How to Keep a Helpful Mindset
in Content Marketing
What are the two biggest pieces of advice we keep telling our clients?
is to first, not overthink lead generation,
second, to focus on being genuinely helpful to their audience through content.
It’s the mindset that sets the tone and voice of your brand, allowing you to craft messaging that nuanced, natural, and personal.
Crafting content this way captures your audience’s emotions, and what better way to be remembered than to make long-lasting impressions of how you made them feel.
We’ve compiled a few tips to help you maintain your focus on helping your audience. When writing content, use these as a guide to keep your creation process pointed steady on crafting something that will lead to your audience’s success.
Empathize with your audienceUnderstanding your audience lies at the core of buyer persona creation.
Understanding your audience may mean knowing their responsibilities and challenges, their associates and the bosses they respond to, and their lines of business and the industries they work with and serve.
That’s all well and good, right?
After all, that’s everything anyone in charge of generating BANT-like leads are after.
Seem to be the only bases for segmentation these days.
They’re “industry standards” after all, so they must be what they are now for a good reason.
That may be true.
But not so if you want to really get to know them.
To truly understand your audience, marketers must also be able to ascertain what drives their audience.
These questions can be answered by looking at your current client base and having a personal conversation with them.It doesn’t even have to be a formal interview; just talk to them as you would with a friend you are trying to get to know more. Keep it casual, but don’t forget to get the information you’re after (and to inform your client of your intentions!). The following are interesting questions to ask:
Don’t ask for anything in returnWhen creating content, focus on nothing but the content you are creating, and how it will help your audience once they get to read them. Let this be your guide from the moment you:
Often we come across websites that, on load, immediately flash newsletter subscription capture forms (I just got here!).
Once we close that window, we see titles riddled with long tail keywords only Google could possibly love.
Then the actual content – headers are only semantically relevant among each other, with no real grammatical coherence between paragraphs whatsoever.
Please avoid doing this.
The first rule of content marketing is to write content for your audience, not search engines.
With that being said,
The best mindset to have during content creation is to write helpful content without expecting anything in return.
Don’t consider content as a means to a lead generating end.
If you are to be truly helpful to your audience; let your content be the end – and the beginning of your audience’s success.
Forget for a while your lead targets, Google, search engine rankings and keywords. Focus on content.
…until you’re done writing
Only once you are done writing are you to consider SEO best practices. The usual considerations apply:
- Keywords in the title
- Keywords in headings
- Appropriate use of H1 and H2 tags
- Keywords in the paragraphs
- Relevant meta description
- Content promotion
The reason you are supposed to only do this last is because you don’t want to influence your writing and turn your piece into something only robots would love.
There is art, personality, and emotion in writing, without which your content would be easily forgotten by your audience.
As a popular quote says it,
people don’t remember what you did, but rather what you made them feel.
Don’t water your content’s artfulness down thinking about what search engines would do with what you wrote.
When conflicted between an
which one should you go with?
The short answer is that there is no answer.
The long answer is for you to use your best judgement and decide on what matters most to you on every specific situation.
If your title is an extremely obscure reference that only a small minority would understand and appreciate, maybe it’s best to go back to the drawing board to re-conceptualize.
If it sounds lifeless because it’s seven-word-long long tail keyword, maybe you should try making it more lively at the expense of “SEO”.
Maintain a healthy balance, and Google and your human audience should treat you just fine.
When asking for information, give something of equivalent value back
Now we get to the lead generation bits: CTAs, landing pages, forms, and gated content offers.
Every once in a while you will need (or more preferably want) to create premium gated content to generate leads.
As always, maintain a mindset of being genuinely helpful, not expectant of the form fill-ups it will return.
This mantra is even more important in creating more detailed, feature-rich, well researched, and generally more polished premium content.
Save thinking about the CTAs and landing pages for later.
Common formats of gated content include:
These pieces of premium content are usually only accessible after a prospect fills in his or her information in your form.
How much information you ask for should directly mirror that of your content’s value.
To quantify value, think of
Below is an illustration of common content types, and how many form fields many websites ask for before a download:
Of course, it helps to be prepared as soon as possible for when form fill-ups do arrive.
Get a few email templates ready, and customize/personalize them according to what they downloaded, where they are in their specific buyer journey, or any other information you could derive with the details they could possibly provide.
If things get out of hand and become too many to handle, it may be time to give marketing automation tools a shot.
HubSpot is a good service to get everything neatly integrated in one place.
If you’re not quite ready yet, check out a list of free marketing tools we still use to automate repetitive tasks and allow you to concentrate on the things that matter.
Why branding and being genuinely helpful…helps
The most helpful websites are often the most memorable.
Helpful not in the sense of bombarding you with all the relevant information you could possibly need a la encyclopedia; rather, helpful in a sense that it attracts you with compelling copy.
They keep you entertained with human, highly-personal content composition, and they pull the right set of emotional strings during its presentation to keep you reeled in and entertained.
Just look at how WikiHow does it:
Above is a ridiculous how-to on listening and discovering music (that actually has substance).
Are they the most complete in terms of information in a given topic?
Are WikiHow articles and their respective writers authoritative figures on the topics people are searching for?
Some may be, but we’re bound to verify and recheck other sources as you would with other material, anyway.
Are their pieces of content hilarious and memorable?
There actually are better examples – WikiHow isn’t even an inbound lead generating website (what it is, is a topic for another day).
But take a look at some of their articles in their website.
Though many times hilarious and a subject of internet ridicule, WikiHow is actually a good model when it comes to solidifying brand image, identity, and style, centered around content intended to solely to help its audience.
Just don’t try to emulate. Or worse yet, overthink.
Think of what your offerings are, how they fit in the context of your prospects’ business, and how you can genuinely help your audience, and the voice and tone will follow.
It’ll come to you magically as you approach your prospects in the most natural manner possible.