It's no secret in the world of content marketing that readers are hungry for fresh content and marketers are scrambling to deliver it to them. After all, content is king. Regularly updating a company blog or website with relevant content helps attract visitors. However, because online audiences are known to have short attention spans and high standards, marketers must have the ability to work on the fly, catering their efforts to audience interests, expectations, and feedback -- and fast!
Fortunately, there are certain steps marketers can take to make the content creation and distribution process easier. The following are four tried and true ways marketers can execute content marketing efforts quickly, without sacrificing quality:
Keep a list of ideas -- and use them
If I had to come up with a list of the most invaluable resources available to a writer, at the top of that list would be a plain, old notebook used to jot down ideas. It doesn't have to be anything fancy -- a spiral-bound notebook from the drugstore will work just fine -- but keeping a log of your ideas as they come to you is one way to cut your writing time in half.
"Keeping an ideas list lets you leap in to a new post quickly when you're ready to write," according to CopyBlogger. But it does more than just that; documenting your ideas even when you're not working on a writing assignment allows you to keep a steady flow of creative inspiration coming your way. It may even help you brainstorm ideas for social sharing opportunities or related social updates to accompany your next blog post or article.
Build out your editorial calendar
Once you have your list of ideas ready to go, the next step is to organize them into an editorial calendar to save yourself time -- and a headache -- later on. At my company, we use Google Docs to give all employees contributing to the company blog a broad overview of the blogging schedule for the month, quarter, and year. By scheduling our posts well in advance, our writers can begin brainstorming and building out their posts when inspiration strikes, instead of at the last minute.
For one of our larger clients, we use an editorial calendar to communicate when each deliverable is due and how all assets delivered contribute to our monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. We've also developed weekly themes for our blog posts (i.e., list-type posts, photo collections, historical timelines, etc.). We schedule a specific day of the week to publish the posts via our editorial calendar. With our audience expecting a certain type of content on a certain day of the week, we can ensure not only that we're publishing and promoting on a regular basis, but also that our readers are seeking out our content.
Use subheads to keep readers engaged
With only a few seconds to grab your reader's attention, content marketers are tasked with the near-impossible: keeping their readers engaged in a blog post, from start to finish. Many writers think the key to audience engagement is to come up with a catchy post or article headline, one that will hook a visitor long enough to get him or her reading in the first place. But the truth is that's only half the battle.
According to Jakob Nielsen's seminal web usability study, 79 percent of users scan rather than read content. So what can you do to get them to stick around? Break up your post with compelling subheads that act as "mini headlines" to keep your readers moving through your content. Copyblogger recommends writing your headings first to "clearly communicate the benefit you'll deliver to readers in exchange for their valuable time." After all, users want to know what they're in for when they commit to reading an article; do your best to deliver on that promise.
Edit mercilessly (but save a "cut from" file)
When you're through writing, don't be afraid to take an ax to your finished product. In fact, weeding out the less relevant aspects of your article is one way to make sure you're staying on point with your readers and offering them information you've already promised them via your subheads.
To make the editing process easier and more efficient, be sure to save any extraneous sentences or paragraphs you cut from the article in a separate Word document. That way, you're losing nothing by streamlining the information you already have and gaining everything by keeping it in a safe place for later. Starting a "cut from" file is a "great resource for times when you have writer's block and need somewhere to start," according to one blog post offering tips for how to write faster. So be ruthless with your work -- you'll thank yourself in the end.
When it comes to content marketing effectiveness, does speed always signal success? Of course not. You won't be doing yourself any favors if you focus all your efforts on pushing content out quickly without leaving time to give it a proper finesse. But the above four strategies are tips to consider when trying to create fast, fresh content for your target audience. The end goal is always to balance efficiency with quality, making sure you're offering your readers content relevant to their interests and expectations in a timely manner.
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