Stats show that content marketing generates 300% more leads for every dollar spent than paid search (PPC) marketing. Content marketing is also typically 62% cheaper than outbound marketing methods.
What’s more, small businesses with blogs receive 126% higher lead growth.
In short, content marketing can generate impactful results at a low cost.
However, to experience powerful results, you need to implement a strong content marketing strategy.
Anybody can blog, but simply putting out content isn’t enough. Badly optimized, targeted, or produced content isn’t going to do you any favors. Instead, it can actually tarnish your brand image.
Don’t let your content marketing efforts go to waste. Instead, keep reading to discover the key steps to creating a powerful content marketing strategy in this step-by-step guide.
1. Set Clear Goals
One of the most important elements of a successful content marketing strategy is clear goals. Without clear goals, your content strategy will lack direction.
Defining and setting goals for your content marketing strategy will allow you to actually have a strategy. If you don’t have any goals, or these goals are vague you won’t be able to measure results or successfully pinpoint and analyze key performance indicators.
If you’re wondering what is a content strategy, it is a continual process of turning business goals and objectives into a content marketing plan. This plan dictates how you will achieve your business goals through the creation and publishing of content.
Depending on your specific business, you might have varying goals you want to achieve through content marketing. Some examples include:
- Lead generation
- Increased organic traffic and website visitors
- Marketing your website through SEO optimized content
- Sales enablement (helping to answer leads’ questions around your offerings)
- Post-purchase support (assists buyers after they have made a purchase and reduces inbound customer support requests)
- Attracting and building interest groups for ad retargeting
- Increased brand awareness
- Increased brand authority
- Increased email subscribers
These are just a few examples of some of the business goals you might set for your content marketing strategy.
Once you have done this, you can zero in on what type of content you need to focus on. For instance, if a pressing business goal is to build brand authority, then you’ll want to create educational and relevant content that demonstrates your industry expertise as a brand.
After you have gotten clear on your content strategy goals, you can then isolate which key performance indicators (KPIs) you can use to measure the effectiveness of your strategy moving forward. For instance, if one of the primary goals of your content marketing strategy is sales enablement, you can look at sales metrics and things like cart abandonment.
On the other hand, if you’re targeting post-purchase support with your content efforts, then you should be looking at inbound customer support request numbers.
2. Do Target Audience Research
Besides clarifying your own business goals, you also need to carry out defined audience research when doing content creation. You can produce content until you’re blue in the face, but your audience won’t consume it if it doesn’t serve them.
Researching your target market is a component of digital marketing. Therefore, you’ve probably already created things like customer personas and clarified who your target market is. If you haven’t, now is the time to get clear on who your defined audience is.
The next step is to take things further by getting inside the minds of your potential customers and figuring out their content needs. What questions are they looking for answers to? What problems do they have?
For instance, let’s say you run a company that sells environmentally friendly household cleaners. Your target market would almost certainly be interested in healthy or green living. Therefore, they would probably be drawn to a blog post like “9 Steps to a VOC-Free Home” or “How to Reduce Environmental Toxins in Your Home.”
This type of content also ties in perfectly with what you offer and provides seamless opportunities for linking to products, inviting readers to join your newsletter, etc.
3. Create Buyer Journey-Centric Content Strategies
Another critical component of a successful content marketing strategy is tailoring it to the buyer’s journey.
If you’re unfamiliar with the buyer’s journey, it is simply the path a typical consumer follows to reach the place of making a particular purchase. These are 6 common stages of the buyer’s journey:
- Exploring: consumers aren’t yet aware of a problem or need
- Understanding: the potential customer has identified their need or problem
- Comparing: the consumer starts comparing different options and solutions
- Engaging: consumers come back to your offering, look into it further, and potentially make a purchase
- Experiencing: the consumer is using and experiencing your offering
- Customer feedback: the consumer leaves feedback (eg. a review of your product or service)
To create a successful content strategy you need to ensure that your content serves consumers at all stages of the customer journey. This will allow you to not only generate leads but retain and convert leads as well.
Lead generation can happen at most of the buyer’s journey stages, however, your content strategy needs to address each stage correctly for this to happen. Successful content marketers make sure that their content creation targets all of these phases.
For instance, if your company sells a cleaning product that is VOC-free, you could produce content around the dangers of VOCs in cleaning products. This will target the exploring stage of the buyer’s journey.
For the comparison stage, you might want to create listicle-style blog posts around popular cleaners on the market, and highlight yours as the safest option.
4. Maintain a Consistent Content Brand Voice
Another of the top content marketing tips is to maintain a consistent content brand voice. This will help to brand your content, and build relationships with your target audience.
One of the ways to maintain a consistent content brand voice is by creating a style guide. Through this, you can ensure that your content retains the same style across mediums and platforms.
You might also want to create a do’s and don’t list so your content team can get a clear idea of how to portray the brand voice. You can also create a gallery of examples for your content team to refer to.
