A content marketing strategy is critical to business growth and is a key revenue and lead-generation driver.
Let’s start with the basics of content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to your target audience. It’s not just blog writing (though that’s very important too!), content marketing includes:
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Inbound marketing
- Case studies
- Email marketing and newsletters
- Ebooks and whitepapers
There are a lot of reasons businesses should build an in-depth content marketing strategy. For example, let’s say that one of your goals is to increase brand awareness. To do that, you might start by implementing an SEO strategy to increase website traffic and get on the coveted first page of Google.
Did you know? The first-ranked page in Google search results accounts for more than 71% of search traffic clicks. But how can you work your way to #1? You’ll start by identifying keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for and build your website and blog content around them. Here are some tips and tricks that we’ve used to help our clients get started.
5 tips for creating a successful content marketing strategy
1. Define your big, hairy, audacious goals
Before you start writing 10 blogs without any direction, you need to define what your goals are, which could be one or more of the following:
- Increase brand awareness: People don’t know that they need your product or service if they don’t know it exists! Building brand awareness is crucial for businesses of all sizes. With this goal, you’ll want to stand out from the crowd and position your strategy to focus on what makes your business unique.
- Capture more leads: Who doesn’t want more leads in their pipeline? Advertisements, webinars, and content like whitepapers or ebooks are great ways to build up your sales pipeline. Focus on activities that require customers to interact with your business.
- Establish your business as an industry expert: Educating your target audience and positioning your business as a thought leader can be an incredibly valuable goal. Knowledge is power.
- Boost your SEO: A strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will make your business a force to be reckoned with. When potential customers search for your product or services or use relevant keywords to your industry, a strong SEO strategy will ensure that you appear as one of the top, most reliable results.
- Foster brand loyalty: Acquiring new customers is critical to growing your business, but retaining those customers is just as important (if not more so). Content marketing can be a great way to build brand loyalty and create stronger relationships with your customers. Continually offering educational and valuable content to your customers will keep them engaged and feel more connected with your brand.
As with all new marketing endeavors, don’t boil the ocean. Pick one or two goals to focus on and give them your undivided attention, instead of trying to accomplish 5 goals at one time. Start small, you can always add to your content marketing strategy later.
2. Do some competitive research
A little friendly competition never hurt anyone.
Inspiration for your content marketing strategy can come from anywhere—posters, books, commercials, or even your competitors. If you already have a list of your top competitors in the region, look at their available content and how they communicate with their customers.
That doesn’t mean you should go and copy them verbatim and expect to land on top. Your business has unique features that set it apart from your competitors, so you don’t have to be a copycat. But perhaps they use video in a way that you haven’t thought of or opt for blogs over ebooks. This is a chance for you to see what’s working, and how you can do it better.
3. Stalk your target audience
Digital marketing professionals also refer to this as persona research. Buyer personas are a key part of any marketing plan, so you may have this part of your marketing already handled. If not, that’s ok—we’ll go through the basics.
A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer or target audience. It’s essentially the story of a fictional person detailing their personal characteristics, what challenges they face, and how your product or service can help them.
This exercise helps you understand your audience more deeply and impacts how you position your products or services. When you have your buyer personas created, you’re ready to begin creating engaging and thoughtful content.
4. Decide what content to create, and be consistent with it
The content you make will depend on your audience and goals. For example, if your target audience is 22-year-olds who engage with short, digestible bursts of content, you should focus on short-form content and video.
Or perhaps you’re a B2B company selling to the CEO of young Shopify brands. You would likely focus on educational-heavy content like case studies, webinars, white papers, and ebooks.
Whatever you decide to do, you must be on a consistent schedule with content creation. That may mean you have to hire an additional employee or outsource to a really amazing creative marketing agency. Wink wink.
5. Measure your results (and celebrate your success!)
It’s impossible to know whether you're reaching your goals if you don’t set key performance indicators (KPIs) from the start. Depending on the content you create, KPIs could look like:
- Website traffic
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- Page or video views
- Number of downloads
- Social media mentions
- Click-through rate
- Email or blog subscriptions
- Conversion rate
Ultimately, content marketing helps brands guide their customers through every stage of the buyer’s journey. From the awareness stage, to consideration, and finally, the decision stage, your content needs to support your customers along the way. Consumers are more informed and empowered than ever before — that’s why it’s important that you work through the 5 tips for creating a content marketing strategy. This way you can truly understand your buyer personas and tailor content that positions you as a reliable solution.