5 of the best ways to establish a successful content marketing strategy
Content marketing is all about discovering what your customers want to know and spending your own time and money to teach them the answer. You don’t do it because you’re a good person – you do it because the company that out-educates its target market ultimately wins it.
Need an example? Let’s say you’re selling a WordPress SEO plugin. When a potential customer Googles “how to optimize for SEO in WordPress” and the first result they get is your competitor showing them how easy SEO in WordPress is, who do you think will sell more plugins? That’s what content marketing is all about!
Here are five key insights that will help you get a better idea of how content marketing works and how you can establish a successful strategy.
1. Map each piece of content to the appropriate stage in your customer’s journey
Before someone becomes a customer, there are several stages they go through:
- They know they have a problem
- They start to research solutions
- They become aware of your brand
- They compare you to competitors
- They decide who to purchase from (hopefully you!)
- They become a brand advocate and promote the product
You need to give your potential customers the right information at the right time in the right format (we’ll talk about this later), depending on the stage they’re in.
For example, if they want to learn more about SEO in WordPress, you should write how-to guides and offer SEO tips and tricks. If there are a lot of plugins and they don’t know which one to use, do a comparison analysis for them. Once they’ve purchased a theme or plugin from you, send them a newsletter describing how to get the most out of their purchase.
2. You can’t measure how good your content is using the same yardstick
The more people share and like your content, the better it is, right? Not necessarily. Not all content is meant to be shared – sometimes a better success metric is how many conversions it creates.
Each type of content has its respective metrics, depending on their purpose. For example, you might measure success by:
- The number of organic visits to SEO content
- The number of subscribers captured by lead generation content
- The number of shares for viral content
- The click-through rate on promotional content (such as online ads)
The industry you’re in and the buying behavior of your target market will dictate your content marketing strategy, what type of content you’ll make, and how you’ll track its performance.
7 tips to help you craft engaging content for your website
In the online world, content is king. But it can also be overwhelming. The web is saturated with content, and it’s often tempting to put something – anything – out there just to keep up with the...
3. Track visitor behavior and optimize your most visited pages
Some pages will get more visits than others – a lot more. According to Pareto principle, 20% of your content will get 80% of the visits. You don’t necessarily get to choose which 20%, but you do get an opportunity to guide visitors to the rest.
For example, if someone googled “CSS flexbox reference” and landed on your page, you can put “A comprehensive guide to CSS grid” at the end of the page in the footer.
This way, you can direct traffic from your most visited (although not-sales-qualifying) content to other, more strategic pieces to help continue the buyer’s journey. The idea here is not just to push people to do what you want but to give them more of what they want.
To be able to do that, you have to analyze visitor behavior using Google Analytics, heatmaps, user video sessions, and customer journey mapping. Once you get in the mind of the visitor, you can create new content and take advantage of the SEO traffic you’re receiving.
4. Create a variety of types of content
When you’re selling one service or product, it’s difficult to come up with a thousand spins on “10 things you can do with X” or “the best way to do X.” Also, it’s not cost effective to cover the same topic a million times.
That’s where content recycling comes in hand. The idea is to take a topic and offer it in several mediums, like:
- Landing pages
- Infographics / illustrated articles
- Ebooks and guides
- Quick how-to videos
- Video courses
- Research papers
Each medium comes with its own unique set of advantages. For example, articles are good when a person wants a quick answer and they turn to Google. Video is better when it’s easier to understand the topic visually. Ebooks are great for when a person needs a start-to-finish guide on something, they’re willing to spend time and energy to read it, and they don’t want to be distracted.
It’s also best if each piece of content you make ties into a greater whole. Here’s an example:
- First, make an outline for the ultimate how-to guide on your customer’s problem. For example, I decided to write an eBook “The Complete Guide to Managing Digital Projects” and broke the whole ebook into 12 chapters.
- Then, write and release each chapter as a blog post. For example, from my book, the first post was “How to manage client proposals.”
- Finally, when you’ve written all the chapters, create a book cover, book layout, and take all the posts and put them in a PDF/ePub. If you want to know more, here’s how to write and create an ebook.
Once you have an ebook, you can give it out to your customers, put it on Amazon for lead generation, or even print and send it as swag.
5. Maintain an editorial calendar
Once you start producing more than one blog post per week, you’re going to need a system to manage and keep track of your content pipeline. This is where good project management software and an editorial calendar comes in hand.
An editorial calendar is a place where you can keep track of content you’re working on, publish dates, and collaborate with any team members that you need to.
It’s very simple to set it up: basically you just need a way to track the type of content, the topic, the stage it’s in, and the ideal publication date.
How you choose to organize it depends on your team, the amount of content you’re producing, and how far ahead you want to plan. Arranging by stage (Concept, Editing, Published) works best for smaller digital teams, while organizing by publish date is mostly suited for print publishers. If you have a lot of content, you can also organize tasks around the type/topic.
A good project management tool will help your team collaborate on content and not miss deadlines, while you can keep track of what’s finished and see if something is late thanks to all sorts of reports you can run.
Good content marketing requires strategy and a way to make it happen. First, you need to map the customer journey, then identify what type of content will work best at what stage. Once you know that, all that’s left to do is execution, where a good editorial calendar will come in handy.
Looking for more content advice?
- A guide to content marketing for web designers
- 9 content marketing ideas for designers
- How to use content to grow your development business: An interview with Krista Rae