A content marketing strategy is a requirement for generating traffic, acquiring leads, and increasing your revenue.
Trust me, your competition is executing content marketing in ways you have never thought possible. And they’re getting amazing results too. I’ll share some success stories.
That said, it’s time to do “Content Marketing. Better!”
According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, more than 80% of B2B marketers say they have a content marketing strategy. Although only one-third have a documented strategy — which means there’s still some work to do.
Whether you’re 2 months old at content marketing or you’ve been doing it for several years with great results, it’s always good to revisit your content strategy plan.
You want to make sure your content strategy game plan is effective, up-to-date, and simple.
Remember that complexity is one of the enemies of marketing. When you have a strategy that’s complex, your team would struggle to implement it and get results. It’s just like that.
Revisiting your content strategy plan is essential. After all, your competition is just lurking around. You have to be accountable for your content marketing investment.
One study revealed how the most successful B2B marketers spend 40% of their budget on content marketing as of 2018. A 1% growth from 2017.
When compared to last year, a subsequent study by the same company showed that 45% of B2B marketers rate their content marketing efforts to be successful (based on how they achieved their organization’s target goals).
You can outsmart your competition by developing a solid, provable, and smart content marketing plan for your business. If you’re struggling to get this right or need some fresh ideas to include in your plan, this in-depth guide is for you.
Let’s start by defining key terms.
What’s a Content Strategy?
How do you explain a Content Strategy to a top-level executive, CEOs, etc? It can be somewhat difficult if it’s your first time. But don’t worry…
I’ll try and simplify it for you.
Content strategy refers to the strategic management of your content. This content can be written, visual, or downloadable. Your content strategy covers marketing plan that helps you to hone your expertise and the value you bring to your industry.”
You already know the importance of content creation to the growth of your business, but do you also know that without a good ‘strategy’ your best content can fail? Definitely!
You need a well-planned strategy.
What about a Content marketing strategy?
You’ll notice that the only new word is “marketing” when you compare content strategy and content ‘marketing’ strategy.
They’re basically the same thing except…
Content marketing strategy takes your content management to a new level.
It measures the actionable metrics that B2B marketers are looking for including Website traffic, Sales Leads Quality, Search rankings, Higher conversion rates, and so on.
It maps out the strategic ways of identifying customers’ pain points, conducting market research to understand the customer better, creating useful content, and distributing it accordingly using viable channels such via blogging, social media, influencer marketing, search engine optimization, Google ads, email marketing, etc.”
In the rest of this article, you’ll learn the 7 steps to creating a successful content marketing strategy in 2019 that will drive website traffic and sales.
Content Marketing Challenges (And How to Fix Them)
Pardon me: I don’t want to start off with a gloomy intro. Let’s spice it up a bit!
It’s exciting to see how much impact content has on people. What do you think people are searching for online? Why do people spend hours on their phones, social media, blogs, and why do people enroll in online courses?
Bill Gates was right when he said that content is king. He understood at the time that content can transform a struggling business and give stronger wings to a thriving venture.
What do guys like Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Marie Forleo, Solomon Timothy, The Rock, and several other influencers have in common? They all share content. And they’re using it to build businesses, influence, and brand.
But there are downsides to effectively using content to grow a business. You didn’t see that coming…did you?
The truth be told, businesses are facing challenges with their content marketing efforts.
We all know the importance of content. We do have great ideas but the ability to transmit them from the brain onto the screen is a big challenge.
Industry leaders have conducted a series of experiments to uncover these challenges. I’ll help you to figure out each one of them, and show you how to fix them right now.
After all, you’re either creating fresh content or curating already existing ones. That’s where the challenges lie.
Challenge 1: Struggling with Content Curation
I gave you an example of how Gary, Tony, and some other guys that we admire grow businesses using content. One thing I didn’t mention is that they’re extremely busy.
