What We Learned from a Year of Content

7 minute read

Upland Admin

By now, you’ve no doubt been exposed to a litany of 2015 marketing predictions posts. You’ve heard how 2015 will bring the rise of [subcategory], the fall of [previous buzzword], how [new product category] will play a larger role, how Facebook will suck more for organic reach, and how Jesse Noyes will be crowned King of Content once and for all.

Jesse Noyes, King of Content

I mean, if that’s not the profile of a king, I don’t know what is. *cough*

While it’s fun to look ahead, I find the “look back” posts even more valuable.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not someone who dwells too much on the past and lives on a small set of past successes. I like to think of myself as progressive. But in order to be truly progressive—to build and improve upon what’s come before—it’s important to understand the sum of parts equating to the present moment. So that’s what I’ve done.

Philosoraptor GIF

You didn’t know you signed up for a philosophy class here, did you?

With the New Year quickly bearing down upon us, I looked back at a year of content at Kapost.

I reviewed 400 blog posts, 20 SlideShares, 12 full-length eBooks, 30 videos, dozen of landing pages, hundreds of emails, and thousands of social posts. With that much content to review, it didn’t seem appropriate to anoint just 5-10 pieces as our “Best of the Year” or something.

Kapost’s Content Scoring helped me grade performance, yet because our content has a wide range of objectives, “success” can be measured in quite a few different ways. It gets complex quickly.

However, when looking at top performers (in a general sense) across a wide variety of metrics and content types, a few universal lessons emerged. Here are 5 of those lessons and the Kapost content assets that brought them to light.

1. Make People’s Lives Easier

The High Performers

The Complete Guide to Building Your Content Marketing Workflow (eBook)

7 Marketing Cheat Sheets You’ll Use Again and Again (Blog)

The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook (eBook)

The Lesson

Worksheets and templates have held a firm place in Kapost’s content since the early days. It’s a feature we use a lot. The content featured above includes an eBook that shredded prior lead generation goals, a blog post that is among the top 5 shared this year (and rising), and the year’s second most downloaded eBook that not only gave marketers tips on how to hire a winning team, but provides key questions to ask in the interviews, inspired by top marketers such as Joe Chernov and Jason Miller.

Download the Hiring Guide
Creating content like this not only breaks larger content topics down into more digestible bits, but it also empowers the intended audience to take action in much quicker and more educated manner. A message of “we’ve done the hard work for you, now apply this to your specific scenario” is a big step in helping a potential buyer or a current customer overcome the challenges they face. It also positions you as a knowledgable source.

2. Take on Challenging Topics

The High Performers

How We Screwed Up a Brilliant Marketing Campaign (Blog)

Are Influencers Tired of Influencer Marketing?

Building an Enterprise Content Marketing Framework (eBook)

The Lesson

Too often, we marketers focus on “quick wins” or “low-hanging fruit” when creating content. Those are vital parts of a content strategy, but only when they drive to more substantial content.

It’s great to excel at grabbing attention. It’s better to excel at keeping it.

As buyers progress along their process, they’re likely to have deeper, more challenging questions. The same can be said for customers as they move from the on-boarding phase to a more advanced use case of your products or services. Don’t be scared of tackling the tough questions, and providing responses to them in your content.

Another way to go about this is to pose difficult questions yourself. It might be a blog post challenging accepted norms in an industry, or bringing to light an often overlooked issue and starting a discussion about it. The point is to get people talking, which leads to a variety of benefits including better relationships with the prospect/customer. The content featured in this section did just that. This type of content can also provide better understanding of needs. Which brings me to my next point:

3. Meet a Need

The High Performers

The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook (eBook)

Why Content Audits Suck & A Tool That Makes Them Easy (SlideShare)

Influence Your Buyer’s Journey with Content Scoring (Interactive Infographic)

The Lesson

This is pretty much the centerpiece of modern marketing: focus on buyer-centric marketing (or customer-centric marketing). It’s all about creating content that serves a purpose to the intended audience. Our efforts need to address challenges our buyers face, and meet those challenges head on.

Content Scoring
This content identified pervasive challenges or problems within the marketing industry and set out to solve them or make them easier to handle. Need to build a content team but don’t know where to start? Download the hiring guide. Dreading that painful, time-sucking content audit? Head over to contentauditor.com and let this free tool do the heavy lifting. Not sure how to best measure the effectiveness of your content efforts? Learn how content scoring works. You get the point. All of that content was a direct response to known difficulties, and was well received as a result.

4. Recognize a Job Well Done

The High Performers

The Kapost 50: 2014’s Best Brands in Content Marketing (Interactive Microsite)

Screw PowerPoint. How to Create a Killer SlideShare with Canva (SlideShare)

13 SlideShare Masters Share Their Secrets (SlideShare)

The Lesson

Everyone likes to be appreciated for their efforts. It makes the long hours, stress, sleepless nights, and mountains of work a bit more worth it. Sadly, it’s easy to feel a lack of appreciation in the business world, even when performing exceptionally. With that in mind, content that recognizes people can be a significant driver of traffic, leads, and, not to be overlooked, good will.

This type of content can be simple to create, and is often the most enjoyable. It might seem silly, but crediting people for being good at something is great for everyone, as it makes the subjects feel good and want to share the content, and it helps the creators build advocacy and even in some cases, a new line of influencers.

The Kapost 50

5. Have Fun

The High Performers

7 Signs You Work in Content Marketing: Now and Then (Blog)

Why Animated GIFs Belong in Your Content Marketing Mix (Blog)

What Beer and Content Have in Common (Infographic)

The Lesson

We can take ourselves too seriously when it comes to business, in B2B especially. We focus so intensely on things like goals, initiatives, obstacles, directives, complexities, blah, blah, blah. It can be a draining experience.

It’s easy to forget that we’re humans, with emotions, and so are our buyers.

Sometimes we can meet all of those serious-sounding words in that earlier sentence, and still enjoy ourselves. After all, marketing is both a science and an art. Let your creative juices flow from time to time. There’s room for that even is the stuffiest, most “boring” industries.

Not every piece of content succeeded the way we hope. Some flat out flopped, and others could have used minor improvements. But the content I’ve shared above landed. And the key we found to “success” is to continually review the results, learn what works, and make adjustments.

Okay. That’s enough learning for 2014 now, wouldn’t you say?

Mic Drop Colbert

Yep. I’m out.

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