Here's a throwback for you:
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Let your mind wander back in time to a world where a blog was nothing more than an electronic journal for the chronically narcissistic, consistently bored teenager or desperate housewife.
Aren't you glad you don't exist in that particular space any more?
Flash forward a decade or so, and you'll see that what started out as nothing more than a mere collection of diary entries has become an integral part of every business' online marketing strategy. Ain't technology grand?
At least 90% of B2B buyers have stated that online content has an effect on their purchasing behaviour. The fact of the matter is this: if you're not on the content marketing bandwagon, you're rapidly falling behind.
A few years ago, content marketing involved nothing more than churning out bulk collections of mediocre text. It didn't really matter what you were saying, as long as you were actively posting something, your business was in the clear. With the growth of the Internet, however, that particular landscape has changed. Now, more than ever, the competition is intense. In order to take your business to the next level, you have to create content that is educational, insightful, and engaging.
In short, you need a goal. And in order to achieve that goal, you need a content strategy that works.
Set Your Goals and Start Planning
You can't possibly begin a content marketing campaign without defining what your goals are. How will you know that you've been successful if you don't have an idea of what you're hoping to achieve?
Quite obviously, each goal will require a different approach. Your desired outcome will greatly influence the way you tackle each stage of the planning process.
Consider the following questions:
Do you want to build brand awareness?
Are you looking to instill trust?
Do you want to increase traffic to a particular website or landing page?
Are you aiming to attract new prospects?
Is your major goal to convert leads into sales?
Do you want to increase customer retention?
Once you've figured out precisely what your goals are, you'll need to establish your KPIs. You need something solid to aim for in order to keep your efforts on the right track:
Increase website traffic to 100k visitors by a specific date.
Generate a certain number of new leads per month.
Convert a specific percentage of leads into sales by a particular date.
By creating KPIs, you'll keep yourself (and your team) accountable. The idea here is to work backwards to develop strategies that help you achieve your goals.
Develop A Detailed Strategy
When developing your content strategy, you need to focus on a few key factors. Take the time to lay down some groundwork before diving straight in. This will prevent you from doubling back and trying to figure out what went wrong when you're too far down the rabbit hole.
First and foremost, you need to figure out who you're targeting. Invest some time in creating customer personas. You need to be able to successfully connect with your readers in order to generate the kind of results you want.
Keywords are another all-important aspect of any content marketing strategy. You need to choose keywords that are highly searched for in your specific industry. Take the time to figure out which topics are in high demand, and build your content around that. Give your potential audience the information they so desperately seek. Try to find a way to spin these keywords into something original and exciting; often a simple change in tone is all you really need.
You'll also need to pay attention to where your prospects are in the buying cycle. If, for example, you're communicating with potential customers who have no idea who you are or what you offer, you'll need to create content that is focused on education rather than sales. On the other hand, if you're trying to connect with someone who is already familiar with your brand, you need to deliver valuable content (case studies are a good bet) that will help you close a sale.
Finally, you need to consider which channels are important for dispersing your content. Take some time to figure out the platforms that are most likely to be useful to you, and what your goals are for each of them.
Produce High-Quality Content
As soon as you've ironed out your objectives and strategies, you need to start curating your content. You have two options here:
1. Work with your in-house team.
2. Hire professional content writers to help you get the job done.
Quite obviously, the path you choose will depend entirely on your in-house team's expertise and the availability of time. If your team members are too swamped with their own regular tasks, it's not a good idea to drown them in additional work that isn't necessarily in their wheelhouse. Remember, you need quality content, not something slapdash you've cobbled together at the last minute.
If you choose to outsource your content development, invest in writers who truly understand the principles of content marketing. Make sure they'll be able to embody your brand message. A trial task never hurt anybody, so perhaps consider asking them to write a short sample related to a topic of your choice and see if they're a good fit.
Market, Promote, and Measure
You can create amazing content until you're blue in the face but it won't help you if no one sees it. Make sure to promote each and every piece of writing on all of your platforms and leverage them as much as possible. If you have to add in a small advertising budget to boost those posts, do it. A small investment can make a huge difference.
While you're churning out content, it's too easy to forget that you actually need to measure the performance of your posts. Circle back at least once a month to see how your content is performing. Check if you're meeting your KPIs. If you don't see any progress, make some adjustments. If you do see progress, keep on doing what you're doing.
In the end, it's all about trying new things and seeing what works for your business. Be inventive, be innovative, and above all, keep measuring your progress.