Content marketing should comprise the foundation of your marketing strategy.
Every business wants more leads, and generating more of them isn't as difficult as you might think. A well-thought-out and crafted content marketing plan could easily triple your leads.
You have a website and you even have a blog, but are you using it? If your blog isn't providing you with relevant leads, read on.
There are various ways to generate online leads for your business, but content marketing should be the foundation of your strategy. Not only is content very affordable, it's also highly effective. Great content marketing can generate three times as many leads as pay per click and four times as many leads than traditional outbound marketing.
However, to get these results, you need a solid plan. Nearly 63% of business don't have any documented content strategy plan. If you're starting out on your marketing journey, a downloadable blog content scheduling tool can be found here.
Research your keywords.
Gone are the days of articles filled with clunky keywords; search engines are more sophisticated now and employ complex algorithms. Using repetitive words and inappropriate practices, like keyword stuffing, will reduce your ranking on Google.
Despite the changes in the algorithms, keyword research should still be an integral part of your content marketing plan. Research helps you understand what your audience is searching for so you can create content to meet the needs of your audience.
Keyword research gets very technical, but don't get overwhelmed in the complexities of competition and search volume. Instead, use your research to come up with content ideas, outlines and article titles. You'll likely find groups of related keywords together; these phrases and groups of words will help you hone in on your target audience. Consider using the phrases as subheadings for your articles. Google gives more credence to phrases and short groups of words than just single words.
Determine your content goals.
Every article or piece of content you produce must have a clear and specific goal. It's entirely possible for you to have more than one goal for your article. Some examples of goals you might set include:
- Establish your authority in your area of specialty rather than trying to be all things to all people.
- Build brand awareness.
- Convert readers into mailing list signups and capture contact information.
- Attract social media shares and gain visibility.
By keeping these goals in mind when you create content, your efforts are more targeted, and you're more likely to achieve your goals. For example, if you want your reader to sign up for your monthly product newsletter after reading your blog post, you'll need to point out the benefits to the reader and add several clear calls to action in the article.
Develop an outline of your content.
Don't just quickly draft an article and publish it. It's crucial to plan each article thoroughly. Planning requires taking the time to create an outline that is then used to flesh out the full piece of content.
Don't outsource your content-generation efforts to anyone who doesn't have deep experience in your business or market. Part-time school kids will be the death of your efforts and do nothing more than make you look foolish. Presenting your company to the world takes time, insight and deep thought.
Refer to your keyword research when creating the structure of your outline. Your draft should also include your overall content goals, the format of the content piece, internal and external links to include, the target audience, and how you will promote it.
The format of your content pieces is a key part of your content marketing strategy. Choose a few standard formats for all of your written content. Standardizing your style will create consistency and help build brand awareness.
Some ideas for content formats might include:
- Long-form pillar articles
- Step-by-step guides
- Thought leadership articles
- Industry news pieces
- Case studies or whitepapers
The formats you choose are mostly a personal decision tailored to your organization. It's helpful to see what others in your industry are doing, as well as what organizations outside your industry are doing. Looking outside your industry will give you additional content ideas.
Establish a publishing and promotional schedule.
Once you've planned and outlined several months' worth of content, schedule it. Stick to the plan and consistently post your content to build a loyal reader base. Consistency could be daily, weekly or monthly depending on the content and format you've chosen. You're likely to see quicker results from Google the more frequently you post content, but don't get too hung up on frequency – it's better to produce high-quality content consistently rather than filling your site low-quality meaningless blog posts and social updates.
If you have any topics that are seasonal, or essential to your company, schedule them accordingly. Your scheduling matrix, or spreadsheet, should include dates for when content is created, who the author is, who edited the piece, when it will be published, and when and how it will be promoted. Be sure to allow a time buffer for any unforeseen events that could occur.
Whether you're promoting your content by email, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, it's essential to choose the best times to post to garner the highest level of reader engagement possible. A few Google searches will show you the best times to publish on each platform; use that as a guide but not gospel. Depending on the volume of content, there are an array of automation tools for posting content available.
It's OK to repost an article that you published a few months ago. People tend to read what's in front of them today. It's alright to repost articles as long as you don't repost the same old information.
Review and analyze content.
You're not done just because you wrote and published an article. Your next step is ongoing analysis to improve your content and dial it into your exact audience and their needs. Remember, you, your content, your customer and your industry are continually evolving – so, too, must your content.
Schedule a day on the calendar each month to review how your content's performance. If you have one or two pieces of content that are getting more attention, find out what's unique about that piece and replicate it.
Finally, take time and massage your old content for a new audience. Edit and add some relevant updated information, links and photos. Editing older articles can take far less time than creating a brand new piece from scratch and can improve the performance of the article.