Digital Marketing 101: Content is king
- General recommendations
- 3.1. Setting up marketing goals for content
- 3.2. Only topics of interest
- 3.3. Guest posting
- 3.4. Mailing lists
- 3.5. News and “timeless” content
- 3.6. Analytics, SEO, keywords and SEM
- 3.7. Engaging influencers
- 3.8. Scheduling content and being consistent
- 3.9. Transforming the same content to other media types
- 3.10. Sharing content on social media
- 3.11. Updating old content
- 3.12. Linking content
- 3.13. Choosing the best marketing channels
- 3.14. Quality content backed by research
- 3.15. Use call-to-action (CTA)
Content is one of the driving forces stimulating website traffic and high rankings in search engine results’ lists, not to mention that quality content speaks volumes about a company’s expertise in any given industry. In today’s article, we provide suggestions for creating good writing pieces and effective videos, as well as some general advice on how to make your platform come alive and attract attention through engaging content.
Though every text will need a different approach depending on its type, there are a few general recommendations that should be kept in mind.
1.1. Good headlines and headline optimization
Creating a compelling headline is art in itself. A good one will stimulate reader interest sufficiently without taking a lot of space and revealing too much. After all, we want our audience to continue reading the article. Unfortunately, many news agencies these days tend to go overboard with head-turning headlines, aggressively looking for clicks by using cheap baits rather than a perspective of useful information. This strategy might work initially, but some readers will move away from the website irritated after they get treated with such misguiding practices. Build your reputation as a professional starting from the headlines and avoid cheap sensation. Headline optimization is another important aspect, one that we get into more detail in our article on SEO. It is generally a good practice to have your most important keyword in the title of the article, and to use H1, H2, H3 and H4 tags for respective headlines.
1.2. A clear, engaging and concise introduction
If you manage to grasp reader attention through a headline, the next step would be to further fuel this interest with a compelling, yet short, introduction. This part should confirm readers’ expectations regarding the text and expand on what they will see in the next lines. A good introduction should not be too long, your audience only needs a few lines to know whether they want to continue reading or not. Having keywords in the introduction is also a good idea.
1.3. Longer writing – better results
It is true that longer and original articles generally yield better results. However, this does not mean that walls of text are the way to go. Writing organized this way does not create a good impression and may be too “tiresome” for the reader to go through. Instead, divide your writing into sections, paragraphs, quotations and lists. Add relevant images to enrich the aesthetics. Furthermore, if the text is long, it may be a good idea to introduce a table of contents, possibly with links that will direct the reader to the specific section below after clicking.
1.4. A single subject for a single article
Sometimes one idea just naturally leads to another, and while this might be good for brainstorming during a discussion, it may not be suitable for the written word. Once you have established a clear idea for an article – stick to it. If any new interesting ideas pop up while writing, that’s still for the best, just note them down for a different article later on. Having too many ideas in a single text can be too chaotic and confusing for your audiences, to the point they might lose interest and look for more concrete information elsewhere. A clear and narrowed-down subject should be indicated already in the title.
1.5. Error correction and proofreading
This might come as an obvious suggestion, but you have to double-check your text in terms of grammar and style. Do it on your own first, and then – if possible – give it to someone else to read before publication. Texts that have errors or typos damage your reputation as a professional. Poor style can also make your writing really hard to read. It is important to highlight that Google does not like texts with errors as well and can put your site lower in the rankings. Spellcheck is a must, and there are many dedicated tools for error correction, some of them free (e.g. Grammarly).
1.6. Consistent writing style; setting a standard
Anyone who writes an article sets up a unique style for the text. If there are multiple people writing for your page, it is important to set some standard for all contributors to follow – the use of specific words, contractions, bullet points, headlines, the way you address your audiences, general style guidelines, etc. Readers get used to specific ways of writing and you want them to feel at home every time they look for information in your articles.
The guidelines we have prepared for video content refer more to its organization rather the information it presents. Here are a few suggestions.
