The must-do marketing tactics necessary to take your content marketing to the next level.

Content Marketing. Two words that can accelerate your business to the next level… if done right. Words, videos and pictures have never played a more important role in business than they do today. Developing the interest of your target audience through carefully crafted storytelling is as much of an art as it is a science. Given this heightened importance, we’ve collected a wealth of content marketing tactics that you simply cannot afford to not adopt as part of your strategy.

1. Create a Content Marketing Strategy

First things first… put “Strategy” before your content. Without a cohesive content marketing strategy, your efforts will fall flat and have only a sporadic chance of success. Rather, think through your overall marketing goals and objectives and build your strategy from there. Your content will fall into place and should align with your overall business goals. When it comes to marketing tactics, this is priority number one!

2. Be a Great Storyteller

Tell a story. Not just any story (that’s what everyone else is doing). Tell a really amazing story that captures the attention of your audience like no other. Each and every time. Yes… each and every time.

3. Solve a Problem

Content marketing isn’t about the hard sell… at least not the majority of the time. Rather, your content should be focused on solving a problem your audience faces or providing them with information that is otherwise valuable or entertaining.

4. Be Visual

Images speak volumes. Include photos, graphics and other visual elements whenever possible. Did you know that sharing images on Twitter increases retweets by 150%? A picture is worth a thousand words… or in this case, 140 characters. Change up your standard content and share an image that tells your story instead.

5. Use Powerful Headlines

Headlines are critical – get them right. As marketing pioneer David Ogilvy said “On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.” Make sure you follow best practices when writing headlines and always test multiple options.

6. Be Human

Be emotional. Be likable. Be conversational. Your content should reflect the personality of your business. The result? People will relate to you.

7. Utilize Data, Facts & Stats

Stats, facts and the occasional name dropping can’t hurt. Back up your story with real life examples, statistics and numbers, or direct quotes from relevant and notable individuals in your industry. Just don’t overdo it.

8. Curate Great Content

Curate meaningful and relative content. You don’t have to create everything organically. There is a lot of content out there… and some of it is actually really good. Just be sure that the content you curate aligns with your business, your values and your brand personality.

9. Promote Your Content Socially

Promote your content on your social channels… but customize and position that content based on the channel and audience. Different social platforms require different approaches. Don’t fall into the trap of one size fits all. You’ll sound repetitive and people won’t respect you.

10. Engage with Your Audience

Mass marketing is great to get the word out… but 1-to-1 conversations will probably have more impact. Be sure to engage in conversations with your customers and your audience when you share content. In return, they will be more likely to share it with their own network. Never leave comments unanswered and be proactive in giving your audience unexpected shout outs of appreciation.

11. Share Your Content Strategically

Share your content on social channels more than once – and at different times during the day/night to reach the widest audience. Don’t hit the resend button every hour on the hour… but rather strategically time your posts for maximum reach.

Tie-in timely events with your content marketing efforts to take advantage of real-time marketing opportunities… if/when appropriate (think Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet). Never ever ever take advantage of news stories that aren’t suitable for your business or brand. Be tactful always.

13. Repurpose Your Best Content

Repurpose content to extend the life of your content and extend the reach of your messages. Combine related blogs into a white paper, post a revised product presentation to SlideShare or pull together an Infographic from your latest industry reports.

14. Balance Organic & Paid Promotions

Pay to play when necessary. When organic reach isn’t enough, you need to promote your content through paid channels. Targeting the right audience with the right message should be your top priority. Paid advertising isn’t the enemy. Learn how to advertise smartly to get your content in front of your customers and prospects.

15. Utilize Customer Generated Content

Engage with your customers and target audience by asking them questions and inviting them to be a part of your business in a meaningful way. There is no better way to encourage brand ambassadorship than interaction. Take note of questions and concerns your target audience shares with you. These are great content starters for you.

16. Optimize Your Content for SEO

Optimize your content for SEO. You want people to see your content, right? Make sure that people (and search engines!) can find your content by utilizing SEO best practices.

17. Quality over Quantity… Always

Choose quality over quantity. Yes, the more you put out there the better chance there is that people will see your content. But if your content is worthless, you won’t be doing much for your reputation. Quality breeds loyalty.

18. Analyze and Optimize Your Content Frequently

Analyze and optimize your content to ensure you are maximizing it’s effectiveness. Look at the numbers, but in the context of your target audience and the intended purpose of your content. Make adjustments as necessary, but realize that people and behaviors change frequently… and what didn’t work today may very well work 3 months, 3 weeks or 3 days from now.

19. Test, Test, Test

A/B test your content headlines, advertisements and content images (at roughly the same time) to determine the best performers in driving traffic to your site or reaching whatever metric you have established.

20. Research Matters

Do your homework. Look at what your competitors and peers are doing with their content marketing strategies and take note of what is working and what isn’t. Knowing what’s going on around you will better inform you of where you can do things better or fill unmet needs.

