As an entrepreneur and the key determining factor to the success of your startup be it bootstrapped or investor funded, you’re always going to be the main salesperson.
It also means that you always need to have your finger on the pulse when it comes to marketing. And unless you’ve been doing business from a cave in the middle of nowhere, you know content marketing has quickly grabbed the spotlight.
Because it’s what the people want!
“Give the people what they want for goodness sake and your business will always thrive.”
Content marketing isn’t going anywhere, but it is evolving. So as we strategically plan for the coming year, it’s in our best interest to figure out the role that it can play in our business, how to best leverage it, and what lessons are worth taking into account as we map out a new content marketing strategy for 2019.
The best place to acquire this knowledge is by sitting at the feet of thought leaders in the marketing world who’ve not only done extensive research and experimentation to figure out what works but as well serve as prime examples of the business success we can all aspire to enjoy.
I don’t know about you, but when I walk into a gym, I want to get trained by the healthy, happy ripped guy who inspires me, not some dull skinny dude, right?
So I figured we need to take the same approach with lessons on content marketing.
Is content marketing still going to be King in 2019?
But he is a dynamic king still determined to rule the kingdom, so don’t get complacent or you’ll suffer great consequences. If you wish to enjoy some golden years during his reign, here are some lessons to reflect upon and implement in the New Year.
Lesson 1: Don’t put off investing in a high-quality blog.
Yes, there are more blogs today than ever before. It almost sounds ridiculous encouraging this.
However, having a robust blog can increase authority; grow your brand, and nurture long-term relationships. It is also a great source of high quality organic traffic for your website.
According to a Hubspot survey, businesses using blogs as part of their content marketing mix get 67% more leads than those who don’t.
What about frequency?
Glad you asked.
If you look at blogs like Backlinko, the owner, Brian Dean doesn’t produce so much content, yet he has a lot of authority in his niche market. The same is true for companies such as Hubspot and Moz. They have a massive audience and lots of authority, but they do the opposite of Backlinko. They publish way more. Either way, it works. Just figure out which options work best for you and don’t seek shortcuts, it will pay great dividends in the long run.
Lesson 2: Success with video marketing is a real fact. Leverage it more in 2019
Consumers can’t get enough of video and live streaming. The benefits of using video as part of your content marketing strategy have risen dramatically. Check out some of these stats:
A Forbes report shows 65% of senior executives said they visit a vendor’s website after watching a video.
According to Forbes, 90% of customers say videos help them make buying decisions and 64% of customers state that seeing a video makes them more likely to buy.
Wyzowl released a report on video marketing success in 2018. In it, we see a 36% rise since 2017. This year, 81% of businesses used video.
They project that it will continue to rise, and since the average person watched more than an hour and a half of online video content per day, I see this as your chance to grab some of that attention and let your ideal clients know that you exist.
Lesson 3: Stop spending your advertising budget in the wrong places
The right way to invest your marketing budget is to find out where the attention of the consumer is. The not so subtle Gary Vee actually makes a good point when he says we need to stop wasting advertising money.
Marketers are in the midst of an attention war. And too many marketers have spent their dollars this year on all the wrong things.
“Attention is in different places now. I could care less if Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat exit tomorrow. I care about where your attention is…” said Gary Vee. Source: Adweek
Put your money where the attention of your ideal audience is.
You need to get more strategic in your approach to advertising, and invest your marketing budget where your ideal audience hangs out. The right attention is what your business needs. Figure out which platform makes it easier for you to capture it.
Lesson 4: You’ve got to do more than just creating the content.
Content marketing isn’t just about publishing. Jeff Bullas says the one big thing some of the best content marketers forget is content hustling.
Yeah, even I smiled a bit when I first learned that we’ve coined the term “content hustling.” But the man’s got a point.
He insists that you must do more if you want to see some significant success with your content marketing.
“What do I mean by hustle? It means pushing, prodding and publishing to as many digital channels as time and resources allow. It means optimizing for search engines, emailing your grandma and making all your social networks sing.” Source: Jeff Bullas Blog
Have you been content hustling in 2018? Well, you better level up in 2019, otherwise you’ll drown – fast.
Simply creating content and sharing it on one platform isn’t enough now, and it certainly won’t be enough moving forward. Learn the lesson quick, and master the art of content hustling.
Lesson 5: Quality not quantity is the better strategy
After Google changed its algorithm, a lot of marketers went into panic mode. The new shift with Google, and I suspect with many other platforms, is a quality, not a quantity game. In fact, Neil Patel posted on his blog a confession. He shares how much he regrets having published over 4,000 articles in just 4 years. He says less is more and that he wishes he had adjusted his strategy earlier on.
