Maria Sibirtseva is Head of Content Team at Depositphotos. For The Drum’s Content Marketing in Focus, she shares her top five tips for brands to strengthen their content marketing strategy in 2023 and beyond.
Today, content marketing is an integral part of any branding effort. It helps achieve a wide range of goals, from adjusting brand perception and awareness to attracting traffic and increasing conversions, gently paving the way for your business to become a market leader.
As content marketing is primarily a long-term perspective and an indirect impact, teams are often made up of a few people and operate with budgets distributed according to the “residual” principle. Given the limitations that content marketers face, how do you ensure you succeed in your endeavors?
Depositphotos, an international content marketplace with over 240 million files, has been doing content marketing since its inception in 2009. Over 13 years, the team has developed its vision to get the most out of these efforts. In this guide, you’ll find five proven tips and helpful tips for your 2023 content marketing strategy.
1. Develop a content ecosystem
It often starts with a vague idea. Someone on your team says, “How about we create content that covers industry trends for the year ahead? In this way, we will continue to develop our expertise in the market, to engage with existing customers and to attract new ones. The subject sounds great and is extremely relevant at the start of the year, but how do you make this piece visible to a wider audience and useful to several teams within your company?
The answer is: by creating a content ecosystem at the heart of your strategy. In the planning stage, come up with topics for pillar articles or projects that fit your business goals, but are easy to adapt (or reuse) across multiple communication channels. Equal attention should be paid to both execution and distribution. This way, you will be able to optimize the work of your team and ensure consistency across all communication channels.
Below is a diagram that works for the Depositphotos team. More often than not, at the center of our content ecosystem is a pillar project, which then unfolds into separate content pieces for other channels:
For each company, this ecosystem can be different, however, you can ask yourself a few questions before settling on an ecosystem idea and structure:
If we do this project, how many channels can we use to promote the play?
What angle, approach and formats will help us get the most out of it?
What metrics will we use to measure success across different channels?
2. Play with formats
In the contest for user attention, content formats are another option for you to stand out. In 2023, quality will continue to trump quantity, with more and more brands prioritizing user information needs over company sales messages.
When planning content distribution, make a list of formats that, based on your experience and research, work best for your chosen platforms. For example, data shows that short videos and interactive content such as polls and games drive the most engagement on social media. At the same time, case studies and interviews are the most popular formats for blogs.
If you haven’t experimented much with different content formats before, list everything you can think of, state your hypothesis, and start testing it. Also, don’t limit yourself to just reusing the part. The opportunities are almost limitless, as you can then extend your communication to a series or entire campaigns by organizing thematic interviews, challenges or webinars.
3. Stock up on collaborations
Collaborations are the future of content marketing and day in and day out they are an integral part of many branding strategies. Whether you’re partnering with another brand, content creator, or organization, you get a long list of benefits on top of creating a unique and engaging piece of content marketing.
Benefits you can get from content marketing collaborations:
- Audience extension
- Increased brand awareness
- A stronger reputation
- Additional media attention
- Increase in sales and more
Who can you collaborate with? Here is a list of recent types of Depositphotos partnerships:
- Brand + Brand (from another domain)
- Brand + Artist or content creator
- Brand + Brand (your competitor)
- Brand + Institution or ASBL
- Brand + Influencer or Opinion Leader
The most exciting part of collaborating now and in the future is that you can go all out with them. Don’t limit yourself to one opportunity per project and you can see better results faster.
Here is a case:
With most of our team based in Ukraine, Depositphotos couldn’t stay away when war broke out. The company left the Russian and Belarusian markets and launched a charity project to raise awareness of destroyed cultural heritage in Ukraine and raise funds for its reconstruction. The Revival Project was composed of several parts with different collaborations for each of them:
- The first part of the project featured before and after collages of the destroyed sites, which were specially created by a Ukrainian collage artist.
- Part 2 of the project was to evoke empathy and make the project more accessible to a wider audience, we interviewed and shared stories of 12 representatives of the Ukrainian creative community about these sites.
- Part 3 was about raising funds for reconstruction, we collaborated with 7 Ukrainian artists who shared their unique artistic vision of what the destroyed sites might look like in the future.
In addition, the project was carried out in collaboration with the META HISTORY museum and the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine. By combining all these opportunities together, we had the chance to gain international coverage and take the project to a new level.
4. Remember the technical details
Although it may seem quite obvious to seasoned professionals, remembering the points mentioned below is crucial to achieving your goals and having a positive experience with new projects:
Careful SEO optimization
According to Ahrefs, an SEO tool for analyzing websites, 90.63% of content has no traffic from Google. However, statistics prove that 68% of online experiences start with a search engine. It seems paradoxical, right?
For content marketers, SEO is more important than you think, and before you start creating something for your website, blog, or any other channel, be sure to check in with your SEO team. to get help. Having a detailed technical task from them with suggested keywords and titles, and examples of top-notch content will help you get your content seen by audiences and extend its longevity.
An important part of optimizing content is ensuring its readability. When writing and publishing, draw attention to logical structure, flow, headings and subheadings, highlights, bullet points, and visuals to illustrate your paragraphs. By tracking these, you can show that you care and respect your audience, while improving certain metrics like engagement and bounce rate.
While content marketing activities can sometimes be complicated to measure, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set your KPIs and track your results. You need to clearly understand what works best for your brand and your audience, and whether your efforts are worth it. What indicators can you measure?
- Users, Pageviews and Unique Pageviews
- Average time on page
- Entry, bounce and exit rates
- Like, comment and share
- Mentions and hashtags
- Referring domains
- Click-through rate and more
Depending on your goals, you can prioritize certain metrics and analyze them according to the channel used.
Social media tags, hashtags, correct links and CTAs
The final rule is just to be careful when using tags, hashtags, links, and CTAs. Ask your colleague or a friend to skim what you post; after working on something for a long time, having fresh eyes to take a look at your work is crucial. Check everything to avoid obvious errors and improve the performance of your content from the start.
5. Interact with your audience (how you mean it)
User-generated content has been one of the most popular ways to engage with your audience for a few years, but it’s not the only way to do it. In addition to introducing branded hashtags and encouraging your audience to tag you in their posts, you can create audience-focused projects that include:
- Challenges and competitions to grow your community
- Open calls and contests to better understand your users
- Interviews and case studies to give your audience exposure
Quick example. Recently, post-pandemic, the Depositphotos team was looking for ways to better engage with and distract their audience. For this, a photo contest on Instagram was launched, with communication on social networks and the blog Depositphotos. In just a month and a half, we received 5,200 Instagram tags from 1,884 photographers around the world, as well as a loyal community that we contacted for other projects in the following years.
If there was only one suggestion for content marketing, it would be to be as creative as possible. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and experiment with different content formats, take inspiration from other domains and brands, and interact with your audience as you see fit. In 2023, the focus will be on brands that communicate cohesively, don’t scatter, and manage to stand out in today’s over-saturated market.
Visit The Drum’s Content Marketing in Focus hub for more insights, insights, and strategies around content marketing.