Content marketing best practices don’t change too much from year to year, but it’s always a good idea to check in every once in a while. Sticking to tried-and-true tips and tactics will help maximize your time, efficiency, and output—it’s worth a 5-minute read.
Plus, we’ve collected all the tips and tactics into a single (downloadable) content marketing best practices checklist. You can find it at the bottom of this post, but resist the urge to skip to the end—you’ll get the most benefit from digging in top-down.
What’s the big deal with following best practices?
Before we get into the content marketing best practices, let’s get on the same page about why all this matters. Content marketing isn’t too complicated, right? Create content, and people will come to consume it.
Take a look at these statistics:
Mind-boggling, right? With all that new content emerging daily, how in the world will your audience find your content—and why should they?
You have something special to share: something your audience needs. However, they’ll never find it if you don’t follow the content marketing best practices outlined below.
Benefits of following best practices
Here are a few ways content marketing best practices help improve your overall content program:
- Eliminate waste: Without plans and processes, you’ll likely waste time creating duplicate content and building content pieces that don’t align with your overall marketing strategy.
- Avoid shiny object syndrome: It’s easy to get distracted when creating digital marketing content—I received a dozen emails, text, and Slack notifications just while outlining this piece. However, not every distraction, emerging marketing channel, or content trend is worth your time. Sticking to the best practices will keep you on track and aligned with your content marketing strategy.
- Maximize efficiency: There are only so many hours in a day—juice them for all they’re worth. When you follow these best practices, you cut out the fluff and stick to grounded principles. And that’s a surefire strategy for maximum productivity.
- Think outside the box: Understanding the best practices unlocks creative freedom to break conventional rules and think outside the box. It’s like when an author breaks traditional grammar rules and gets applauded for it (we’re looking at you, “The Road”).
- Build routines: Workflows and templates will keep you on track and help you produce content at a faster pace.
- Establish routines: Revisiting best practices can help you identify bad habits and build new routines that serve you and your content better.
30 content marketing best practices in 2023
While these content marketing best practices aren’t necessarily in order of importance, it’s best to follow them sequentially. Start at the top and work your way down.
1. Identify your target audience
Content marketing starts with your audience. Start somewhere else, and you’re destined to build amazing things that nobody wants—Cheetos lip balm, anyone?
First, choose the buyer persona you want to target. Don’t have that yet? Start with lead nurturing and the customer lifecycle.
Your content strategies might target different audiences and buyer persona, and that’s OK. Just ensure you have a specific reader in mind when writing an article.
Take this blog post, for example. Twilio SendGrid caters to marketers and developers. However, developers don’t care much about content marketing best practices—that’s why I wrote this for you, marketers.
2. Map out your buyer’s journey
You likely have a fictional customer journey in mind for your customers: the customer reads your tweet, laughs, follows your brand, sees more content, then buys your product.
In reality, it’s rarely that straightforward (or linear).
Customer journey mapping helps you learn the real path your buyers take, from becoming completely unaware to brand ambassadors of your products.
Plus, customer journeys tend to follow the same stages:
Understanding what each stage looks like for your customers will help you make optimizations to improve it.
Don’t have a customer journey yet? Follow our how-to guide to get started.
3. Build a content marketing strategy
Without a well-defined content marketing strategy, you’re just throwing darts at the board and hoping something sticks. While that can score you some short-term wins, it’s not a recipe for long-term success.
Successful content marketing campaigns start with a plan.
You need a reliable, scalable strategy you can trust. And a solid content marketing plan ensures that every piece of content has a purpose and that every purpose aligns with a greater organizational goal.
Read How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy in 11 Steps to start building your plan.
4. Form a world-class content marketing team
Top-notch content requires a world-class team, so focus on building a flexible, resilient content marketing team. Find folks with a wide variety of specialties:
- Graphic design
- Top-of-funnel content
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Long-form content
- Social media management
Don’t be afraid to find freelancers and contractors to supplement your content needs. They can be great at filling skill gaps or keeping up with fluctuating demand.