Back to the earlier example of Brain Dean, he focuses purely on delivering high quality to his audience. I’d like to think he’s pretty happy with that chosen strategy.
Let it be the same for you moving forward.
If that means producing less content on social media, email broadcasts and so on, then so be it.
Train your audience into the habit of always expecting the best from you and it won’t matter whether you do it once a week or once a month. They’ll always pay attention when you release something new.
Lesson 6: Client success stories; the gold you ought to be mining
Most small business owners have been slow to catch this wave. Investing time creating content that praises your client and showing potential buyers what they would experience is truly like mining gold.
More and more, companies that are purely product-focused are turning off people. Content that is salesy will never do well in this marketplace.
If you want to win big now with your content marketing efforts, transfer the spotlight from how awesome and revolutionary your product is, and start sharing the success your clients are having.
Lesson 7: Information, Education, Entertainment, and Inspiration is what consumers want
Fast Company has an article that speaks to this very clearly. Modern consumers want a conversation. They can’t stand being talked at with dry-ads for the masses.
Brandon Evans says customers are simply too fragmented, too over stimulated, and have too many distractions for conventional marketing strategies to maintain their effectiveness.”
This is why you need to ensure that your content marketing strategy involves producing content that is more conversational, value adding and as much as possible, entertaining for your ideal audience.
The more your audience feels like you’re inviting them into a collaborative experience in your communications, the better results you’ll experience.
Lesson 8: Email still counts
One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top five rules for success is “Ignore the naysayers.”
Take it to heart when it comes to using email marketing and list building to grow your business.
Email marketing may not be as easy to succeed in as it used to be a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working. At the beginning of 2018, email monks issued a very detailed guide demonstrating how big email still is and the expected growth that will take place by 2019.
Some of the collected information includes the fact that by the end of 2018 worldwide mobile users are expected to total over 2.2 billion. That’s a lot of people accessing emails. Wouldn’t you want just a tiny portion of that reach to be receiving your well-crafted email?
Of course, you would.
Stop listening to people who don’t know how to do email marketing right. Learn how to create emotionally engaging emails, and you will build a hyperactive list that buys into your company vision and products or services.
Lesson 9: Focus on being relevant, authentic, and delivering real value.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where entrepreneurs are working with a scarcity mindset. An out-dated view of the world where business is purely about the bottom line. Well, if your digital marketing is founded under that false premise, you will have a hard time creating something profitable and lasting in this day and age.
To be an entrepreneur is really about offering your best solution to a group of people who really need it to solve a problem they are facing. It’s about coming from a place of wanting to help people.
Content marketing and social media marketing must become imbued with this understanding. If you look around at the brands that have done well this year, whether big or small, you’ll see they all have one thing in common.
From Airbnb to small mom and pop stores that sell backed goodies, those who thrive are the ones who continue to be generous, helpful, and authentically share their journey.
Lesson 10: Long-form content wins
Long form content will get you more of what you want. In his article on why you should be creating long-form content, Neil Patel says investing in this type of content will get you more social shares, online visibility, and proof of your authority and industry expertise.
If you don’t have a huge marketing team to build your digital authority, my best advice is to invest in producing world-class long-form content. It can even be just once a month but make sure that it’s epic.
“One of the less instant but more obvious reasons to create long-form content is that it shows you’re an authority. Help Scout has used this strategy to become a total expert in customer service. Their lengthy guides (which all focus on various aspects of customer service) position them not only as an authority, but also as a knowledgeable educator.” Source: Neil Patel Blog
Thought leaders such as Neil Patel have proven that despite all the changes search engines and social platforms continue to make, rich content that is in-depth and detailed will always stand out and produce better ROI.
That lesson alone could be a game changer for you.
Lesson 11: Ultra personalization is here to stay
Getting the attention of your ideal audience online is no easy feat when other marketers are constantly bombarding them. In order for you to reach your target audience, make the shift to ultra personalization.
Only create content that is purposefully designed to connect with that ideal prospect or client. In this podcast interview, Jon Miller, CEO, and Co-Founder of Engagio shares why personalized content is the key to raising the bar in content marketing.
Takes the idea of content creation and marketing to a whole new level, doesn’t it?
Lesson 12: Stop buying into the hype, old can still be gold
Andy Crestodina said, “I’ve learned I can often get better results updating an older article than by writing a new one.”
