Whether you’re so new to content marketing that you have no idea what the term means or you’re here because you want to sharpen your skills, following the below list of ‘Golden Principles’ will help to ensure that you develop content marketing campaigns that drive traffic, leads and value. Let’s get to it!

Principle #1: Ask for and Collect Emails Where Feasible

First and foremost, you’re going to want to ensure that you take the opportunity to gather prospect emails into a list where they can be converted into leads and future clients. If you’re developing a content marketing strategy in order to do business, you’re going to need to capture as much of your traffic as possible. We suggest using HubSpot for their excellent lead management, scoring and marketing tools.

Principle #2: Do Not Spam the Emails Collected in #1

Before we go any further it’s worth saying now: with great email gathering comes great responsibility. Don’t start spamming a bunch of unrelated junk at your prospects in the hope that they will make a purchase. Instead, place each prospect into a funnel representative of how they found you. For example, if you were to enter your email into a form in this blog post, you might be placed into an “Interested in Content Marketing” funnel. Better understanding of your prospects’ wants will lead to higher conversion rates.

Principle #3: Build a Content Strategy Before You Get Started

Before you have your staff or a freelance team start hammering away on their keyboards, it’s worth mapping out a plan or strategy. There are numerous editorial calendar tools available online, or in a pinch you can use a Google Calendar which can be shared out with every member of the content team. Ensure that you develop content that answers questions, solves pain points and is shareable.

Principle #4: Blog and Produce Quality Content with Reckless Abandon

Ready? Go! Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to start developing short and long-form blog posts, static webpage and other written content that is exciting, engages your prospects, stirs up debate, and gets shared around to spread the word. The more (quality!) blog posts and written pieces you have, the better… but be sure to capture your prospects via an email form or some other mechanism or you will have wasted a lot of effort.

Principle #5: Think Bigger Than Text

Blogging and other forms of text content marketing will get you started, but great content teams engage their prospects with videos, audiobooks, podcasts, iPad magazines, PDFs, Facebook Ads… you get the point. If you’re stuck on how to break out of the blogging mold, get in touch with the inbound marketing specialists here at Riverbed Marketing. We’re happy to help consult on your strategy and to share where you could be doing things a bit better.

Principle #6: Share Everything over Your Social Channels

While this may seem like another totally obvious point, studies show that a massive number of small businesses, professionals and agencies excel at creating content but fail miserably at sharing it around in order to gain traffic and virality. The whole point of creating great content pieces and executing on your inbound marketing strategy is to gain new visitors, prospects and leads; how are they supposed to find you if you just throw your content up on the blog and avoid spreading the news?

Principle #7: Spread the Love by Syndicating Others’ Content

Remember that you’re not in this alone, and making friends with other businesses – even your direct competitors! – is the best way to show that your content marketing team is there to be the most well-informed reference around. Engage by syndicating and linking to other great pieces of content from your blog and by spreading the word on your social media channels. This ‘high road’ approach ensures that your brand equity will continue to build in a positive way. If all of that doesn’t reach out to you, then just do it for the karma.

Principle #8: Remember That This Isn’t About SEO

Say it with us: this is NOT about SEO. This isn’t about generating massive amounts of junk text so that search engines like Google and Bing will have ever more pages to list on your website. Trying to win the content arms race in that way is futile, especially when you’re up against powerhouses that generate top quality content in high volumes. (For example, Google reports that as of this writing, the HubSpot Blog has over 7,200 posts. Good luck competing with that!) Instead, look to win the war on the quality front, and aim to be the top producer of compelling instructional or question-answering content in your business’ niche.

Principle #9: Engage with and Listen to Those Whom Engage with You

When your content marketing strategy is firing on all cylinders you will draw in prospects, experts and others who want to engage in earnest discussion and debate with your team and brand. Ensure that comments are being monitored and moderated, the social media accounts have a human watching them closely and that a friendly brand representative is keeping the discussion lively. The more your brand listens and engages, the more your team will learn about your prospective clients and how to convert them into paying ones.

Principle #10: Build a Personality and Have Some Fun!

Last but not least, be sure to have some fun with it. Take some time off from the data or expertise-heavy posts to show off pictures of your team wearing costumes, or perhaps get each of your content marketing team to write some poetry. Break up the monotony to show that although you’re a content generation powerhouse, you’re still a team of humans and you’re in the business of building relationships. As the old adage goes… “people buy from people”.

There you have it – ten principles by which to guide your content marketing strategy as it moves from idealization, through development and into execution. When you’re ready to talk inbound marketing, we’re ready to help; call us today and let’s get started.