6 pillars for successful content marketing in 2016

Content Marketing is the only marketing left. - Seth Godin

Content marketing proved its worth in 2015. Brand budgets have shifted to content creation and the demand for good creators has soared.

Here are the 6 key areas you must address in your 2016 content strategy and one thing you can do today to improve each one.

#1 - read speed

Making your content digestible shows that you respect your visitor’s time.

This means - include your key information upfront, clearly state the benefits of content straight away, and make the page easy to digest.

List posts are a smart way of delivering value in record time.

To-do today:
Using subheads throughout your written content creates a sense of progress and is also a great opportunity for you to include your all-important keywords. Long, unbroken text is a big no-no.

#2 - load speed

Always assume that your reader is starved of time. They have a million other things to check, to watch, and read, and your site is just one of them.

Top of your list, especially in 2016, should be speed. Every year, as your audience gets faster connections across more devices, expectations for performance are at an all-time high.

The numbers on load speed are shocking. Nearly half of users expect a page to load within 2 seconds and 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again.

If your content takes more than 5-8 seconds to reach your user, you should not be surprised by low audience retention rates

Not only will your readers love your experience, but search engines will reward you with higher rankings as well.

To-do today:
Diagnose your load speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. The likelihood is that there are quick wins here like reducing the filesize of your images. Instructions on fixing each issue are provided.

#3 - Sourcing content

Most marketing departments aren’t full of skilled writers, infographic producers and videographers. Yet, the desire for useful and engaging content will be higher than ever in 2016.

One solution for those with limited resources is to curate content. Unfortunately, curation has had a bit of bad press because most people are lazy (sorry, it’s true) and the temptation to copy-paste is overwhelming.

The smart content curator knows that simply reposting someone’s content doesn’t cut it. Readers are more interested in thought leaders, not thought followers. Do not be afraid to voice your opinion on something - that’s what people are after.

Adding your own insight, counter-argument, or case study demonstrates your thought leadership, can make for catchy headlines (read: SEO traffic), and gives you an opportunity to link internally to some of your original content.

To-do today:
Create the best piece of content in your category in these 3 steps:
1) Pick a hot topic in your industry or one that you’ve discovered through keyword research.
2) Open up the top 5 list-posts on the topic in Google search.
3) Hand-pick the best points from all of them, rewrite them, add your own arguments or case studies and combine them into one post.

Congratulations - you now have the most comprehensive list post on a topic that is a proven traffic source.

#4 - Consistency

The two questions from the concerned marketer are usually - “how often should I post?” and “when’s the best time to post?”.

I always say - how often have you heard someone say “I really like [blog name] because they always publish on Tuesdays”?

I’m not saying consistent posting isn’t important, but it should be way down your list of priorities.

The vital thing that needs to stay consistent is quality.

Instead of forcing yourself to follow a calendar, try setting yourself a quality benchmark to stick to instead.

To-do today:
Decide on your editorial process. Who writes what, who checks it, what tone your articles should have (friendly, professional, conversational... ). Take some time to study what makes an article engaging and create a guideline for your writer(s) to follow.

#5 - Purpose and metrics

Before publishing (and even before you start writing) you need to establish what benefit will this bring, to whom, and what metric can you use to measure success.

Is it to create a resource for existing customers? To provide basic info to prospects? To showcase your authority to industry experts?

Why bother measuring pageviews when your mission is to drive sign-ups? Or getting people to actually read to the end of the post?

Knowing the purpose of each content piece will not only give you more clarity on your overall content strategy, but also make the creation and curation process much easier.

To-do today:
Brainstorm and decide which metrics will reflect the success of your content strategy. Here are a few ideas to get you started. To start with, Google Analytics will be your first port of call, but for anything to do with rankings and SEO performance, make sure to use a rank tracker.

#6 - Headlines

Traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the quality of the headline, according to the headline Kings at Upworthy.

The undeniable fact is that, if your headline is no good, nobody will read your copy, which makes writing great headlines the most important copywriting skill to master in 2016.

Note: click-bait headlines (ones that overstate or mislead the reader) got such a bad rap from users that Facebook had to tweak their newsfeed algorithm to weed them out.

Your 2016 headline needs to sit in the sweet spot of being informative and explicit about the content while hooking the reader at the same time.

To-do today:
Use this SEO-friendly headline generator to generate hot headlines for your niche. Just insert your keywords.


Although there are plenty of tools out there that will help you in your journey, these are the 6 big things you need to keep a pulse on at all times in 2016:

Read speed, load speed, content sourcing, quality, metrics and headlines.

Which one of these do you feel you will struggle with the most? Let us know in the comments below.