Businesses can no longer afford to dial it in with their online presence.
68% of potential shoppers use a search engine — usually Google — before buying a product. And in 2021, 42.7% of adult internet users (between 16 and 64) actively used ad-blockers to avoid seeing digital ads.
That means if you’re not effectively using organic channels, you’re missing out on 4 out of 10 potential customers from the internet.
Content creation is the foundation of becoming visible on the internet, both on search engines and social media.
If you don’t have blog posts or product pages that correspond with the information your potential customers are looking for, your website might as well not exist as far as most of them are concerned.
In this article, we’ll cover what content creation is, how to come up with the right content strategy for your company, and how to execute your plan at scale.
What is content creation?
Content creation is the process of generating ideas for and consistently creating written, video, or audio-based content that appeals to your target audience.
It’s the foundation of content marketing. After all, how can you distribute content that doesn’t exist?
Effective content creation starts by figuring out who your potential customers are and how you can best reach them online.
That journey starts by figuring out what channels will resonate the most with your audience. For example, a podcast might make more sense than a written blog if you want to reach truck drivers who listen to more content.
If you want to attract an audience of DIY gardeners, a mix of how-to videos and blog posts will probably be more effective.
From there, you should set up a content calendar to release content on a consistent schedule. For a technical blog, this might be a single long-form blog post per week, accompanied by a bi-weekly podcast episode.
The key is to set up your own content creation process that aligns with your audience and resources.
Why you should invest in content creation
As we covered in the introduction, more people are outright blocking ads. So organic channels have started to deliver better long-term results than paid ads online. 49% of marketers singled out organic SEO as the digital marketing channel with the highest return on investment (ROI) in a recent poll.
Creating a company blog, podcast, and YouTube channel sure sounds like a lot of work (and if you want to deliver high-quality content, it is).
But it’s a powerful way to reach your customers online and build a relationship with them.
Create an organic presence on search engines and social media
You can gradually increase your organic search engine rankings by creating content using search engine optimization (SEO).
That’s crucial if you want to get more eyeballs on your website. On average, 28.5% of all users click the first result when making a Google search. This percentage goes even higher with Sitelinks, averaging a jaw-dropping 46.9%.
And imagine the power of landing a featured snippet for a keyword or question relevant to your business:
You also have the chance to build meaningful relationships with potential customers on social media. It’s possible to build a following on platforms like YouTube or Pinterest or in a thriving Facebook Group community.
And it never hurts to have a complete profile with up-to-date content when potential customers check you out on Facebook or Instagram.
Reach an otherwise unreachable digital audience (people who use ad-blockers)
How are you going to effectively advertise to the 4 in 10 consumers who use ad-blockers? If you have a young target market, these percentages are even higher.
A TV ad campaign isn’t realistic unless you have a giant marketing budget. And people who use ad-blockers may just switch the channel anyway.
By creating useful, quality content, you can reach a growing part of your target audience that is tired of ads.
Sell to potential customers who are ready to buy
72% of consumers use information found on Google to make important financial decisions, such as whether to make a purchase or not.
If you want to control that information and ensure potential customers get a good impression of your company and products, you need to jump on the content creation bandwagon.
The halo effect of being one of the top organic results for a keyword is a nice bonus. People consider a high SERP rank Google’s co-sign of the trustworthiness of your site’s content.
The foundation: Creating the right content strategy for your company
Before you start pumping out content, you need to identify your target audience and find the best strategy for reaching them online.
Let’s dive into the process of hand-crafting the best content marketing strategy for your company.
What is a content strategy?
A content strategy is a strategy that defines who you create content for, what types you need to create, and which channels you’re going to focus on. It should include a definition of your ideal audience and a clear plan of attack for creating and distributing content online.
- Who you’re creating content for
- What channels you’ll use to reach that audience
- Your current state of content marketing — strengths and weaknesses on your website, for example
- Research-based angles and opportunities for long-term content production
- What types of content you will create, and how often
First off, you have to start by finding and understanding your audience.
Understanding your target audience and where to reach them online
You need to answer three essential questions when you start creating your content strategy:
- Who buys your products or services?
- Where do they hang out online?
- What type of content do they engage the most with?
You can research your audience in one of two ways, depending on what data you have access to.
First, you can look at the customer data for real customers in your database. Look them up on social media and see if you can identify patterns. For example, are they more active on Facebook or Instagram?
You can also set up a quick survey where you ask existing customers about their social media habits.
This approach might not be realistic for everyone, so we’re also sharing a method you can use if you don’t have any data or sales yet.
With tools like Facebook’s Audience Insights, you can “spy” on the customer profiles of your competitors.