Since content creation takes time, how do these top marketers and businesses find time to create content? Well, some of them outsource it — it’s a fact.
However, the majority of businesses curate content. With lots of content (blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, eBooks, etc) out there, there must be a way to amplify them.
According to Curata’s Annual Report, only 5% of marketers worldwide never share other organization’s content. A whopping 95% of marketers do it — daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly.
Content curation is great because you can leverage other people’s content (while giving credit, of course) to drive traffic, sales, and revenue.
Buzzfeed uses content curation to attract a lot of direct traffic to their website. They simply compile other people’s best content and link out to them.
The challenge is knowing which types of content to curate or the exact content the customers will like. Because if you curate the wrong content, there’s a chance that your audience will lose interest or trust in your brand.
To solve this curation challenge, here’s what you should do. Only curate content from trusted sites, be relevant, and consistent. That is, sites that your audience reads.
Above all, add your own thoughts to every curated piece — this will further reiterate your brand message to the audience.
Challenge #2: Consistency in Publishing Valuable Content
Creating valuable content is a lot of hard work. Not everyone can create good, readable, original, and persuasive content. It takes practice, creativity, and sometimes, an analytical mind to get it right.
Businesses are struggling to keep up with the demands of their readers. Readers expect fresh content every other day.
Unfortunately, this is impossible for most blogs because of time-constraint and lack of resources. So how do you publish helpful content consistently?
Even though it’s hard but it’s doable. Start by creating a content calendar. Then get a team to help out with the content creation if you’re not a writer or don’t enjoy it. [source]
Remember that most content writers enjoy the work. They love the sleepless nights and being able to touch lives with their words. Some writers hate it. They only do it for the money.
Hire writers who are passionate about your topic, collaborate with them via Trello or other third-party tools.
With the right content plan and great content producers, there’s nothing standing in your way from publishing content once or multiple times per week.
With the challenges out of the way, it’s time to take steps.
Step #1: Define your mission and goals
Yes, you need to start with a solid foundation. You can’t possibly go far without it. To achieve success with the foundation that you’ve set, there are several things you must do — starting with a clear mission and goal.
You may have just a single goal or, maybe, there will be more. Do you want to grow brand awareness, attract more traffic to your website, acquire more targeted leads, grow a customer base, or just get more readers interested in your blog.
Whatever your goals are, be sure about them and underline them from the beginning. On the other hand, your mission defines your business. After setting goals, your mission gives it clarity as it shows how you can achieve them.
With realistic content marketing goals and a mission to give it direction, Blue Apron grew 500% in the first year of executing their plan.
It’s your mission that tells you where you’re going. Why do you want to go there? Why do you need to drive more traffic to your website? I’m sure the obvious answer is so that you can grow your business, but that’s too vague.
Your mission for driving traffic may be in this line: to increase email subscribers, to increase page views, to get more leads into your sales funnel, etc. That’s the focus!
Step #2: Identify your target audience and build relationships
Once your goals and mission have been clearly stated, it’s time to get closer to your target audience. It’d be hard to speak their language if you don’t listen to them or get into conversations with them.
It doesn’t matter where they are on the web, you’ve got to be there for your audience. That way, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with and understand them better.
These days, your audience is also on mobile — so be there.
You can also develop a strong social media presence. It’s a great step towards reaching highly relevant fans and followers.
No matter the size of your company, before setting a marketing budget for content marketing, the rule is to know who your target audience is, what excites them, the challenges they have, and why they want solutions.
Facebook alone has a pool of nearly 2 billion people religiously looking through their feeds almost every day, A good percentage of these people, needless to say, are your ideal customers.
You can also visit Quora and type in your topic. Then scroll through the questions to learn more about the pain points that your audience need answers to.
Quora is such a powerful customer research platform. If you’re in the project management sector, for example, take a look at some pressing questions that your audience is asking.
Establishing trust and strengthening your brand reputation with relevant people is vital so that they trust and buy from you, return to your site and advocate others about your brand.
