Every minute, there are over 211 million pieces of content being published online. And while this is a lot, content marketing is still the best way to reach your customers through inbound methods.
Instead of disrupting their experience, you can contribute to it. And content is the most important part of the marketing you’ll do in 2019.
In addition to enjoying a high ROI and reduced costs, if you use content marketing you’ll also be able to get the most value out of your existing customers.
It sounds like a dream, right?
And it all starts with a simple content marketing strategy.
In this post, we’ll take you through the entire process you need to create incredible content that attracts customers like a 70% off sale attracts shopaholics.
Let’s take a look!
- Setting your goals
- Establish your content marketing strategy metrics
- Understanding your audience
- Perform a content audit
- Choose the topics for your content marketing strategy
- Choose the content format
- Create a content calendar
- Distribute your content
- Promote your content
- Tips for creating content that outperforms your competitors
Step 1. Set Your Content Marketing Strategy Goals
Before you start creating the content, you need to understand why you’re creating it.
Now, this is easier said than done.
While you obviously want to improve your revenue with any form of marketing, you need strategy and an outlined process to be able to replicate it in the future.
Just like with inbound marketing, you need to create a mission statement to use as a guideline:
- Who is your audience?
- What content and what benefit are they getting?
- Why does this matter?
The first two factors are a no-brainer. You need to understand your audience and decide on content types you’ll distribute.
However, the third factor is your why. And it’s the best way to ensure you’re enjoying long-term content marketing success.
For example, if you’re a marketing agency that targets small business owners, your mission statement would be something like this: “We help small business owners get more time for their family through better understanding of marketing tactics.”
Getting more time for their family is the why.
People don’t just buy a product because it’s convenient; they buy the ideal life you’re offering them.
When you’ve created a mission statement, it’s time to take care of the practical goals you’ll be achieving for your company:
- Improved brand awareness
- More leads
- More sales
- Reduced marketing and advertising costs
- Improving authority in the industry
Ideally, you’ll achieve all of these, but focus on practical things first. For example, you may be aiming for more email signups to get more leads.
It all depends on the funnel stage you’re targeting with your content marketing strategy.
For example, if you want to reach the top of the funnel customers who are barely aware of their problems, you’ll produce one type of content.
If you want to reach prospects at the bottom of the funnel (who are actively looking for solutions to their problems), you’ll produce a different kind of content.
Yes, you can absolutely cover more than one audience segment, but your content, goals and the process will be different.
Step 2. Set Your Content Marketing Metrics
Now that you have your goals, it’s time to think about metrics.
If you want to increase the number of leads you’re getting through your site and capturing them through email opt-in forms, you’ll be looking at traffic to your site and the number of signups.
If you want more sales, measure conversions.
In general, there are a lot of things you can look at that are pertinent to your content marketing strategy.
But in addition to obvious things that drive revenue, take a look at metrics such as:
- Increase in traffic
- Search rankings
- Number of shares and links
Your main goal is getting more shares and links to your content, as that will improve your search rankings.
Ultimately, this will result in an increase in traffic, which will get you the new leads and sales you are looking for.
It’s best to measure these metrics regularly and monitor the increase or decrease, as well as best-performing content.
You should also take a look at search queries that lead to your content (visible in the Google Search Console), as that can help you understand your customers even better and provide them with more useful content.
Step 3. Understand Your Audience to Create a Great Content Marketing Strategy
The main prerequisite for content marketing success is a deep understanding of your audience.
Your first step should be creating audience personas, which cover the following aspects:
- Demographic information (age, gender, education, location)
- Psychographic information (activities, interests, opinions, attitudes, values, behavior)
- Challenges and pain points
- Goals and aspirations
- Sources of information
Typical advertising uses only the first category to understand audiences. However, content marketing is far more advanced, as best performing content makes the leads feel as though you perfectly understand them.
This is why it’s important to understand what their values and opinions are, in addition to understanding their challenges and pain points.
It’s not enough to just say: “We’ve got the right solution for your problem.”
Everyone’s telling your customers that.
But if you are the one who tells them why this solution is perfect for who they are as people – if their why relates to your why – you’ll have succeeded at content marketing.
