A good content marketing strategy attracts eyeballs, generates leads, builds online communities and relationships, which ultimately converts to sales.
In a post-pandemic world marked by physical distancing, businesses needed to maximize online audience reach, marketers needed detailed insights into audience behavior, and everyone had to devise new topics, experiences and honeypots to capture audience attention.
So how do you create stellar content that drives your online business and stands out in the market?
- Understand your objectives
Are you writing marketing content for the pure fun of it? If that’s your primary interest then perhaps casual blogging should be your thing. Otherwise you should be creating marketing content to fulfill a business objective – even if it’s simply to build your own brand as a writer.
A clearly defined objective and positioning should be the consistent message in your content, building the right image for your brand through all the content marketing channels.
Once you have identified that, answer the following questions.
- Who are your customers?
- What are they looking for?
- What problems are you seeking to solve?
- What is your brand’s USP?
- How do you want to highlight that?
- What is your competitive landscape?
- How do you score over your competitors?
- Know your audience
Content marketing is not about delivering sales pitches, you need to educate and inform. There is a sales component to content marketing, obviously. But it’s education aligned to your products, solutions, and technologies, rather than a sales and marketing pitch.
Knowing your audience is the key to success in content marketing. If you don’t know who you are addressing, you have lost the game at the start.
Identify your ideal customer profile. Just as in sales, it’s important for content marketers to identify who is the ideal customer. They are a unique group of people out there who need what you offer, and this is the group you need to target. Remember that an audience is not a customer — at least not yet. You need to keep in mind that your audience isn’t solely made up of buyers. Audiences could be anyone interested in the broad content you produce, unless you are focusing on product reviews in your content pieces.
- Identify the topics/keywords
Build a list of topics that speak to your audience’s interest. Much of this will come from good old research about target audience and ideal customer profile.
Scan social media for your target audience and to understand your competitive landscape. Find out what type of content they consume. There are built-in analytics tools such as Facebook Page Insights, Twitter Analytics, and Instagram Insights, among others, to help with this investigation.
Next, it always helps to do a thorough check of discussion topics on Google Search. Find out what type of content ranks in areas of interest for your prospects, how extensive these are, what subtopics are included. Analyze the top queries, impressions, clicks, and click-through rates to identify topics that need your attention.
- Develop an editorial calendar
The next step is to develop an editorial calendar, which should list your content ideas, the appropriate format for each topic, plus the goals and strategic outcomes you hope to achieve.
Whether you want to publish new content everyday of the week or four times a month, a detailed strategic plan helps you determine when to publish content in a way that amplifies your brand messaging and elevates your keyword rankings.
- Focus on all the funnels top to bottom
While drawing up a content calendar, it is important to think about audiences, cadence, topics, the journey you want to take a reader along, as well as each piece of content and its purpose. At the end, you need to make sure you create content that speaks to every part of the customer or buyer journey to continually move prospects along at each stage. The more value and education they receive from your content, the more it moves them closer to a long-term relationship with your brand.
It is essential to first understand the journey people take with your company. How they identify their problems, learn about your products, and make decisions, will dictate the type of content you need to create.
Top-of-funnel content should create a sense of urgency and draw your target audience into your brand universe. Once they are in, it is essential to show them how they might think about and approach solving their business challenges. Again, by providing more education, but in this case, aligned to your company’s thinking and approach to solutions. Here you might offer tools, templates, tips, guidance, and other collateral that shows them a path forward. Once they’ve accepted the notion that there are immediate challenges they need to address in their businesses or opportunities to explore, then after providing them with ways of thinking and approaches to addressing these issues, it’s time to pitch them content that brings out how your brand can be of assistance when they are ready to take action.
- Show, don’t tell
Instead of touting how great your products are, show your customers how they can leverage your products to improve and grow their businesses, or if you are a consumer brand, how it changes a consumer life for the better. That helps them to make a connection with your brand.
The idea here is to showcase that you actually know, do, and deliver what you claim and are not simply telling the customer and expecting them to take your word on face value.
Make it relatable to your audience by thinking of it as a story, where your business customer becomes the central character who emerges as the hero for their customers by likewise solving their problems and/or providing them with new opportunities.
- Keep your content updated
Always keep your content updated. There’s definitely a shelf life to data or facts. That doesn’t mean you need to update content on a daily or monthly basis. But, if content is performing well, and significant changes have happened or new information has emerged over time, then it’s highly advisable to update your content.
- Build your authority
Content marketing allows you to share your knowledge about new developments and current trends that matter to your audience. Over time, as you position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you may establish an authority status with your audience. Your platform automatically becomes the go-to source for information, not only about your products and businesses, but also with regard to questions they have about your industry.
As you build authority with your audience base, a website or an author’s credibility and demonstrated knowledge on a topic automatically builds authority and ranking with Google. That improves search rankings for your content.