Content marketing gives brands the exciting opportunity to connect directly with consumers, whether it’s through a blog, a contest, a video or on social media websites. But it also comes with a unique set of challenges. Even brands that are engaging well with a particular audience may see room for improvement in their overall brand awareness, for example.
Ryan O’Connell, a writer for Influence&CO., recently highlighted 22 companies that are already producing solid content but could make some strategy improvements. The list includes Nike, Bank of America Corp., and Sprint, among many others. And O’Connell provides constructive criticism that can help any content marketing strategist, no matter the size of your brand.
Here are a few tactics that may help your brand stay ahead of the curve this year.
1. Show off your success: Consumers like hearing success stories, especially the “rags to riches” phenomenon of big brands. For Centro, a company known for its great culture, O’Connell recommends that executives share the company’s story on the blog and offer actionable advice for other companies looking to build good workplace culture.
WeWork, a company that offers working space for startups, could take the opportunity to feature the thousands of successful startups that operate within its walls.
Takeaway for your business: By celebrating others’ successes you can show, rather than tell, how your company makes a difference for clients and consumers.
2. Give your visitors a way to stay connected: Content that lacks a “call to action,” misses the opportunity to transform happenstance readers into fans. A call to action doesn’t necessarily mean a sales conversion It can be an opportunity for the reader to share the content, comment on the blog or sign up to receive your newsletter.
Takeaway for your business: In addition to building a core group of return visitors, you need to also think of how you can come to them in the future—to strengthen your connection and establish your brand as informative and experienced. Your brand should be more like the friend who sets up a time to meet for coffee, not the long lost cousin who invites them to play “Candy Crush” on Facebook.
3. Business-to-business brands should build awareness: Some brands just aren’t well-known, perhaps because they play the role of middle-man for several companies, or because they are a new company. Your clients may know your name, but do their customers? By publishing educational content on a blog or external publications, O’Connell says, your company can exhibit expertise, build trust and create brand loyalty.
Takeaway for your business: If you are not sure what your brand should write about, start by answering client questions. It’s a great opportunity to prove your expertise and clients will always have questions.
4. Create a cohesive strategy. O’Connell points out that several brands, such as Wells Fargo and Equifax, attempt to cover a wide range of topics, from small business to retirement. While they offer an incredible breadth of content, these companies should hone in more on their target audience.
Takeaway for your business: The organization of your website and the focus of your content are very important. Readers may not be able to get to the content they need, even if it does exist somewhere on the website, if they don’t have a clear path to it. And if you try to cover too much, you may not be able to go deep enough into certain topics that your target audience wants to know more about.
5. Add a personal touch: While Sprint is paving the way for mobile content, the brand could use some humanization, O’Connell says. If a key leader within the company spoke more openly about the challenges it faces and their goals going forward, it could offer some much-needed transparency and trust to consumers. Bank of America Corp. is another company that may hugely benefit from having key executives join the conversation more often.
Takeaway for your business: In this competitive landscape, brands need to earn their consumers’ trust. Genuine, informative content is one of the most meaningful ways to develop strong relationships with your customers. Showcasing your leadership team and making them accessible to the public through blog posts and social media can be a great way to build trust.
Keep in mind that the same content strategy won’t work for every brand. You’ll need to establish a tone and keep tabs on what type of content evokes a response from your audience. What content tactics have made a difference for your brand in 2015?