Content Marketing

Avoid cliches and don’t be boring: The golden rules of effective content marketing

Emma Koehn /

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash.

If you’re in the world of business, you know content is king. But you might not realise just how regal a typical content marketing campaign has become.

Have a scan down the list of the winners of last year’s Content Marketing Association’s annual awards and you’ll see big budget documentaries, inventive apps and comprehensive storytelling experiences, all designed to connect customers to a brand.

Airline Qantas took out one of the top honours at last year’s awards for its content hub and in-flight magazine, which used data to “engage with people with the right content at the right time” while customers were travelling or in the air. The company was able to monitor content delivery across all its platforms to get the most relevant information to eager travellers.

The judging panel said the airline could demonstrate its content reached more customers who earned more than $150,000 annually than any other newsstand in the country.

For smaller operators, valuable content can also contribute to significant user growth. Last month, video conversion startup Clipchamp revealed it had grown from 100,000 users to 3.5 million in 18 months. How did it reach so many people in short space of time? By leveraging articles on niche topics that consistently showed up in top search results in Google.

Our content marketing really took our customer acquisition to the next level. It’s something we started right at the beginning when we got to blogging and writing articles, and while we tried a lot of things that didn’t work, it was one of the things that did,” co-founder Alexander Dreiling said.

Regardless of whether your company wants to create an article, a podcast or an entire publication, consumers are more demanding than ever before for quality content. Luckily, founder of The Content Folk, Nicole Kersh, tells SmartCompany there are now some golden rules for making your work stand out against all the noise out there

Don’t go for cliched formats

“Click bait and listicles need to become extinct,” Kersh proclaims.

“The reader is so much more discerning now, and things like, ‘Five ways to blast belly fat’? They’re just not relevant.”

Kersh says in the past, companies were more likely to create generalised content, which wasn’t such an issue because there were simply not as many brands who were also putting content on the table.

Now, it’s a different story.

Things that dumb down the audience or assume the lowest common denominator may have worked when it was just a game of numbers, but now it’s all about assuming more of your demographic,” she says.

Not enough businesses think holistically when they plan out their content marketing, Kersh says. Instead, they need to think about how their content contributes positively to the lives of their customers, because most punters aren’t interested in things that lead directly to a “hard sell” of a product.

“If you don’t have anything relevant to say, don’t say anything at all,” she says. 

Don’t be boring

Even if you’ve chosen a unique format to present your brand, there’s still a chance you’ll be too controlled and measured when presenting the content, Kersh says.

When planning content marketing campaigns for clients, Kersh says she often receives information that makes it really difficult to create an emotive product.

“When we work with clients on personas, a lot of the information we get back is so one-dimensional,” she says.

Instead of thinking about the sales outcome of your content, businesses should be teasing out as much information as possible about what their brand stands for and how they can get this across to clients in an interesting way, Kersh believes. Otherwise, the results you’re aiming for may never translate. 

“Dig deep and personalise it,” she says.

Unless a brand has taken the time to actually think about an emotional connection, their marketing content is likely to just get buried under an avalanche of other brands’ messaging, particularly in the digital space.

“Brands are competing in the social sphere, it’s not about content in isolation on a blog. So be as human as possible. If you wouldn’t talk to a friend that way, don’t put it in your content,” Kersh says. 

NOW READ: Expert tips to make your content marketing sing 

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior journalist at SmartCompany.

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