5. Determine key performance indicators (KPIs)
From the get-go—not later—you need to decide what business goals will be crucial to your team. You can’t do everything, so get hyper-focused on a handful of metrics you want to tackle:
- Lead generation
- Organic traffic
Ensure your content aligns with your marketing goals—not the other way around. For example, content teams often make the mistake of coming up with “good ideas” before creating goals. This leads to amazing content that nobody wants or results your business doesn’t need (or care about).
6. Audit your existing content
Before you start thinking of new content you want to create, take a look at your existing library. You’ll likely find heaps of great articles, videos, and graphics that just need a bit of tender loving care to perform well.
For example, you might find a 3,000-word blog post getting little-to-no traffic. Identify keywords it might rank for on page 2 or 3 of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), and optimize it to try and rank for page 1. It’ll take you 10% of the time of creating a new piece—and it’ll start ranking faster too.
7. Identify content gaps
While auditing your existing content library, look for gaps. What potential topics have you not covered yet? Do competitors create content you don’t have?
Understanding your content gaps gives you an excellent place to start when researching new pieces. For example, do you lack how-to tutorials for your products? Do you need a starter video for the onboarding process?
8. Repurpose content
You can likely repurpose every piece of content you create. Whether an article, video, or podcast, there are dozens of ways you can repurpose your content in different formats.
Let’s take a podcast, for example. Here are a few ways you could repurpose a podcast episode:
- Transcribe your podcast and publish it as a blog post
- Highlight the top takeaways and quotes and publish them as a blog post
- Create graphics with quotes from your podcast episode to publish on social media
- Film your podcast episodes and publish them as YouTube or Vimeo videos
- Create a roundup post highlighting your best podcast episodes
- Make an email series based on lessons from your podcast
- Highlight takeaways in a SlideShare or slide deck
- Turn a podcast episode into a webinar presentation
- Publish podcast quotes on your Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook stories
Need more ways to repurpose content? We’ve got 20 of them. Check out 20 Simple Ways to Repurpose Content to Boost Your Traffic.
9. Remember SEO
Every piece of content you create can be multipurpose. For example, you might create a product-focused blog post about a new feature you’re releasing. That’s fine—your current audience will love that. However, you’ll likely need to optimize this piece for search engines if you ever want anyone outside your existing customers to learn about it.
Get comfortable doing basic keyword research and finding your users’ search queries. Basic SEO best practices can take your content the extra mile.
10. Create different types of content
Sometimes, content teams get stuck in a rut of producing the same content, whether blog posts, guides, or social media campaigns. Think outside the box and branch out. There’s a whole wide world of content opportunities—experiment every once in a while to see if something clicks.
Here’s a quick list of different content formats you could produce:
- Blog posts
- Spotify playlists
- White papers
- Email campaigns
- Case studies
11. Build backlinks
Your site’s backlinks and domain authority will impact how well it ranks on SERPs. Fortunately, content creation and backlink building go hand in hand. Look for ways to use content to create high-quality backlinks.
Here are a few content-creation strategies for building backlinks:
- Create skyscraper content: There’s a lot of meh content on the internet. Create the best-of-the-best pieces on topics to rank high and earn links back to your content organically.
- Publish original research: Everyone loves hard facts and data. Instead of regurgitating statistics from around the internet, do your research. It doesn’t need to pass any standard deviations or anything—it could be a customer survey on LinkedIn.
- Offer to guest post: Offer to publish content on other authority websites and partner pages in exchange for backlinks to your website.
- Use infographics: Provide publicly usable infographics and ask for people to link back to your website when they use them.
12. Create templates for success
When you find something that works, scale it. For example, if you have a handful of articles that outperform all the rest (which is often the case), decipher any similarities and what makes them perform well.
Do the articles follow a certain format? Does the writing center on specific topics?
Once you find the keys to success, turn them into a replicable template. For example, you might discover listicles perform best on your website or find top-of-funnel “what is” content works best.
Scale your successes and juice them for all you can.
13. Maintain a content calendar
A content calendar (or even an editorial calendar) will keep your content production and publishing schedule on track. Managing handfuls of writers and projects simultaneously can get messy—especially if you don’t use a task management system.
Without a content calendar, you’ll end up with some weeks where you publish an overwhelming amount of content and others that experience content droughts. You want consistency.