You can find their age, where they live, and other pages and media they enjoy, as well as get a good sense of where they hang out.
To complement this, join Facebook Groups and other online communities to observe and ask questions. Get a sense of what types of content people share and what resonates with them.
Use one of the methods above to create a profile or persona of your ideal customer.
This should include their:
- Preferred channels of communication
- Most active social channels
- Preferred voice and style of content (serious, light-hearted, etc.)
Identify your most effective channels
Now that you know what kind of content your ideal customer wants, you need to figure out what works best for you.
Do you have the budget to invest in video production, or will you focus on blogs and social media?
Choose a manageable channel mix, and decide on a rough publishing schedule.
Note: Consumer products aren’t an exception. It’s not enough to post your product in an online marketplace and clap your hands. Even if you sell a lot of products on Amazon, you’re leaving potential sales on the table.
Run an audit on existing content
Chances are, you’re not starting from scratch. If you already have a company blog with some content, you might be able to find hidden treasures.
A content audit can help you discover missed opportunities with pages that already exist.
First, you want to use an SEO tool like Ahrefs or other free SEO tools to find any basic SEO issues and low-hanging fruit.
Then, you should try to identify pages with potential to see if you can optimize them toward a specific search term.
Beyond SEO, you want to be brutally honest about the quality of your existing content. Low-quality digital content can be bad for business.
- “Is this blog post relevant to the problems and needs of my target audience?”
- “Would it help us build trust with or land a sale from a potential customer?”
Do keyword and competitive research to identify content opportunities
Start by doing basic keyword research. That means identifying popular keywords, common questions, and your leading competitors.
You can use a paid SEO tool like Ahrefs or try our free keyword planner to get started.
You should be on the lookout for blog posts and articles that aren’t effectively covering popular topics. Maybe they’re out of date, they have no visuals in a how-to guide, or the copy is just bad. Then, decide how you’re going to do better with your own content.
- What big problem (related to a competitive keyword) can we help our audience solve?
- What are related issues (less competitive keywords) that fit with that topic?
If you’re starting a podcast or YouTube channel, it’s more of the same thing. Find your leading competitors, either with a few searches or in category rankings.
Then, explore what your competitors are doing and what kind of episodes get the most attention.
Pro tip: Infiltrate their communities, see what kind of questions their audiences are asking, and make episodes answering those exact questions.
Find the right mix of content for your audience
You might think that by creating a company blog, you’ve already set yourself up for success. But there’s more to content creation than just writing blog posts.
The right mix of content depends on your industry, target audience, and other factors.
What are examples of content creation?
Examples of different formats you create include blog posts, white papers, podcasts, videos, landing pages, and more.
Let’s do a deep dive into the most popular content types in a content creation strategy:
- Blog posts: Casual articles of varying length published on the company’s blog page.
- White papers: Long-form content that typically demonstrates the value or effectiveness of your product or a strategy through research. Most popular among B2B marketers.
- E-book: A digital book that often compiles strategies from multiple blog posts into a single piece of content.
- Case studies: Original experiments or research that showcase your company’s proficiency or the effectiveness of your tactics.
- Podcast: A digital audio format — a series of episodes the user can stream or download. Perfect for busy audiences and people that drive a lot.
- Video: Visual content. Perfect for explaining how to do technical or challenging tasks.
Not taking full advantage of these different types of content is one of the most common content marketing mistakes.
Mix different content types to target different stages of the funnel
The sales funnel is a marketing term used to describe different sections of your ideal audience:
- Users at the top of the funnel know they have a problem, but they’re not interested in buying a product or service. “How do I know if I have termites in my flower bed?”
- Users might actively explore solutions in the middle of the funnel, searching for things like “best termite spray.”
- At the bottom of the funnel, potential customers are ready to buy. They search for things like “Krazy termite spray review.”
Different types of content are effective in various stages of the sales funnel.
For example, one of the best ways to reach people at the top of the funnel is with blog posts or videos addressing common problems.
Then, once they start to look for a solution, start introducing your products and overcoming objections. Case studies or video reviews are great tools here.
But what about podcasts? Today, there are 2,395,555 different podcasts available on Apple Podcasts alone. It may seem a little late to start your podcast and hope to go viral and capture a new audience. So why even bother with a podcast?
Here’s the thing: podcasts are more intimate than written content and can disproportionately build trust with an audience. Why do you think so many companies are desperate to sponsor your favorite podcasters?
A podcast is a perfect channel for converting your top-of-the-funnel audience into customers over time. It lets you build trust and meaningful relationships at scale.
Create a content calendar that emphasizes different types of content
A content calendar is a calendar where you plan out when to post different types of content. Pretty self-explanatory, right?
