There’s a mass of content marketing out there, much of it mediocre. So how do you get your content to rise above the crowd so that it speaks to your audience? By making sure you always include the 6 characteristics of good content marketing.

There was a time when content marketing was easy. Let’s call it 2013.

Back then you just needed to bang together an article, post it to your blog, share it on social media, and – bingo! – you had an automatic audience. The world was your oyster.

Fast forward a few years and the competition has increased: it’s difficult to get your message to stand out in a world that’s become flooded with content.

So if you’re struggling to attract people through your content marketing efforts, here’s 6 things good content must always have, no matter whether you’re producing an article, blog, infographic, white paper, listicle or any other form of content…

1. It must speak with authority

We were once told that content marketing began by ‘blogging about what we’re interested in’. I’m not so sure. I like skiing, travel and cricket but, really, if you want to learn about any of these topics, there are much more authoritative sources than me. In today’s saturated content market, a lot of what gets published simply isn’t worth reading because the reader has no authority on their subject matter. There are only so many times we can be expected to read ‘The 7 characteristics of all great leaders’ from someone who’s never successfully led a team in their life.

2. It must provide something valuable

There’s little point expecting content to serve any purpose if it’s something that’s either obvious or freely available elsewhere. The least effective form of content marketing is the sort where you act as a relayed news service (unless, of course, you actually are a news service). For instance, if you’re in finance, it’s all well and good to report on the latest stock market or exchange rate movements but why would people care when they could get the same information from Bloomberg?

3. It must say something

That said, sometimes your audiences may find great value in your reporting on what’s happening in an industry, so long as you offer an insight or analysis that others haven’t or can’t. But because our attention spans are shorter than ever, you need to be able to show why people should care right from the outset. That means having an original or thought provoking take on what you’re writing about. Offering the same point of view as everyone else won’t cut it, even if you’re an expert in a particular field.

4. It must speak to the right people

Even content that’s authoritative, valuable and thought provoking will only work if it falls into the right hands. Content marketing works like an ecosystem, with social media, email and SEO all playing their part in distributing your message. So if you’re not reaching the people you want to, ask yourself why not. Who’s on your mailing lists? Have you segmented them? And is it easy to sign up via your website? What’s your social media presence like? And what keywords are you writing into your content so that the audience you want finds you? All of this counts towards having your content find the right people.

5. It must have a purpose

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: content marketing will only ever work if the content you’re producing is aligned to your business objectives. If you’re publishing stuff that nobody wants to know about, it could be that you’re straying from your original goals – or that your original goals aren’t that engaging. So go back to your business strategy or your content strategy and make sure you’re doing what you set out to do. Chances are there could be a disconnect between who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about.

6. It must have spark

It’s impossible to stand out in a sea of mediocre content if your content is mediocre too. So don’t just think about what you’re saying, think also about the way you’re saying it. If you’re wordy, if you’re hitting the wrong tone, if your words don’t make sense or if you’re just plain bland you have two options: learn to write or call in the pros… like Antelope Media.

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Related services: Content marketingCopywriting, Copywriting for websites

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden is content director at Antelope Media.