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The one question to ask to see if your content marketing is on track

Conceptual image of teamwork - hands only

Content marketing, which we’ve explained is not long-form advertising, is the strategy of creating high-quality, informative content which ultimately promotes your brand.

It can be an article, a video, or an infographic. And, in fact, a robust content marketing plan should include all three. It should be aimed at the audience you want to attract, and it should be useful to them.

The question you should ask is:

“Will this make the world a better place?”

It’s easy to take a cynical approach here. Some advertisers might insist that everything they create makes the world a better place, even if it’s just a soft drink ad. Think, for a moment, of the effect that your piece will have on the person who’s taken the time to interact with it:

  • Did it meet their expectations? Did the title of the piece accurately match the content, or did it mislead or overpromise? Was the title crafted to draw interest, without being click bait or SEO bait?
  • Was it authoritative? Did the creator of the piece take the time to provide information that isn’t common knowledge? Did it provide insightful commentary or draw a unique conclusion, or was it just pulled together from other sources? Or, worse yet, was it essentially a list of links? Did the creator appear knowledgable about the subject matter, or were they simply good at reading and rewriting content they found via a search?
  • Was it an enjoyable experience? Was the prose well-written? Did the video content or artwork reflect the work of a talented artist? Was the presentation mobile friendly?

The difference is the business model

There’s so much mediocre content out there because of the business model behind its creation: ad revenue. Many publishers’ primary goal is to get eyeballs on that content, and creating quality content that builds reader loyalty is an unaffordable luxury for many publishers. This model requires creating content as quickly and cheaply as possible, and driving traffic with provocative titles.

This type of content often wastes readers’ time, but that’s okay — many readers want their time to be wasted. Nobody wakes up in the morning with the intent of searching for an article titled “12 house cats who are totally nailing this celebrity impression thing,” That’s the sort of happenstance content consumption that bored readers will engage in while waiting for a train.

If you have a content marketing strategy for your brand, you know that your audience is different. They’re looking for a particular piece of information on a particular subject. While native advertising platforms like Outbrain can be a great way to boost your content, you should think foremost about getting your content on the first page of search results.

Your revenue model, of course, isn’t third-party ad impressions. It’s about attracting new customers. In fact, if your content contains third-party ads, you’re probably doing it wrong.

The result that counts

If you’ve done your part and your audience comes away feeling a better informed and happy that they took the time to engage with your content, you’ve made the world a better place.

And, you’ve built positive brand awareness and shown that you’re an authority on the subject matter. That’s what matters.

You’ve made a reader a little happier, you’ve contributed to the balance of useful vs. time-wasting content on the web, and you’ve made an investment in your brand’s success. Everybody wins!

Successfully following through on a content marketing strategy means making a commitment to producing relevant, high quality, informative content on a regular basis. It’s a collaboration of several talented people: steadfast project managers, subject matter experts, and creators who are good at their craft (whether it’s writing, illustration, or videography). Most importantly, you need a leadership team that understands it’s a long game.

As always, we’d like to hear your thoughts… or if you have a photo of a house cat who looks like Ryan Gosling, we’d like to see that, too. Write to us at