The psychographic information should also contain their possible objections to the purchase of your product. Why are they opposed to it, what’s stopping them if the product fits their needs perfectly?
When you’ve created an audience profile such as this, you’ll understand what kind of content your potential customers need, why they need it, and where you can promote it.
Researching Audience and Buyer Personas
Now that you know what you’ll need, you should gather the information.
If you already have customers, reach out to them.
Ask them to fill out a survey or get them on the phone for a better understanding of their needs.
You can also use Google Analytics’ audience information (Google Analytics -> Audience -> Interests), as well as Facebook’s ad targeting information to understand the interests, demographics and behaviour of your existing customers.
If you’re just starting out, take a look at your competitors.
Who are the members of their audience? How do they behave? What kind of content do they respond to best?
Step 4. Perform a Content Audit
Now, if you’ve been running your business for a while, you’ve probably experimented with different types of content.
Before setting up your new content marketing strategy, make sure you take a look at existing content efforts.
Analyze it by indexing everything that has been published, and observing factors such as:
- The success of the content piece (Conversions, leads, traffic, shares, etc.)
- Missing information
- The success of promotion techniques across channels (Which channel get you the most traffic, conversions, etc.)
- Identifying which content has performed best (and why)
- Identifying which content has performed worst (and why)
- Identifying duplicate content
For example, if you have a lot of well-performing content, there may not be any need to create new content. You could simply freshen up the existing piece to boost your rankings, and work on promoting it more.
Performing a content audit can also help you generate better ideas because you have an idea of what your audience likes, and what didn’t really “float their boat.”
If you notice content pieces that should’ve performed well (they match the interests of your audience) but they hadn’t, it’s worth analyzing them to understand why.
You should also take a look at all the channels with content; from your blog and YouTube videos, to social media and email newsletters.
If you don’t want to audit your content manually, you can use the SEMrush content marketing tool.
Step 5. Choose the Topics for Your Content Marketing Strategy
Regardless if this is the first content marketing strategy you’re creating or your fiftieth, it’s worth reviewing your topics every once in a while.
The first question to ask yourself is: What’s my audience asking?
Generating Topics for Your Content Marketing Strategy
Getting the answer to this question is sometimes as simple as conducting a Google search for the right keywords.
You can also use tools like Answer The Public. Take a look at social media sites and message boards like Reddit and Quora, as well.
You can use these for content promotion, which we’ll cover in depth in the next few sections.
In fact, you can even get in touch with your customers and ask them loud and clear about the things they’re currently struggling with.
Keep in mind that, if you want to reach the top of the funnel prospects, they may not be aware of what their problems are called.
If someone needs marketing tactics to give their small business a revenue boost, they may be searching for: “Getting more clients” instead of “Marketing a small business.”
If you want to make sure that your content is hyper relevant to users searching on Google, you can also use the Google Keywords Planner.
This tool will show you any related keywords, as well as the search volume. Typically, if the search volume is less than 1k monthly searches, it may not give you the visibility you need.
That’s why you should check the accuracy of results in the field. Always.
Competitor Content Analysis
Finally, when you want to generate topic ideas for your content marketing strategy, take a look at your competitors.
Go through their content and identify gaps in it. Did they forget to cover an important aspect of the topic?
This is what the skyscraper technique does.
You can go through the results that rank the highest in the Google search for your target keywords, and identify gaps.
Since Google and your leads appreciate getting all information in one place (instead of mindlessly searching across the web), you can get great results from creating in-depth resources.
Finally, when you’ve got at least 10-20 content ideas, take a look at whether you can assemble them into comprehensive pillar pages that branch out into various sub-topics.
For example, if you’re writing about content marketing like we are, you can create a longer piece that covers all the aspects; from content ideation to content distribution, and update it regularly.
Step 6. Choose the Content Format
When you’ve got your topics, it’s time to choose the format that your leads and customers will love.
Most businesses today use blogs and written content such as:
- Blog posts and articles
- White papers
- Case studies and research
- How-to and step-by-step guides
However, you can also use:
And much more.
