The other day, I was on LinkedIn looking at the feed and I came across this post from content marketer Brooklin Nash.
“This morning, Jon Miller (you know, the guy who built Marketo into a $4.75B company) said it’s time to throw the Marketo playbook (SEO > Lead Gen > Email Marketing) out the window.
“SaaS buyers are ready for something different.”
Let me be honest about something. I don’t know exactly what the future of content marketing will look like. But I have seen changes.
Nearly 15 years ago, one could write an article that may not be super long, but simply because you wrote something, you would get some traction.
Over time, more business got into content marketing, started churning out content, so the best content marketers started making articles longer and more thorough.
Of course, keywords and keyword phrases have always been important because, after all, we want Google to visit and send traffic.
Fast forward 15 years later and Google (and the algo-gods) have been tightened, and it isn’t as easy anymore to make this work.
Even more, big companies with vast resources have jumped into the game, making it hard to compete with a professional like publishing effort.
So, what’s a small agency like you to do with content marketing moving forward?
MainWP customers comprise of small agencies who have, at most, a few hundred customers. Most of the time, you do not have a marketing team and you may hire freelancers to run your blogs and email.
We are pressed by time and resources.
So how do we compete with the ever-changing algo-gods, bigger companies that have more resources, and customers who may or may not be interested in reading our blogs?
Let’s unpack it.
1. Avoid the noise.
It is easy to just do what you see other people doing when it comes to content marketing.
Do something different. As Joe Pulizzi says in a recent LinkedIn post, “You zig when others zag.”
His idea is to create a printed magazine. Now, that might be practical for some of us, but a printed newsletter just might be.
I know two marketers who do this. One is a copywriter who sales it for $99 per month, printed, and sent to your house.
Every email he sends is a builder for signing up for his paid newsletter.
Think about it, in a day in which we all work in a digital world, getting a printed newsletter with relevant info, inspiring thoughts, and a good story would be something your and potential customers might enjoy.
It doesn’t have to be once a month, but maybe once a quarter or however often you can do one.
Other people I know have sent people copies of books they wrote. Talk about a power play.
Zig where others zag in your content.
2. Do what works.
Knowing what works for you and what you really like doing is important at this stage of the game.
Why spend hours doing something you don’t like and doesn’t resonate with your audience?
In his most recent blogging survey, Andy Crestodina found out that it takes the best bloggers an average of just under 4 hours to write their articles.
Consultant Brendan Hufford gives us several types of content that are working for his clients right now:
1. Long form video on YouTube
2. Short form video on social
3. Live events / podcasts
4. Email newsletters
5. Website content
These days, it seems, interactive content is even more popular. I spend way too much time watching short videos on Instagram and Facebook. Anyone else?
Remember, zig where others zag. It won’t be long until this is something everyone does, too.
Website content and email newsletters are always a good idea.
Podcasts have served some people very well. They don’t have to be big with large numbers, but are consistent, easy to find and listen to, and provide great stories and information.
Busy business owners have little time to consume lots of content. We have to be strategic. Do what works, you enjoy, but remember to zig when others zag.
3. Know your target audience.
How do we go about knowing our target, especially if we have hundreds?
Well, there are several ways to learn who your target market is, including surveys and interviews.
There are also tools you can use on your website, such as Right Message.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is to interview them.
Why do you need to do this? So you can learn about their problems, what they struggle with and how you can help.
In doing so, you will gather valuable information to use in your content marketing. The SEO world calls this user or search intent.
It benefits everything, including your overall messaging.
But what do you ask them?
Here are two questions to start with:
1. How did you get to our service? Have them to describe their journey to being your customer.
2. How would you persuade a friend or colleague to try our service? What would you say?
There are several questions you can ask, but these can help get the story and you can find the issues they have and the problems they solved using your service.
4. Don’t rely solely on informational articles.
Informational articles are the norm. But there is something to be said for aspirational content.
After all, we do aspirational posts on social media all the time.
We often default to practitioner articles and there is nothing wrong with those, but sometimes we just need to inject a little encouragement to our followers.
Inspire them to be better people, better business owners, better family members.
Inspire them to a higher level of success.
We all need that from time to time. Sometimes we just need someone to tell us they believe in us.
Aspirational Marketing is a technique some use.
“Aspirational marketing is a type of marketing strategy that focuses on appealing to the desires of a target audience. It taps into the emotional, psychological, and social elements of human desire in order to create an emotional connection with customers. Aspirational marketing campaigns typically focus on lifestyle images and messages that create a sense of wanting or desiring something.”
It doesn’t have to be vain, but we can appeal to something other than our brains, because we are a full human being.
Every year, in December, I try to do something fun for an article at MainWP.
I also like to interview MainWP pros to celebrate their work.
Aspirational elements speak more to the emotional parts of who we are and it helps us connect more to our readers.
Wrapping it up
These are just some of my thoughts about navigating the future of content marketing. I see a lot of shifts happening in the past few years and have been thinking about it for a few weeks now.
I didn’t touch on AI in content marketing and writing, but it exists. I have an opinion and even have discussed it on a podcast episode.
The use of AI in content marketing and copywriting exists to assist and make the process faster, but not replace the entire discipline. Beware anyone who wants to do that.