Software Inc Presents ...
Everything You Need To Know About Content Marketing
Baffled by content marketing?
This book tells you everything you need to know.
Software Inc Presents ...
Baffled by content marketing?
This book tells you everything you need to know.
It might be the hardest part but it's worth it.
A Beginner’s Guide to Developing a Successful Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is a powerful way to draw traffic, collect leads, and grow your business. But without a content marketing strategy behind it, your content will never take off.
Sadly, many content marketers never bother with a strategy. They create content haphazardly without much thought (and certainly no lead generation strategy) that never resonates with an audience.
In this article, our goal is to help beginner content marketers create a strategy that produces meaningful content that meets their business goals. Start creating your strategy as you read the following steps.
Before you create any content, it’s important to define some goals.
Ask yourself why you’re creating content in the first place. Are you trying to establish yourself as an authority? Do you want to drive signups for your email list? Do you want to sell ecommerce products?
Ideally, your goals should be SMART:
Here’s an example of a well-crafted goal: “I want to collect 250 email leads through my lead magnets within six months.”
Review your goals before you plan and produce content to make sure it aligns with your needs. If you have an idea for a piece of content that doesn’t serve your goals, scrap it.
Step 2: Create Audience Personas
Sometimes called buyer personas, audience personas are critical ways to create truly customer-centric content. They help you understand your customers well so you can create the exact type of content they want to read to engage with.
“When creating content with the ultimate goal of marketing a good or service, you have to know who your audience is,” says content marketing expert Neil Patel. “Understanding and targeting your audience is crucial to a successful content marketing campaign.”
So your first step to creating a content marketing strategy is to develop an audience persona.
An audience persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It’s a gathering of everything you know about your audience. If you have multiple customer segments, you might need multiple personas.
Once you start creating content, you’ll be able to analyze your website’s metrics to determine which pieces of content they like to consume.
If you haven’t created any content, however, the best way to learn about your audience is by talking to them. Have real conversations with people you expect to consume your content to discover their needs and problems.
As you learn, collect all of your information in your strategy document. Refine it over time as you gain deeper knowledge about your audience.
HubSpot has a great persona tool to get you started, but don’t be afraid to go beyond their questions. The more you know about your audience, the more opportunity you have to create content they love.
To learn how to determine who consumes your content, check out this guide: How to Get a Better Handle on Who Is Reading Your Content.
Blogging is the most popular way to create content, but it’s not the only one. Your audience may prefer podcasts, videos, infographics, webinars, whitepapers, ebooks, or even in-person speaking engagements.
To determine which type of content to create, look to your audience. What do they want to consume?
For instance, a busy mom may not have time to read lengthy blog posts or ebooks. She may prefer to browse Pinterest photos or watch quick videos. A corporate executive who budgets time every week for education might be willing to read long guides, however, or even attend webinars and lectures.
Furthermore, don’t forget to consider your lead magnets. Whether you’ll only create a few or plan to make content upgrades for everything you post, you’ll want to consider what those will look like as well.
Your editorial calendar is the biggest piece of your content marketing strategy. It’s where you decide what you’ll create and when you’ll publish.
Editorial calendars help you…
There are plenty of fancy tools to create calendars, but as a beginner, all you need is a simple (and free!) Google Sheet.
First, identify the major themes of your content. These will help you map your content to your audience’s problems (and make sure you address all their needs). For instance, if you’re creating content about sales, you might set up these categories to solve your audience’s problems.
Next, start brainstorming topics. You don’t have to plan all of your content in one go, but it’s important to have at least eight or ten topics on your calendar. Plan topics for each of your category buckets.
As you create topics, keep these four things in consideration.
There’s a lot of content on the web. Much of it is repetitive. It helps to give whatever you’re creating a unique angle. If you want to make your content stand out, find a way to say something different.
Search engine optimization is a big topic. It’s not the end-all-be-all of choosing topics like it used to be, but if you want to be found via Google, it helps to have an understanding of how the search engine works and how to incorporate the right keywords into your content.
For more information, read our longer guide: SEO for Bloggers: How to Make Your Blog Rank in Google.
The buyer’s journey is the path people take toward making a purchasing decision. First, they become aware of their problem. Then they consider solutions. Finally, they decide on a solution/provider.
Someone in the first stage of their journey may not be able to explain their problem at all. They need content to help them grasp their own problem. But someone in the final stage of the journey already knows their problem, so they need help understanding why you’re the best person to solve it for them.
Once you know what your competitors rank for, create similar content to compete with them. Naturally, you shouldn’t copy their work, but it’s smart to use their content as a launchpad to produce something better and more valuable.
Publishing content isn’t enough. You must take active steps to promote it. This is a step a lot of beginner content marketers neglect, which is why their content never attracts an audience.
Like every part of content marketing, this also depends on your audience’s preferences and behaviors. It’s important to promote your content where they prefer to see it.
Fortunately, your audience isn’t everywhere. You might be tempted to start a dozen social media profiles to maximize your promotion, but that isn’t necessary. You can reach most audiences by optimizing two or three promotional channels.
