When planned and executed correctly, a content marketing strategy can help drive leads and sales to your business for years to come. In fact, many companies we worked with attribute the majority of their growth and lead generation to content marketing.
A content marketing strategy focuses on creating, publishing, and sharing content (e.g., website, social media, email, etc.).
In addition to covering the 11 most important content marketing tips, we will outline numerous tactics and examples to help guide you on your content marketing journey.
1. Good Strategy Will Save You Time And Money
You can start producing content without any strategy, but be ready for rework and disappointing results. If you don't have the resources to hire an export to plan the content strategy for you, at a minimum, do the following:
- Research (Who are your ideal buyers? Where (online) are they spending their time? How do they consume content?)
- SWOT Analysis (to help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats - as they relate to the online space)
- High-level goals for each channel (e.g. Website, Google Search, LinkedIn, Email, etc.)
- KPIs (success metrics)
We have seen companies skip the strategy phase and waste years of content marketing by targeting the wrong buyers, wrong keywords, and wrong channels. Don't make this mistake.
2. Focus Your Content Marketing Around Buyers Questions And Interests
A typical buyer will have a lot of questions, especially if they are not familiar with the product/service they are buying.
With that in mind, write down your customers' needs, wants, and pain points - this will help you identify what type of questions they are likely to ask in Google search, or on social media.
The next step is to create a content strategy around your customer's needs, wants, and pain points. Essentially, your objective is to plan and produce articles, blog posts, white papers, social media posts, and how-to videos around your customer's needs, wants, and pain points.
Why is this important?
- It will attract the right buyers to your business
- It shows the potential buyer that you understand their situation/need
- It demonstrates your expertise.
The Internet is full of general content, so the chance of attracting a potential customer with general content is slim to none. Instead, find your niche, specialize, and don't fall into the trap of creating content that is not related or only somewhat related to your core competency.
4. Stay On Topic
In other words, avoid topics that are outside of your area of expertise. Sure, writing about random topics/subjects may bring you more traffic, but this type of traffic is just noise (will NOT result in more sales).
You are much better off focusing only on topics your prospects, leads, and customers are interested in. Also, you will never be considered an expert in your field if your content is not consistent and focused.
5. A Healthy Mix Of Content
The right content mix will keep your audience engaged and help you find your unique voice. More specifically, what type of content your prospects, leads, and customers are interested in.
Different types of content:
- Blogs / Articles
- How-to guides
- Case studies
- White papers
- News / Events
- Infographics & photos
Since most small businesses don't have the resources to tackle too many content types at the same time, we recommend they focus on 3-5 types. On the other hand, larger companies with dedicated content marketers can and should do more.
6. SEO Should Never Drive Your Content Marketing Strategy
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), there is no secret sauce; therefore, creating a content strategy around any one specific SEO tactic is ill-advised.
Instead, your content strategy should be driven by customers (not SEO). As we mentioned earlier, focus on your customers' needs, wants, and pain points. Also, how do they consume content? What keywords do they use? Etc.
7. Research, Target, and Optimize Your Keywords
Every content marketing strategy must have a list of keywords to focus on. For example, monday.com (team management software) focuses their content around these keywords:
- "Team management"
- "Collaborative space"
- "Time tracking"
- "Team onboarding"
- "24/7 Support"
Which specific keywords you focus on will depend on your business and industry.
Not all keywords are created equal. Some keywords are extremely competitive, so if you only target popular keywords, it will be very difficult to stand out.
This is where data and analytics play an important role. At a minimum, do your keyword research using free tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Trends.
8. Content Calendar Is A Must
A content calendar (even the basic version) will keep you and your team focused - if you have never created a content calendar, then start with a simple spreadsheet.
Here are a few suggested columns for your spreadsheet:
- Target audience
- Frequency (e.g. every Tuesday at 10 am)
- KPI (e.g. reach, clicks, leads, etc.)
- Owner (typically the person responsible for producing the content )
Finally, content calendars are especially important for seasonal businesses, and companies with larger teams.
9. Estimate The Effort And ROI
Many companies don't have the resources to do it all, so being strategic about your effort and ROI is essential. Furthermore, most people underestimate how much work content marketing really is. For example, a 2 minute YouTube video may demand 4-8 hours of your time (research, setup, editing, sharing, responding to comments, etc.).
Don't bite off more than you can chew. This is especially important if you are at the beginning of your content marketing journey.
How do you get the most bang for the buck (effort, value, ROI)? You have to do some analysis.
- Identify top 2-4 digital channels your ideal customers are using (e.g. Facebook, Google Search, Email, Podcast, etc.)
- Select 2-3 content types your ideal customers are most like to connect with (e.g. blog, how-to videos, newsletter, e-book, etc.)
- Set Goals (e.g. reach, sales, subscribers, members, etc.)
- Estimate the effort/hours (e.g. initial setup, ongoing effort, reviews, etc.)
- Estimate the cost (e.g. setup, hourly rate, advertising, contractors, analytics tools, etc.)
- Take all these factors and calculate the ROI
The point of the exercise is to create a baseline you can measure against. Also, doing this type of analysis will help you rule out low-value (low-ROI) channels and content types.
10. Plan And Publish Ahead Of The Search Trend
There is no shortage of content, so many small-to-medium sized companies fail to stand out when trying to jump on the latest trend.
Unless you are a well-known brand, your best chance of catching a trend is to act early.
For example, most people will search for "New Year's resolution" content in December and January. To stay ahead of the search trend, you need to publish your content early. More specifically, you may publish your "15 Best New Year's Resolution Ideas in 2020" in September 2019.
11. Be Patient
Content marketing takes time to materialize, so if you are looking for a quick ROI, then content marketing is not the answer. From our experience, most content marketing strategies take months (not days or weeks) to develop, optimize, and perfect.
There are no shortcuts with content marketing; to be successful, you will need to make it a priority for your organization. However, the upside of content marketing is certainly worth the effort because it will drive traffic/leads/customers to your business for years to come.
Related: How To Grow Your Startup Organically