There are some content marketing best practices we all know and follow by now: Understanding your audience, using SEO to your advantage, and creating high-quality content on a consistent basis are all tried-and-true guidelines every content marketer worth their salt lives by. And we’re all aware of the importance of video content, varied content, and the all-important call-to-action.

But there may be a few best practices some content marketers aren’t taking to heart yet. Maybe you’re still lagging on the move to mobile. Or perhaps you’re ignoring the opinions of your customers?

Whatever the case, here are four content marketing best practices you can’t afford to ignore:    

Focus on mobile-friendly search

We shouldn’t even have to keep saying this, but mobile is not a trend and it’s not going to go away. For the last two years, more than half of users have been searching with their smartphones rather than desktop computers. And earlier this year Google has moved to a mobile-first index, which means searches are ranked based on the mobile content of a website rather than the traditional desktop experience.  

Besides making your site responsive—as in, making sure your site is easy to use and to navigate on a smartphone or tablet-sized screen as well as a desktop—you’ve got to think like a mobile user. Using Google Analytics to identify the keywords in your industry that are searched more on mobile devices than on desktop is a good start. But then consider what users are doing while they’re searching for terms like “how to bake a pie.” If they’re searching on mobile they’re probably already in the kitchen and want a bulleted easy-to-follow recipes instead of drawn-out video content.

Add “optimize for mobile” as a new best practice and you won’t lose out on anymore organic traffic.  

Take advantage of multiple distribution platforms.

There’s a lot of great content out there, but there’s so much of it that’s not getting discovered. That’s why you’ve got to make a great effort to push it out there in as many places as possible, so people can find it. For each new blog post or video content, send out a newsletter update to followers. Share business-minded content with business-minded people on LinkedIn. If you’ve used a piece of music in a podcast or video, let users know where to find it—the creator of that music may return the favor, share your content with their audience, and amplify your content.    

If the content is old or evergreen continue to share it on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the next several months. Apps like TweetDeck make that very easy to do since they allow you to schedule posts in advance. A great social media best practice in general is to keep track of your tweets and other social media platform posts in an Excel or Google Sheet file for easy organizing.  

With a comprehensive and strategic content amplification plan, your content won’t stay hidden for long.

Leverage user-generated content.

Don’t be shy and ask fans of your brand to create content. 85 percent of users find visual-oriented user-generated content more trustworthy than brand photos or videos. In the olden days of the Nintendo Power buying guide-slash-monthly-magazine, that came in the form of fan letters and fan art drawn on snail mail envelopes. Nowadays, that’s all done digitally, and fan art contests in general have fallen by the wayside. Still, there are plenty of other ways to get users engaged with your brand, from social media hashtags to having customers take pictures of themselves using your great product or service and sharing them online. Retweet or repost that user’s content with a link to buy whatever product they’re using, and give users a chance to win a gift card (or something similar) in exchange for their brand loyalty.

User-generated content can be tricky since the whole idea of leveraging others’ creativity blurs some lines of ownership, so check with your legal team to make sure the fine print is figured out before you go full steam ahead.

Ask for feedback.

Besides user-generated content, one of the best ways to engage with customers is to reach out to them. One of the easiest and best content marketing practices is to ask customers and visitors about their experience. This can involve sending customer surveys via email to ask what subjects and what content matters most to them. Use social listening tools to see what they’re saying about your brand on Facebook and Twitter and take notes, or better yet, interact with them in one-on-one conversations.

For some more passive options, you can include a “Was this helpful?” widget at the bottom of blog posts content with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down choices (beware of trolls spamming the thumbs-down option). Or discuss what customers are saying with your sales and customer service teams since they’re the ones who interact with them the most.

With your newfound data you can adjust your content marketing strategy to the wants and needs of your customer base. You could even interview the most loyal customers for stories on your blog. Besides your own talented team of copywriters, editors and producers, your customers and website visitors are your most valued of assets—don’t forget them.   

And, as always, track your results to see how your new best practices are doing. At S&G, we already have a solid grasp of content marketing best practices, so if you’d like to work with us, let us know and we’ll see what we can setup.  

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