Note: This post was originally published on September 6, 2017. We updated it on March 13, 2018 to include a downloadable content marketing strategy checklist.
As a business owner, you’ve heard that content marketing is less expensive and generates more leads than traditional advertising. Sounds like something you should get in on, right? After hearing about the benefits of content marketing, your first impulse might be to start a blog that you or your team members update when time allows. Unfortunately, you’re not the only business who has had that content marketing idea, and it’s no longer enough.
Every 60 seconds, there are 1,445 new WordPress blog posts published. In that minute, there are also 500 hours of video uploaded to Youtube, 3.3 million Facebook posts published, and 65,972 Instagram photos uploaded. That’s a lot of content to compete with, and adding your blog post to the mix is kind of like throwing a rock into a deep lake. Your target audience isn’t going to find it, and you’re not going to see any meaningful returns.
So how do you plan a content strategy that will have a real impact? Blogging can certainly be a part of it, but you have to go further—the best content marketing strategies involve:
- researching the target audience
- using a mix of content formats
- optimizing for search engines and readers
- and aggressively promoting on multiple channels.
Let’s take a closer look at each of those steps. If you don’t have time to read the full post now, or if you’d like to get these steps (and more) in a handy list format, you can click below to download our Content Strategy Checklist.
Get Familiar with Your Audience
If you’re taking a scattershot approach to content marketing—planning and producing content that you think will appeal to the widest possible audience—you’re wasting your time. To drive potential customers to your site, you need to know who your target audience is, where they spend time online, and how they prefer to consume content. Here are a few ways to find that information:
- Survey your current customers. Find out what websites they enjoy browsing, what social media platforms they use, how often they read blogs or listen to podcasts, what questions they have for your business, etc.
- Audit your current website content. Which pages have gotten the most traffic? Where have readers spent the most time? What path do shoppers take before making a purchase? Diving into Google Analytics can give you some great insights into what content is and isn’t working.
- Pay attention to social media. Look at the types of content your followers comment on and share on social media. Facebook Insights and Twitter’s Audience Insights Dashboard (available with a Twitter Ads account) will both help clue you into the interests, preferences, and purchase behavior of your audience.
Experiment with Different Content Types
Writing blog posts might seem like the most straightforward way to get your business into content marketing, but if this is all you do, you’re limiting your audience. Not everyone enjoys consuming online content in the same way, so it’s important to experiment with different content types to see what’s most successful with your audience. Online content formats include but are not limited to:
- Case Studies
You should also create content that appeals to people at different stages of the sales funnel. For example, a company that sells alpaca fleece blankets might produce the following content pieces:
- Awareness Stage: A video showing the eco-friendly process by which alpaca fleece blankets are made
- Interest Stage: An infographic showing some of the benefits of alpaca fleece
- Evaluation Stage: A product comparison guide for sheep fleece vs. alpaca fleece blankets
- Decision Stage: Testimonials from real customers who love having alpaca fleece blankets in their homes
Make Sure Search Engines Can Find Your Content
The best content marketing strategies incorporate search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is what helps your web pages rank well for relevant search terms so that more potential customers can find your site. SEO strategies are complex, and there’s no way to thoroughly cover them in a single blog post, but we do have a few tips to get you started:
- Do keyword research. Keywords are the terms that internet users search for (and that will ideally lead them to your site when they find one of your pages in their search results). You can find keywords that are related to your business and content topics using tools like Google Keyword Planner and Moz Keyword Explorer. Use keywords naturally throughout your content (i.e. add them where they make sense, rather than adding awkward sentences and phrases just to work them in).
- Write title tags and meta descriptions for all pages. Your title tags and meta descriptions are what web users see in the search results, so it’s important to write compelling copy that will make readers want to click through to your site. If you’ve built your site on WordPress, you can enter your title and meta description using a plugin like Yoast. If you’re not using WordPress, you can still plug meta information straight into your site’s HTML.
- Optimize your visual content. If you’re producing videos, infographics, or other visual content, include a transcript or written summary on your site so that search engines can find the content.
Promote, Promote, Promote
Content promotion is an essential part of any content marketing strategy, but novice marketers all too often skip this step. Failing to promote your content is kind of like prepping for a dinner party and forgetting to invite your guests: you will have put in a lot of work and potentially produced something amazing, but no one will get to enjoy it because they don’t know it’s there. (That was the last analogy for this blog post, I promise.)
There are many different content promotion routes you can take, and it’s best to promote your content across multiple channels to increase its reach. For example, you could:
- Share your content on your social media accounts and encourage readers to share on social media as well.
- Bundle several recent content pieces into a bi-weekly or monthly newsletter that goes out to all your subscribers.
- Write a press release announcing your new content (this approach is best when your content includes original research or a truly newsworthy update).
- Reach out to influential industry bloggers to see if they will share your content or offer you a guest posting opportunity.
- Invest in native advertising (e. paying a third-party publisher to include your piece on their site as ‘Sponsored Content’).
Putting Your Content Strategy Plan into Action
Implementing a content marketing plan for your business won’t yield results overnight. However, if you consistently produce and promote original content tailored to your target audience, the benefits can ultimately include increased traffic, greater brand recognition, and more conversions.
Great content marketing requires a lot of time and resources that you may not have in-house. That’s where Leverage Marketing can help. Contact us about our content marketing services: we’ll do all the heavy lifting so you can focus on running your business.