With the recent Google algorithm update, an effective content marketing strategy is more important than ever.
Businesses must ensure that their content marketing efforts are planned out carefully and executed in the most effective manner possible.
It all burns down to creating valuable, relevant, and user-friendly content focused on helping users rather than promotion.
Content Marketing Evolution at a Glance
- Over 80% of B2B marketers use content marketing, with 72% reporting it is an effective strategy.
- The video format is the most popular type of content on social media this year.
- Content marketing costs 60% less than traditional marketing and generates nearly three times as many leads.
- Content marketing has a positive R.O.I. for over 80% of all marketers.
- One of the three primary goals of content marketers is increasing brand awareness.
- The how-to article format (like this post) is the most popular content type, with over 75% of the market share.
While businesses should incorporate SEO into their content marketing strategy, successful content focuses on much more. Beyond SEO, content marketing trends like consumers’ evolving preferences are indispensable.
Your content marketing strategy must incorporate all that, and creating one must be an integrated process.
This post covers the essence of the entire process in seven actionable steps to create an effective content marketing strategy.
Set Clear and Achievable Goals
Your primary focus should be setting clear, achievable goals aligning with your overall business objectives. There’s no benefit in creating content that attracts noncustomers. Whether trying to increase brand awareness, improve customer loyalty, or drive more sales, now is the right time to get it all together. Ask yourself the tough questions and tailor your content marketing strategy to reach those goals.
Learn more: How to Create a Compelling Brand.
That said, consider the monetary and non-monetary outcomes you want to achieve with your goals. A smart content strategy has deep layers of implicit objectives that marketers often neglect.
To stay on track to reach these goals, you must map out your plans in advance and set clear achievable objectives.
A solid, actionable plan will help guide your progress and ensure your content marketing is heading in the right direction.
Goals are Meaningless if You Can’t Measure Progress
Leveraging a S.M.A.R.T. approach implies that your goals must be measurable, too. If you’re eating an elephant, it’s best to break down your overall goal into smaller, achievable chunks. For instance, if you plan to increase organic search engine traffic by 45% (it’s clear, measurable and specific), break it down into monthly or weekly objectives.
Measurement is key, as it enables you to review your progress, evaluate which tactics work, and require more resources or time.
Don’t forget the timeline, either – and set realistic deadlines. Many marketers get overwhelmed when setting goals, so give yourself a deadline to keep your content marketing on track. Don’t be too hard on yourself – if something isn’t working, adjust accordingly, take it easy, and give yourself some space to complete the task. Setting realistic deadlines will also help you stay focused, motivated and on track.
Just remember to start by defining your strategy, breaking your overall goal into achievable chunks, and setting realistic deadlines. Now keep track of all this, monitor progress, and celebrate achievements!
Establishing and Targeting Your Audience
Now it’s time to figure out who you’re talking to before you start talking. Knowing your target audience allows you to curate content that resonates with your readers and drives them toward the desired action.
Arguably, it won’t be an exaggeration to say you should know your audience better than their friends.
Think about the types of customers you’re trying to attract and the content they consume. Even the channels you’re using would depend on your audience’s demographics.
There’s an enormous value in highly-focused content generation with the potential to create a loyal following and build everlasting customer relationships.
Probably no other strategy does it better. Let’s dive into the ‘how’ part now.
Determine the Profile of Your Ideal Customer
To effectively target your audience with valuable content, you need to know more about them. Create a detailed profile or a virtual persona of your ideal customer. Use your imagination to create that person – it’s fun! You’ll have to be in their shoes and ask yourself some basic questions. Who are they? What age bracket do they belong to? What profession do they have? What sparks their interests, and how do they like spending their time? What inspires and motivates them?
You might even want to go deep and consider their pain points and triggers.
The better you know and understand that virtual person you’ve just created in your mind, the more personalized your offer will be, with content tailored exactly to meet their interests and preferences.
Identify Your Customer’s Needs and Preferences
Once you know who your customer is, it’s time to determine their needs and preferences.
- What format of content do they prefer?
- What type of content appeals to them?
You will reach your ideal customer’s habits and preferences better by studying them.
Again, ALWAYS create content with the end goal in mind. Doing that puts you in the fast lane to create better content that targets your audience and helps you meet your goals.