A content calendar ensures every new piece of content gets the time and space it deserves. That means you might publish 1 piece every day or 2 a week. Use a content calendar to stick to whatever cadence you decide on.
14. Target customer pain points
You want the content you create to solve problems. Think about questions your customers might have or issues your products help solve. Once you identify the pain point, solve it with content.
Your solution might not always be the primary answer, and that’s OK. For example, if you sell fitness equipment, you might create motivational content to inspire your community to work out. Or if you sell email services, you might create content marketing best practice articles to help your customers understand how email works together with content marketing.
See what I did there?
15. Focus on creating valuable content
Content teams get pressured to create, create, create. With a never-ending to-do list, getting pulled into the publish, publish, publish mindset is easy. However, it’s vital to take a step back every once in a while and ask:
- “Where’s the value in this piece?”
- “Do my customers really need this piece of content?”
- “Could I spend my time on something more important?”
- “What would happen if I didn’t publish this content?”
Questions like these will help you discover if your content is valuable or just busy work.
16. Watch your frequency
Frequency isn’t so much about quality over quantity (though we’ll get into that soon). It’s more about how often you publish on different channels.
More (even if it’s quality) isn’t always better.
For example, your customers might love your monthly email newsletter, but that doesn’t mean they’d love it more as a weekly newsletter. The same goes with any medium. Just because you can publish a YouTube video every day doesn’t mean you should.
Your audience leads busy lives. They have work, family, and personal ambitions to go after. Keep that in mind when you produce content. Don’t overwhelm your customers to the point where they can’t consume all your content (even if they want to).
17. Get permission
Believe it or not, not everyone wants to consume your content. Shocking, right? Yet, they won’t always get to choose, especially when you use traditional media, video advertisements, or pay-per-click ads to get in front of them.
However, on channels they do get to choose, ensure you get permission before marketing to them. For example, email and SMS are opt-in marketing channels. Just because you have your customer’s email address from a purchase order or delivery update request doesn’t mean you have permission to send them marketing messages.
They need to give you “unambiguous consent.”
Follow these opt-in options to learn more about getting subscribers (the right way). Also, brush up on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws to ensure your email program is compliant.
18. Stay up to date on trends and algorithm changes
Content marketing is an ever-changing field. Trends come and go, algorithms change, and new channels flare up and perish months later. It’s up to you to stay on top of things to capitalize on shifts.
I remember when I started listening to podcasts about 8 years ago. Even then, I thought I had already missed the podcast bandwagon—and look where we are now.
19. Experiment with new channels
Even if it doesn’t go according to plan, don’t be afraid to try a new tactic and channel—it’s a learning experience. Plus, it’s a solid excuse to secure your brand’s name and tag on possible digital channels.
You might think a channel might not align with your brand, but you’d be surprised. Just about any company can find success on platforms ranging from Instagram to TikTok to Reddit. There’s a good chance your audience uses these different platforms, and that means there’s an opportunity for you to reach them there.
The challenge comes from creating relevant content for each channel that your audience wants. That’s no small feat (and definitely beyond the scope of this article).
Here are a few channels to consider experimenting with (if you haven’t already):
- Social media
- Public relations
- Myspace (yes, it still exists)
20. Improve the user experience
Good content doesn’t get the love it deserves if the user experience (UX) suffers. Everything from your site’s user interface (UI) to the page’s color scheme to accessibility concerns can impact the user experience, and it’s a shame when these elements destroy quality content.
Work with your UI/UX team to improve these factors on your website. Test how different layouts affect bounce rates and completion rates. Then, keep working to improve your content’s experience to increase the likelihood that customers consume, enjoy, and share it.
21. Focus on quality over quantity
I told you we’d get here eventually. When it comes to content, quality is always better than quantity. Often, you don’t need 5 small blog posts—you just need one big comprehensive one.
The same is true for almost all content you produce. Don’t worry about how much of it you create—instead, measure each piece’s impact.
Push back against management if they set content creation goals. Content creation isn’t your end goal—it’s results. And who cares if you drive results with 3 videos or 15 videos?