5. Align Content With Your Brand Story
Besides maintaining a consistent voice, you should also take steps to ensure that your online marketing content aligns with your brand story.
For instance, if your brand story is one of caring and making a difference, then you’ll want to reflect this in your content. Aligning content and brand stories is something that any successful content marketer pays attention to, so be sure to stress the importance of this to your content team.
6. Do Competitor Research
Before you start creating content and refining your content marketing strategies, you should also do competitor research.
Take a look at comparative businesses in your industry and analyze their overall content strategy. Guage their average content length, see what types of content covers what topics, and compare this to your own site.
You may find that some of your competitors are excelling with certain types of content, and you might be able to take away a few tips and best practices for your own content. You might also spot some areas where you can confidently top your competition.
For instance, if your competitors are creating short-form blog posts, you can probably snag some of their traffic. Research has shown that long-form content averaging around 2,000 words accounts for a large portion of search results on the first page of Google. Long-form content also attracts more backlinks and can boost conversion rates.
7. Create a Strong Keyword Strategy
One of the integral components of any organic digital marketing strategy is keywords and SEO.
To make sure that your content gets found and displayed in organic search you will need to conduct keyword research and isolate which keywords you want to rank for. There are a variety of free and paid tools you can use for this.
Once you made a list of keywords you can then incorporate them into your content marketing plan. Ideally, you want to make sure that your SEO content marketing strategy also ties into your overall SEO strategy for website traffic.
Want to learn more about SEO writing? Check out this blog post on 9 SEO writing techniques.
8. Develop a Content Calendar
The next step is to create a content calendar. This allows you to plan content out into the future and make sure it’s targeted around any important periods, such as seasons, holidays, etc.
In your content calendar, you might also want to include posting schedules for your social media marketing content strategy.
9. Find the Right Talent
Before you can hit go on your content strategy, you’ll need to find the right content team talent.
There are a few ways you can do this. You can hire content marketing services through a content marketing agency. You can also work directly with freelancers, or you can choose to bring your content team entirely in-house.
Whether you choose to outsource or not, you should hire a:
- Chief content officer (responsible for your overall content strategy and how this interfaces with your brand)
- Managing editor (manages the day-to-day processes around your content program)
- Community manager (responsible for managing social media, content channels, and content engagement)
Once you have found the right talent for your content production you should test out your content creation process.
10. Thorough Analytics
Once the content creation process begins, the next step is to monitor your analytics.
According to research from Econsultancy and Google, successful marketers break away from their competition by implementing clear data and analytics strategies. Almost 60% of marketers report that data-driven decisions are superior to those based on gut instinct.
To start implementing your analytics strategy, make sure you equip yourself with a great tool, such as Google Analytics. From here, dive into the data and see what responses your content is triggering.
Are you seeing the traffic, engagement, or conversions you need? If not, you might want to modify your content strategy and gauge the results.
You might even want to refine your on-page SEO.
Besides looking at your analytics numbers, you should also pay attention to the way visitors interact with your site and content. Do they share your posts on social media sites? Do they comment and interact with your brand?
If user behavior is showing poor engagement, then you should re-evaluate your content marketing tactics.
11. Do Regular Content Auditing
Besides looking at your analytics, you should also regularly do a content audit.
Audit your content to see what’s performing best. Also, ensure you go through and update old content.
Updating old content is a powerful way to fix issues like a high bounce rate, and provides an opportunity to clean up outdated info or broken links. It also helps your content retain its ranking in search, as Google rates content by “freshness.”
You should also go through and make sure that your content includes great CTAs that have the highest chance of triggering a profitable customer action.
12. Experiment With Content Repurposing
One of the most practical tips you can implement for a successful content marketing strategy is to repurpose existing content.
Instead of focusing solely on creating new content, look over your existing content and see what could be converted into other content formats. This could look like creating videos based on existing blog posts, editing videos down into snippets for social media, etc.
13. Practice Social Listening
Last but not least you should inform your content marketing strategy through social listening.
Through the use of a good social listening tool, you can monitor your brand mentions on social media channels and around the web. Through this, you can gauge responses to your content, and tailor your approach going forward.
Do You Need Help With Your Content Marketing Strategy?
Creating amazing content marketing strategies isn’t hard if you know the right steps to take. If you follow the tips and methods above, you’ll be off to a great start.
However, creating a strong content marketing strategy is a lot easier if you have the right help.
We are a full-service digital marketing and web design agency dedicated to making your life easier. We are passionate about making sure you have the tools and knowledge you need to grow your business and meet your objectives. Because of this, we are 100% transparent about our processes and strategies.
One of our core missions is to educate our clients on best practices and empower them to proactively engage with their digital marketing. No more “smoke and mirrors” SEO done behind closed doors. We are happy to answer all of your questions and explain the reasons behind our methods.
Contact us to discuss your content marketing and SEO goals.
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