By Josh Ledgard
If you’re like 70% of businesses, you don’t have a coherent content marketing strategy.
Some people want to go to Disney World, some people want to swim with dolphins, I want to help you create a realistic content marketing strategy that gets you more leads and more respect within your industry. Doable? Absolutely.
Content marketing is a marketing strategy where you produce free content for the purpose of generating leads and engaging your current and former customers. It’s a multi-pronged marketing approach that includes:
And the list goes on.
Content marketing is about two things: knowledge and trust. First, you’re giving your readers information on topic(s) that they care about. They have a pain, you have a remedy. But it would be a mistake to think of content marketing as a direct sales pitch.
Content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy where you build trust with two parties: your prospective customers who aren’t ready to buy just yet, and your current/ past customers who you want to keep on the hook.
It’s all about dollars and sense.
Content marketing costs less than half of other types of marketing, such as cold calling or commercials and, in the long run, it’s more effective. When combined with paid ad strategies on Google or Facebook, you can raise brand awareness exponentially faster than with traditional marketing strategies.
Content marketing also does wonders for search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines thrive on fresh, new content. When you add valuable resources to the interwebs, you’re more likely to get promoted by search engines, especially if you can get people to read and share your content.
So how do you develop your content marketing strategy? Here’s what to do first:
What do you want to accomplish from your content marketing? Do you want to grow brand recognition? Raise awareness for your upcoming product? Get more keep customers? Keep the customers you already have?
You’ve got to start with a target. Sure, you probably want to do all four, but for most businesses, it’s more realistic to choose one main focus at a time.
Half of the battle is defining your target audience. If you don’t know who to reach, you won’t reach anyone, at least not consistently. To define your target question, do the following:
Figure out what keeps them up at night
What does your audience struggle with?
Research what sites they currently visit
Where is your audience hanging out now? Why? What are they doing (or not doing) that you could do now?
Understand what tone resonates best with your audience
What language does your audience speak? Do they like jokes? Do they prefer straight-forward, no-fluff content? Do they understand the buzzwords in your industry? Are they complete newbies and need you to explain everything to them?
As you can guess, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. But, it’s important that you get the tone right or you’ll miss your audience completely.
Since you’re writing for the web, it is a good idea to relax your voice. It should friendly, human and considerate.
Who are you and why should your audience care? What separates you from your competitors?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time you find out. You have to identify your unique value proposition— the one thing that you bring to the table that no one else brings. Then, exploit that UVP shamelessly.
It’s important to figure out how you can create an educational experience that empowers your audience in some way.
Drumroll, please. Here’s a simple content marketing strategy you can start right away:
Your mission statement doesn’t have to be a lengthy statement. Craft a one sentence mission statement that you can refer to frequently. If your content doesn’t line up with your mission statement, then tweak it until it does.
You need to start a blog because it’s the foundation of your content marketing strategy.
If you don’t have a blog yet, I recommend creating at least 10 posts before you start promoting your blog or shopping for guest post opportunities.
Not sure what to write about? Find out what’s trending by checking out BuzzSumo or Reddit for the keyword/ topic you’d like to associate with your brand.
Remember to optimize your posts for SEO by choosing blog titles that match search engine queries. Also, shoot for posts that are at least 1,000 words. Why? Google and other search engines like longer posts. They’re more likely to promote a longer blog post versus a shorter one because the chances are greater that post is the authority on the topic.
For additional reading, check out this post: Fix Your Blog’s Conversion Rate Starting With Low Hanging Fruit.
Guest blogging may not earn you link juice, but it gets you in front of other audiences. You can optimize your bio to drive audiences back to your website. You can learn more about guest blogging to increase site traffic here.
It’s time to dust off your social media accounts (I’m talking about the ones you haven’t posted on since 2014) and get active again.
You have to start somewhere, and the best place to start is on either Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, depending on your business type. Highly visual businesses (such as photography studios and fashion shops) may find Instagram a better option. But no matter where you start, start you must.
Social media is where the magic happens. Let’s face it, competing for first page domination on Google is hard, but you can definitely streak past your competition on social media.
I recommend focusing on one or two social media channels, at the most.
To make life easier for you, create a queue of posts all at once and then use a scheduling tool to automatically post on your behalf.
For that, I recommend Edgar.
Although I love Buffer, I’m starting to see the beauty of Edgar. Edgar takes all of your content and posts it on a schedule you choose, but then it recycles old posts so your queue is never empty.
Have a plan in place for your blog and your social media posts. This is a living calendar where you add titles or topics for posts along with days and times for publishing these posts.
Landing pages are an essential part of your content marketing strategy. You’ll use landing pages to greet your new visitors from your inbound marketing efforts, including paid ads on Facebook, other social media, and search engines.
Get started with our easy to use landing page builder here.
Email marketing is a big part of content marketing. You’ll use the inbox to promote and educate. And what’s so great about email is that it’s permission-based making it the next natural step in your relationship with your audience. You reeled them in with a blog post, a brilliantly copywritten landing page or an enticing Facebook ad. Now, you can seal the deal with an engaging email campaign.
To get them in, create a killer email opt-in. We’ve discussed this at length on this blog post:
Content marketing is not a solo sport. It takes a team to do it successfully. You need someone to come up with the content, to write the content, to edit the content, to post the content and to market the content. You may get lucky and find one person to take on all of those responsibilities, but often times, you’ll have to hire separately for at least the writing, editing and marketing parts.
In all likelihood, you’ll need at least three different people, or you could hire a content marketing team to do it for you.
If I ever got the nerve to climb Mt. Everest, you know what I’d say at the top of the world? “Don’t give up on content marketing!”
Knowing me, I totally would. And here’s why:
Content marketing takes a long time. It’s not a “get rich quick” scheme. It takes months (if not longer) to see the fruits of your labor. But, don’t let that discourage you. If you stick with it, you will see a lift eventually. So, stick with it!