If you break down the word “resolution” phonically, you get “resolute” and “shun.” Kind of ironic, since we all seem more likely to shun (persistently avoid, ignore, or reject through antipathy or caution) these self-assigned goals than be resolute (admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering) in achieving them.
Too often with New Year’s resolutions, we set ourselves up to fail. We lay out ambitious mandates and drastic behavioral changes that sound great in theory, but almost invariably fall by the wayside amidst our busy lives.
B2B content marketers are plenty familiar with ambitious goal-setting. We’re optimistic. We’re driven. But perhaps we’re not always realistic.
The whole point of setting goals is to achieve them. If you’re always setting stretch goals, you’ll never know what success looks like.
In this spirit, I thought I would outline five professional resolutions for B2B content marketers in 2019 that are not only achievable, but (I’ll argue) imperative.
Enough shunning. Let’s get resolute and conquer these five objectives.
#1 – Document Your Content Strategy (For Real Though)
Every year, when they conduct their annual benchmarking research, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs ask respondents whether they have a documented content marketing strategy. And every year, we’re all stunned by how few say “yes.” (The 2018 study showed that just 36% of B2B marketers reported having a documented strategy. In the 2019 study, which was just released this past October, that number was 39%.)
Then, we do it all over again. It seems absolutely insane that almost two out of three marketers lack documentation for their content strategy. And most of us recognize this, but still we just continue to let it slip.
Enough. Make 2019 the year where you actually get your strategies written down, in the form of a tangible doc that is visible and accessible to everyone in the organization.
#2 – Stop Focusing Your SEO Strategy on Keywords
Many of us were trained around this core principle of SEO writing: make that target keyword front-and-center in your copy. Place it in your title, in the first paragraph, and in multiple headers. Sprinkle it throughout your writing as liberally as salt on a bad steak.
While “old-school” SEO has been on the outs, with content that provides the perfect balance for bots and humans on an increasing rise, some marketers still regard keywords as the end-all-be-all.
Forcefully stuffing keywords into your content often diminishes readability, and in some cases it can totally derail the core points you’re trying to make. To what end? Google is continually getting smarter and more complex in its page rankings. As our Associate Director of Search & Analytics Tiffani Allen wrote here recently, elements like mobile-friendliness and voice search alignment will increasingly hold sway in 2019.
Just take a look how far down anything keyword-related falls on this updated hierarchy of ranking factors from SEMrush:
When marketers understand #searchintent, we can create #content more tailored to our audience’s specific needs, problems, and questions—helping gain visibility, attract more qualified traffic, & build trust. @annieleuman Click To Tweet
If you are delivering on those fronts, you needn’t worry so much about SEO writing in a way that reads like this SEO writing sentence and makes you never want to type or hear the words SEO writing again.
#3 – Stop Talking to Walls
I’ve suggested that one of the biggest problems in B2B content marketing today is brands writing to members of their audience “as if they were an intangible corporate entity rather than a human being.”
I continue to see this all the time: robotic blog posts aimed at no one in particular, covering dry material in the dryest manner possible. Oftentimes, these uninspired content pieces are aligned with the aforementioned SEO strategy of attacking keywords with little consideration for quality or audience engagement.
Among the top content marketing predictions and trends for 2019 listed by our Caitlin Burgess is the elevated importance of building trust and infusing personalization. That means creating authentic, relatable content that speaks directly to a distinct human audience.
The time has come for editors and content managers to prioritize this directive. I might even recommend an approach as stark as this to ingrain the practice for your writers: If you read the first couple paragraphs of a draft, and it’s not immediately obvious that the voice is directed toward an actual person, send it back for revisions.
#4 – Move Outside of Your Content Comfort Zone
Of course, marketing content isn’t limited to the written word. It’s certainly the form most content marketers are comfortable with, because we so often have backgrounds in writing. However, strategies that don’t incorporate varied mediums are quickly falling behind. Audiences want more than words.
The lowest-hanging fruit is video. It’s now easier than ever to create, requiring little more than a smartphone, and there’s no questioning its impact. It’s also kinda scary, because it sometimes means putting your face on camera, and grappling with unfamiliar concepts like video scripting, and sound design, and lighting (oh my!).
If it helps, start small. Try creating a talking-head video from your desk and then self-scrutinizing, or linking up with a few coworkers for a panel-style interview that’s only distributed internally. Once you start to get it down, you can level-up your ambition and start actively integrating video marketing into your outward strategy.
Our Josh Nite has written that “next-gen content” (i.e. interactivity, visual appeal, multimedia elements) will be key to earning the attention of audiences and generating leads. The more competency you can gain with these content types, the better you’ll be positioned.
#5 – Get that Google Analytics Certification
I’m guilty. I admit it.
Google offers free courses and assessments through Google Analytics Academy that enable anyone to become certified with a GA Individual Qualification upon successful completion.
Our entire account management team, as well as our SEO, PPC, and analytics teams are GA certified and adept in leveraging the tool. But the certification may not be high-priority item for writers, or content marketing generalists who have a team of analytics professionals behind them.
But it’s a nice thing to have on your professional résumé, not to mention helping highlighting your analytical chops for some of your key stakeholders or clients. And beyond the ceremonial aspects, it’s just good to have all that knowledge around content measurement and attribution in your brain.
Completing these courses and getting certified has been an ongoing goal for me all year in 2018, and — although I’ve gone through a few of the courses — I still haven’t finished it. Womp womp. If you Googled “disappointment” right now you’d probably see …
I know from conversations with colleagues and peers, however, that I’m not alone on this one. The GA certification seems to be that item on many to-do lists that keeps on perpetually sliding. So, if you’re in the same boat, let’s make 2019 the year we finally get ‘er done. That means developing a firm plan and sticking to it. Schedule time in your calendar and don’t shun it.
Here’s to Resolute Marketers in 2019
Ready to get more resolute with your New Year’s resolutions this year? These five eminently achievable goals offer a good place to start.
Almost every content marketer could stand to be more organized with documentation, sophisticated with SEO strategy, authentically human with their writing, versatile with their creation, and expert with their measurement. With concrete, realistic objectives in place, you can turn these from vague aspirations to viable accomplishments.
Want more help as you prepare yourself for a bold new year ahead? Check out Caitlin’s top content marketing predictions for 2019.
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