This logical pattern is usually the ethos behind a strong content marketing plan.
Maybe you’re looking to invest in content marketing because you plan to sell a product rather than connect and truly help your audience first, it’s time to pause and think again.
That business model may have worked in the past, but it’s difficult to pull it through today.
Although you can sell a product using content marketing (and you should), relationship building MUST come first.
Step #3: Choose the right channels
The beauty of content marketing is the plethora of channels that you can use to spread your message and reach customers.
These channels are best described as the Content Distribution Trifecta: Earned, Owned, and Paid Media.
When it comes to the different content marketing channels, remember that not all channels are created equal. Each one has its own established audience, style, and culture and audience.
And they expect users and advertisers to abide by their terms.
One of such channels that don’t have strict rules is the blog. Blogging is powerful because it combines other channels to get you results.
Bear in mind, though, that content marketing itself is also a channel. However, you need to drive/power it through blogging.
However, blogging frequency and content quality matter. 66.7% of businesses that publish content consistently through blogging (whether in-house or guest post) are seeing better results.
For B2B and Startups, it’s the best channel for getting the right leads. 89% of startups say they’re using it and 70% are happy with their content marketing strategy.
What about tangible results? Well, Design Pickle landed its first 1,200 clients through content marketing; publishing high-quality guest posts on industry blogs. The company has successfully scaled to a million dollar run rates in 17 months.
When you’re just getting started with limited resources (including time and money) Don’t try to use several channels at the same time — as it will not produce significant results for you.
You could start off with search engine marketing (SEO + Google Ads), guest blogging, and email marketing. You can delve into Facebook ads and influencer marketing channels later on.
There are dominant channels for your industry, which depends solely on your audience, type of product or service.
Find out which channels are dominant for the market you’re selling to and focus your resources on successfully dominating your competition across those channels.
If you’re a top-level executive, CMO, or manager, SmartInsights conducted a study and documented the most important channels for your business.
When deploying a content marketing strategy for your business, know that it’s not about quantity, but quality.
Approaching a few channels with the right content, staying consistent, and sharing highly-engaging content that resonates with your target audience should boost your lead acquisition and sales.
A common myth is that there’s the “best content distribution channel.” That’s not true.
Every channel works if your strategy is effective. Make sure you understand how each channel is designed to work for your business and you’ll be able to maximize your investment over time.
Step #4: Pick the right keywords
You should understand your audience after the market research. All of those activities you do in the marketplace is to know who they are and what they need.
This has given you a full picture of what you want to achieve at the end of your marketing campaign.
Now, it’s time to place yourself in your audience shoes and try to know what their interests are.
What information are they searching for?
How desperate do they need answers to their questions? You can find their interests based on the keywords they’re searching for.
Keywords research is fundamental to your content strategy. It drives your content creation, whether it’s blog posts, videos, podcasts, or even PDF reports. You want to target keywords that people are actually searching for.
Once you’ve identified your primary keywords, then you should expand it based on how large your market is, the online trends.
For a quick keywords research, you can use the Google Keywords Planners available under the Google Ads account or a third party tool like SEMrush.
SEMrush will generate a list of targeted keywords that are semantically related to your seed keyword.
Semantically related keywords are easier to integrate into your content naturally. And they have the potential to boost your search traffic.
Step #5: Create content that converts
During keywords research, you’ll discover content opportunities that even your competitors haven’t found yet.
Don’t just create any type of content you think would work.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What type of content does my target audience prefer?
- How much of the content do they need (shorter or detailed information)?
Being able to answer these questions correctly will set you ahead. You’d then be able to design a content strategy for topic selection, content creation, publishing, and effectively distributing content on all the major channels/platforms you choose in step #3.
These distribution channels include your website, your main blog and of course, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social media channels that you have chosen.
For your content marketing campaign, there are different types of content that have worked well over the years.