There will always be new marketing technologies, shiny bells, and whistles and more people trying to get you to jump into their latest gimmick. Get clear on where to put your energy. Sometimes what you already have is more than enough.
With a little creative tweaking, you could resurrect content pieces that now lay waste in your library. So before jumping into the next big thing, be sure you’ve exhausted everything you’ve got.
Lesson 13: Be purposeful, intentional, and more strategic with your content marketing team
Without a clear vision, your team will fail and your content marketing efforts won’t be sustainable.
Most of us work with remote teams, and our clients are worldwide. That’s where tools such as Trello, Slack, CoSchedule, and other awesome marketing tools come into play. If you haven’t educated yourself on how to integrate some of these into your workflow, now is the time.
Lesson 14: Quit setting goals like “virality” if you want to succeed.
So many startups and small business owners feel crashed when after investing a lot of time, money, and resources on content production, it doesn’t go viral.
Yes, yes, I’m talking to you…
Social media has trained people into instant gratification and viral content. This isn’t a smart goal to set unless you’re only in it for the fame. Besides, I just don’t believe that anyone has a magic bullet to make content go viral. It will either happen or it won’t. Rather than focusing on viral content, just work at being helpful and growing your brand.
Lesson 15: The Follow-up makes all the difference, even with email broadcasts
By now, every business owner appreciates the power of list building and using email marketing to drive sales. What you may not know is how to actually leverage this channel better.
A content marketing hack that I learned from a marketing school podcast, which has been working really well for me, is this: Don’t just send out an email once and call it final. Follow up at least once more if not twice.
How you do this is actually simple.
Three days after sending the initial broadcast go back into your CRM solution and if you’re working with a good company, they will have the option where you can see all the people who didn’t open your email. Tweak the subject headline. Make it even more appealing and then resend it only to those who didn’t initially interact with it.
If you do this small follow up action regularly, you’ll start to see your numbers go from 20% open rate to 30% and in some cases, I’ve had 40%.
Experiment with it and remember – the follow up makes all the difference when it comes to driving sales.
Lesson 16: Repurpose your content
This is especially useful if you’re doing content marketing on a budget. Repurposing your content strategically can really save you time and increase your brand awareness.
Think about how you can turn one piece of content into various other content types. For example, if you have a blog post, can you turn it into an Infographic, video, or podcast?
I use the content re-usage workflow from Aleyda Solis, and she has a wonderful framework that you can just copy and customize to suit your specific objectives.
Lesson 17: Forget about what Gurus say. SEO is not dead, and you best invest in it moving forward.
Marketing gurus have been saying Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is dead since 2014, so what!
You and I both know for a fact that as long as Google remains the massive Giant that it is, search engine optimization will still be of significant value for businesses playing the long game.
Paid advertising is what’s hot. But you can only invest so much into paid ads. And unless you’re a huge brand with tens of thousands of dollars each month to spend, paid ads alone won’t be sustainable.
That’s why for small business owners, content marketing and search engine optimization becomes so valuable. But it doesn’t give you the instant gratification that most people crave. SEO is a long-term strategy and you know what?
Even big brands understand the value of investing in it.
Lesson 18: Storytelling is the backbone of marketing success
Last but not least, when it comes to really optimizing your content marketing in 2019, the best tip I can share with you is simply this: make business storytelling the backbone of your marketing.
Human beings are hard-wired to emotionally engage with, remember and respond to a great story. Learn to master the art of storytelling for your business. Use it in all your content marketing efforts.
Do it strategically, consistently, and most importantly, do it from the heart. There’s nothing worse than a hyped-up story filled with psychological triggers to manipulate an audience. In the long run, that would just backfire on you.
Instead, speak with someone who can help you extract the already existing stories from your background, as well as your client interactions. Storytelling is about sharing the journey with your ideal audience and helping experience something memorable. You already have what it takes to create an extraordinary story that will resonate with your ideal buyer. You just need to script it out and turn it into copy that converts.
Every time I start working with a client to build their story brand, they always struggle to see how their business could possibly have anything extraordinary to share. So if you’re reading this and thinking ” I just don’t have that story,” trust me, you’re not alone.
All you need is the right person to help you see the unique aspects that will help you stand out in the eyes of your buyer.
All these content marketing lessons are valuable, and there are some really key ideas we’ve shared that might become a game changer for your business in 2019. Assuming you actually implement them. So drop me a line, and let me know which ones resonated with you.
Do you have any other content marketing tips or lessons you’ve learned this year that you’re planning on implementing?