By Jen Patterson, B2Launch Writer & Content Strategist
If you were one of the many people who kicked off the year binging episodes of “Tidying Up” then you no doubt found the satisfaction that comes from both parting ways with things that no longer serve you well and properly organizing the things that do. After all, it’s perfectly normal to accumulate items that no longer “spark joy” — tastes change; we outgrow; we upgrade.
And though it’s been a few months since pictures of flawlessly organized shoe racks with “#konmari” were cluttering your social feeds, the time may be just right for you to turn your attention to cleaning up your blog. Just as you can carefully, systematically organize your shoe closet or your junk drawer, you absolutely can (and should) clean up and clean out your content and hone your approach for smart future content creation.
Use this checklist as a guide to ensure your content is properly tidied up:
1. Stop Wasting Time & Effort: Know Your Audience!
Before you type another word in 2019, take the time to thoughtfully develop your company’s unique audience personas. Why? Any marketing content created without your ideal client in mind is potentially a large waste of time. The goal of well-crafted marketing content is to build a lasting, long-term engagement with your clients. It should provide value and connect on an emotional level — building a foundation for meaningful conversations throughout your sales cycle. Without knowing who you want to talk to, you can’t strategically craft your key messaging, and any attempt to include your client in your storytelling will just be guesswork.
Even if you’re able to craft trending, interesting, click-worthy content, if it’s not valuable to your unique audience, the best you can hope for is a little bit of buzz and temporary brand recognition. Worry less about casting a wide net, and more about the right one.
Read more about the importance of crafting unique audience personas here.
2. Make Your Content Both Readable and Scan-able
In a perfect world, everyone would spend time deep-diving into educational content. However, particularly in the B2B world, there just simply isn’t always the time. That means you should convey the value of your content early on and be mindful to present your content in a way that’s easy to digest.
There’s a lot of criticism about the “listicle” (Top 10 This… 5 Ways to Do That… Checklists), but they’re popular because the provide an effective, easy-to-read format. While quality is absolutely the number one goal when writing an article, you still need to be realistic about the end-user’s experience.
Utilizing scan-able headlines, such as H2 tags, throughout your article gives the reader an advantage from two points. First, headlines allow the audience to decide if they want to read further or to jump to a particular topic that’s relevant to them. Secondly, articles that have breaks and whitespace are just more enjoyable to read. Have you ever received an email from someone that was just one gigantic block of text? If you’re like me, you quickly closed it and hoped it went away — no, thank you. The same goes for blog articles: Be kind to your readers and give them the opportunity to pause.
It sounds obvious, but the simplest way to structure your content in a way that will be easy for your reader to follow is to start with an outline. Introduce your topic, defend your point, and then circle back to the original topic. Following a simple storytelling arc is the best way not to lose your reader’s attention. Donald Miller, author of “Building a Story Brand,” puts it like this, “Don’t make your readers burn too many calories trying to follow your story.”
3. Consolidate and Update Legacy Content
Beyond cleaning up individual posts by making them more engaging and readable, there’s a good chance you have a large batch of old articles that no longer spark joy for anyone — not you, not your readers, not the Google bots. If you’re not sure how to determine the value an article provides, this Moz article does a great job of taking you step by step through the clean up process and how to decide what’s worth keeping and what isn’t.
Keep in mind; some of your older blogs are probably great. But they might be so great that the topic has been discussed many times over on your site. This provides an opportunity to consolidate and create new content without reinventing the wheel. Take well-written, shorter or slightly outdated blogs and give them a refresh by consolidating and creating new, long-form content with updated links, statistics and images. You may find that for some topics, you have enough information to create an e-book, white paper or guide — score!
4. People Read with their Eyes First: Embrace Creative Visuals
Recently, I saw a post in my LinkedIn feed from a secondary connection crankily calling for the end of the selfie video. This was terrible advice. It’s not hard to see that these videos (when providing valuable insights) are getting many views and prompting audience engagement. Video is so highly consumed that 85% of the videos watched on Facebook are viewed without sound — this makes it even easier to generate video content and connect with your audience in a creative and entertaining way. And remember, B2B marketers should not ignore the power of Facebook — with opportunities for precise targeting, remarketing and a global audience of 1.4 billion active daily users, it shouldn’t be ignored.
If videos aren’t on your content roadmap for this year, you can still create visually engaging articles by including charts, reports, studies and statistics to support the story you’re telling. Even colorful and engaging stock images can go a long way to illustrate the points in your written content. HubSpot reports that people are able to recall 65% of the visual content they see for up to 3 days. This is a prime example of how shifting the way you present your content can increase its value in the eyes of your audience.
Do you have great legacy content that could be easily improved by adding an infographic or a chart? Take the time to tidy up your high-performing articles by making them visually engaging.
5. Add a Call-to-Action
Ending a blog post without a call to action is like leaving a first date without a promise to call (okay, text). Everyone is left wondering what the next step is, where to go from here, and any initial excitement that was generated is sure to quickly burn out.
If you’ve put in the work to create thoughtful, engaging content, curated with your ideal audience in mind, don’t drop the ball on the last yard line by leaving out a call-to-action (CTA). What action do you want your audience to take when they’re done reading? Whether it’s sign up for an event, fill out a form, call, or email, don’t leave them guessing. Don’t ghost your audience! Provide clear, thoughtful, and easy to follow instruction for next steps.
Back to Basics
Paring down and organizing your personal belongings can provide purpose and clarity. Decluttering your content can have the same impact on both you and your audiences. Executing an effective, robust content marketing strategy requires a strong buildable foundation with repeatable steps. And where better to start than with the basics?
If you want to build a more effective content marketing strategy but need more guidance on how to execute, we can help. B2Launch’s consultative approach to marketing strategy helps you define your audience and creates actionable steps to reach them more effectively. Get in touch with us today.