It helps to create a promotion workflow that you’ll follow (or your team will follow) after publishing your content. Include the steps you’ll take, such as…
That’s just a sample. Your promotion workflow should be unique to your brand. You may post your content to a unique platform most people have never heard of, but it could work if that’s where your customer expects to find it.
A strategy is no good if you don’t measure its impact, so it’s important to regularly evaluate your system’s performance. Only then can you make optimizations and tweaks to improve your future work.
Surprisingly, this is another step beginner content marketers neglect to take. They create loads of content but never stop to gauge its effectiveness.
To measure your results, go back to your goals. If you set a goal to collect 250 leads, look up how many you’ve collected so far and from which sources. If, for instance, one type of lead magnet tends to produce the most leads, consider spending more resources creating and promoting lead magnets like that.
There are many tools you can use to measure your content, but beginners should stick to Google Analytics. It’s not as user-friendly as other tools, but it’s very comprehensive and full of any feature you could need. It’s also entirely free. Google Search Console is another useful tool. It helps you track your site’s technical and SEO performance.
Hopefully, you’ve found this primer helpful. If you take one lesson away, let it be this: A structured approach to content is crucial. Your content marketing strategy may not mirror the steps we’ve outlined, just make sure to create a plan, follow a process, and measure your results.
Now that you have the basics, let's do this!
How to Use SEO in Your Content Marketing Strategy
Meet SEO and content marketing, two core components in digital marketing. Yes, you’ve probably heard of SEO and content marketing before, but do you know how to use both of them together to grow your business?
Most business owners don’t.
That’s because very few business owners understand the basics of SEO or content marketing or how the two work together.
However, if you want to grow a business in 2019 and beyond, you must know how to market online.
In this beginner-friendly guide, we’ll introduce you to SEO and content marketing. We’ll also talk about how to use SEO within your content marketing strategy. Let’s get started.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. As its name implies, the goal of SEO is to increase your website’s ranking on search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.
When a potential customer searches Google for a product or service that you provide, you want them to find your website at the top of the list. Or at least on page one. What you don’t want is for your website listing to be buried on page 37 of the search results — most search engine users never click past page one.
This is where SEO saves the day. By making small but meaningful modifications to your website, you can increase the chances that your website will achieve a higher ranking on the search engine results page for a user’s query.
But SEO seems like a very complicated process. A simple Google search on the term turns up half a billion results. Where do you even begin to develop an SEO strategy for your website?
Start with keywords. Long tail keywords to be exact.
A keyword is a word or simple phrase that we use to look up content on search engines (such as “books”). A long tail keyword is a group of three or more keywords (such as “books about the civil war”).
Keywords are the central element to any SEO strategy. Search engine users find your website by the words that they type into the search box. To get found, you need to incorporate those keywords on your website in some way, such as on the page title, within the meta description, or inside the body of a blog post.
But not all keywords are alike. Go with long tail keywords instead of basic keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific which means that fewer people are searching with those terms. Fewer is better. These people tend to know exactly what they’re looking for and are easier to convert into customers.
When thinking of where to insert keywords on your website, avoid the fatal mistake of keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the practice of putting as many keywords as possible onto a page to manipulate the search engine rankings in your favor. It doesn’t work. In fact, search engines will penalize you for doing this and other so-called “Black Hat SEO” tactics. You can’t game the system. Search engines are constantly updating, evolving and getting smarter. You can’t fool them by stuffing your website with the same keywords over and over again (or cloaking them to blend into the background of your website).
Instead, choose long tail keywords that your ideal customers will use once they’re likely to buy your product or service. Then, create content that uses those keywords naturally (this is where content marketing comes into play).
To find the right long tail keywords, you must have a clear understanding of your customer and how they think. What words are they most likely to use when describing a pain point? We’ll discuss this more in another section.
Now that you know what SEO is, let’s discuss content marketing.
Under the umbrella of digital marketing, content marketing uses content to promote products and services. But it doesn’t adopt the forceful “buy right now” tone of traditional advertising. Instead content marketing is a slow simmer. Acknowledging that most people aren’t ready to buy immediately, you’ll use content marketing to build a relationship with your prospective customer. Once your prospective customer is ready to buy, they’ll buy from you.
Content marketing can help you do the following:
While SEO is the technical process of tweaking your website to achieve a higher ranking on the search engine results page, content marketing is the actual substance of your website.
But when you think “content marketing,” don’t just think about blog posts. Content marketing is bigger than blog posts. Content marketing can include ebooks, case studies, podcasts, videos, and more. It’s any type of content that you use to build a relationship with your customers.
Instead of thinking of SEO and content marketing as two separate things, remember that they both work together to help you grow your business. Content marketing needs SEO to survive. How else will prospective customers find your content unless you optimize your content to play nicely with the search engines?
However, SEO is useless without content.
One of the greatest things you can do to improve your website’s visibility on the search engines is to simply create more content. But you must be strategic. To achieve dominance on the search engine results page, you need to create useful and relevant content that fully answers the user’s query.
This starts with understanding the search engine user, a.k.a. your prospective customer. Answer these questions:
What exact words/ phrases would they use when researching solutions for their problem? This answer helps you formulate long tail keywords to target.
