Gone are the days of using high-pressure sales teams or pray-and-spray marketing tactics to lure your audience into buying from you. Consumers have become smarter. They know to check reviews and do their homework before engaging with a salesperson. Over the years, the number of marketers, gurus, and solicitors has become astronomical.
71% of consumers prefer to learn and gain the trust of a brand through dynamic content than through ads. Just like with any relationship, trust is built over time. Your audience wants valuable information that feels organic and natural rather than disruptive.
Whether you're a startup, small business, or corporation, it's essential to hone in your content marketing strategy to help attract leads and convert them. Content marketing helps attract targeted leads that are more likely to buy, therefore increasing your conversion rates and revenue. We'll provide an in-depth guide on how to create a content marketing strategy for your business.
What is Content Marketing
Content marketing is a method to attract, engage and retain a target audience. The content can come in many forms, such as blog posts, social media posts, podcasts, videos, and other media. This marketing approach builds brand awareness and establishes you or your business as the expert.
A consistent output of valuable content can nurture relationships with prospective and current customers. When prospects are ready to buy, they are more likely to choose someone they trust.
Content marketing has become an essential element for generating and nurturing leads. In fact, businesses with blogs attract 67% more leads than companies without blogs. Furthermore, 47% of customers will read three to five pieces of content before speaking with a sales agent.
Any business can thrive from content marketing. A local business should rank for localized keywords such as “near me.” An e-commerce store can rank for words like “best” or “for sale” to attract consumers with buyer intent. Consider hiring an e-commerce agency to help your e-commerce pages rank on Google and generate more customers.
Do You Need a Content Marketing Strategy?
Content marketing should be a staple of your overall online marketing strategy. In fact, content marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to see a positive return on investment. Those who don't have a content marketing strategy will lose out on a lot of potential leads and customers. Your competitors are likely snatching your leads right from you. In today's age, where everyone uses their phone or device to search online, content marketing is essential if you want to thrive in your business.
Great content marketing isn't transaction or fleeting but instead helps to build a relationship with your audience. Furthermore, it doesn't interrupt the user's activity as advertisements do. It's a welcome and warm introduction that allows you to earn their trust over time.
Step-by-Step: How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy
1. Determine Your Goals for Content Marketing and Align Them With Your Mission
A good place to start with your content marketing strategy is to set out your goals. You may want to create a clear and concise mission statement surrounding your content marketing. Consider using this formula: “we provide [target audience] with [type of content] to help them achieve [goals].”
The idea is to get clear on who you are serving, what type of content you'll be producing, and how the content will help your audience. Once you've defined the mission statement, consider your goals for content marketing, such as:
- Get more traffic to your website
- Improve revenue as a result of content marketing
- Convert more sales by getting high-quality leads
- Become a thought leader in your industry
- Lower marketing costs
- Increase social media engagement
2. Establish Your KPIs
Prevent pie-in-the-sky dreams by setting and measuring concrete KPIs for your marketing team. KPIs are excellent markers letting you check off milestones as you accomplish them. These KPIs usually have a numerical value to them so that you know you are making progress towards your goal.
KPIs will help you further narrow down your goals and will indicate when your goals are achieved. Here is some example KPIs to consider in your content marketing strategy:
- Number of leads and cost per lead
- Email subscribers
- Cost per customer acquisition
- Number of traffic visitors
- Number of shares, mentions, and comments
- Total sales
- Customer lifetime value
- Number of keywords ranked
- Average time on page
There will be many metrics to choose from. Make sure to understand which metrics are the key drivers to your success. Costs and revenue are the biggest metrics to track. You'll want to make decisions based on these metrics to determine how to improve your results.
For example, you may ask yourself, does posting "one long-form blog post per week produce more traffic and leads than producing three short blog posts?" Once you know your metrics, you can experiment to see which actions are the driving forces to your success.
3. Understand Your Target Audience
Your business shouldn't be just a catch-all, meaning target anyone and everyone. That's because everyone has unique problems and different goals. In your marketing, it's important to create content that speaks to a specific target audience. Creating content around a specific group of people will ensure that you're attracting higher-quality leads that are more likely to convert. For example, a dentist in New York should use the keyword "new york" to ensure they are attracting leads that are within their local area.
Get a clear understanding of your audience by collecting data on their demographics and psychographics. First, you'll want to collect your audience's demographics, such as their age, gender, education, and income. You can use social media analytics, web analytics, or email subscriber analytics.
Next, understand your audience's psychographics meaning their interests, problems, behaviors, and aspirations. You can gather customer feedback from your existing customers, conduct surveys, search forums or even read other blogs in your niche to find their psychographics.
Next, craft a buyer's persona of the ideal customer you'll want to target. For example, this is a possible buyer persona for a nutritional counselor:
- Age 45 to 65
- Income over $100k
- Has children
- Concerned about her appearance and health
- Desires a healthy lifestyle but doesn't have the time or willpower
- Dealing with problems such as unintended weight gain, hormonal imbalances, lack of energy, and diabetes
- Values time with her friends
- Finds fulfillment in her family and career
- Loves searching things online, such as recipes, and also likes using Pinterest
4. Perform Keyword Research
Once you've understood your target audience, place yourself in their shoes. What are they searching for online when they are in need of your product or service? Make a list of keywords that surround your brand along with variations. For example, if you owned a dental practice in New York, you might use keywords like "dentist in new york or new york dentist."
You may want to use keyword research tools to help you find keywords. Keyword research tools help you discover relevant keywords in your niche that you can rank for on Google and bring in more traffic. Additionally, these keywords tools will provide other critical information such as the number of monthly searches for that particular keyword, the difficulty in ranking for it, and how much advertisers are willing to pay for it.
So why are keywords important? First, Google identifies natural keyword usage in your website and indexes your page accordingly. When a searcher types in these relevant keywords, Google will display your website in the search results if Google deems that your page is what they're looking for.
Additionally, if you have already been producing content, you'll want to perform a content audit to determine your content's effectiveness.
Content audit refers to a detailed check of your website and creating specific analyses.
First, make a list of all the content on your website. Then, analyze the performance of each content and take notes of the results so you can focus on what needs to be improved. A content audit tool like SEMRush can provide a report that tells you:
- which pieces of content are effective, so you won't have to change them
- which ones need improvement
- which ones should be replaced
Next, write a new spreadsheet with all the interests and ideas that your customers have and try to implement them when creating your new marketing strategy by improving the existing content and creating new, more suitable ones.
5. Create a Content Calendar
Now that you're clear about what your audience is searching for online, you can create content centered around their needs. With the keywords you've gathered, you can come up with dozens of blog content to produce.
Consider using other tools like BuzzSumo and Google Trends to help you find topic ideas keywords and analyze which keywords are performing well. Then schedule a time to produce content on these topics. Use your industry expertise and research online to deliver more value than other content online.
6. Decide on the Best Content Channels
If you're already producing content in one channel, it's important to realize that it's okay to change your mind about a content channel. The goal is to produce and publish content in places where your target audience will find you.
You can either choose a search engine channel or social media channel - or both! However, we recommend focusing on one or two channels first, then branching off.
Google is the best place for most businesses to start because most consumers are searching online for information. That'll give you access to billions of users. Furthermore, Google is an evergreen platform where your content can rank for many years to come.
There are other evergreen content channels such as YouTube and Pinterest. However, you may want to consider social media channels as well. If you want to target a B2B audience, it's beneficial to build a LinkedIn audience.
7. Produce and Publish Content
There's more to distribution than simply hitting the publish button. That's because each person that discovers your business is different. Some are closer to buying than others. Depending on where the reader is in the buying process, you'll want to deliver timely content that nurtures them through this cycle and gets them one step closer to purchasing. Make sure to produce content that relates to your audience in each phase of the buying process.
There are three primary stages in the buying cycle:
Awareness stage: In this stage, prospects have just become aware of your brand and aware of the problem. They may have stumbled onto your website via Google search or have clicked on an inbound link while reading a blog post from another site.
