Do you need help creating a content marketing strategy? Content marketing allows you to increase your authority and drive free traffic to your site — and it costs just a fraction of what traditional, outbound marketing costs. In one survey, 56% of respondents said they purchased something from a company after reading a blog post from it.
Whether you’re a business owner, blogger, or affiliate marketer, use these five beginner tips to guide you as you plan your content strategy for the first time.
1. Explore the Different Avenues for Content Marketing
Despite what you may have thought, content marketing isn’t limited to blogging. There are many effective forms of content marketing, and using all of them together will help you get the best results.
Your business website is the foundation and building block of your content marketing strategy. It’s your domain, and you have full control over how it looks and the content you publish on it. Without a professional-looking business site, you will have a hard time coming across as authoritative.
On your site, you need to publish blog posts consistently. Content is king; without a blog, it will be hard to drive any significant amount of organic traffic from the search engines. Using a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs, conduct keyword research and come up with topics to discuss on your blog.
Social media is another important pillar in your content marketing strategy. It allows you to reach more people. It’s best to set up social media profiles on at least a few social media platforms, as different platforms allow you to publish different types of content.
For example, Facebook is great for both short and long posts, videos, and live videos. Twitter only allows you to publish short tweets, while Instagram is more visual by nature, only allowing you to publish images and videos with captions.
You should also set up an email list. The advantage of email is that it allows you to communicate with your customers consistently. You can go to them instead of them needing to enter your website URL to go to you. You can be a bit more thorough in your emails than on social media, and you also have full control over your content.
Other than that, there are some additional ways to create content. Consider starting a podcast — they’re pretty popular now. You can host a podcast on your site or a platform like Spotify or SoundCloud. Even busy people who have no time to read your blog can listen to you on the go.
You can also create and distribute ebooks, which you can use to drive traffic to your website or sales page. Don’t forget YouTube, either. YouTube videos often appear in the search engine results too, though most viewers will find you straight from YouTube.
2. Study Your Competitors’ Content Marketing Strategy
If you’re unsure what’s effective in your niche, a surefire way to find out is to look at what your competitors are doing. First, compile a list of the top competitors in your niche by conducting Google searches for your top target keywords and looking at which websites are ranking first. You can also see which businesses are offering the same services in your area or selling the same products.
Start by looking at which avenues they are using. Which of the content marketing methods mentioned in the first section (YouTube, social media, etc.) are they using? What kind of content are they publishing?
Are they publishing long- or short-form blog posts? On social media, are they publishing videos, live videos, memes, GIFs, white papers, infographics, surveys, market research, or anything else? Are they taking a humorous tone or a more professional one?
Also, how good is their content? If it’s top of the line, you’re going to have to try harder and produce even better content than them to get ahead. For example, if their blog posts have over 2,000 words and are full of images, videos, and infographics, you can’t write 500-word posts and expect to outrank them.
A tool like SEMrush is great for competitor research. You can discover their best-ranking content, popular topic ideas, and even their best keywords. As part of your content marketing strategy, you should be doing off-page SEO too, including building backlinks. Using SEMrush, you can discover which topics get the most organic backlinks and where your competitors are getting their backlinks from, using strategies like guest posting.
3. Create Your Content Marketing Strategy
Without clear goals, it will be hard to measure your performance and improve. You need to set your content marketing goals before creating content. Set some KPIs, such as:
Getting a certain number of visits per month
Ranking in specific positions
Getting people to stay on your page for a certain amount of time
Getting a certain number of sales, conversions, or email signups
You’ll need to know your target audience well. You can’t write content without knowing who you are writing to. Think about your average reader and their demographics, as well as the problems they face, the solutions they need, and the products or services they might be willing to pay for. What is their reading level, and what kind of tone would work best?
Look at the top-performing content in your field to see what’s working. See which topics are ranking the best, so you can write about them too. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to discover content ideas.
Then, generate a content calendar. It’s important to have a release schedule, as that allows you to stay on track to reach your content marketing goals. You can even schedule posts to be published in advance — it’s easy to do so with WordPress. For social media posts, you can use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts well in advance.
4. Execute the Strategy You Have Created
Once you’ve created and planned your content marketing strategy and release schedule, it’s time to execute it and put it into action. That starts with a quality team, so get some good writers and researchers on board. A good team of researchers will be able to find sources, conduct market research, discover studies, and more.
A good team of writers is vital too. Whether you hire them in-house or use freelance writers, quality of writing is critical. Remember, a blog post isn’t a college essay. Indeed, most people read at an eighth-grade level or less. That’s why you need to hire writers who have experience writing blog posts. You may need to hire other writers who have experience writing social media posts and others who have experience writing emails.
Visual content is critical, too. In every blog post, you should be including images, which you can get from premium sites like Shutterstock. While there are many public domain images for free online, they won’t help you stand out. The same public domain images appear on many sites across the web, so it’s worth investing a little in some premium pictures.
You can even consider hiring a professional photographer to take photographs of your products, team, headquarters, etc. That will help you stand out even more.
5. Track Your Strategy’s Performance and Adjust When Necessary
Finally, you need to constantly monitor your performance and readjust your strategy, as needed, going forward. It’s crucial to always remember your goals — that’s where monitoring KPIs comes in handy.
Use analytical tools like Google Analytics to measure your performance. Google Search Central, formerly Google Webmasters and Google Search Console, is a very helpful tool as well. It allows you to track things such as which blog posts and topics are ranking high and which are getting the most click-throughs. SERP Robot is a good tool for tracking your rankings.
Again, SEMrush will come in handy, as it will allow you to conduct a full-on SEO audit regularly, so you can discover your weak points and improve on them. It’s also worth using two of Google’s free tools to improve your site.
The first is the Mobile-Friendly Test tool, which allows you to check for mobile responsiveness issues on your site. Mobile traffic is critical for conversions and sales. The second is the Google PageSpeed Insights tool, which will check for issues slowing down your site. A slow site can experience a decline in rankings and conversions.
Adjust and repeat. If you see that some blog posts are ranking fine but not getting enough click-throughs, you might need to adjust your headlines or write about topics that are more geared to search intent. If your blog posts are not ranking at all, but they have a decent click-through rate, you can write about the same topics but target different keywords. Or, you can change your content strategy and write longer content.
Hopefully, this guide has been useful. While you need to carefully plan your content marketing strategy, it should also be fluid, and you should constantly be reevaluating its success and adjusting it going forward for the best results.