The success of your content marketing strategy depends on the nature of your content. If your content is good and by good I mean straight out of the top drawer, it will bolster your content marketing efforts. On the other hand, if it is fairly ordinary, your inbound marketing campaign will fall apart faster than you realize.
If you are a part of the 77% B2C or 86% B2B organizations using content marketing to boost brand growth, you must make a concerted attempt to come up with high quality content that not only disseminates useful information but also does so in a manner that is engaging and arresting.
EPIC content marketing
A NewsCred study reveals that a mammoth 62% of millennials say their online loyalty towards a brand is driven by online content. While the figure is great news for content marketers, what you must realize is you can’t push any content to the target audience and expect it to deliver returns in the form of brand loyalty, reputation building, lead generation and brand awareness.
What works, is EPIC content. I am pretty sure you must have heard of the phrase EPIC content before. Saying this is the sort of content that strengthens content marketing is an understatement. It does much more than just shore up your campaign; it essentially reinforces your brand image.
Characteristics of Epic Content:
- It earns a lot of shares.
- It offers actionable information.
- It is exhaustive.
- It has a long shelf life.
- It delivers sustainable results for the long term.
- It differentiates the brand as a thought leader in the niche.
- It develops trust and credibility for your business.
While there is no doubt, EPIC content works every single time, the problem is many businesses are finding it difficult to consistently produce the kind of content that has marketing merit. So how do you produce EPIC content that delivers on your branding expectations?
While it is difficult to come up with such content all the time, you could break down your content production process into a series of steps, for smoothing your journey towards epic content.
Content marketing facts and figures
Still need some convincing on the importance of epic content marketing. Here are some content marketing facts and figures from Visual.ly to highlight the role of content on a social web.
- $135 billion was spent on digital marketing content in 2014
- 78% of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing
- 65% of your audience are “visual learners”
Here are seven steps that will take you closer to your goal:
1. Brainstorming a.k.a Ideation
The first step is to gather ideas for your content. While this step might sound like a no-brainer, it is imperative you follow a structured ideation process to get your hands on the right ideas.
The groundwork for an epic post needs to be laid over the course of many days, even weeks. In order to prepare for the ideation process, you must ask your team to have a handle on the pulse of your target audience and niche at all times. This can only happen if you and your content team keep abreast of the latest happenings in the niche. Follow thought leaders, keep track of the latest news, trawl through discussion forums, and hunt on social media; basically make every attempt to know all developments in your domain and the kind of information your target audience is looking for.
On the basis of your preparation, make a list of ideas that are perfect for coming up with exhaustive content relevant to your niche. They’re plenty of tools you can use to zero in on ideas you think will work for your audience.
Say you have come up with a list of ten ideas that you feel worthy of follow up. Excellent! Now you need to curate these, to focus on only those ideas you are pretty sure will translate into a fantastic piece of content.
Once you are done with ideas curation, you’ll be left with 3-4 ideas that have epic content written all over them. Pick one and save all others in your ideas bank for future reference and use.
Buffer’s come up with a seminal post on content marketing research for a blog post. It is also a perfect example of an epic post that offers comprehensive information on the subject of research. It is a must read.
You’ve to tap into various sources to get your hands on the facts and figures you’re looking for, that will help you support the points you’ll be making in the content piece. Surveys, infographics, podcasts, videos, news sites, forums, magazines etc. are ideal sources for research.
I’ve talked about ‘preparation’ earlier; revisit the sources you used for coming up with ideas. This helps you look at research through the ‘idea prism’. It allows you to focus and gives direction to your research.
Collate this research, and make it easily accessible and consumable.
3. Define content format
Once you are done, identify the content format that will help you maximize potential of your content ideas, associated research, and understanding of the topic. Also, choose the format keeping audience preferences in mind and whether the format will allow you to do full justice to your idea.
There are two aspects of choosing the right content format that you need to consider. The first is your comfort factor with the format, for e.g. if you’ve chosen to create an infographic, you must be able to create one with very little difficulty.
Second, you need to identify content formats that have proven efficacy backing them up. Think of it as a fine balancing act you must perform keeping different variables in mind.
4. Defining content structure
This is one of the mission critical steps of the process. You must create a content wireframe that lists all important points you want to cover and also their flow. This ensures you don’t forget mentioning anything that is absolutely crucial for making an impression on the target audience. While creating the structure of your content, keep your research in mind and make key data a part of this wireframe. Again, this guarantees you don’t leave any important bit out of your content.
The structure of your content depends on the format you pick. The structure of a blog post will be markedly different from that of a video.
5. The brass tacks – creation
Whether it’s a blog post, an infographic, a video or something else, you should come up with attention-grabbing titles for your content piece. Your titles must be click-worthy and searchable; this sets the stage for content virality.
Short, focused titles work big time; they must lay out the content’s deliverables clearly. Users must know how taking a look at your content will benefit them.
Once, you’ve got the title out of the way, start the actual process of content creation. This content must justify the title you’ve come up with.
You already have a structure; the broad contours of the content are already in place. All you need to do is start fleshing out the pointers. Fill in the details.
Let’s say you want to write a blog post. The idea is to think of your post as a project and break it down into small, achievable milestones. Build your post, word by word, sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph. Think of each pointer you want to flesh out in the article as a separate task. This way, you not only will do justice to each and every pointer but also not get overwhelmed with the job on hand.
Something else you must keep in mind is that EPIC content should be written with confidence. The reader must believe that the writer knows what he/she is talking about. A confident and assertive article backed by the writer’s strength of conviction, real world examples and data citations from reputed sources, is infused with credibility. This is the kind of write up readers trust, gain from and share with their friends and followers.
The basic process for content creation remains true for all formats. The whole idea is to make valid arguments in support of your opinion on suggestions made in your content.
The next step is to test your content. Make sure people who are invested in its success take a good look at it. It’s important to get their feedback and make suggested improvements. Prepare a questionnaire for these “testers” and ask them to fill it once they are done going through your content. Ask them whether:
- The content was readable.
- The user flow was spot on.
- They understood the points you were trying to make.
- The content went off-kilter at any point of time.
- This content added value.
- They will share this content with their friends and followers.
- There was something about the content they didn’t like.
You get the drift. Ask questions that will give you a very clear idea about the effectiveness of your content and help make changes to it if you’ve got negative feedback about certain portions.
The final step in the process is to just look away from the content piece for some time. Wait for a day or two and take a look at it again.
Can you improve it further?
Remember, you’ve already made the changes that people suggested you make. But you still might come across a sentence or two that you want to change or add a source that you believe substantiates a point you’ve made.
Keep refining the article until you are absolutely sure it is perfect and meets the standards demanded by EPIC content.
That’s it. Done! What you have in front of you now is content that will make your brand proud. It’s the kind of content that is EPIC in every sense of the word!
Author Bio: Michael Georgiou is the CMO and Co-founder at Imaginovation, a web design & mobile apps development firm in Raleigh, NC. He’s a dynamic business professional and entrepreneurial guru with proven success in creative strategy, online branding, project management, and communication projects in both the public and private sectors.
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