You likely know by now that content is king.
But when it comes to content marketing, it’s almost too easy to find yourself spinning your wheels.
Creating content to simply create content, without a direction, plan or strategy can end up being a waste of resources. This is your opportunity to not only grow your audience reach but also show people what your brand is about and why they should both like and trust you (at least over time).
Of course, that type of traction ultimately contributes to your bottom line and boosts your ROI (return on investment).
Content marketing is essentially described as the creation and publication of content in order to build an audience and generate sales leads.
About 63 percent of businesses do not have a documented content marketing strategy.
Don’t be one of them. You’ve got to determine your strategy. The following are seven tips to help you level up your content marketing.
Define your target audience
Before you get to strategizing your content marketing, it’s imperative to identify the ideal customer you would like to target.
You may already know the demographics, interests, and habits of who you most likely would sell your products or services to, but if not, a quick audit of your customer database should help.
- Challenges or needs
Once you’re set on the characteristics of your ideal customer, you can approach your overall content marketing plan with that persona in mind. Truly, the “who” you’re writing for should have a huge impact on not only the content itself but the type of content you create and where/how you publish it.
Familiarize yourself with the sales funnel
Essentially, the simplest way to understand a sales funnel is to see it as the series of steps a consumer takes to become your customer.
There truly are many things that must happen between a prospect becoming aware of your business to the moment they take action and purchase from you.
However, keeping the idea of a sales funnel in mind will help keep your content marketing strategy (and even overall digital marketing strategy) on track. In addition, that focus can help prevent missed opportunities for customer conversion.
Think of it like this: Your potential customer has a problem, and you’re creating content to help them solve that problem, which brings awareness to your brand and kicks off a relationship of trust that you can nurture consistently through the conversion of a sale and beyond.
The four stages of a sales funnel are:
Map out your content marketing strategy
A great strategy begins with you placing yourself in your target audience’s shoes, so to speak. (Remember that every piece of content you create should be intended to help address that person’s needs.)
As you begin to outline your content marketing strategy, ask yourself:
- Who are you trying to reach and engage?
- What does your target audience need?
- What type of content does your target audience prefer (blog article, video, ebook, etc.)?
- Can any user-generated content be incorporated?
- What do you want to achieve with your content in the next three months, six months, and 12 months? How will you measure that success?
- What is your budget?
- How does your content marketing strategy fit into your overall business plan?
If you or your company has already been creating content (with or without a strategy), now is a good time to perform a content audit. Evaluate what has performed well and what hasn’t. Take note of what might have contributed to those successes and failures. These takeaways will help inform your new content marketing strategy.
In your plan, you’ll want to identify and map out:
- Your content marketing goals
- Any branding guidelines required to maintain a consistent voice across content and content promotion
- A content plan (what types of content you’ll be creating)
- At least a rough editorial calendar
- A promotion checklist (where you’ll be consistently sharing your content)
Use a content calendar
As you get further and further into your content marketing plan, using a content calendar is a great way to keep yourself organized and focused, without getting overwhelmed.
We recommend including the following information in whatever content calendar you end up using:
- Project timelines
- Due dates
- Names of the team member(s) in charge of production
- Content details, such as keywords
- Any other information that applies to your content
This organization will help you publish content consistently.
Promote your content across channels
For successful content marketing, more is needed than simply hitting the publish button on your website’s blog. You must get your content to your intended target audience.
There are three types of distribution channels:
- Owned: Channels that your company owns, such as your website, social media platforms, and email list(s).
- Earned: Third-party channels that you don’t have to pay for but have “earned” promotion through, such as social media shares and guest blogging.
- Paid: Paying to promote your content on other channels, such as pay-per-click ads on Google or social media ads.
Just as you would have noted in your content marketing strategy plan, you should have a checklist of everywhere you plan on promoting your content.
Be sure that you’re not missing any platforms or channels that could potentially reach your audience.
Set up a system to evaluate and repurpose existing content
Never assume that you have to constantly publish new content in order to be successful in your content marketing.
In fact, any existing content can be repurposed into different, new pieces, which will not only further engage your target audience but also save you time.
The key is that you set a regular system and/or schedule for evaluating and identifying potential past content to repurpose.
Measure the performance of your content
About 65 percent of B2B marketers don’t measure the ROI of their content marketing.
Don’t be one of them (whether your business is B2B or B2C).
It’s imperative that you regularly measure the performance of all content and content promotion so that you have a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not with the goal of understanding the “why” behind those metrics.
That understanding will help you continue to improve your content marketing over time as you see what your target audience engages with and what they don’t.
Keep an eye on:
- Page views
- Time spent on page
- Bounce rate
- Social media engagement actions and rates
Trends should become apparent after the first few months.