It all depends on what your audience prefers, which is where audience research comes in handy.
Typically, video has the highest average click-through rate among all content formats: 1.84% but don’t knock other formats, either.
Infographics are perfect for summing up a lot of data into a neat and visually enticing graphic, and some topics just require an in-depth, step by step guide to solving your problems.
And while your audience matters, what your competitors are (not) doing matters, too! If a competitor has unbeatable written content, take a look at whether they’re using video to present it.
If they aren’t, there’s your chance to shine.
Step 7. Create a Content Calendar
In order to make sure that your content marketing strategy is getting you the best return on investment possible, you should create a schedule.
List all your topics and all pertinent information (e.g. promotion, audience types that are being targeted, etc.) and organize them in a content calendar.
This way, it’ll be much easier to track what’s being published where, and what results you’re getting.
An example of HubSpot’s content calendar
[Image source: https://blog.hubspot.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Blog_Editorial_Template.png?width=1024&name=Blog_Editorial_Template.png ]
You can also add promotion and outreach to your content calendar to make sure you’re boosting your visibility as much as possible.
If you’re running a big team, you should also delegate responsibilities among team members and include that in the content calendar.
This way, everything’s organized and easy to replicate in the future.
Step 8. Distributing Your Content
If you want your content marketing strategy to get you the best results possible, separate your content distribution channels into three categories:
- Primary distribution channels
- Secondary distribution channels
- Tertiary distribution channels
Your primary channel is the platform/channel you’re posting the content through. It can be your website blog, YouTube (for video content), your newsletter or anything else you’re comfortable with.
The secondary distribution channels should include the content that you’ve repurposed as, for example, social media posts.
Finally, your tertiary distribution channels are the channels you’re using to bring visibility to your content. After all, each content piece – no matter how good – needs to be amplified.
Step 9. Promote Your Content
Content promotion is a beast of its own, but typically, there are a few sure-fire ways to do it:
Search Engine Optimization
SEO relies on two factors: content quality and backlinks.
If you create awesome content (and we’ll give you the tips to do it) and use the right keywords, you’ll have covered that one.
Now, you can get backlinks by reaching out to relevant sites which leads us to our next point…
Influencer Outreach and Guest Posting
Influencers can significantly amplify your content, but it’s important to create relationships with them. No one responds to emails asking to link to their content – there’s no added value for them.
So use the inbound principle when approaching influencers and offer to write a guest post.
You can use your best-performing content as a sample, and cover it in depth for the influencer/site.
You can get backlinks and instant visibility boosts.
One longer content piece can become at least ten social media posts; from quotes and infographics summing extensive research, to resources mentioning useful tools.
You should also use social media to conduct customer research.
Track your brand mentions, and frequently engage your customers to not only improve their LTV, but to obtain beneficial insight for improving your product.
There are plenty of other ways to promote your content, as well.
Essentially, if you want to promote your content somewhere your audience is hanging out, it’s a good choice for promotion.
Best Content Creation Practices for 2019
Finally, it’s time to see how you can actually create awesome content.
The first thing is to focus on evergreen, in-depth content.
This content type can help you reduce your content creation efforts.
Instead of continually publishing new content, you can simply refresh the original piece and retain the SEO link juice.
All you need to do is keep promoting it.
Use storytelling and unique points of view to create great content.
Our brains are wired to respond better to stories, which is perfect as you can speak from your experience.
This helps your audience relate to you, and when they know they’re talking to someone just like them, it builds trust.
And we all know that trust sells.
Forget about keyword stuffing.
Google algorithms now understand the context of a topic, so there’s no need to use a lot of keywords. Instead, focus on readability and providing an interesting experience to the visitors.
Understand the buyer journey.
Create content that caters to prospects at different stages of the buyer journey.
For example, create educative content for leads who are in the awareness phase. Focus on the benefits of something for leads who are in the consideration phase.
And offer a helluva good offer for those who are ready to buy.
All of this will help you increase the relevance of your content to each prospect.
And even though you’re writing for thousands of people, every single one of them will feel like you sat down with them and asked:
“How can I help you win?”
And they will reward you for it.