21. Prioritize Good Copywriting

Get great writers on your team. Not everyone has a way with words. With all the noise in the digital space, your content needs to be well written to get the respect your brand deserves. Don’t skimp on this. A few amazing writers can make or break your content marketing strategy.

22. Experiment with Video

Video is content… and really powerful content at that. How better to tell your story than with video. It doesn’t have to be an Oscar winning film, but it does need to be engaging, entertaining and relevant for your audience.

23. Track Brand Mentions

Listen and track mentions of your Brand (Mention and Google Alerts are great for this!) to understand who and what people are saying about you… and cater your content accordingly.

24. Tap into Influencer Marketing

Influencers matter. They are called “Influencers” for a reason. When you get the support of an influencer in your industry, they can expand your reach exponentially. Make sure the influencers you choose are right for your brand and your business. Niche influencers and industry experts are going to be much more effective than celebrities or influencers that don’t have a natural tie-in with your business.

25. Create Highly Targeted Niche Content

Niche content is the key to breaking through the noise. ((So much content, so little time.)) Ensure that your content is highly focused in both the message delivered and the audience targeted.

26. Focus on Consistency

Keep in mind that “going viral” is an outcome (or if you must, a goal/objective)… it is not a strategy. It is an outcome that very few achieve, yet many aspire to. Some of the most successful “viral” campaigns have had a lot of money behind them. Your strategy should be focusing on producing enthralling content for your target audience, consistently and effectively . If you do that right, then perhaps the viral part will follow suit.

27. Timing is Important

Use tools to determine the best days and times to get your message out. Check email open rates, click-through rates, retweets and likes to help determine optimal times for your business. Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Facebook Analytics can come in handy as well.

28. Use an Editorial Content Calendar

Use an editorial content marketing calendar to stay organized, committed and on track with your content marketing strategy. A solid strategy can’t really exist without one. Prepare a 12-month high level calendar and provide details for the next 30-days on a rolling basis. Keep your calendar flexible enough to take advantage of time-senstive news and information.

29. Try New Approaches to your Content Marketing

Always be testing. Don’t fall into the rut of pushing out the same content to the same channels and to the same audience day after day. Assign 10-15% of your content marketing efforts to trying new things and target new segments. You never know what will be a hit unless you try (thanks mom!).

30. Brainstorm Content Ideas

Maintain a content parking lot for brainstorming content ideas as they come to you and your team. This can take the form of a white board or online sharing tool. It then serves as a repository for content generating ideas… just when you thought you may have run out. This is one of the most powerful and smart marketing tactics you can employ. Great ideas foster great content.

31. Collaborate with Others

Co-create content to increase your reach and authority. Cast a wider net by partnering with other reputable businesses or individuals on content creation. This can be accomplished through guest blogging, interviews, podcasts, co-written articles and more. See #24 for this one as well.

32. Be Authentic

Be transparent about your brand, your products and the things you believe in… it will go a long way in building a trusting relationship with your audience. Authenticity cannot be undervalued.

33. See the Big Picture

Don’t lose sight of the big picture. We can get lost in content marketing and what we think it should be or what it should do. Never lose sight of your overall business goals and objectives and ensure that any marketing tactics you employ are aligned appropriately.

34. Create a Content Marketing Mission Statement

Create a content marketing mission statement (via @joepulizzi). What do you stand for? Your content should align with this mission statement in every form, format or channel it’s delivered through.

35. Use Email Wisely

Email is still very essential to a well rounded content strategy. Keep a consistent drumbeat of email to your audience, without being too overwhelming. And don’t forget to promote your email list along with your content.

36. Highlight Important Calls to Action

It’s ok to include a call to action. Ultimately, your content should provoke someone to do something. This can be accomplished in many ways, such as in encouraging someone to join your email list as noted above, asking for comments or directing someone to your website for more information.

37. Keep Content Digestible

You are busy. Your customers are busy. Everyone is busy. There is too much content and just simply not enough time. Make sure your content is easily readable or viewable and an appropriate length for the medium and audience you are targeting. Long form content can still perform very well – as long as it’s in a form that allows your reader to stay focused and interested.

38. Create Customer-Focused Content

Use content to segment your prospects. Make the change from company-focused to customer-focused content. Not everyone you reach out to should get the same content. Make it as personalized and customized as possible.

39. Create a Culture of Content

Make content marketing part of your organization’s culture. Empower employees to be part of the content marketing process… whether that is writing articles, responding to tweets or replying to comments. When content becomes part of your culture, you continue to build ambassadors from the inside out. This is one of those content marketing tactics that can have a very powerful impact on your business.

40. Create Remarkable Content

Make sure your content is remarkable. If it’s not… then no one will say or do anything with it or about it. Make your content so amazing that it gets noticed, it gets shared and it gets people talking about your brand. Content that hits an emotional trigger will be remarkable.

These content marketing tactics are just the tip of the iceberg. As you develop and hone your content marketing strategy, you will begin to formulate and shape the tactics that work best for your business. What essential marketing tactics do you employ in your content marketing efforts? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please share in the comments below.