customers who have already paid you? Are you putting content out for people who might be interested in your product, but unsure if you’re the right provider? Or what about people who’ve never heard of you at all?

And on top of having some informed idea (and maybe some marketing data) about which people you’re trying to reach, you should do your best to know their expectations based on the medium on which you’re writing, and you should use those pieces of information together to create the most effective content marketing possible.

If you’re writing an email to existing customers you’re looking to upsell on an improvement to your existing product, you don’t need to spend a ton of time making sure that they know what your product is. They know. They’ve used it, and they’re happy enough that they’re still on your email list. So how can you use the email form to bring in more business?

If you’re composing a tweet, realize that some of the people reading might have no idea what your business is, what it does, or who it’s for. How can you pack that information into 280 characters?

Always write with a specific purpose. Know who will be reading, and know their expectations.

Content Marketing Key #2: Clarity

Clear content marketing is strong content marketing.

No matter who is reading your writing, no matter what medium, your writing must be clear, concise, and technically strong. What does this mean?

It means you need to edit your marketing. Clear writing shows your customers that you pay attention to the details in everything that you do. When a potential customer sees that you pay close attention to the composition of a simple tweet, they can sense that you don’t do anything with less than 100% effort. When they see that you don’t pay close attention, well, they know you care more about time than quality.

Plus, clear writing makes sure that your customers and potential customers are getting all of the relevant information about your business with as little static as possible. The less time and effort a customer spends thinking about what you’re saying, the more time and effort they’ll put into thinking about what you can do for them. That will lead to increased sales and repeat business.

Content Marketing Key #3: Voice

What is your company’s voice?

In creating content marketing, it’s important to realize that the words you’re writing are the voice of your business. What do you want your company to sound like? How do you want it to talk?

Marketing on Twitter is a great way to put out content. Consider these tweets from companies with similar products:

Wendy’s Tweet

Shack Shack Tweet

Both companies want you to eat their fast food. But the tweets feel different. Why is that? Because those companies have created distinctive voices, and those voices complement the way that they want to be perceived.

Wendy’s has created a silly, childish voice for its social media content marketing. They’ll mock customers, purposely write with poor grammar, and attempt to troll other burger chains. They’re obviously not considering a deep-fried Frosty or salad, but they got almost 41,000 votes on their poll because that’s the persona their Twitter page takes.

Shake Shack, known for its high-quality ingredients. Their website reveals where they source beef, their commitment to animal welfare, and charities they support. Their twitter account posts with a more serious, buttoned-down tone. They might drop the “g” off the end of certain verbs, but they keep an apostrophe there to make sure you know they’re aware of the correct way to do things. Their photography is beautifully lit, high-resolution, and usually appears to be on a Shake Shack table.

Both companies’ Twitter accounts work because the voice in the tweets matches up with the tone and character of the restaurant.

What do you want your company to sound like? Are you serious, formal, and neutral? Are you fun and informal? A mix?

Content Marketing Key #4: Story

Brands are built on story. People love story. How can you take advantage of your potential customers’ primal need to listen to stories?

You could use story to tell customers about the company. Think about MVMT watches. That company was started by two college kids who wanted stylish timepieces for less money. Their ad copy always references their own story, and it makes buying their wristwatches feel like a rebellious purchase. Like you’re supporting an underdog.

The first Clif Bars were made in the kitchen of one of the founders, and their company’s product and online content continues to make family and environmentalism part of its story.

You need a brand story. What’s yours? What’s your product’s story? Why does it exist? Who has used it already, and how were they affected? How can you use those stories to create outstanding content marketing?
Great content marketing uses all the keys together.

Using these keys together will help you do the sort of content marketing that will not only bring you new business, but will make your existing customers feel real investment in your company as a whole.

When you sit down to write a blog post, or an email, or a tweet, ask yourself if you’re fitting these keys. Why am I writing this? Does it make sense? Is it well-written and clear? Does it sound like my company? And is it part of my story?

Sam Osterling
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Sam Osterling

Sam Osterling is a freelance writer whose work has been published in The Oklahoman, American Way, Renovator Magazine, and Hook & Barrel. Sam writes on small business management, marketing and technology. He’s based on Long Island, New York.