2.1. Thumbnail customization
“A picture is like a thousand words”. A thumbnail should not include too many words, but it serves a similar purpose to the title of your video. YouTube creates a thumbnail on the basis of your recording, but you would want to make one yourself, e.g. through easy-to-use and free tools such as PIXLR. A good thumbnail should include a short phrase or phrases that inform what to expect in the video. You might want to establish a clear standard for your thumbnails, e.g. what the background image should be like, what the color scheme of the text should be (company colors?), the positioning of the text etc. A word of advice – keeping the text close to the edges may make it disappear behind the video progress bar (close to bottom), video time (bottom right) or other elements added by YouTube by default (top right). Also, make sure the font you use is clear and big enough to be easily visible in the thumbnail of YouTube video search results. In PIXLR you can use an outline for your text to make it clearly stand out from the background.
By organizing your videos into thematic playlists, your audiences will be directed immediately to a video on a similar topic once the one they are watching is over. Even if they think they found what they needed, suggesting a new subject this way may make them stay on your channel for a while longer.
2.3. Linking video content through end screen
End screens are the small window pop-ups with thumbnails that appear at the end of videos – if they are set. They are an easy and effective way to steer your viewers towards similar videos, your new uploads, or the ones you think are particularly worth watching. They help direct traffic on your channel and keep your audiences engaged. Combine them with custom thumbnails to maximize effectiveness.
Sooner or later you will get your first comment under one of your videos. Interacting is one of the best ways to stimulate viewer engagement and earn a subscription. Respond to any comments you receive, at least when your channel is in its infancy. If a user requests a video on a particular topic, consider creating such content and highlight the fact in the response. You may also want to write valuable comments on videos of other youtubers. If your feedback gets a lot of “likes” people might visit your channel.
2.5. Requesting subscriptions and likes
Many people watch videos and enjoy them but fail to leave a like or to subscribe because they are not reminded to do so. This is probably one of the most import call-to-action activities you can do for your channel. Most youtubers ask their audiences to subscribe and leave a like when the video is near the end, but it is a good idea to ask for that somewhere in the middle of the video as well, close to the most substantive content. After all, a significant number of users tend to stop watching once they find what they are looking for.
2.6. Good title, detailed video information and scheduling
Similarly to written content, videos need good titles and right now YouTube only allows for 100 characters, including spaces. Include the most important keyword(s) in the title and consider writing the type of video you are posting. For example, if the content serves as a guide on how to use specific software, consider adding [TUTORIAL] at the end. If it is a video showing a slice of a game – [GAMEPLAY], etc. Fill out as many details about the video as you can. In the description, you can provide useful links related to the content presented in the video. If relevant, you can also include the type of hardware you were running when recording. Add appropriate tags to make finding your content easier. Choose the appropriate category so the video appears on lists referring to specific topics. The “Gaming” category is the only category that also allows for the selection of a specific video game the content is related to. Enable comments and consider scheduling the video at most efficient times. There are varying opinions on when it is best to post, but the general consensus seems around 2-4 p.m. on weekdays. Once you get more viewer data, you can check when your specific audience is most active by visiting the Analytics section in the YouTube Studio of your channel.
There are some universal pieces of advice that can be given with reference to almost any type of content. Below you will find a few of our ideas.
3.1. Setting up marketing goals for content
People visiting your platform come with a specific goal in mind, but it is important to set your own goals in digital marketing and pursue them while providing audiences with what they need. Therefore, consider your aims and adapt the content accordingly, let them be the deciding factor behind your future topics. Do you want to stimulate sales, increase viewership or brand awareness, promote a new solution or find new business partners?
3.2. Only topics of interest
Creating content on topics people do not need is of no use to anyone. You probably know what subjects your audiences might be interested in, either from your company’s experience with clients or from the news specific for your industry. If you are looking for more inspiration on hot topics, there are a lot of sources you could choose from. Reddit, one of the largest social and news platforms, features groups on most subjects and industries, with news outlets and users posting on a daily basis. Probing Reddit will give you valuable insight on what people might be looking for in your field. Add the site to your favorites and visit it on a regular basis, alongside industry-specific websites.
3.3. Guest posting
This aspect works in two ways. On the one hand, you can invite other individuals to write a guest article for your website or to record a joint video. This will help share some of your audiences for mutual benefit. On the other hand, you could also post your content on other platforms to promote your brand. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the guest author guidelines before you start writing for someone else, and there may often be a price involved for such promotion. If the platform is popular among your target audiences, it may be worth the investment.
3.4. Mailing lists
Set up email notifications for your audience and encourage users to sign up. Make them feel special, e.g. by offering premium content or special subscriber-only discounts. Many people check their inbox multiple times a day, making this channel still one of the best ways of staying in touch with your audience.
