To gain more customers and increase revenue, it’s time to think about content marketing. Whether you’re new to this marketing method or you’re wanting to learn a little more, I’ve got tips, real-world examples, and everything else you need to know about developing a content marketing strategy.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
Creating content for your company’s audience is great. But, how do you know what you’re going to talk to them about? To help solve this problem, your company needs a content marketing strategy. A content marketing strategy is a multi-step approach to determine what content is best for your audience.
4 Questions to Ask Before You Start Creating Content
Determining a content strategy involves a bit of thinking. Don’t worry, we’ve got exactly what you need to think about to bring your digital content strategy to life. Here are four important questions to ask before you begin creating a content marketing strategy.
1. Who Are You Creating Content For?
To figure out what your audience wants, you’re going to need to research them. You most likely have performed this type of research before starting your company. If you haven’t done this type of research, that’s cool.
Audience research focuses on learning as much as possible about your potential customers. This can include learning more about their age, location, interests, and much more.
2. What Are You Going to Talk About?
As there is no story without an idea, your content strategy won’t get far without topics. If you’re pressed for time, consider having people you work with pitch topics to you.
You can also hire a marketing agency to help your company find relevant topics to write about. These companies prepare content for your website without you having to lift a finger. To find them, look for websites offering freelance work.
3. Where Will You Post Content?
With content marketing, you have so many places to post content. If you want to create content on your website, great. You might also prefer to post content on your company’s social media platforms, even better. While it’s great to choose many platforms, make sure you’re posting content where there’s an audience.
4. What Makes Your Content Different?
Understandably, this might be one of the questions you’re sure about. To answer this question, you need a way to create content that’s different from what the competition offers. Here are a few helpful ways to create content that is more effective than everyone else’s:
Make more content: To do this, you’ll need to make sure that you’re making content more frequently than your competitors. But, make sure that you’re still making high-quality content. Don’t rush it.
Create better content: This is a popular strategy. Instead of trying to push out more content than everyone else, you dig deeper and perform more research to create something better. Hard to go wrong here.
Offer something new: If you’re feeling a little creative, find and create new, relevant topics. After doing this, you can win lots of new website visitors and increase your sales. With some keyword research, you can dig into these untapped niches.
Don’t worry if you’re still struggling with this. One study found that 63% of companies have no content strategy in place. Sometimes, creating content is enough to get your company ahead of the pack.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy: 6 Proven Steps
Ok, we’ve gone over enough of the basics. Now, let’s get to actionable steps you can use now to begin developing a content marketing strategy. It will take effort, but as you’ll soon see, it’s well worth it.
1. Create a Keyword List
The foundation of any SEO content marketing strategy consists of keywords. These are words that someone types into a search engine or on social media to find something. Some searchers will want to learn more about a product or service, others are ready to buy.
To reach these people, your company needs to show up in as many of these searches as possible. This is where the importance of keyword research comes into play. Keyword research is the process of finding words to target that are:
- Relevant to your business
- Something people are searching for
For most companies, the first aspect of finding good keywords is the easiest. If you need help with this, a website like Keywordtool.io or Wordtracker are two great ways to get started.
The next step is simple, you’ll only need to type in a few keywords relevant to your business. For example, companies that sell pianos would look for keywords relevant to pianos.
Next, make sure you’re choosing keywords that have search volumes. This is a critical step in the keyword research process. Without it, you might be ranking for keywords with no volume that brings in zero traffic.
How do you find this information out? In this case, it’s best to go to the source itself, Google. You can create a Google account and set up your own Google Keyword Planner and Search Console pages. With these two tools, you’ll have everything you need to find keywords with plenty of search volume.
Finally, you need to choose keywords that aren’t too difficult. In the world of SEO, keyword difficulty is measured by the strength of the websites on the first page of search engine results. These factors include, but aren’t limited to:
Age of website: Most search engines will favor older websites over newer ones.
Content quality: There’s a reason why so many marketers have heard the phrase “content is king” over the past few years. Quality content is factual, flows well, and has no grammar errors.
Backlink profile: Another way to learn how popular a website is involves looking at how many other websites are mentioning or “linking” to it. Each time this happens, a backlink is born. But, not all backlinks carry the same value. Also, don’t use bots or programs to build your links and always make sure they’re from quality websites.
Website optimization: This is where SEO comes into play. You can have the best website in the world and, if it isn’t optimized, no one is going to see it. So, make sure that you optimize your website or have a qualified professional SEO do it for you. Someone without actual experience can do much more harm to your website than good.
2. If Possible, Use the Content You Already Have
Source: Nonprofit Marketing Guide
If you’re like most business owners, you’ve at least dabbled into content marketing. Considering that, you might already have piles of content with lots of potential.
After you read this article, take a look at where your company already has content. With a bit of optimizing, you can set up a nice content foundation. This is also a great way to take care of what’s known as “thin content,” something you never want to have.
Thin content is something that search engines view as low quality. Examples of what can cause thin content include content less than 500 words or text that’s created by a bot.
3. Ask Your Audience
Performing research to gain a better understanding of content topics is great. But, no one is going to know more about developing a content marketing strategy than your target audience. So, if you’re wondering what content your audience wants, ask them. To do this, take a moment to think about how you reach potential customers now.
If you have a website, throw up a poll for visitors to take. Or, you can take the route many other companies do and ask what your audience wants on social media. Most followers should be willing to tell you what they want, you only need to ask.
4. Get Other Employees Involved
It takes a lot of time and effort to manage a business, I get it. Considering that, the last thing you and your employees might want to take on is another project. But, I promise you, it is so much fun to brainstorm ideas for a content strategy. Best of all, having other employees in on this will help give you plenty of great potential content ideas.
5. Measure the Effectiveness of Your Content Marketing Strategy
What makes content marketing even better is that you can track your progress. What makes this so great? By tracking how your content is performing, you’ll know what topics work and which ones don’t.
The most common ways to measure content effectiveness involve looking at engagement metrics. The types of metrics you’ll look at depend on where you’re posting content. For instance, you can base social media performance on likes, shares, and comments.
Also, keep an eye on how many visits your content receives over a set period (week/month/quarter). It’s also important to look at the search rankings your content receives. If things go well, your new piece of content should begin gaining new traffic from the keyword(s) it ranks for.
6. Publicize and Advertise
Yes, I thought that title sounded cool because it rhymed. But, to explain this is a different way, this tip means to advertise your content after it’s finished. Today, there are almost as many ways to do this as there are places to post content. I’ll cover a few of my personal favorite ways to promote your content.
Sharing on Social Media: You don’t need to start out trying to advertise your content to a million people. Instead, it’s fine to get started by sharing content on your social media pages.
If you want, try asking friends and family if they will share what you’ve written. Most shouldn’t have a problem with helping out a friend or family member. Who knows? A few shares might end up having more of an impact than you think.
Guest Posts: Guest posting is a marketing term for getting backlinks from other websites. These posts feature content that someone else has written and receives credits for. It’s called a guest post because you’re the guest whose content is on another person’s website. To get the most out of this strategy, partner with websites that have a good backlink profile. Also, make sure this website is relevant to your industry and audience.
You can also check out an article I wrote about how to find freelance writing jobs that covers outreach email preparation with actual examples.
Building Online Partnerships: Guest posts are short-term ways to get backlinks and traffic. But, online partnerships are more long-term ventures. You might find that this partnership starts from a guest post opportunity.
How do you create these types of partnerships? First, it’s always good to take part in relevant online communities. This includes forums, social media websites, and other sources. Follow others on social media, leave comments on their websites, whatever it takes.
Quora and Other Question/Answer Websites: Chances are, you know a lot about your industry. Why not take that knowledge and help others on the internet with important questions? Many websites allow you to answer questions for others. Best of all, most allow you to provide a backlink after you built up trust.
Forums: Another great but underutilized way to get market content is by using forums. These are websites where people gather to discuss all sorts of topics on the internet. Generally speaking, most forums are easy to at least get profile links from. But, if you offer value and don’t act like a spammer, forums are awesome ways to build up traffic and quality links fast.
5 Content Marketing Strategies to Learn From
If you’re anything like me, you find it helpful to see examples of what you’re trying to learn about. Fortunately, many companies carry out content marketing strategies with great success. Let’s look at some amazing content marketing strategy examples. I’ll also cover how you can use their strategies for your business.
Source: Zendesk Alternative
If you think that Zendesk can’t make developing a content marketing strategy fun, think again. This company recently created one of the best content marketing strategy examples covering a topic most businesses don’t want to touch. Zendesk’s SEO content marketing strategy used a bit of humor to make something great.