Analyze Your Competitors’ Content
Euphemism aside, you must know your enemies better than your friends – and my friend, you’re on a battlefield.
Your content is your army, and each piece is a soldier.
Deploy the right battalion with the right arsenal at the right point on the field. Sometimes, you may also need to form a brigade that consists of multiple troops.
If they’re doing it better, do it better than them. Strategize your moves by understanding your competitors’ moves.
It’s a competition, and you must outperform them to get to that trophy.
Study your competitors’ content to identify what content your target audience is engaging with. Analyze what kind of content they are producing, their format, and the topics they are discussing. You’ll get invaluable information on what works and what doesn’t.
Research Popular Industry Topics
The world follows the trends, and your audience is not an exception. Find the topics that are popular with your target audience, and optimize according to the trends, such as voice search and Google lens. Do a quick and simple search on popular industry websites and forums. Observe what’s happening until you know what type of content is in demand and what people (your customers) are discussing.
Leverage Social Media Insights
Social media is a goldmine of information for understanding your target audience. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide indispensable insights into who is engaging with your content.
You’ve probably noticed by now that content marketing is a highly subjective art, but that doesn’t mean there’s no science to it.
It’s an art and a science. That’s why experimentation with consistency is the way to go. And as long as you enjoy the process, you’ll keep yourself and your audience engaged.
Start with an Editorial Calendar
Self-discipline and staying organized are arguably the hardest part – you’re looking at long-term, sustainable strategies, not overnight success.
Without patience, it’s easy to get off track.
You’ll make the most of it by staying organized. Start by developing an editorial calendar and stick to it. Coming up with an editorial calendar with specific topics you plan to cover each week or month can help you stay on track.
Diversify Your Content
Staying organized is only half the battle. Diversify your content so that you’re producing pieces across multiple formats.
Try mixing things up with blog posts, eBooks, white papers, videos, and podcasts. And if creating content in all these formats seems overwhelming, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Start with the ones you’re most familiar with, and as you get comfortable, you can start branching out.
Your Keywords Should Focus on the Problems You’re Solving
You don’t always need the keywords with the highest search volume. Remember when we discussed staying focused on your goals in the earlier section?
You’ve probably heard that SEO is about keywords, but have you considered checking if your keywords focus on the problems you are trying to solve?
Sure, having a few high search volume keywords thrown in can help drive more traffic to your website. However, focusing on solving a problem for your readers will attract the right audience instead of just random visitors. With that, your keywords should be just as much about the solutions as the questions users are typing into search engines.
Here’s What Problem-Focused Keywords Mean
Let’s look at an example. Say your company specializes in helping small businesses manage their accounting needs. It could mean a lot of keywords like “accounting services,” “expert accounting,” or “small business accounting.”
While those all make sense and would attract readers to your website, it’s not really helping to show users why they should trust your services. That’s where problem-focused keywords come in.
Try adding keywords like “error-free bookkeeping,” “streamlined payroll processing,” or “simple invoicing software.” These keywords show potential readers that you understand the problems small businesses may face and further illustrate why your services are the best solution for those issues.
Keywords can be incredibly powerful in helping you jump in front of the competition. Still, your keywords should be tailored to the solutions you are offering instead of just the queries people are entering in search engines.
If your keywords are focused on the problems your readers face, you should easily see a boost in highly-relevant, useful organic traffic.
Improve Quality with Regular Content Audits
Regular content audits are key to improving user experience and removing irrelevant content. This process allows you to review and track the quality of your content over time.
Related: Learn how rebranding can be a gamechanger for your business.
Content audits ensure that you’re performing at your best and doing what you can to stay on top of any changes needed.
Identify any dead links, broken images, and technical errors
These audits help you pick out any technical errors that may have gone unnoticed and fix them quickly. You’ll need that if you’re dealing with a lot of content that’s come in from outside sources, such as user-generated content.
Ensure content accuracy and relevance
Accuracy and relevance may change over time. For example, if your created content for 2021, it may be irrelevant now, and you might want to consider revising it accordingly. It also helps with SEO since search engines use accuracy and relevancy to index your pages.
Identify underperforming content
Audits your content can pinpoint any content that’s not performing as well as other pieces. You can then use that knowledge to adjust your content strategy and ensure that the best content pieces get the attention they deserve.
Track changes over time
Tracking changes is immensely useful if you’re trying to monitor growth and execute any changes properly.
