Content marketing is the strategy that every company should be focusing on. It’s an authentic nurturing strategy that helps you better understand and connect with your audience. And content marketing isn’t all talk—the annual growth of unique site traffic for content marketing leaders is 7.8 times higher than those who are falling behind.
Here’s everything you need to know about content marketing and what it takes to create an excellent content marketing strategy.
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What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on providing relevant and useful content to your target audience. Through blog posts, videos, infographics, and other media, companies that use content marketing can nurture their leads through the content marketing funnel from initial interest in a product to purchasing it.
The Content Marketing Funnel
The content marketing funnel is a process that guides your leads from the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey to the action stage, where they become a satisfied customer of your brand.
While it can be broken up into more categories, there are three main sections to a content marketing funnel:
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing
- Lead conversion
Different types of content can be created for each of these three phases. For example, content that is focused on lead generation should be designed to attract new leads, which may include landing pages, infographics, or other forms of content that offer useful and easy-to-digest information to new readers.
How to Create a Flawless Content Marketing Strategy
Aligning your marketing efforts with the marketing funnel will keep your efforts organized and effective. With that in mind, here are seven steps to making a better content marketing strategy.
1. Establish Your Mission Statement and Goals
Why are you starting a marketing campaign? What are you trying to achieve? These questions, which define your organization’s mission, should have a clear answer.
A mission statement will be matter-of-fact about what you’re trying to accomplish with your product, and it should answer the following questions:
- Who is your target audience? (We’ll get to this in the next section)
- What service are you providing for them?
- Why will that service help them?
You also need some key performance indicators (KPIs) you can use to measure the success of your marketing efforts. These are goals that reflect an improvement in your company’s presence, and could include metrics like:
- A target revenue.
- New subscribers to your email service.
- An increase in website traffic.
- An improved search ranking.
2. Know Your Audience
Everything you do in marketing hinges on who you’re trying to target. If you can’t define your target audience before diving headfirst into a new marketing campaign, you’re wasting your time.
When identifying your target audience, there are three things you need to look for:
- Demographics (age, gender, region, etc.)
- Interests (jobs and hobbies)
- Motivators (what keeps them up at night?)
- Pain points (what’s troubling them?)
- Online habits (what channels do they use?)
Consider creating a persona for your target audience. A persona is an avatar that embodies all qualities of an ideal customer. Doing this can make it easier to target people that resemble your persona.
Learn about Their Pain Points
Your audience wants to feel listened to. The best way to do that is to address common pain points in your marketing campaign. Common pain points include problems with:
By segmenting your audience by their pain points, it will be easier to tailor your messages in a way that illustrates your company as a reputable source and solution to their problems.
3. Conduct a Content Audit
Content audits analyze and catalog your current content assets on your website. This creates an organized view of your content, which helps you figure out what you need and don’t need
You might consider getting a third party to complete your audit—someone who can take an objective look at your content and determine what is worth keeping and what needs to be updated. Or, if you wish to do it by yourself, take the following steps:
Start With Your Goals
What do you want your content to accomplish? If you want to create content that is easy to discover and engages your leads, you’ll want to identify which pages need to be SEO-optimized. Conversely, if you just want to create content that is useful for readers, your audit could be used for finding your most interesting and best-performing content.
Collect and Categorize Your Content
Create a spreadsheet with the URLs for all of the content you wish to audit. (If you have a lot of web pages on your site, you may want to use an online tool like SEMrush). From there, you can add categories to distinguish each URL with details like:
- Titles of your webpages
- Keywords you’re trying to target
- Word count ranges
- Number of backlinks
- Publication dates
Analyze Your Data
There’s a lot of data you can pull from content, so this step will take the longest. The purpose of your analysis is to determine which pieces of content are performing well according to your goals and standards.
For example, if you’re looking at which posts engage readers the most, you can look for the following data points:
- Pages that visitors stay on the longest
- Number of social shares
- Page bounce rates
- Conversion rates
Rank Your Content and Get to Work
Take your data to find out which articles are the best performers, which are underperforming, and which have outdated information. Create a new column in your spreadsheet and categorize each webpage with an indicator that you and your team will understand.
For example, high-performing content could be labeled “A,” underperforming as “B,” and old content as “C.” Then you’ll know that all B and C content needs to be updated.
During this stage, you may also find topics your content doesn’t cover, which can inform new content you can create. Add these topics to your spreadsheet, as well as any keywords you want to target in the process.
4. Create Valuable Content
Once you’ve established who you’re talking to and the topics you’ll cover, you’re finally ready to create your content.
Choose What Kind of Content You’ll Create
There are a lot of different forms that content can take. Each content type has its own benefits and purpose, and can contribute to your leads at all levels of the content marketing funnel:
Top of Funnel
- Blogs: Blogs are great for building relationships with readers and bringing organic traffic to your website. You’ll also be able to answer questions your readers might have about your products or your industry.
