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Digital lessons content marketers can learn from magazines


While many commentators argue SEO is a dying art, content remains infinitely crucial to any digital marketing campaign. More than ever, content marketers are adopting the tried and tested techniques of magazine journalists when it comes to delivering engaging content. We’ve pulled together a list of trade tricks digital content marketers can learn from print magazines.

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Be a wordsmith

Journalists pique consumers’ curiosity from the first word of a headline. Put as much effort into the headline (or email subject line) as the rest of the article and choose your words wisely – especially if you want your readers to see you as a thought leader. Even though space is technically unlimited online, you should make your point succinctly. Chances are you don’t need the word “that”, so get rid.

Write like an expert – even if you’re not familiar with the subject matter

Research each story like a new job and become an expert on your company, products, services, or marketing topics. Start digging for new scoops and angles and don’t be hesitant to speak to people. Whoever can provide the info you need should be your target and could even be the source of a new story.

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Know your audience

While journalists may go undercover to gain the big stories, marketers should spend time in the trenches of the online world. Be where your audience is, note what content they’re digesting and what they’re talking about. This way, you’ll be able to create content which really resonates with your audience.

Employ a journalist

Many commentators have already noted that marketers and organisations are becoming publishers – much like magazines. Journalists have all of the transferable skills even the most experienced marketers lack, so consider adding one to your team. Chances are they will be able to produce engaging pieces of content off the bat. Their content is compelling, nurtures and is highly shared on social media.

Make friends with designers

Designers bring the pages of magazines alive and are ultimately responsible for whether people will read your content or not. Sit down with a designer before you run a piece of content and brainstorm how you want it to look. Let them take the reins – chances are they can bring your work to life in ways you haven’t imagined. Check out Enterprise Inbound’s beautifully illustrated ebookfor a great example of digital content design.

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Get in the habit of carrying a notebook

If you work in digital marketing, carrying a notebook may seem like you’re carrying a slate and chalk. When you’re tracking down content online, use tools like Evernote or Delicious to clip quotes and ideas.

Create an editorial calendar and cull your content

A content calendar is essential to ensure you are posting content regularly for either yourself or your client. Decide which content should be published on what day and what time. And be harsh on yourself - if a piece of content doesn’t tick all the boxes, it doesn’t go in. Magazine editors have to decide which pieces of content to cut with every issue because there is simply more content than pages.

Create content with a long shelf-life

Content which can recycled over time is more suited for SEO because it will keep attracting links and shares over time. Just make sure it remains relevant by updating it at regular intervals.

Don’t talk about yourself

Probably the hardest of all, resisting the urge to talk about yourself is a habit digital marketers must get into. Magazines provide great content without blowing their own trumpets and this content sells, so work on selling your content first and your services second. You can build your entire brand on content – just ask British Vogue’s Stephen Quinn.

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