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Less content is more: 7 tips to successful content marketing

More companies are increasing their content output, leading some experts to say that the growth in the amount of content is leading to content shock. Content shock is where there is more content than we can consume than there is time or interest to consume it.

There are some stats to back up the increase of content production:

  • According to Trackmaven, almost 9,000 brands have increased their content by 78 percent on average over the last two years
  • 56 percent of leading business bloggers are hiring additional resources in the next 12 months, according to Curata

And the content that is being produced is not effective. For example:

  • 51 percent of marketers think their content is average or worse, according to Contently

Are you noticing a theme? More is not always better.

Let’s think differently about our content marketing efforts.

Less content is more.

Successful content marketing will be harder to achieve in 2016, so here are seven tips to help you convert more with less content.

1. Stop producing bad content by answering your clients questions in your content

The biggest threat to content marketing is crap [view the SlideShare]. If the content you produce is not relevant to your clients, don’t produce it. A way to ensure you don’t produce bad content is to create content that answers the questions the clients are asking you. Come up with a list of questions that your customers or clients are asking you and write content to answer those questions. You may want to review your frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of your website and turn those questions into content for your blog or magazine.

Another key to stopping the production of bad content is to avoid talking about your company and producing content that is helpful (not promotional). Read the 6 principles of great content brands. It may be helpful to think of your content like a TV series that has an overall theme and each episode tells the story or theme of the series.

2. Concentrate on one channel for your content

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says that marketers should concentrate on one channel such as a blog, a video series or a podcast. He points to how the greatest media brands of all time such as The New York Times, ESPN and The Huffington Post started out by dominating one channel (print, TV, blog) before they launched additional channels. According to Content Marketing Institute research, publish content using 12 tactics with the distribution of their content to an average of five social media networks.

Look at your analytics, what channel is the most successful for you? The digital body language of your customers or clients is probably giving you the answer. You don’t need to be on every channel if your target audience is not on that channel. With limited resources, it is important to concentrate on one or two channels rather than three, four or even five.

3. Be the media; your competition is bigger than you may think

In today’s content marketing world where you can publish directly to your clients or customers without going to traditional media outlets, you are up against more than just your direct competitors. You are up against everyone who is producing content on the same topic – whether that be an indirect competitor, the traditional media such as industry trade outlets or even Wikipedia. That is why it is important to coordinate your content efforts so you act like a newsroom instead of a marketing department.

How do you compete against so many different competitors?

Make sure your team is flexible bur firm so that your team can create consistent, relevant and meaningful content. You will also need to expand the reach of your team beyond just the marketing team so other teams can help contribute and share your content. You may also want to develop a content marketing steering committee or advisory board to include different people from different parts of the business to help you produce the right content for the right audience to meet your company’s goals.

As Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, says, “don’t beg the media, be the media.” To be the media you should take some tips from professional journalists to create stories that don’t promote a product or service, develop editorial guidelines and validate sources of information. Assemble a diverse content marketing team so you can produce compelling videos, publish articles that are not skimmed and have high-quality photos that are helpful for your customers so that you become the go-to information source instead of going to your competitors. Finally, know and master the fundamentals of content marketing.

4. Optimize your past content

Stop focusing on only new content. Remember that your old content has staying powering. Optimize your old content so it is fresh, up-to-date and can generate even more traffic and conversions. According to HubSpot analysis of their historical data, 76 percent of their monthly blog views come from old posts (published prior to that month) and 92 percent of monthly blog leads also come from old posts. Some of the best content I have produced on this blog, I wrote years ago.

By conducting a content audit using free tools such as these free 5 content audit tools, you can determine what gaps you have in your content, what you need to make your content better and figure out if you have any content archipelagos – a group of content that is rarely visited and doesn’t resonate well with your targeted audience. During this content audit, you may find out that you found a content gem that you didn’t know was so successful.

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Old content has staying power. Optimizing old content is a great way to generate more traffic and figure out what content is resonating with your audience.

5. Add high-quality imagery to all of your content

According to Moz analysis of their content, they found out that posts with images receives more links than posts without images. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes for the brain to decode text. According to HubSpot, content gets 94 percent more views with compelling visual elements and graphics.

Read why visual content is a social media secret weapon. To help you find those quality images, you may want to read 14 free stock photo websites, 25 places to find free photos and 7 websites for free and beautiful stock photos.

6. Create easy to read content with strong headlines and call to actions

It is important to create content that is easy to read. Have you read content that was long winded or used big words? Was it easy to scan and quickly comprehend? Without easy-to-read content, your approach to content marketing will most likely fail.

Readability

Readability is important for search engine optimization (SEO), usability and ensure Google is rating your website high in search results. Use words that the right number of syllables and the right sentence length. The readability of the content impacts how well or poorly your content will perform in the search results. Figure out how well your content reads by using the readability score tool.

Compelling headlines

Beyond just overall readability, it is important that the start and finish of your content guides the reader’s experience. Make sure your headline and sub-headline capture the essence of your content. Analyze your headlines using tools like these 10 free keyword research tools to write compelling headlines.

Call to actions

It is very important to include call to actions in your content, especially your best performing content. A strong call to action (the “what”) encourages and provokes your readers to respond.  One of the actions could be to view the SlideShare content of your article or vice versa. One of the call to actions could be to read the article version of your SlideShare content. Learn how to repurpose your content on SlideShare. Other call to actions could include read related content, download an eBook or white paper or call/email us for help on the topic. If you include your call to action up top and again at the end of the content, you encourage more clicks.

7. Repurpose your content and develop a strategy for types of content

Repurposing content is critical for all of us with tight marketing budgets and to ensure our marketing messages consistently reach our target audiences. Have you used channels like SlideShare to get more out of your content? Read why SlideShare is the perfect vehicle for extending the life of your content.

To ensure you have a strategy for the different types of content you produce and curate, you may want to use a pyramid-based approach. It improves the long-term efficiencies and effectiveness of your content marketing operations and helps you produce more content with less effort. The foundation of this pyramid starts with curated content. Read the five free content curation resources that can save you time.

By using this pyramid when you think about your content, you incorporate the best practices of content marketing. You ensure your audience sees your key marketing messages in several places at different times; your audience sees key messages in multiple shapes and sizes; and it extends your reach beyond your websites.

Bringing it All Together

Don’t take my word for it. Brafton wrote up a case study about how a financial services company wrote fewer articles that were more in-depth. It boosted web traffic and sales. Instead of pumping out tons of content, make sure you have a content marketing strategy where less content can help your bottom line efforts. It is getting harder and harder with more people understanding the power of content marketing so now is a great time to re-think your content marketing efforts so that you can beat the content shock.

What tips would you add to this list to overcome the content shock?