3.5. News and “timeless” content
It is usually a good idea to mix latest news with “evergreen” content. The first type shows you are up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry, while the latter is valuable for a long period of time and may only need minor updates to stay relevant.
3.6. Analytics, SEO, keywords and SEM
Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and the skillful use of analytics are the three critical aspects of any successful digital marketing campaign. The topic is so broad we are preparing a different article to cover 3.6 alone. Make sure you follow our blog for updates. You don’t want to miss it.
3.7. Engaging influencers
If you think the content you create would be suitable for promotion through influencers, then go for it. When developing the Maxi Players esports platform for our client, we partnered up with several Twitch streamers to help promote the website for mutual benefit. Through their broadcast, streamers redirected their audiences to the platform, and players had the chance of teaming up with the streamer to play together and be featured during the stream. If you are certain of the high quality of your product, you can also ask established youtubers to either test or endorse it, most probably for a price.
3.8. Scheduling content and being consistent
Maintaining a steady, consistent stream of content is key to keep your audiences engaged and your website alive. Set up realistic publishing goals, incorporate them in a timesheet and follow the dates and times. Use dedicated scheduling software to receive notifications on upcoming publication deadlines. This will be particularly useful if multiple authors contribute to your website. Share news on new publications through your social media channels.
3.9. Transforming the same content to other media types
Different people prefer different types of media. While some look for the written word, others immediately go to YouTube or search for a podcast they can listen to when moving from one place to another. Transforming the same content to a different medium will help broaden your audience with minimum effort. You can turn your writing into a podcast, or transcribe a video to form a blog post. If possible, you can ask someone else to do it while you focus on creating new content.
Few if any businesses are able to thrive without using social media. Share your content on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. Set up easy, neat-looking social share buttons that are clearly visible next to your content so people engaging with the text, audio or video can forward it easily. Every person that shares your material on Facebook acts as a gateway to dozens if not hundreds of his acquaintances – your new, potential audiences.
3.11. Updating old content
Sometimes, all you need to do to keep things fresh is a slight adjustment of the content already present on the platform. For example, when there is a new patch for software that you prepared a tutorial for, it might be enough to introduce small changes to the text you have already written. The same goes for video content. As long as you keep a backup of all your videos on a hard drive, you can come back to a video and edit just a few sections to make it relevant again. You can then inform your audiences about the updated content and share it again through your social media channels, mailing lists, etc.
3.12. Linking content
Often one topic leads to another. Instead of piling up subjects in a single blog post, article or video, make sure your content features links to other relevant materials on your platform. It might be wise to put links in the text closer to the end. After all, you want your audience to finish reading before moving to another post. When it comes to videos, we already mentioned end-screens that appear when the video is about to finish. You can use this functionality to redirect users to your newest video, a similar one, or one that is particularly worth attention. Similarly, the platform also gives you the ability to display a link as a pop-up during the video at a specified time point. You can synchronize this nicely with what is currently happening on screen. It is also a good idea to put links in the video description below and mention that fact in the video. By doing so, your audience will continue watching knowing that they will be able to find the link after the current video is over.
3.13. Choosing the best marketing channels
Some marketing channels work better than others, and you will have to see which ones are best for your business. Fortunately, with the analytics we mentioned in 3.6, this should not be too difficult, but it might take some time to produce reliable results. Focus your efforts on those channels that are most profitable, and use spare resources to experiment with new ones. Observe your competition and see what channels they invest in.
3.14. Quality content backed by research
Being able to put out a lot of content consistently is great, but if it is of poor quality, it will backfire quickly. Check your materials for mistakes and relevance. If you cite other sources, make sure they are credible too and provide links. It takes time and effort to build a reputation as a specialist in any given field while one erroneous blog post may be enough to lose all credibility.
3.15. Use call-to-action (CTA)
Do not hesitate to ask your audiences to help spread your content. Request that they leave a like and share your materials with others. Ask them to subscribe to your YouTube channel or mailing list. People sometimes tend to forget about these things even if they appreciate the content. Inform them that by doing so they help your channel grow, and subscriptions will keep them up-to-date with future content.
Content is king, and by following at least some of the advice presented above, you should improve the results of your digital marketing campaigns. We will end this article by making use of some of our own suggestions – if you found any informative value here, leave a comment and make sure you share the content with others.