For example, you could post a single top-of-funnel blog post per week, along with a middle or bottom of funnel piece every other week. You can also schedule case studies or white papers over the quarter.
Of course, it’s not easy to balance weekly blog posts with larger, more in-depth content projects.
Don’t think you can consistently create high-quality blog posts twice a week? Our team of professional bloggers can help. Our interactive editorial process ensures content that is on-brand and delivers value to your readers.
Repurpose long-form, high-investment content like case studies or original research into blog posts and videos
If you and your team pour your heart and soul into a groundbreaking case study, you don’t just post it and forget about it.
You build a whole content campaign around it.
That means you will:
- Create short-form blog posts and infographics that show off essential learnings.
- Share a new statistic every day on Twitter.
- Break the results down in an explainer video.
Make sure you always repurpose and get the most out of high-investment content.
Experiment with social media sites that compliment your owned content
We’ve already mentioned that how-to topics tend to go over well on YouTube. But that’s not the only social media channel out there.
When turning to social media:
- Design, interior, and DIY topics do well on Pinterest
- Difficult technical or academic subjects are perfect for Quora or even Stackoverflow
- Personal finance advice is going big on TikTok
Don’t be afraid to do your own research and experiment with new channels.
Create a content team with expertise in the right channels
Your team needs topical expertise to create content that drives value for your audience. But the team must also master the channels that are the most important to that audience.
To do this, you should:
- Hire talent with platform expertise — like an experienced podcaster or YouTuber
- Delegate to people based on channels they’re passionate about
If how-to video guides are the top results for relevant keywords in your industry, you need to establish a team that can handle video content.
How to consistently create content that aligns with your strategy and goals
Finally, let’s cover the actual process of consistently creating great content that aligns with your long-term goals.
1. Start with research: Don’t create content blind
A content idea shouldn’t come out of nowhere. A savvy content marketer always starts with research. That’s where they get inspiration and ideas for blog posts or videos.
That way, you always know there’s an audience psyched to read your content, as it addresses a pressing problem or question.
2. Take your time with each content piece
Don’t try to push out as many blog posts as you can every week. By starting with research, you know there’s an audience for each topic.
That also means you should take your time to deliver real value to that audience with every blog post.
A 2021 survey of bloggers revealed that those who spent the most time per post were more likely to get good results.
There’s no secret to creating great content. You only have to invest enough time and effort into each piece before you press publish.
3. Don’t get blinded by vanity metrics — invest in content beyond top-of-funnel posts
Once Google starts picking up a few of your blog posts, it’s easy to get blinded by monthly search volume and traffic potential.
Don’t forget about search intent. Search intent is basically what a user is looking for when typing a specific keyword into Google.
For example, “how to tie a tie” has a search volume of 428,000 per month. While the keyword “silk hair ties” only has a volume of around 5,200.
Which would you rather rank for if you wanted to sell ties? It may sound crazy, but the latter will likely generate more sales with less than 1/70th of the search volume.
Smart content marketers take vanity metrics like website visitors, Facebook likes, and YouTube views with a grain of salt. They never lose sight of intent and actual sales.
So even if it won’t attract thousands of new visitors, invest in case studies, landing pages, and other bottom-of-funnel content.
4. Take advantage of content creation tools
Being a full-time content creator is a lot of work. But you can make your job a lot easier by using the right tools.
There are free and paid tools for every content creation stage, including research, design, editing, and optimization.
Here are some examples:
- Keyword research: The HOTH, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, Google Trends
- Blog graphics and visuals: Canva, Crello, Stencil, Adobe Spark
- Grammar: Grammarly, Hemingway App, Writer
- SEO Optimization: MarketMuse, Clearscope, Frase
Why companies struggle with in-house content creation: Top challenges
The biggest challenge for B2B content marketers in 2020 was the content creation process. It beat out issues with strategy, content distribution, and even pandemic-related issues.
Consistently creating a high volume of great content isn’t easy. The sheer time and effort required make in-house content creation a challenge for most SMBs.
Here are a few of the most common issues with handling things in-house:
- Too much time/effort required to create enough content
- It’s expensive to establish your own in-house content team, including SEO experts, writers, and editors. The average content writer earns $48,715 per year.
- It’s difficult to find good writers or videographers who also have topical expertise.
There are no shortcuts in content creation
Content creation is — bar none — the biggest challenge for effective content marketing and SEO.
Compared to creating high-quality written or video content week after week, a few hours of research is nothing.
You need to invest time and money in hiring the right talent, sticking to your strategy over time, and keeping your target audience’s attention over months and years.
If you’re struggling to generate results with organic channels, schedule a call with our content marketing experts today.