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5 Top Tips for Content Marketing Success

5 Top Tips for Content Marketing Success

The power of online marketing on a social web has only scratched the surface of its full potential.

This year smart marketers will stop using content as a bullhorn and start using it as a platform for building engaged communities. Customers will no longer be seen simply as a source of revenue, but instead as a near endless stream of research, innovation, and sales.

This transition will mean targeted communities that are smaller and more social than the mass media audiences of the past will succeed like never before. Therefore, content will have to be focused, refined, interactive, shareable, and (most importantly) involve the audience in the creation process.

To get you ready for these important changes, here are five top tips for content marketing success:

#1. Bring the Customers Inside

Customers want businesses to solve their problems and are willing participants in that value creation process… if given the chance. Unfortunately, much of what we call “social” media marketing has hardly lived up to its name.

The key will be to move beyond the mass marketing mentality of “us vs. them.”

By empowering your customers to become part of your business processes you’ll get a great low-cost source of research & innovation.

There’s also no greater sales force in the world than a satisfied customer. And while this was once an added bonus for marketers, it’s quickly becoming a necessity. Customers increasingly vet their purchasing decisions through social networks before even considering a company’s traditional marketing.

Some things to try:

  • Ask for customer input on new projects you’re working on.
  • Allow customers to tell their own stories through co-created content (see below).
  • Create incentives (social and financial) for customers to become evangelists of your business.
  • Make sure to show that you are actually using the feedback you receive.

#2.  Focus, Focus, Focus

In the mass marketing era, half of the advertising was wasted but we just don’t know which half.

The Internet has created an ultra-segmented marketplace, which allows smart marketers to create specialized content that solves specific problems.

To be successful, your content has to be focused on a well-defined niche audience. Take the time to map out exactly who you are targeting by developing a detailed profile of your audience, including demographics, psychographics, and a thorough understanding of how they negotiate their social space.

#3. Get Organized

Most people classify content by format (blog, video, Tweet, etc.), often leading to repetitiveness and a sense by your audience that you’re shouting at them (rather than talking with them).

Why don’t you try a different framework, one that will give you a much clearer look at the role each piece of content plays in driving interaction within your community.

When you are planning out your editorial calendar, separate content into one of three categories, defined by how that piece of content was created:

  • Original content – This is material created directly by you. It should address a specific customer need – be that information, instruction, humor, motivation, etc. Use it as a way to highlight your expertise, make yourself useful, and build trust with your audience.
  • Co-created content – Created together with others. In particular, you should target influencers within the niche who can help build your authority. Examples of this are guest posts like this one, a webinar highlighting the successes of your top customers, or a podcast with someone who has expertise that complements your own.
  • Curated content – Created by others but useful in some way to your audience. This includes stuff like retweets or emailing your list with a useful report that was created by another organization.

Reframing your thinking in this way will force you to always keep in mind the business purpose behind everything you create and share.

#4. Get Emotional

In his awesome book Contagious, Wharton professor Jonah Berger showed us that one of the key reasons people share content online is because it arouses a person’s emotion.

Content has to go beyond just being useful; it has to be unforgettable. Rather than trying to churn out quantity, take the time to figure out what kind of emotions move your audience.

In doing so, it’s important to remember that not all emotion is created equal. In his research, Berger identifies that certain kinds of emotions – those that get people “aroused” like awe, passion, and anger – are much more likely to drive shares than those that make people feel toned down – like sadness, relaxation, or contentment.

Ultimately, don’t be afraid to rock the boat a bit, because what gets one person excited might turn another one away. As long as you are exciting the right people (and treating everyone well in the process), it’s ok to let some people go.

#5. Respect the Numbers but Don’t be a Machine

There are so many tools out there that allow you to use data to paint a picture of your social landscape. So many in fact that it can turn into a hindrance if you’re not careful.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely crucial to analyze and optimize, but all the data in the world won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t understand people.

And one of the most important things to understand about people is that they change. Often. Data can be an important tool for measuring these changes – it can help you test assumptions and sometimes provide a needed reality check. But it’s no replacement for digging in and becoming part of your customer community.

So, make the effort to really get to know your customers. Instead of just mass emailings and webinars, take time to have individual conversations. Understand what people are struggling with and you’ll have a near endless stream of ideas for new content to create.