Use Content Pruning Technique
Pruning refers to the act of removing needless or outdated content. Content pruning makes your website or blog appear cleaner, allowing visitors to find the information they need quickly and easily.
At its core, content pruning is all about streamlining your website or blog, allowing it to become a more efficient tool for delivering important information to visitors. Removing unnecessary content can reduce customers’ time on irrelevant pages and increase the number of visits to more relevant pages.
Determine the Right Content Type and Diversify
The type of content you pick can make or break your campaign. So, select content types that align with your message and be interesting and engaging for the targeted audience.
From blogs to vlogs to podcasts, there are all kinds of content to utilize. But how do you identify when to use which one?
- Let’s start with blogs: Blog posts would establish your brand’s authority and reach an audience. You can use a blog to strengthen key messaging, announce updates, and offer valuable advice from an adored expert.
- Videos or vlogs: Videos communicate with your fan base with a greater level of interaction. They draw people in and can be more enjoyable and interactive than traditional blog posts. People learn best visually, and vlogs are the way to showcase visuals as well as push an overall story.
- Podcasts: Podcasts are an accessible and consumer-friendly tool to connect with an audience. You can leverage podcasts to share in-depth interviews and stories to portray personality and emotion. Podcasts can also be highly SEO friendly, as they are crowdsourced, potentially reaching a wide range of audiences.
No matter which type of content you choose, it’s important to have a clear call to action. Before deciding on any content type, ask yourself: What purpose are you trying to achieve? And then, what format will provide the best results? Take the time to consider these key questions.
Fortunately, there’s a wide array of content types that you can use to express yourself and reach a wider audience. But before choosing one, you should:
Understand Your Audience
Understand your audience Before creating any content. What types of content will resonate with them? What platforms will they likely be on? Knowing these answers will help you choose the most effective content types.
Think about Your Content’s Purpose
What’s your content’s purpose, and what are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to educate your audience? Get them to take action? Inform them of a change. Content has many different purposes; selecting the right one will help you choose the right format.
Don’t hesitate to think outside the box (or textbox) and explore different types of content. For example, consider using visuals such as infographics, audio content like podcasts, and more instead of just using written posts. It will help you keep your content interesting and engaging.
Try Different Content Types
Experimenting with different content types can potentially allow you to reach a wider audience. Try your hand at videos, podcasts, eBooks, or webinars. Even if you’re not an expert in that area, getting creative and trying new things can help you learn and grow!
With creativity and an understanding of your audience, you can expand your reach and better engage with your audience.
Promote Your Content Endlessly
If you have amazing pieces of content by now, you’ll still need good promotion for it to succeed.
It’s not enough to simply put your content out there – you need to get it in front of the right people to make the most out of it.
Effective promotion starts with a plan that complements your pieces and your audience. Do you want to post on social media? Maybe you can use email newsletters or forums? Knowing the answer to these questions will help you develop a content promotion plan.
Once you have your plan in place, it’s time to start promoting. Social media can spread the word about your content, which can potentially go viral. Don’t forget to include visuals, such as graphics and videos, in your posts to grab people’s attention. Also, please link to your site so people can easily find it.
You can learn more about social media marketing to get more sales here.
Other channels you should leverage include:
- Email newsletters: When creating your newsletters, be sure to keep them short and sweet. People often skip a lengthy email, so edit it and stay focused on the main topic.
- Forums: Always stick to the community’s rules, though, as you don’t want to be banned for posting too often. Instead, post helpful information to help others and link to your site.
- SEO: Including relevant keywords in your titles, headlines, and body will help search engines find your content and boost your rankings.
With a sound strategy and consistent promotion, your blog or website will pay off with these simple steps.
Analyze and Improve
Identify main KPIs that you need to track your marketing progress. Regularly tracking the performance of your pieces, such as the number of views, shares, comments, etc., can provide invaluable insight into the types of content your readers like and the types of posts you should focus on in the future.
Creating an effective content marketing strategy is no small feat. However, the right one can be an extremely powerful way to engage with customers and drive more business.
Talk to a Marketing Expert for Free
Get an edge on the competition with Market Tactics’ content marketing strategy! Together we’ll craft engaging, SEO-friendly content to boost your website visits, clicks, and conversions. Call us at (425) 620-1800 and start driving results today!