Today’s digitally-driven age has created a demand for relevant, consumable, shareable content and marketers have been quick to recognise this as a way to reach their customers.  So how do you cut through an increasing glut of blog posts, social shares, how-to guides and infographics and ensure your content marketing strategy shines?

1. Stay relevant

Yes, originality and creativity are important assets when it comes to content marketing – the ability to keep coming up with new ideas and formats to engage your audience. But don’t let your imagination run away with you to the extent that your ideas diverge from your business objectives or are irrelevant to your audience. In the words of marketing guru David Ogilvy: “It is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”

2. Plan ahead

Consistency is key to content marketing success and for this you need an editorial calendar. Creating high-quality content can take time, so effective organisation and planning is a must. According to search marketing firm Click Consult, businesses that have a documented content strategy in place are much more likely to consider themselves effective (66% versus 11%). Knowing what content you need to create in advance means you can allocate your resources more effectively.

3. Include a call to action

With every piece of content, ask yourself what you want your readers to do once they’ve read or otherwise consumed your content. Whether you’re looking to generate sales, have your article shared across social media or increase brand awareness, a strong call-to-action is crucial. While it’s true that content marketing is a pull-not-push activity (otherwise known as inbound), the ultimate point is to encourage customers to make contact.

Related: These 15 Amazing Company Blogs Are Rocking Content Marketing (And You Can Too)

4. Create a voice for your brand

A distinctive, consistent voice is one of the hallmarks of a successful, recognisable brand. Think of Harley Davidson’s bold, empowering voice: “Take command of your personal cockpit. Stand out from the standard with custom instruments and gauges.” Or the quirky, irreverent tone of Innocent Drinks: (on the underneath of a carton) “Stop looking at my bottom.”

Give your brand a personality that’s reflected in the tone and style of your content and other communications too, such as branding and ad copy. Make sure it appeals to your target audience and reinforces the image and values you wish to convey.

5. Target effectively

Publishing vaguely-relevant content arbitrarily across numerous channels is unlikely to achieve the results you’re looking for or help to build a trusting relationship with your customers.

For maximum impact, every piece of content you produce not only needs to reflect your brand and have a specific purpose; you also need to ensure it’s distributed via an appropriate medium.

Spend time researching your content distribution options, including blogging, social platforms, press releases, guest blogging, outreach etc. Identify which channels are relevant to your audience and appropriate for your business.

6. Learn from competitors

Keeping an eye on competitor activity is second nature to every marketer and in the case of content it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse to pick up on trends as well as find inspiration. Sign up for their newsletters, follow them on social media and dip into their blog regularly.

Look critically at the whats, hows, wheres and whens of your competitors’ content: what are they doing well that you could emulate and what are they doing not so well that you could improve upon? Use your use competitors’ successes and failures to refine your own content marketing strategy.