Marketing is a lot like technology, fashion, and anything else that has continuously shifting trends. When a new term or idea comes to the front, it's hard to know whether it's a fad or a genuine improvement.
When it comes to content marketing, allow us to settle the debate: it's the real deal. Content marketing is a strategy that has been successful for companies in a wide range of industries and locations. How do you get your piece of the pie? Consider this to be your comprehensive guide for developing a robust, profitable content marketing strategy.
Start By Setting Your Focus
The first step in any journey is figuring out where you want to end up, and that's true for content marketing as well. First of all, consider the theory behind content marketing. The idea is that you produce content that is truly valuable, actionable information your customers want. They'll find that information because they're searching for their questions online. When they watch or read your content marketing, they start getting to know you as their go-to expert in your field. They develop trust in you, so the next time they need your services, you're the first person they call. With that in mind, consider how you want that to work out for your company.
- How do you want readers to see you?
- What do you want to be an expert in?
- Who do you want to appeal to?
Think about the way you'll work your branding into the content as well.
- How do you envision your brand's voice?
- How do you want your content to make readers feel?
Finally, define your financial goals. Do you want to boost your sales for a particular product or service, or increase your revenue overall?
Establish a Way to Measure Your Success
Now is the time to talk about numbers. Begin by getting more specific with your goals. Establish an absolute number you want to hit. Perhaps you want to improve your sales for one product by 5% over the same period last year. You might want to increase another product's sales by 10%. Make sure you set up a reasonable time frame to see your results. Nothing happens overnight. While content marketing is a great way to pull in traffic, it's playing the long game as well. Some customers might need to read your articles several times over a few months before they make a purchase, so be aware that your results will keep growing.
Now that you know your specific goals think about the metrics, you can track to measure those results. Don't base your judgments on your revenue alone. For example, if you want to know how successful your blog is, you'll be looking at the conversion rates for your blog posts. You also want to look at other metrics that indicate how well your blog is attracting traffic and holding readers' interest. That could include the number of organic visitors your blog is getting, as well as the average time each user spends on your site.
Put Yourself in Your Audience's Shoes
Knowing your audience is one of the first rules for any marketing campaign. Since the entire purpose of content marketing is to deliver content your customers crave, though, it's even more imperative in this case. You probably already have marketing research about who your customers are. Now is the time to take a deeper dive. Think about the mindset your customers are in when they're Googling topics about your industry. Let's say your business is a college. If someone is looking up information about nursing degrees or IT certifications, you can expect that they're looking for a life change. They're frustrated with their current career and are looking for hope that they can make a change. In that case, it tells you that your customers want to get an idea about the process ahead of them. They want to know how practical it can be to work that degree into their busy schedules.
Dig into Keyword Research
You could go out and write the best blog the world has ever seen. If it doesn't have robust search engine optimization, no one will see it, and you won't see any results. That's why keyword research needs to be a cornerstone of your content marketing strategy. This research will tell you the keywords that are related to your business, which can deliver the best results.
Let's go back to that example of a college. You should research every keyword you can think of that relates to your company, from "college degree" to "how long does it take to get a nursing degree." Don't forget to research local-specific keywords like "college in Los Angeles." As you evaluate these keywords, there are several criteria you want to look for. Identify the keywords that have high search volumes but also those with low ranking difficulty. This combination gives you the best chance to get more bang for your buck. Make a long list of target keywords and check how well you rank for each of them. This tells you which keywords you should focus on first.
Establish a Budget
This might not be the most exciting part of the process, but it's a necessary evil. Establish a budget for your content marketing campaign. That budget will need to account for a variety of costs, so be prepared. Think about how much it costs for your writers and other employees to create content. Add in the cost of your other team members who will be promoting the content on social media and other marketing platforms. Don't forget your salary for the time you spend planning and managing the content strategy. Your budget doesn't need to be set in stone. This is only a starting point, and you can adjust it later when you evaluate your content marketing results.