This company stayed on top of its keyword research. Considering that, someone began to notice that people were searching for Zendesk. Unfortunately, the keyword was Zendesk alternative. This meant that people were searching for information about Zendesk’s direct competitors.
How They Did It: To solve this problem, Zendesk bought a domain called zendeskalternative.com. The premise of this website was to talk about a fictional band, Zendesk Alternative. This effort to take over this search phrase paid off in a major way.
Taking over this keyword is a great way to make frustrated customers smile. Zendesk also wins because it’s currently sitting at #3 on Google for this exact keyword. Zendesk even produced a mini-documentary for the fake band.
Lessons to Learn: Unfortunately, your company isn’t going to win everyone over. With that said, you can use this to your advantage. While researching keywords, think about creating content for these types of keywords.
These include creating content that compares your business vs other competing companies. You can take a page out of Zendesk’s book and create content to rank for keywords involving someone cancelling business with your company.
2. John Deere
You might be wondering “what is John Deere doing on a list about content marketing?” After all, this is a company that sells lawnmowers and farm equipment. Prepare to have your mind blown. Actually, John Deere has been in the content marketing game for quite a long time. Like, 125 years!
Starting back in 1895, John Deere published its first issue of The Furrow. Since then, John Deere has been writing informative content that also advertises its products. Yes, John Deere mastered content marketing about 115 years before the rest of the world.
How They Did It: Immediately, John Deere knew it had expertise in all things having to do with running a farm. Running with that, this company began its publication. Over time, it shifted this publication to change with the trends by moving to a digital format.
Lessons to Learn: Creating content is a great way to show that your company is an authority in its field. Over time, this continues to build trust with consumers. With this type of trust, it becomes much easier to turn readers into loyal customers.
If you like staying on top of your finances, chances are, you’ve paid a visit to NerdWallet at least once. Founded in 2009, this company is a great example of how to pull off a content marketing strategy. NerdWallet helps people make many types of important financial decisions. Through its website and app, Nerdwallet features content about credit cards, mortgages, and other topics.
How They Did It: NerdWallet got started by creating lots of helpful content aimed at its target audience. If you visit their website, you’ll see a top menu that features topics including:
- Credit cards
Making things even better, each topic pulls up a sub-menu of articles around each of these topics. In a matter of seconds, NerdWallet covers a wide range of topics related to finance.
Lessons to Learn: Your company’s audience has lots of questions. They also have topics they want to learn more about. To solve both of these problems, create articles around topics that interest your audience.
When I was growing up, all I remember about the AARP was that it was a company that my mom did not want mail from. After all, this was like receiving a reminder that you just turned 50.
Some people at AARP must have known that their brand was being associated with getting older. This isn’t something most people feel excited about. Fortunately, AARP started its popular content marketing strategy that changed everything.
How They Did It: AARP’s main mission to make aging fun. This company pulled this off with the introduction of AARP magazine, a move that continues to pay off. Today, AARP magazine is the most popular magazine in circulation with a base of almost 50 million readers.
This company also isn’t one to shy away from the digital side of things. You can also find the AARP’s Twitter account promoting its “Life After 50” advertising campaign. The AARP’s website is another source for content aimed at those 50 and over. It’s no wonder that this website receives over 30 million visitors each month.
Lessons to Learn: When it comes to creating a content marketing strategy, it pays to know your audience. AARP realized that most of its target audience enjoyed reading, but wanted something that appealed to them. This company also offers plenty of online content aimed at 50 and up readers.
Oh, and yes, most of the people I know who are 50 and older now get excited knowing they’re about to become AARP members.
Another company that knows how to create a content marketing strategy is IKEA. This company is usually known for its furniture that consumers build themselves. But, this business recently launched IKEA Place as part of its marketing strategy. This app lets consumers know much more about IKEA’s furniture, from the privacy of their homes.
How They Did It: IKEA created an augmented-reality app called IKEA Home. This app allows you to virtually select and place furniture in any part of their home. All you need is a working phone camera.
At any time, there’s a good likelihood that many consumers will feel attached to the way a piece looks in their home. If IKEA’s app does its job, you’ll find something worth ordering or picking up.
Lessons to Learn: After learning about the problems this company faced, IKEA went to work. Instead of shying away from people staying at home, IKEA makes it easy for consumers to shop for furniture.
Whew, content marketing strategies can sometimes be lengthy subjects. Thank you for checking out this guide. By following the methods, steps, and examples above, you can start getting your company’s name out to the public.