22. Embrace trends (but show equal love to evergreen content)
While it’s cool to jump on new trends, never forget about evergreen content. Evergreen content is always relevant. It might not get increased attention or features in headlines, but it’s something your audience will always want.
Let’s look at email, for example. Right now, everyone cares about artificial intelligence (AI) assisting with email creation. That’s fine and relevant, but do you know what email marketers will always search for?
- Tips for staying out of the spam folder
- Email subject line best practices
- Email design best practices
Interest in topics like AI-based email marketing and Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) will rise and fall, but evergreen topics will always be important to your community.
23. Combine content types
You can stretch the life of every piece of content you produce by looking for ways to combine it with other content types. For example, you might mix and match your content by adding a video to a blog post or using a new e-book in a webinar presentation.
24. Back everything up with data
It’s always best not to make claims unless you can back them up with data. For example, I can’t just say email marketing is the best distribution channel without also including a statistic like, “Email marketing produces a high return on investment with a $38 return on every dollar spent.”
Look for any claims you make in your writing, and find data to support them. Dig deep down the research rabbit hole to ensure it’s an accurate, legit statistic and not a regurgitated hoax without any original research.
25. Tie every piece of content to a specific goal
Ideally, before you create it, connect every piece of content to a specific business goal. Will this content drive traffic or help build leads? Do we want this content to build brand awareness or drive sales?
If you can’t find a business goal to support your desired content, put it in the backlog. You might find a purpose for that content idea later, but stick with content creation that supports your immediate KPIs and metrics.
26. Use (don’t abuse) AI
AI writers and graphic generators are emerging. These tools can help create original content, build outlines, answer questions, and write articles. However, these are still in the infancy stage, and you should avoid over-relying on them.
Don’t be afraid to use AI—just don’t abuse it. Let it inspire and give you ideas, but don’t think it can replace your content marketing team. It can’t.
Need ideas for using AI? Try these AI-based email marketing use cases.
27. Collaborate with other teams
It’s easy for your content marketing team to become a silo. With so much going on and never-ending demand for content, collaboration often gets pushed aside.
Think of teams you could partner with to bolster your effective content marketing efforts. For example, you might work with product marketing or sales to identify content to support their needs or get help from your developers to write more technical-focused content.
28. Redirect or delete content when necessary
Old content can start to pile up. While often a vanity metric, lots of underperforming, outdated content just takes up space and accumulates cobwebs.
If you can’t revive, optimize, or repurpose a piece, it’s time to get rid of it.
It’ll be hard. You might tear up a bit, and that’s OK. If you can’t do it yourself, work with a partner who can identify content pieces that need to go objectively.
You can do this. We believe in you.
29. Follow the 80/20 content distribution rule
The 80/20 content rule suggests you spend:
- 20% of your time creating content
- 80% of your time promoting and distributing content
When you publish new content, give it the promotional love it deserves. Just because you post something doesn’t mean your audience will read or watch it—they likely won’t know it exists.
Use the following promotional channels to distribute every piece of content you produce better:
- Social media
- Display ads
- Internal linking
- Content bundles
- Podcast notes
- Video descriptions
30. Make your content accessible
Around 1.3 billion people live with some visual impairment—that could be a massive part of your audience. And even if it’s not, creating accessible content is just the right thing to do.
Think about accessibility design best practices, and ensure you add the small touches that make your content widely consumable. For example, add descriptive alt text to your images, and consider providing American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation online when hosting virtual events.
Content marketing best practices checklist
We’ve covered a lot, so we decided to help you out by condensing everything into a quick checklist.
Access the content marketing best practices checklist (no download or email address necessary).
Drive your content marketing strategy with Twilio SendGrid
Whether email is your content creation or distribution channel (or both), Twilio SendGrid has all the tools you need for world-class content marketing.
- Email templates: Responsive templates covering dozens of use cases
- Automation: Drip campaigns, welcome series, and more
- Email design: Drag-and-drop editor, code editor, or a hybrid editor for using both
- List building: Email list-building tools, like sign-up forms, integrations, and email validation APIs
- Expert services: Expert assistance from email pros for everything from setup to delivery assistance
Get started now. Sign up for a free account to explore everything SendGrid has to offer your content marketing program.