- Infographics: Infographics are an excellent way to pack a lot of information into an engaging and digestible image. Valuable and informative infographics can easily be shared on social media, which offers you more brand visibility.
- Videos: Videos are dynamic forms of content that your readers can easily watch as they browse through social media. And video is on the rise—Hubspot found that mobile video consumption increases by 100% every year.
- Social media posts: Simple social media posts that include a simple caption and an engaging image help you interact with your audience.
- Ebooks: Ebooks offer a wealth of valuable information about a particular topic. This type of content allows you to create evergreen content that goes incredibly in-depth about a particular topic.
Bottom of the Funnel
- Downloadable PDFs and checklists: Free offerings like PDFs and checklists provide your leads with a resource they can refer to indefinitely. As your audience uses this free resource, they will begin to develop greater loyalty to your brand.
Whatever type of content you choose to create, make it valuable. No one likes to waste their time reading something that isn’t helpful. Creating useless content is a great way to tarnish your brand reputation.
Make sure you cover topics that relate to your product and your audience’s pain points. Try to offer something that will make your readers feel glad that they spent time with your company.
After bringing up your audience’s pain points and problems, you need to provide them with solutions to those problems. Your solutions should be straightforward and easy for your prospective customers to accomplish—a complicated solution may just add another pain point to their plate.
Make your solution to their problems the center point of your marketing strategy. If their pain point involves financial struggles, some variation of “save money now” will be quite effective.
Also, consider using backlinks in your content that link customers to helpful resources. This process, known as link-building, will help customers stay informed and will actually help boost your SEO rankings and attract even more leads.
Include a Strong CTA
The purpose of content is to inspire some form of action from the reader. That’s much easier to do when you include a strong and clear call-to-action (CTA) at the end.
The CTA could be a lot of things, like visiting another webpage for more information, checking out your product pages, or downloading something from your website.
And don’t be too focused on conversions when writing your CTA. For example, consider the following CTA that links to a product page for vacuum cleaners:
“Check out our vacuums to see which one best fits your price range.”
The focus here is clearly money. A customer-focused CTA would look something like this:
“Visit our product page to see which vacuum would suit your house and fit in your house’s hard-to-reach corners.”
Always bring it back to the needs of the customer.
5. Choose the Distribution Channels You Want to Use
Content distribution channels are where you will post and promote your content. If you’re writing blog articles, you may have a blog hosted on your website. Other content types, like videos and infographics, can be posted directly to these channels.
The first distribution channels that come to mind are probably popular social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. But you shouldn’t just choose the popular channels—almost every other company is trying to target people on those channels, too.
Look at your target audience and where they go. That’s where you should promote your content. Sure, that might mean you still promote your content on Facebook, but it will reveal other places like Reddit and smaller online communities that you wouldn’t think of otherwise.
Once you’ve identified your channels, it’s time to distribute. Here are a few ways to do that to ensure they’re seen:
- Paid promotion: Use the paid promotion features in social media channels or Google Ads to boost the visibility of your posts
- Engage with your audience: Talk with your audience within online forums to naturally bring up your content as a solution to their problems and questions
6. Use a Content Management System
A well-developed content marketing strategy means you’ll have a lot of content you need to share. Without a way to manage your content, it’s easy to lose track of what you need to post.
Content management systems will help you schedule out your content months in advance, and you won’t have to manually press “publish” on every individual content piece. Automation products like this will save you time to work on other important things involved in running a business.
Content calendars are an essential part of any good content management system. They are calendar interfaces that show you exactly when and where you will post your content. With this tool, you can plan ahead with your promotion strategies (i.e. which posts you need to promote and when).
7. Measure Your Results and Adjust When Needed
It’s impossible to make a good marketing plan without measuring your results—how would you know if you’re even doing a good job?
Look at the posts you updated or created from scratch and measure their performance. Are they doing better than before? Are they meeting your expectations? Keep in mind that SEO takes a little while to take effect—anywhere from three to six months or even a year. So if you don’t see immediate results from organic traffic, don’t worry. Until then, you can look at how well your paid promotion efforts are working.
You can make this part significantly easier with the help of measurement and analytics platforms, including:
Continue to Update Your Content
Let’s go back to the content audit. It’s a great method for measuring content performance, so why not use it again?
It’s a good idea to conduct a content audit every three to six months. Doing so lets you keep tabs on your articles. And when the articles that used to perform so well start to take a dip, you can act fast to keep them engaging and optimized.
Create a Unique Content Marketing Strategy
Every company is different. While following these steps can help every company find better success in the digital marketing world, different business models and target audiences mean different needs.
Big Leap understands that every company has unique needs, which is why we tailor custom marketing plans for all of our clients. Contact us today to find out how you can bring your content marketing strategy to the next level.