Let’s see some examples that you can create and share with your audience. Most importantly, some types of content work best at certain stages of the user’s journey. Larry Kim, founder of WordStream has categorized it for you.
Let’s now examine the types of content that you should be creating in more detail:
a). Blog posts: Most businesses start with blog posts when they first embrace content marketing. Blog posts are easy to create and blogs are easier to manage and maintain no matter your industry.
You make your own rules when blogging and your readers have to follow it. It’s where you have a complete editorial culture, of course, you’re free to make changes in your content and design. You’re in total control.
b). Ebooks and Guides: You’re reading a guide now. A lot of online users are using the Internet mainly for research purposes. Some are looking for professional advice while others need to find out more about personal topics.
An eBook or a guide is usually the answer to their questions. They can download the eBook or follow through with the guide to find what they’re looking for. You should create more guides and PDF reports for your business.
You can use an eBook, a guide, and/or a short report as a lead magnet to build your email list.
More so, if your niche is saturated with blog posts and videos, you can stand out by creating eBooks.
That’s exactly what Sean D’Souza of Psychotactics did. In his words: “had no choice” but to start producing eBooks.
We used eBooks because the traditional publishing route was too long and cumbersome. Ebooks also work because they’re quick to produce. I can think of an idea and three weeks later the book can be on a sales page and being sold. And unlike a physical book, it is portable. Our clients like the PDF (and now ePub) on their devices and computers.”
c). Case studies: If you want to increase the perceived value of your business or product, you should be ready to share case studies. Trust is essential for a business, especially when the brand is still striving to create more awareness on the internet.
It can be written or visual. At OneIMS, we practically share only video case studies of our clients. Here’s an example of a case study that’s rich, helpful, and provable:
d). Webinars: According to the Content Marketing Institute, more than 60% of the online marketers leverage webinars as an effective way to drive content marketing engagement.
Webinars deliver the same experiences as videos and presentations. They’re perceived as valuable information by the audience. Since they’re usually interactive, businesses use it to drive more engagement.
e). Podcasts: I love listening to several business podcasts. Podcasts are growing very fast. Edison Research shows that monthly listeners grew by 24% and podcast listeners likely will have a smart speaker. This new trend isn’t only for men, women are now enjoying podcasts more than ever before.
About 34 million US women are listening to podcasts in a span of 5 years.
Podcasts are easier and fun to consume since the advent of Smartphones and Tablets. Smartphones are awesome and come in varying sizes. They’re personal devices and the screens can easily be contained by the user as compared to laptops and desktop computers.
As a result, they facilitate make it memorable to consume podcasts than text. Start using podcasts to effectively reach out to your target audience and deliver your content even when they are on the go (such as driving, traveling, or commuting) from one place to another.
Essentially, you can combine two different content delivery platform and get better results. How? Simply promote your podcasts on social media networks.
f). Videos: How many educational videos did you create last month? If none, then you should have a rethink. Videos are addictive and you should incorporate it into your content marketing mix.
You could either stick to organic promotion on YouTube which allows you to get views and customers naturally. Or you could advertise on YouTube to reach even more people, grow your brand, and influencing buying decisions.
Since 8 out of 10 users watch YouTube videos and given that this platform is the second largest search engine after Google, you can’t possibly ignore it because your competitors are producing video content regularly.
Some smart marketers post a new video every single day. That takes a lot of time and hard work but it’s doable. And the results will only speak for themselves.
g). Social media content: Social media gives you an opportunity to engage in productive and effective content marketing. But social media thrives on visual content.
So you need visuals such as infographics, videos, or other media content. In fact, Pinterest, one of the trending social media channels is primarily a visual sharing network.
There are other types of content to create that are not listed in this post. But you get the idea? It’s all about understanding your audience and sharing the best content that they’d read or watch.