Create an Overall Content Plan
With your budget in mind, come up with a plan for the types of content you want to produce. After all, "content marketing" is a broad term. The most popular and plentiful type of content marketing is blogs on your website. This should make up a large percentage of your content marketing plan. On top of your blogs, you should write guest blogs for other websites. This lets you build ever-important backlinks, which give you credibility in Google's eyes. Don't forget informative YouTube videos, social media posts, and potentially other options. Decide how often you want to publish each type of content. For most blogs, for example, aim for three blogs per week to start. You should publish new social media posts daily. Make sure you consider your budget and what volume of content you can afford.
Develop a Content Calendar
Now that you know what types of content you want to produce and how often you want, it put it into a structured plan. A content calendar is a literal calendar where you plan what content you want to publish on specific dates. In the process, you'll use your keyword research to come up with topics for each piece of content on the calendar. Remember that your content needs to be varied. You might want to focus on a few keywords more than others but mix in other topics too. Otherwise, you'll sound like a broken record while also limiting your audience. You can plan out your calendar for as much or as little time as you want. We suggest planning for a few months at a time. This gives your content time to work before you evaluate its success.
In any kind of creative endeavor, the end product depends entirely on the person creating it. That includes creating the content in your content marketing strategy. Make sure you have the right people for the job on your content marketing team. If you need to bring on new employees or hire outside professionals, now is the time to start the process. You also need to make sure the people on your staff have the information they need. Make sure they have a clear understanding of your brand's voice and your goals for their content. Assess their SEO knowledge, as well. If there are any gaps in your team's knowledge, give them a crash course to make sure everyone is up to speed.
Have a Promotion Plan
In a perfect world, your content would generate traffic and interest on its merits alone. While it will, to some degree, you can maximize your investment with paid promotions. Decide how you want to pay to promote your content, if you're promoting it at all. These tactics could include pay-per-click ads, social media ads, and email marketing, to name a few. As with your overall content marketing budget, remember that you can adjust your promotional budget after you find out what works and what doesn't.
Start Creating Content
Now that you have a well-thought-out plan in place, it's time to start producing your content.
Make sure your entire team knows the content calendar and understands what's expected of them. Even with this, prepare to do some follow-up and to manage to ensure that everyone stays on track. No matter how detail-oriented your content creators are, you need proofreaders as well. On top of looking for errors and typos, you need to review each piece of content for how well it uses the keywords you're trying to target. In addition to keyword usage, be sure your written content has plenty of helpful links as well. You need a blend of internal and external links to boost your credibility and encourage users to interact with your site.
Finally, ensure that your content creators are using a valid "content marketing" approach.
The content shouldn't sound like an advertisement. It should sound like factual information from a knowledgeable friend. The exception is that each piece should still end with a call-to-action to contact you, shop your digital store, or take other steps toward purchasing.
Promote Your Content
As you start publishing new content, it's time to put your promotional plan in place too. Design pay-per-click ads, social media ads, or and other paid ads based on your budget and your strategy. You don't need to promote every piece of content you produce. Choose the ones that have the most potential, and that align best with your financial goals. Don't forget to target each ad toward the right users as well. For example, your overall audience may be broad. If a particular video speaks to people with a specific interest, though, customize your targeting to reach people with that interest.
Review Your Results and Revise Your Strategy
This is the step that content marketers forget the most often. It's one of the steps that are most important for your profits, though. As you're producing content and promoting it, set aside time every month or quarter to review your data. Go back to that list of metrics you wanted to watch when you were initially designing your strategy. You can evaluate this data in any way you want. On top of looking at the success of your content marketing overall, break it into categories. Find out if one product, service, or keyword is faring better than others. With that data in mind, you can adjust your strategy as you move along. You may choose to divert resources in a product that isn't performing as well as you expected. You could see that your videos are particularly successful, so you increase the number of videos on your content calendar.
Getting the Most from Your Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing has enormous potential for increasing your revenue and your online presence. It all starts with a well-planned content marketing strategy, though. The guide above can make the most of your hard work and benefit from the content-heavy web that consumers are browsing every day.
While the DIY route is always an option, you could take the safer way and hire content marketing professionals to help you design your strategy. Take the first step by calling our marketing team today.