Content marketing can be a great way to create long-term growth for your business, but many businesses struggle with how to get started. In fact, less than half (43%) of all B2B content marketers have a content strategy.
A good content strategy will attract your target audience at each stage of the sales funnel and keep them engaged even after they make a purchase.
Here’s an overview of how you can develop an effective content strategy for your business:
Set Your Business Goals
A BoardView study suggests that more than 80% of small business owners don’t even keep track of their business goals, and 40% of people who write down goals don’t even check to see if they’ve achieved them. Furthermore, 46% of companies review or revise their goals throughout the year.
So, how can you be successful when recreating your own business goals?
You might want to ask yourself the following questions before starting your content plan:
- What do you want from your content marketing plan?
- What type of content do you want or need to create?
- What about your content needs improvement?
Some common content marketing goals are:
- Improve SEO rankings
- Generate thought leadership and grow influence
- Get more leads and convert them into sales
- Increase inbound traffic and brand recognition
If your goal is to drive more inbound traffic and generate brand awareness through content, then you might create a good amount of keyword-targeted content to drive SEO traffic.
On the other hand, if thought leadership is a priority, then you might focus more on creating original content or doing data-driven or research-based articles.
Understand Your Target Audience
Good content marketing is often designed to attract your ideal customer, so knowing who that customer is and what they are interested in can help you craft more effective content.
So, how do you create a customer avatar?
- Identify their challenges and pain points
- Identify their values
- Find your target audience’s information (such as age group, which social media platform they visit the most, etc.)
- Fill your potential customer’s demographic (such as location, service area, etc.)
- List out their reasons for purchase
Start by brainstorming some of the pain points and interests that your ideal customer might have. Write down a list of pain points and interests and you will have some great ideas for content that you can create to attract your target audience.
Visit forums and social media sites to see what kinds of questions people in your niche are asking. Check out competitor blogs and content to see what types of articles they are writing.
Do some keyword research to find out what search phrases people are using to find answers to their problems.
If you already have customers, you can also use surveys or phone calls to interview your clients and learn more about them and the problems they face.
Additionally, you may want to write a handy list of all of the reasons you think that your potential customer may need or want to buy your service or product. This may help you understand your target avatar better.
Although all of the above are important, marketers will perform better if they decide which goal is the most important to pursue. Clearly defining your goals will help you determine the best way to approach your content marketing.
For example, if your goal is to drive more inbound traffic and generate brand awareness through content, then you might create a good amount of keyword targeted content to drive SEO traffic. On the other hand, if thought leadership is a priority, then you might focus more on creating original content or doing data-driven or research-based articles.
Research and Plan Your Content
Consistency is very important with blogging. Neil Patel mentions that he blogged consistently and published articles 5 times a month through May 2009. But when he slowed down his blogging frequency, his traffic dropped from 45,000 visitors a month to around 35,000 visitors a month and it took him 3 months of consistent blogging to bring the traffic back up to where it was before.
Here are a few simple ideas that you can use to never run out of great content ideas:
Content curation is a great content creation strategy that can apply to just about any niche.
Follow competitors and industry news sites to keep up with the latest developments in your niche. Bookmarking, social media, and content sharing sites can also be a good way to find new and exciting content.
You can add value when you curate content by adding in your own insights or analysis. You can also be a valuable resource for your audience if you are quick to share news or other insightful articles before your readers discover them through other channels.
If SEO is a goal, then keyword research can be a good place to start when looking for content ideas. Find keyword phrases with good search volume that are related to things that your target customer might search for.
Another way to come up with content ideas is to analyze competitors. Follow their blogs by subscribing to them and pay attention to what content appears to perform well for them.
You can also identify content gaps by looking for topics that your competitors haven’t written about yet. Comments and questions on their blog could indicate good opportunities to create content on topics that your target audience might be interested in.
Create the Content
Images and media
Will you include images and other media (like videos or audio) within your articles? If you do use images, will you need a graphic designer to create them?
Studies show that articles with images get 94% more views than articles that don’t have them on average. However, adding and creating images also takes time and resources which can slow down the content creation process.
Ideally, you should add images into your articles when you can use them to add value or to use them to more clearly demonstrate what you are discussing in the article.
So, does this mean that long-form content is better?
Long content might be appropriate for something like an SEO guide where searchers are looking for in-depth information. But short-form content may be more appropriate for things like recipes.
People are also more likely to read short content and it is usually easier to create a higher volume of content if you keep your articles short. In fact, some publications, like Entrepreneur, prefer that writers keep articles under 1,200 words.
When deciding on content length, start by observing how long competing content is and also decide on your overall goals. If you want to compete with other top-ranking content, then you will often have to create content of similar length or longer. However, short content can be good if you want to create a higher volume of content.
Successful content strategies tend to be consistent with content creation, so it may be best to decide on a publishing schedule. Some days may be better to publish your content based on your demographics and your niche. So, it may be best to research what day and time work best for your business.
A study by Hubspot shows that businesses that blog 16 or more times per month generate 4.5x more leads than businesses that only blog 0-4 times per month. However, blogging less frequently can give you more time to create authoritative content and promote it.
How often you publish is up to you, but deciding on publishing frequency and setting up a content calendar will help you stay consistent, which is important if you want the best results. A few businesses do well by publishing once a month, but most businesses should aim to publish at least weekly.
Editorial guidelines and content creation processes
Many businesses will write up some editorial guidelines or editorial calendars that discuss details like how long an article should be, what topics are covered, and any other requirements for content.
If you are not sure what content you’ve created that has performed the best. You can look at your KPI. KPI stands for a key performance indicator. It is a measurable way to view the performance of a piece of content over time.
You may also be able to view other performance metrics by using Google Analytics.
Optimize Your Content
Before hitting the publish button, be sure to optimize your content so that it helps you achieve your goals.
Even if SEO isn’t a primary goal, you can easily improve the chances that your content will rank by doing some keyword research and inserting keywords into your article. Using a tool like The HOTH Google Keyword Planner can help you discover keywords that might be worth including in your content.
If you have conversion goals (like increasing email opt-ins or generating sales), then be sure to optimize your content for conversions as well. Include your call to action at the end of the article and places within the article. You may want to consider using highlighting or images to draw people’s attention to your call to action.
Promote the Content
Paid ads can be a fast way to get your content in front of your target audience and grow your email list or following.
You can target cold traffic using Facebook ads to target people based on their interests or Google paid ads to target searchers based on keywords they type into the search engines. You can also use retargeting to show ads to people who already visited your site in the past.
Social media and communities
After creating content, be sure to share it on social media and in communities (if it is allowed). It will become more effective if you spend time in those channels engaging other users and sharing other content.
Another effective way to promote content is through email marketing. Have at least one email opt-in form on your blog so that people can sign up to get notified when you release new content.
Some other channels to consider for content promotion include guest posting, email outreach, and PR.
Keep your eye open for other channels to promote your content. You may want to experiment with promoting content on different channels and add new channels into your content promotion process as you go along..
In the end, it’s consistency that is most important with both content creation and promotion. If you do well with both, it will be difficult for your website’s traffic to not increase!
Again, if you feel like leaving it to the professionals is best for your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our SEO experts for consolation.