To boost SEO/keyword rankings, appear on prominent SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), and drive and convert authentic traffic into qualified leads, we must begin by serving great content to our audiences. Understanding what “great content” is helps marketers establish clear, concise goals with their teams and agencies, identify tangible objectives for their communication campaigns and optimise their marketing spends to get a better return on investment.
But what is “great” content? Who decides if the content is, in fact, great?
For most content marketers, the litmus test for quality content is the response to it. Each marketer has their own standard for what kind of response is good enough, based on industry benchmarks and past performance.
Personally, I am a great fan of experimentation. I believe that there needs to be a constant supply of radical, disruptive content that upgrades the industry standard and creates new benchmarks. However, although it has its benefits, this approach is high risk and gauging the performance of a content piece after it has been distributed and promoted can be a drain on time and money.
Is there another way?
While “great” content is largely a function of placing the right idea on the right platform for the right people at the right time, my team and I have a secret sauce that never fails to get results.
Ready? Let’s go.
The trick to a “great” content piece is to freeze all the controllable variables in the equation and minimise the risks that each piece of content contains. We have built these variables into an easy to follow checklist for you.
1. Great content is original
Google search engines are known to favour original content, which means original content will get more exposure. Further, if the content is duplicated or infringes copyright, the algorithms will place it much lower in the search results pages.
In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Google provides an efficient mechanism for copyright owners around the world to flag content that infringes their legal rights. If its teams see it as a valid request, they will delist the URL from the search results. Interestingly, as of May 2021, 5,166,286,253 URLs have been requested to be delisted. You can learn more about Google’s policy in this regard here.
So there are high rewards for publishing original content and equally severe penalties for duplicate content.
2. Great content is relevant
Creating content that is visually appealing to the target audience is important, but if it is not what the audience wants or needs, it does not serve any purpose. The average consumer is flooded with content; as a result, he or she is constantly snacking on information, sifting and picking up only what is relevant to him or her in a matter of a few seconds. Microsoft identifies this attention span to be a window of 8 seconds — so 8 seconds is what content has to prove its worth to its audience. If it strikes a chord, they spend more time engaging with the brand story. Creating content that is relevant to the audience establishes a business as an expert on the subject and positions them as a business that understands their needs and values their time. The result? They come back for more, organically!
3. Great content has a clear purpose
Before producing a piece of content, it’s essential first to understand and then explicitly state its purpose and the results a business is seeking from it. A clear-cut content brief provides a solid framework for the agency/in-house team/consultant and ensures that content goals are aligned with business goals. Top-of-the-game content marketers understand how to translate business goals into content goals, and subsequently, clear and concise action items with timelines and performance indicators.
One of the clients we onboarded came to us with a unique problem. Their content engagement was really high, but sales were very low. They met us at a junction where they were questioning why they were spending resources on generating content. After some diagnostic work, we realised the actual problem. The management team had told their agency to create and implement a successful social media calendar. However, they did not specify what “successful” means to them. So the agency created and published content that was relevant and extremely engaging; however, none of the content was designed to drive SALES, which is what the client had assumed “a successful” content campaign would automatically generate. A deeper dive revealed that the engagement was not even coming from the actual decision-makers! We identified the problem, attached a clear goal to the campaign and created corresponding modifications to the content. This resulted in incremental sales that were better than the client’s expectations.
Content with a clear purpose helps generate higher (often better) responses from the right audience, and consequently, a higher ROI.
4. Great content solidifies brand positioning and recall
Clear and relevant content engages the target audience; however, it won’t serve its purpose until the audience identifies it with the business’ brand. Great content flows from the larger brand story and represents a signature language unique to a product or company. For example, Google is known to organise information in a simple, useful manner. This signature style reflects their in-depth knowledge of streamlining information by eliminating the unnecessary and presenting it in a simple manner. For example, crisp, concise sentences on a white background with infographics (if any) are simple enough to be understood by a child. All content that Google produces follows the same language, be it their product websites or press releases. Ensuring congruous communication across content formats compounds brand recall.
5.Great content builds meaningful relationships
In the age of marketing automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, empathic, human conversations are rare, but people like being treated as humans and enjoy a good conversation. They are happy to do business with other people and not with robotic machines or one-way platforms. Personalisation makes the target audience feel valued and dignified and, in turn, creates a more positive interactive experience. They perceive the business as one that understands them and their business problems, putting the brand in an advantageous position to open up channels of communication and collaboration, build trust and inculcate loyalty. In his book, Who’s In Your Orbit?: Beyond Facebook – Creating Relationships That Matter, Mike Muhney, who co-invented ACT! — an early and prominent contact management software — shares his advice on noticing what’s on the walls. Look for trophies, pictures, evidence of who or what clients love and customise the conversation to engage better. When a business shows that they are interested in their audience, it builds trust.
6. Great content allows a business to be discovered easily
A well thought out content plan doesn’t take people on endless browsing journeys but ensures that the content meets them where they already are. Compelling content stands out, garners attention from target customers, and leads them to the business in the shortest way possible. People value businesses who value them. Time is a vital resource and valuing their time translates into valuing them. Shorter attention spans and higher pressure environments have a compounding effect, leading them to drop out from a long journey much faster. Creating great content that directly leads them to an interaction with the business will lead to shorter lead sequences and, consequently, faster conversions.
7. Great content plays well with the overall marketing plan
Most content marketing briefs focus on the immediate results of the content: engagement, leads or immediate conversions. But crack marketers know the value of the bigger picture. Comprehensive content marketing calendars and briefs stem from the overall marketing goals that have been divided into smaller milestones.
Let us work with an example. One of the goals a business has defined for this quarter is “to create awareness about a new product they are launching”. The product has been launched, and it has been a great success. The number of trials has increased, and some have even converted into recurring paying customers. Top-notch! However, as the product penetrates the market, the business now needs to establish credibility to scale up and attract new customer segments. Accordingly, the content marketing strategy will need to evolve from creating awareness and encouraging product discovery to focussing on client testimonials and product reviews.
Having an evolving marketing plan is critical to business growth, and it is essential that each piece of content created fits neatly into that plan. This prevents muddled signalling and rogue spending and creates a path to achieving a higher ROI.
8. Great content creates wins across the board
Customers are always hungry for great content. A business may or may not immediately see a sale, but they will notice a multifaceted growth as they generate and distribute engaging content to their target customers. Consistent, relevant content moves the needle across all marketing KPIs — plumping up the sales funnel, strengthening the quality of leads and increasing loyalty towards the brand. HubSpot studied 1,531 small and medium businesses, of which 795 blogged while 736 didn’t. The results were significant — they showed that the firms who invested in a disciplined content marketing practice generated 55% more website visitors, received 97% more inbound links and witnessed 434% more indexed pages3.
At BUZZVALVE®️, we are zealous about producing great content, and we invest an inordinate amount of time learning about what works best for our clients’ businesses. So if you are looking for someone to manage end-to-end content marketing needs for your business, we would be happy to chat. Click here, and we can get started.
Occasionally, we pull ourselves out of our schedules and write blogs that help our audiences. Once every quarter, we publish a digital newsletter where we discuss path-breaking ideas, analyse best-case practices and forecast trends that help content marketers plan better. If you are interested in joining a global community of thought leaders, sign up here.