The key is to produce relevant content centered around their challenges and pain points about answering questions that pertain to the subject matter. Content at the awareness stage should be centered around educating your audience. In this stage, the best type of content includes blog posts, guides, videos, how-to articles, list articles, etc.
- A chiropractor informing the audience about how to relieve neck or back pain
- A fitness trainer providing weight loss tips
- A real estate agency offering tips on how to increase your home's resale value
Consideration stage: Prospects in the consideration stage are aware of the solution for the problem. However, they need to learn more about the solution before they're ready to buy. The content should educate readers about the benefits, features, or strategy behind the solution. Make sure to position your product or service as part of the solution.
For example, a business owner may understand that SEO is the solution to their lead generation and traffic problems. But, now they need to learn what are the ranking factors and how to implement SEO strategies onto their website.
For this stage, the best type of content includes checklists, how-to articles, long-form content, case studies, etc.
- A marketing agency might create a blog post titled "SEO techniques to increase organic traffic."
- A landscaping company could create a post titled, "7 mistakes people make when they hire a landscaper."
Closing stage: In the closing stage, prospects are looking to make a purchase, but simply going over possible objections or deciding which company is best suited for their needs. They may do keyword searches that involve words like "review," "best," "is X worth it?" In addition, they might also be clicking on your pricing page or looking at reviews for your product or service.
Your content in this stage should focus on how your product or service differentiates from competitors. Also, demonstrate your value and expertise and why you'd be a great fit for their needs. Consider publishing content such as case studies, product comparisons, research reports, user-generated content, and others.
- A SaaS company provides case studies about customers that have transformed their business with their software.
- A dentist creates user-generated videos about their customer's new teeth transformation.
- A consulting firm publishes a research report that claims its marketing strategy is effective in its industry.
8. Analyze Results
As you consistently publish content, you'll want to measure the results of your content marketing strategy. Return to the KPIs mentioned earlier and see whether you're hitting your targets.
There are many ways to measure, such as your
- Google Analytics dashboard shows the traffic you're bringing in.
- Social analytics tools like BuzzSumo can measure social sharing activity.
- Ahrefs can check if other blogs are linking to your site as well.
- SEMRush tracks your search rankings.
- Email softwares will measure your email signups.
Should You Produce Short-Form or Long-Form Content?
It's important to recognize how the length of content affects your results. Short-form content is usually considered under 1,200 words, while long-form content is over 2,000 words.
The truth is, length can impact your rankings on the search results page. Long-form content does typically perform better than short-form content. That's because long-form content better answers the search queries and can cover a given topic with great depth. Thus, long-form content does tend to rank higher and receive more backlinks compared to short-form content.
But that's not always the case. Some queries don't require much depth to provide sufficient information. For example, eCommerce pages can be only a few hundred words, yet they can rank for many keywords.
The key is to produce content that best answers the search query, no matter the length. Besides ranking, consider the length of content that would best suit your goals. You may need longer content to help improve conversions. That's because a reader is more likely to trust you when you deliver in-depth information. Sometimes, if you notice that your blogs aren't ranking, it may be due to the fact that you'll need to update your content and add more depth to it. Look at competitors' blogs and see how you can outperform their content by producing more engaging, better written, and providing higher quality information or more in-depth responses.
Universal Creative Solutions Can Help Build Your Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is a necessity in any business. Furthermore, content marketing should be aligned with other aspects of your business, including sales, product development, and customer service. A customer journey should be aligned into one singular experience.
Fortunately, building your content marketing strategy doesn't have to be rocket science. Short cut your success by hiring a marketing operations consultant. At Universal Creative Solutions, we can produce the results of an entire marketing department for the cost of a marketing director.
Creating the right content strategy takes time and skill. With our expertise in marketing and your industry knowledge, we can create an effective marketing plan that helps gain the attention of your targeted audience and build trust so that they're willing to pull out their wallet when you make your offer. Book a free consultation call today, and let us see if we can help you achieve your business goals.