Many of the processes involved in running a business are predictable and periodic: placing orders each week or each month, doing inventory twice a year, hiring seasonal help in a specific month each year. Content, by contrast, is constantly moving – new needs crop up constantly as your business grows and changes, and new rules and best practices for search engines could trigger the need for a total content overhaul virtually overnight. Success comes from one very important practice: paying attention.
Here are some ways to keep an eye on your content and make sure it’s performing as intended:
- Metrics – It’s absolutely crucial to consult the individual(s) in charge of implementing content on your marketing team as soon as possible to secure access to your metrics. Most platforms, whether they’re traditional websites, blogs, or social media sites, offer at least some form of engagement tracking, from views, to reposts, and even clickthroughs. When you know what content is doing well, you can extrapolate personalized best practices – for example, long form blogs may appeal more to your specific audience than Twitter tweets.
- Observing – This is an important habit that falls by the wayside far too often. The way your posts and images appear on your computers may be vastly different on other devices. Check on your own posts and ads often using a variety of devices and operating systems. Social media sites can also change the way things are displayed when settings change over time – that beautiful worth-a-thousand-words picture of your product could be smooshed into an ugly shortened link URL and escape your notice for months. Clear the cache on your office computers or devices, as well: browser cookies can change the way things appear as well.
- Active Engagement – Passive content is excellent for elevating your brand’s authority, but if you let your readers stay passive, they might just wander off. Make an effort to solicit comments without being too forward about it – sprinkle your editorial or content calendar with interactive additions like online quizzes or polls to make your readers and potential customers feel like they have a voice in your brand message.
- Renovations – Revisiting and linking back to older posts can help you build and strengthen your content network. Remember, the longer a visitor to your site remains reading your content, the longer you have to communicate and convert. Did you write a “Top 10” post last year and want to update it with this year’s findings? Don’t redo the post, create a new post and link back to your original list in the opening paragraph. It will establish your authority on a longer timeline and pique your reader’s interest.
- Fresh Ink – When you use freelancers to beef up or even entirely comprise your content team, you’re not just getting posts, you’re securing a voice for your content. That said, it’s always a good idea to shake things up now and then with a guest writer or two just to keep things interesting. Ask your most seasoned writers to pull together a creative brief that explains your company’s market position, preferred language, and “no-gos” like religion or politics and you’ll have a ready template for working with a new writer whenever you like.
- ABC: Always Be Conceptualizing – To paraphrase a familiar quote from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, it’s important to always have new post subjects on your radar. One technique is to set up an email account on your corporate server – or even a Gmail account – and send an email with ideas as they occur to you. This format allows the addition of images, videos, and links to create a sort of “digital post it” that can be used to spin a new post later. Offer this address to your entire team and you’ll quickly have a fertile crop of ideas from a variety of different views and minds.
Just like your important customer and vendor relationships, your content can’t be set up and ignored once its in place. It needs to be cultivated and tended to in order to perform at its best, which in turn translates to more market share and more profitable results for your company. If you want to remain competitive or, more specifically, want to be seen as a thought leader in your field, great content is absolutely essential. It builds brand authority, it helps you connect with your current customers, it entices new customers to consider your products, and it tells the world that you belong in the market space your products occupy.
The first four sections of Content Boot Camp may be concluded, but now you’re not only armed with tons of actionable tips, you’ve hopefully got an appetite to learn even more. While you can learn content and even excel at it, it’s not a static art form: it morphs and changes as quickly as the brightest minds can keep up with it. Make sure you return to the WriterAccess Blog often to get the latest news, techniques, and advice for making your content the powerhouse it needs to be.
Delany M is a well-rounded freelancer with an emphasis in product descriptions, landing pages and articles. With over a decade of experience to her credit, she has enjoyed writing for national chain retailers, small e-commerce boutiques and a wide range of service providers. She prides herself in going “beyond the word” to capture the essence of a brand or company, ensuring copy that is as noteworthy as the goods and services her clients provide.