It’s one of the biggest buzzwords in recent years, and everyone is eager to dive into it.
In fact, it is probably the most effective and sustainable way to grow traffic, earn leads, and increase revenue.
Unfortunately, some companies and bloggers are just absolutely failing at it.
Instead of wasting your precious time, energy, and resources perpetuating a faulty strategy, here are some tips to make sure you implement a killer content marketing plan.
Incorporating these fundamental concepts into your marketing strategy will exponentially increase your chances of success as well as strengthen your website’s overall metrics.
What Is Content Marketing?
At the very core, content marketing is getting the attention of your targeted audience without the intention of outright selling.
It is all about developing, curating, and circulating useful, valuable content to your audience.
Now, business people may wonder:
"What’s the point of expending resources on content marketing if the intention is not to sell?”
The answer is simple:
By providing readers free valuable information, you build trust and authority so that when you offer a product or service that solves their problems, readers will have the confidence to buy from you.
For example, I recently launched a site focused on teaching amateurs “how to start a blog”.
However, I don’t market my site by telling readers that they have to follow my guide or else their new blog will fail.
Instead, I explain that when starting a blog, it is important to consider your niche or topic, the pros and cons of different blogging platforms, the basic costs of starting a self-hosted blog, and finally, a step-by-step guide to setting up WordPress with certain hosting companies.
But the real content marketing strategy starts with the rest of the site, where I discuss the “Best Free Blogging Sites”, “Reasons To Start A Blog”, etc.
Neither of these articles have banner ads nor affiliate links, so I don’t profit directly from their existence, yet I offer them to provide insights and demonstrate objectivity.
If I pitched a self-hosted blog as the only way to start blogging, readers wouldn’t trust me because additional research would prove that false.
On the contrary, I openly refer to free blogging sites such as Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress.com and extoll each of their benefits.
If that’s the best option for a reader, I’m glad I helped them get their start.
And if he/she decides to ever take their blogging to the next level with a personal domain, then I hope they will remember my openness and honesty, and use my tutorial.
In the end, the goal is to build relationships with your readers and the only way to do that is to genuinely try to help them achieve their goals.
Every mega-successful blogger shares the same advice – give much more than you expect in return.
Building A Content Marketing Strategy
1. Have a goal or purpose
But isn’t the goal of content marketing simply to build more traffic to your site?
Not exactly. That’s the all-encompassing principle, but in order to develop an effective content marketing strategy, you must have a clear purpose. To understand what you hope to achieve, you must answer the following questions:
- How does content marketing fit into my overall marketing plan?
- What am I trying to achieve? Is it to grow my online presence, readership, email subscription list, account sign-ups, leads, and/or revenue?
- Ultimately, how can content marketing grow the business and drive sales?
If you have no direction, your efforts will yield minimal results.
2. Know your audience
Usually, the hardest part is understanding your ideal audience. Who are you trying to reach? This question will determine the topics you will discuss, the message you will share, the goals and expectations of your strategy, etc. An extension of this involves asking:
- Who is my ideal reader/customer and what are their problems/questions/concerns?
- How can I deliver solutions to stand out from my competitors?
- What is my overall message and how can content marketing help further it?
By clearly defining your target demographic, you can hone your content marketing plan to address specific needs and maximize conversions. This avoids developing content that doesn’t further your goals.
3. Develop a plan
With these vital elements, you are now able to create a content marketing plan.
The planning stage starts with keyword research to ensure an interested audience exists.
Then, to keep yourself accountable, set up an “editorial calendar”.
Use your research and article ideas to create a calendar for the next month, but leave space for flexibility. If you have a game-changing idea in the middle of a month, don’t be so rigid that you put it off.
4. Be consistent with your content
Consistency can make or break your strategy. It’s actually an inherent part of the idea of having a strategy. You may push awesome content, but if you do it erratically, you’ll never develop a loyal readership. Who wants to follow a blog that publishes content whenever?
Think about the following:
- Consistency in quality. People want to read pieces that aren’t a waste of their time. Your part is to ensure that they get their time’s worth for every single piece of content you share with them.
- Search engines prefer to rank sites that publish content frequently and regularly, providing an SEO benefit as well.
If you run out of ideas, always feel free to peruse your competitor’s website for ideas. If you can’t keep up because your business is growing, hire freelance writers for help.
5. Don’t forget internal linking
Internal linking is a fundamental part of on-page SEO. Every piece of content you create should be interconnected, thus decreasing bounce rates and increasing the amount of time visitors spend interacting with your content.
Admittedly, this practice is good for SEO. Building a good internal linking system makes your SEO stronger, but more than that, it also provides your readers with related information that they will find useful, but otherwise overlooked.
6. Create evergreen content
When coming up with post ideas, make room for evergreen content, which is content that is timeless and consistently searched.
Whether a visitor reads it now or months later, the information will still be accurate and educational.
Evergreen content can come in varying forms:
- How-to articles or tutorials: in depth articles that give your readers guides on how to accomplish/create/do something
- Opinions on long-standing issues in your niche; controversy can also drive traffic to your site
- Lists of resources: articles providing links (and descriptions) that will give your readers more information on a specific topic
- Buzzwords, jargon, definition lists which are niche-specific FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions
7. Share and re-share your content
Sharing and promoting your content is a critical part of a successful content marketing strategy.
It should go without saying that you should have a solid social media presence, at least on several platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
However, don’t spread yourself too thinly. Check which networks your audience actively uses and focus your efforts there.
Re-sharing content is a touchy topic, as some experts say that it does nothing but irritate your audience. While there is some truth to that, with the right timing and planning, re-sharing content can increase your reach.
One simple example: your Twitter followers are not online all at the same time. If you share an article at 8 AM Eastern and then re-share it at 8 PM Eastern, you will be reaching different people across time zones. This long gap also keeps in mind the need to space posts and not flood users with repetitive updates.
8. Take advantage of tools
Content marketing has reached such heights that developers have created tools specific to helping digital marketers streamline their workflow. Which tools you end up using will depend on several factors, but here are some which will help you get off to a good start.
- Google Analytics for determining traffic to posts, origination of referral traffic, measure conversion rates, and much more
- Buffer/Hootsuite to plan, schedule, and analyze social media posts
- Trendspottr to identify topics that have the highest probability of trending
9. Review your results and hold yourself accountable
Most strategies “end” with analysis. You measure feedback, results, and the overall progress towards your stated objective, and evaluate what worked.
I wrote “ends” in quotation marks because of the fact that content marketing doesn’t really end. It’s more of a cycle.
You set a goal. Lay out a plan. Execute the plan. Measure performance. Make adjustments, if necessary. Then repeat.
Naturally, if you discover that a particular activity or type of content works, then you continue working on it. But more than merely continuing, think of ways to improve the tactic for greater gains.
There is always room for improvement, whether it is making the production process more efficient or extending your reach.
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut formula to follow and no one strategy works every time for every industry/niche. While content marketing is booming right now, it’s just not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.
Quite the contrary, content marketing is all about tailoring your activities to your specific needs, business model, product/service, ethos, audience, etc. Don’t be afraid to shake things up, implement new strategies, and keep testing.
What tactics have helped you maintain a successful content marketing strategy?
Icons by Gregor Cresnar.