Success in content marketing depends on your ability to zig when everyone else is zagging. Content that leads prospects further along the buyer’s journey must stand out and deliver real value. If your piece is simply a lengthy combination of ranking posts, no one will see that you’re any different from competitors. (And with Google’s new “helpful content update,” your piece may not even rank well in search!)
Creating high-performance content doesn’t require exceptional creativity, though. Here’s a formula I use reliably for creating content that holds interest and leads to more time on site.
Formula for High-Performance Content: differentiation + usefulness + expertise + artistry = success
So what does content quality look like? There’s no one right answer. Like an Animagus, quality content can take many forms, and it’s just as magical in the results it generates. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a science to creating it. Here’s a formula for quality content that will engage prospects and encourage them to read more.
1. Choose a differentiator
A relevant differentiator will help your readers understand that your brand is intelligent and brings real value to the table. Here are five solid options for differentiators that can be effective.
- Unique point of view — What view does your company hold that’s different from the rest of your industry? Or what point of view comes out of your product’s unique value proposition? For example, Sigma, a powerful self-service analytics software, uses a series of points of view centering on their position that even non-technical users should be empowered to deep-dive into data sets to find insights on their own, even semi-structured JSON data.
- Contrarian opinion — A contrarian opinion based on facts and backed up with intelligence is a powerful differentiator. Consider how you could share a completely different take on a popular topic. Drift is a master of the contrarian opinion.
- Personality — Personality can be its own differentiator. Consider MailChimp. MailChimp’s brand is consistently down-to-earth and slightly quirky. And their content stands out. It’s always useful and typically brings a smile along the way.
- Original data — Original data is a link magnet, and it also shows that your brand is a leader in the industry. This research can be based on your customer data, original survey data, or partnership research (collaborating with a research organization or another brand that shares a similar user base). HubSpot’s “State of” reports are a prime example.
- Personal experience — An often-overlooked differentiator is simply sharing personal experience. Because most brands produce “faceless” content, their pieces rarely include personal experience. For this reason, personal experience is an ideal differentiator. Personal experience stories are also engaging, inherently able to hold interest.
2. Make it uniquely useful
Quality content has a reason for existing. It’s not simply a regurgitation of what’s already out there. When you’re developing a content concept, search your key phrase in Google and see what appears. If what you had in mind is already all over the search results, it’s time to think deeper.
- What angle could you take that would provide new insight?
- Is there new research you could source that sheds new light on the topic?
- What’s missing from the content already published?
- If your piece is a how-to, what would make the process simpler or more fail-proof?
- What unique lessons have you learned on the subject as a result of your own experiments or personal experience?
Coming up with a uniquely useful angle may take a bit of thinking, but it will dramatically increase the value of your content.
3. Back it up with expertise
Google isn’t the only one that’s looking for authoritative content. Prospects value content rooted in expertise as well. If you’re writing on a subject that your brand is known for, or if your topic is one that you have personal expertise in, you can write authoritatively on your own. If not, you’ll want to include quotes and insights from subject matter experts to lend credibility.
4. Add artistry
Good writing delights people. Everyone loves a well-placed metaphor or an anecdote that perfectly illustrates a point. Using words that involve the senses can raise your content quality because you’re enabling your prospects to truly “get a sense” of what you’re saying. And adding artistry will also help readers to better remember what you’ve communicated.
High-Performance Content Requires Creativity
Creating high-performance content isn’t easy — which is why you don’t see a lot of it. The silver lining is that standing out is fairly simple if you introduce even a couple of the qualities shared here. Follow this formula, and you’ll catapult your content to new heights.
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