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10 Ways to Create a Content Engine

  |  September 19, 2012   |  Comments

Good content is hard to manage and continually refresh yet it is absolutely critical to your marketing success.

Content is the biggest issue for every marketer on the planet. It's content that attracts the right audience and motivates them to desired actions. It's content that spurs sharing and return visits. Content can be many things including a game that you enjoy playing or an article that gets your blood boiling, a contest you can enter, a video or podcast that educates, or an image that inspires. Content can live on your website(s), in social media, or can be distributed through partners or networks. It can be as short as a few characters or as long as a feature film.

The production of good content takes planning, talent, and resources. It means the continual development of a point of view that resonates with your audience and then the evaluation of its impact against defined business goals. It takes editorial, copy, and design talent along with technical skills, analytical skills, project management, and production capabilities. It takes organizational commitment and resources.

In short, good content is hard to manage and continually refresh yet it is absolutely critical to your marketing success. The more you commit to it and plan for it the better off you will be.

  1. Don't try and do it all yourself. Leverage your audiences and their contributions if you can. It's an overwhelming task to continually feed the content machine but you may not have to produce and distribute all that content if you can tap into your audiences for their insights and relevant content. Then you are in the role of curator, not creator and that is a difference that allows you to scale your efforts.
  2. Listen to find relevant topics and approaches. Throwing a bunch of good content in various forms out there is great but even better is assessing what actually gets play with your prime audiences. See what they are following, downloading, and talking about before you invest in the greatest thing yet that is totally irrelevant to them. Think about your goals for content creation. Are you trying to establish thought leadership to external audiences, create buzz, help SEO, or get your internal teams energized around a topic? These and many other reasons support your need for thoughtful content creation.
  3. Be strategic in your content development - think about audience, location, and device preferences. Don't treat all content consumers as the same. Think about where your audience is in their relationship to your brand. Are they new? Maybe a welcome message is in order or some 101 info. Have they exhibited some commitment to your company or brand? Then maybe you can offer more to them without risk of offending or you can be more specific in the content that you offer or suggest. Use what you know.
  4. Think beyond the written word to incorporate video, images, and other assets that make sense. It's also not just digital content - use everything you've got. Repurpose TV spots and print ads, POVs and white papers, industry presentations, and bag stuffers.
  5. Think of experiences as content. Expand your definition of content to deliver experiences to your audiences as well. A great tool, game, video, or other resource is a fabulous return-and-share magnet. Be sure to solicit suggestions for future versions.
  6. Build in a sharing mechanism to help amplify the work you create. Your investment can return so much more if you give users a reason and a device that helps to spread your content.
  7. Make your content repositories accessible and findable. Before you launch any new content create a plan to distribute your hard work with measurable baselines and built-in check points to assess the content impact. Build everything with solid SEO in place and appropriate links with your specific audiences in mind. Promote your content - use your email list, your fan communities, all your available assets.
  8. Time stamp everything. This is important so that you never look stupid or out of date as your content lives on (hopefully) far beyond the present.
  9. You don't have to create everything from scratch. If you find great content for your audience that already exists, ask permission to use it. Most authors will be thrilled to have you further extend their reach, but be generous and appropriate with attribution - it's good karma and the right thing to do.
  10. Take some risks with some of your content to learn. If what you offer is always safe and boring it's likely going to be boring to your audience as well. See where you can take them and find out where they take you with some acceptable portion of your content program.

Good content is both a driver and a destination in digital marketing. You can use it to deliver traffic to the destinations you want users to find or it can be the destination itself, acting as a lure to bring those valuable users, their eyeballs, and minutes, minds, and wallets to your digital door.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robin Neifield

Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.

Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.

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