The Big Picture

The world of marketing is changing, and I would argue it’s for the better. By harnessing the power of community, businesses are ending the awful competition between buyer and seller, replacing it with a much healthier process of mutual value creation.

In 2014 the kind of guesswork that has long been the way marketers figure out what their audience wants will be replaced by actually getting to know the customers themselves. By talking with them instead of at them, we can start to create a new way of doing business, one that helps bring people together to solve the problems of our day.

You now have the framework to get started. Use it to go out and build yourself a dynamic, engaged, and profitable community in 2014.

Guest author: Jake Parent has been building communities for more than a decade. His site Learn To Be Heard teaches marketers and entrepreneurs how to use blogging and other social media to transform an audience of static listeners into a dynamic group of engaged participants. 



Want to learn how to make your blog and content a success with social media marketing?

My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.

It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

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  • Great post Jeff. One thing I’m being intentional about this year is the editorial calendar. These past three years I’ve just blogged about whatever I thought was interesting without a clear plan, not this year! I’m working on a plan for my blogging for the rest of the year, getting more focused.

    • Jake Parent


      Thanks for the comment. Sometimes getting focused is the hardest part. I know when I have a million ideas swirling around, I can lose focus. The constraint of an editorial calendar can be really useful.

      What kind of system are you using to plan out your year?

      • I’m looking at where I want my readers to end up at by the end of 2014, so each week I’ll lay out a different step/tip to help get them there.

  • Love the post, Jeff. Absolutely incredible. I’m so ready to change up the “game” and continue to connect with my audience on a deeper level. Keep on inspiring:)

    Stacie Walker
    Woman in Leadership Founder

  • Hi Jake, you did very well with this post. Your style of writing fits in so well with Jeff’s writing style that, many readers of this post will actually think Jeff wrote it. Kudos. I am sure you have read Jeff;s blog’s for years to know his style.

    I will like to reiterate the point that we should integrate the customer in our entire process. This is so crucial. Our business should be customer-centric. People will give up anything for what they consider as their own

    • Jake Parent

      Wow, thanks for that seriously high praise!

      Totally agree with you. I strongly believe that this year those businesses that aren’t doing just that are going to be seriously (and unexpectedly in many cases) hurt.

      The time to get ready is right now!

  • Ash

    Hi Jake. Excellent post. I really like the points about focusing on a world defined niche and getting emotional. As a matter of fact I am facing a specific challenge in this regard.

    I have a blog about productivity and mindfulness (www.productiveinsights.com) but am finding it increasingly difficult to create content that is emotionally charged and unforgettable around these two specific topics.

    I often find myself wondering if I should move towards personal development/self-improvement which is the ‘parent niche’ and is contradictory to your advice to focus on a well defined niche.

    But somehow mindfulness and productivity don’t elicit the same emotional response as self improvement or personal development. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • BruceTheBlog

    Useful content, and now a word about style: OUT. What’s with it? As in its totally superfluous and clumsy use when attached like a leech to verbs for no good reason: ie, map out, list out, seek out, plan out. It’s a written hiccup that only gets in the way. It’s first cousin to the infamous, equally superfluous “back;” you know, “back” in 2010. Out, damn out! Get off my back! Anally yours, The Grammar Geek

  • MarcFarron


    • Jake Parent

      Thanks Marc! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • The idea of engagement becoming more important should excite all of us. We have much to say, but when the change becomes a conversation, we also have much to listen to. Excellent stuff.

  • Arpit

    Great tips…… It will help me to improve content marketing strategies. Thanks

    • Jake Parent

      Glad it helped! Would love to hear how you see it fitting in with what you are doing.

  • Akash Agarwal

    Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable
    free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers
    into repeat buyers. Thanks for sharing these nice tips on content

    • Jake Parent

      All true, with one added step…. The most valuable part of content marketing is turning customers into evangelists!

  • Marketing professionals must take note these tips. Content marketing is one of the most engaging marketing strategies nowadays. So write content like its your last article.

  • Chris Hussein Finnie

    Excellent piece Jake!

  • Nathan Brook

    Thanks so much for your information about blogging. It’s new to me, but after reading your article, I’m going to try to create a blog account.

  • I read some great stuff from you. I’m glad we’re connected!

  • Gates S.

    Super great article