What type of information do they need to know before purchasing your product/ service? This answer helps you come up with topics to discuss.
If you need help with finding long tail keyword phrases, check out Keyword Tool or Ubersuggest. If you’re not scared off by more technical information, you can also head to Google Adwords to find keyword suggestions and the actual search volumes for each long tail keyword.
In addition to targeting long tail keywords, there are other ways to use SEO to improve your content marketing strategy such as:
Create a mobile-friendly website. This is a common SEO practice. Over half of all searches come from mobile devices and search engines penalize websites that don’t look good on smaller screens. Don’t subject your mobile visitors to impossibly small text or force them to pinch to zoom in. Ensure that your website responds to all screens, big and small.
Get rid of any duplicate text on your website. Search engines don’t like seeing repetition.
Write for humans. Even though you’re optimizing for search engines, don’t write for the search bots. They’re more sophisticated than you think.
Make your text easier to scan. We, humans, are intimidated by large blocks of text. Break up your text by using headers (another opportunity to insert long tail keywords), adding images, and using bullet points.
Within each page on your website, link to other internal pages. This can reduce your bounce rank (which is important for SEO) by keeping site visitors on your page.
Ensure that your lead magnets are optimized for search engines, too. Traditional PDFs can’t be easily indexed by search engines. However, our Smart PDFs are published using HTML5 which helps you optimize your lead magnets for search. You can also add more metadata (such as targeted long tail keywords in your title and page description) to improve your search engine ranking.
When you're feeling more confident be sure not to make these mistakes.
Are You Making One of These 6 Content Marketing Mistakes?
Because creating great content takes time, it’s important that you don’t waste any time dealing with common mistakes. In that spirit, let’s get right into the top content marketing mistakes to spot and avoid in your business.
Content marketing must have a goal, and that goal must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based, or S.M.A.R.T. for short. If you don’t assign a goal to your content, how will you know if it’s successful or not?
Many business owners have heard that blogging is important, so they create a blog. But having a blog alone isn’t enough. Even if you have a lot of content on that blog and see a fairly good amount of traffic, you could still fail at content marketing.
How is that possible?
If you go in without a goal, you could be creating content that:
A) Attracts the wrong types of prospects
B) Doesn’t promote the right products at the appropriate time
C) Doesn’t encourage clients to take the next step in their relationship with your business
D) All of the above
Here’s how to create a S.M.A.R.T. goal for your content marketing:
One of the worst things you can do is create content without a game plan. If you don’t strategize your content, you’ll miss opportunities to reach your prospective clients. You may also fall into the common trap of redundancy, where you’re hammering in the same message over and over again.
By planning out your content, you’re able to reach each of your customer personas. You can address their individual pain points, help them get small wins, and lead them confidently towards your product as the ultimate solution to their problem.
The best way to plan your content is by creating an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar will contain all of the posts that you’d like to publish within the near future.
I recommend creating an editorial calendar for three months ahead. That may sound like a lot of work, but if you publish on your blog twice a month, you only need to come up with six post ideas. You can do that in less than an hour.
By creating your editorial calendar for months in advance, you can see to it that you’ll speak to each customer persona and tackle every post idea you want without repeating yourself.
Don’t overlook internal links.
Internal linking is when you link to your other pages and posts within a blog post.
Here’s an example of an internal link: Within your post about grandma’s apple pie recipe, you link to another post on your blog where you share your favorite pie crust recipe. Your link will say “Check out my delicious, no-fail pie crust recipe here.” This is known as anchor text.
Internal linking is a killer SEO strategy because search engine crawlers use this type of link to better understand what your site is about.
Internal links also reduce your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave after only visiting one page). Lower bounce rates improve your page ranking on the search engine results page.
Finally, internal linking increases how long your visitors stay on your website. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to sign up for your email list and buy your product.
You may have an email newsletter. You may have email opt-ins all over your website. But simply asking people to sign up for your email newsletter isn’t enough of an incentive to join.
The average person gets over 100 emails a day. That’s an overwhelming number, and they probably aren’t eager to add yet another email newsletter to their inbox.
However, if you show that your email newsletter is useful, you’ll stand a chance. The best way to do that is by demonstrating your usefulness right away—with a lead magnet. A lead magnet, such as a free eBook, resource guide, or checklist, can be delivered immediately upon signing up for your email list. Not only does this position you as a valuable resource, but it also entices a visitor to sign up for your email list.
After you’ve successfully added subscribers to your email list, it’s important to continuously engage them. Send out email newsletters on a regular basis so that your subscribers don’t forget who you are.
At the very least, you should send out emails every time you publish a new post (which should be at least two times per month). But you’re not limited to blog post updates. You can also send out emails for other purposes, such as product launches, white papers, industry tips, and discounts.
In the quest to populate your blog with a healthy number of posts, you may make the common mistake of churning out generic, flavorless, and overdone content. Avoid this mistake at all costs.
Epic content or bust.
You don’t have to come up with something completely new to create great content. Instead, follow these best practices: