Marketers Don’t Shape Content, Readers Do

What do the following companies – HubSpot, Marketo, KissMetrics and Unbounce – all have in common? Simple answer: they allow their readers to take the driver seat.

Creating great content is only a small part of a truly successful content marketing plan. What determines your success boils down to one thing: the readers. Understanding your audience and the type of content they deem valuable should be integral to your execution.

Leverage this understanding to help you shape editorial decisions, push promotional offers, create co-marketing partnerships. Let’s expand on all three…

Editorial Decisions

These days mapping out a content marketing plan without an editorial calendar is unheard of. Your editorial decisions should be based on the following criteria:

  • What time of day do your readers interact most with your content? Look at your social media channels well into email marketing and paid advertising. Take note of the times that you receive the most and the least amount of activity. Knowing this will help ensure that you’re in sync with your readers and pushing out content at the same frequency they’re online.
  • What type of content do your readers engage with most? There are multiple paths to venture down with content types from videos, images, whitepapers, webinars, infographics, blog posts, eBooks and much more. Your job as a marketer is to find out which type is most valuable to your readers, so that you can prioritize appropriately per your editorial calendar.
  • What type of messaging resonates best with your readers? Do they prefer a casual, professional, slang or academic tones? It’s not just about only pushing out messaging that you believe will benefit your company, but putting your readers at the forefront to help amplify your reach. For instance, if your messaging resonates, the likelihood that it’ll be shared is higher.

Promotional Offers

Knowing what motivates your readers plays a large role with tactics such as upsells, product/service offerings, and better positioning. For example, Unbounce does a great job with focusing on their core competency, landing pages for CRO (conversion rate optimization).


As such, they position their content and promotional offers to hit the pain points of their target audience, marketers. It’s not about being everything to everyone, but as their benefits states, “Our goal is to facilitate a simpler and more streamlined marketing workflow so your marketing team can focus on creating, publishing and measuring your campaigns without the IT or software guys.” They’ve even taken a bolder step forward by asserting that they are: “the marketer’s pain relief.”


Once you fully understand your target audience, the obvious step of partnering with like-minded companies to co-create content is key. This will help you push for a greater reach tapping into audiences that may not have heard of you or perhaps aren’t sure what you have to offer. Taking this step isn’t just about “marketing” alone, but also finding a mutually beneficial way to foster sales. A good example that comes to mind is LinkedIn and HubSpot. They partnered to run a webinar together that is now available on-demand to help marketers use marketing strategy with LinkedIn best practices, use company page analytics to determine what works and what doesn’t, and use sponsored updates to grow reach and help achieve goals.


In Conclusion

Being good at content marketing goes beyond creativity and yielding a positive ROI for your company. Of course, we can all agree that data is the key to driving decision making; however, focusing on readers to help shape your editorial decisions and efforts should be the longer-term objective.

Have more to add? Share them with me in the comments section below!

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