Step #6. Go social
Content marketing is about content but social media gives that content wings to fly. In other words, if you leverage social media effectively, you’ll get more social shares, likes on your page, and lots of readers coming to your new content.
With social media, you get more for every effort you put into content creation, market research, etc.
About 65% of Americans use social networks — so you’re going to connect with a lot of people, increasing visibility by spreading out and increasing your chances of going viral. That’s the power of ‘social media.’
Imagine the immense power you have if you combine the reach of 3 social media networks. In total, there are more than 3 billion active accounts on social media networks already and counting.
This is bigger than half of the adult population globally. This should excite you the most — because it means that all the obstacles to growing your business with content marketing in 2019 and beyond are removed.
All in all, focus on creating visual content for your social media followers and fans. Whether you’re distributing it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Twitter, visual content appeals to social users.
In fact, Social Media Examiner found that 80% of the marketers are already using visuals in their social media strategy.
A few things to keep in mind when executing your social media strategy:
a). Use channels that deliver good results: Although Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media platform — they may not produce the best results for you if you’re in certain markets.
Try and select social channels based on these 3 factors:
If you’re in any of these markets: foods, lifestyle, clothing, entertainment, crafts, and home improvement, then Pinterest and Instagram will work best for you because you’ll be using lots of visuals.
But if you’re in tech, startup, business, finance, health, and other advice-based markets, you need Twitter mostly, and then Facebook.
If you’re only reaching businesses or trying to communicate to top-level executives and entrepreneurs, then LinkedIn is your fail-proof social network. It’s mainly for professionals. So choose your network wisely.
b). Know your audience and what they want: This is relevant if you must meet your audience’s needs. Based on which network you’re reaching, it can also dictate what type of content to produce and the tone of voice.
Essentially, if you know your audience very well and the type of information they want, you can quickly grow your fan base, website traffic, and sales.
If you make a lot of videos, you can share them mostly on Instagram. If it’s a piece of advice you want to give daily or weekly (as the case may be), then religiously embrace LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
c). Develop a visual content strategy: What type of visual content does your audience want? Plan ahead with your editorial content calendar. With visual and interactive elements (e.g., quiz, videos, polls, calculator) embedded into your content, you’d increase views by 94%.
Pick hot and relevant topics, design your catchy visuals, write your copy, make it interesting, then share. Share across all of your social media accounts. Amplify it with premium tools.
Step #7: Publish and manage the content
Producing high-quality content in a variety of format is important but it shouldn’t supplement for the maintenance and effective distribution.
Do you want a lucrative content marketing strategy? If yes, then you need to properly manage your content writers, team, tools, insights, and every other thing necessary for the smooth running of your content marketing pipeline.
Because the moment one of the elements in your pipeline becomes faulty, it’d affect every other element. And this has a ripple effect, and most times, it can have a negative effect on your business.
Apart from having an editorial calendar (I mentioned it earlier) for your website and social media, you also need to have a team to help you. Then this team needs to collaborate using tools such as Trello, Asana, or Slack.
A typical content calendar shows the topics to be written, the date to be published, the goal of that content, and much more. It looks similar to this:
The last piece of the puzzle is proper tracking and documentation. Here, you want to be sure that your resources (time, money, effort, ideas) are not wasted.
After producing and distributing content to your audience, ALWAYS measure the impact.
You need to collect and collate data for continual improvement of your content marketing plan.
If your data/insights aren’t encouraging, you can either pause the campaign, revisit your strategy (which may involve creating better content), or develop a new strategy.
When you take tracking and documentation as an integral part of your content marketing strategy, you’re able to see the full picture, make adjustments, and determine all possible paths to increasing conversions.
There are dozens of metrics that you can measure, such as leads generated, page views, new user registrations, email subscribers, social shares, keywords position in the organic search results, and so forth.
So there you have it, the 7-step content marketing strategy for 2019. Which of the content distribution channels do you prefer?
If you have questions about content marketing, drop them in the comment box.