Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising.
Let that fact settle in. There is a reason marketers consider content marketing one of the most effective forms of marketing.
And yet, the environment of content has been diluted with “SEO-driven” content that is exactly that: written solely for the purpose of ranking.
Ultimately, you want to create content that reaches your target audience, that people want to link back to, and that increase the number of leads generated and sales revenue.
So, how do you build this content strategy?
Let’s break it all down…
The Right Content to Create and Promote
There are various types of content marketing, all with different purposes and distribution methods.
The purpose of a blog is to be informative and provide new insight to your target audience.
For example, if you are a SaaS marketer, an educational piece around SaaS demand generation could be a beneficial way to educate your audience about what demand generation is and what steps you need to take to see results.
Additionally, a thought leadership piece that teaches your target audience about a specific tactic that your company has come up with, or a term that you have coined can be powerful to publish and incorporate into your digital PR outreach as well.
For example, Brian Dean coined the term “Skyscraper Technique” and wrote a long-form guide around it.
He included powerful data and showed his audience why he was credible right away with growth graphs.
Give your readers or a blog editor you’re pitching, visuals that are easy to digest and adds reliability to your work.
Ebooks are digital versions of books, or for the purpose of this article, a piece of long-form content served in a PDF version.
Ebooks can be useful for lead generation, especially for those users who aren’t quite ready to become customers quite yet.
For example, Sumo Logic created a Kubernetes observability ebook to generate leads who weren’t quite ready to convert to a free trial in Kubernetes monitoring.
Ebooks can be a comprehensive visual and textual guide to build the buyer’s trust and relationship with your brand.
For example, if you are a security analytics software company, you can create an ebook around everything you need to know about security analytics and how the software can improve ROI.
To gather information from the user, you can use a simple email form-fill and gate the content (this is known as a lead magnet – learn more about learn magnets here).
Additionally, well-done ebooks can be promoted with ease, if they are data-driven and pitched to the right audience, as they tend to be more visual and tell a story.
Case studies are powerful sales content, as they give a potential customer an exact success story of a business that may have been in a similar situation and have aligned needs as well.
For example, if your software improves the scalability of security, create a case study on just that. It shows social proof of your software’s ability to perform, similar to reviews or testimonials (which actually can be features of a case study).
Case studies can and should be promoted through your email list to reach your aligned audience. However, don’t bother pitching these out for link building purposes. Hear it from me, other blogs and media outlets don’t want them.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
Overall, content strategy takes time and thought.
You must create a goal, understand your audience, understand your customer journey, strategise, create and distribute the content, and manage your ongoing content experience.
Creating a Powerful Content Strategy Framework
Define a Trackable Goal
What is it exactly that you want to achieve? Are you trying to generate organic traffic? Are you trying to increase your social presence? Are you looking to build a quality backlink history?
It’s critical to make sure that your goals are well-defined and backed by key performance indicators (KPIs).
For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, your KPIs could simply be search impressions, clicks, and quality links.
If your goal is to improve your sales pipeline, form fills for demo requests or free trials world work better.
Find Your People
To hit your goals, you must find your aligned audience.
Your audience can also be defined as the total addressable market (TAM).
In your TAM, you should have people or companies that serve as revenue opportunities for the product or service you sell.
How do you determine this audience?
If you are a marketing agency that sells to mid-market and enterprise software companies, then your TAM includes every software company that meets your criteria of employees, annual revenue, and ad spend.
Your audience is every member of the marketing team that heads the procurement process for vendors, such as directors and managers.
How do you find this information?
You can use tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which helps determine exactly who matches your criteria. You can reference this information later when you are determining your content distribution strategy.
Build Your Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map is a visualisation of every step a potential customer takes in completing the desired action with your company.
Customer journey maps allow you to pinpoint exactly where you need to interact with potential customers to ensure that they know of your brand, at every step of the marketing funnel.
Map out each step of the journey, along with different kinds of content that they would interact with.
For example, if you are a security analytics software company and you are attempting to engage with a customer at the awareness stage of the buyer journey, you would want to create a content piece around “What is Security Analytics?”. Someone in the awareness stage will learn about your brand and make the connection between security analytics and your brand.
Or, if you are looking to create a piece of content in the decision stage of the buyer journey, you may want to create a piece of content comparing your software with a competitor. This will give the user a reason to choose your brand over a competitor close to the purchase time.
This will be the basis of all of the content that you create in the future.
Run Your Content Audit
If you want to create readable and linkable content, you must understand what is out there – the bad AND the good.
The best way to do this? Audit already created content in your space.
For example, if you are a security analytics software company, audit the blogs, resources, case studies, solutions pages, and any other content of every other security analytics player in your space.
Document what these competitors do well (maybe quality custom designs and punchy language that keeps the reader engaged), as well as what they do poorly (maybe spammy links are included and not enough data to show content credibility).
This shows you what content trends are successful, and what content gaps are wide open for you to fill.
Brainstorm Content Ideas That Answer Questions
Now, just because you’ve audited your competitors, there may still be some content ideas that you need to focus on.
Think about your target audience: Where do they go to learn more about their industry?
By looking at those publications and blogs, more ideas may come up that will fill the gaps.
This also can help your digital PR strategy as you find areas to contribute guest posts to the watering holes that your audience frequently engages with.
Make Your Content Discoverable
How will your content be found?
If you are looking to write content that ranks organically, perform keyword research to enhance your digital discoverability. Some questions you will want to consider include:
- What is my targeted keyword?
- What is the SERP landscape, and will I be able to rank my content?
- What questions and topics do I need to include in my content?
- What are some related keywords that I will want to include?
The best way to fully understand your target keyword? Analyse Google’s search engines and search relevant terms to your brand.
In my opinion, everything that you need to know about your keyword is in the SERP itself (who’s at the top, what ranks well for your keyword, amount of third-party directories, etc.).
Analyse the search results from your query and document all of your research.
Determine a Real Content Distribution Plan
Next, it’s time to plan how to get your content in front of the right crowd.
There are various channels that are effective and cost-efficient. For example, on Twitter, you can create a post around your content and boost your post at a low CPM.
Email marketing is also a way to get your content in front of exactly who you want seeing it. Remember that strategy of using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find your TAM?
You can use all of your contacts, along with a tool such as BuzzStream, to find the contact information for each member in your TAM. Then, create a strategic email campaign that targets them directly.
Use BuzzSteam to create, manage, and execute a high-performance outreach strategy.
Regardless of the method of content distribution, test various methods of outreach to make sure you’re on track to meet your goals.
Are you looking for new leads? New links? Brand building?
Come back to your goals before you solidify your distribution plan.
Launch Your Content Experience
Now that you have completely mapped out the framework of your content marketing strategy, you can create, publish, and promote your content across all channels.
The previous work you completed to prepare and strategise your content strategy should be utilised as a backbone for your content marketing moving forward.
After your content has been live, been distributed, and you’ve tested different methods, review your data and uncover what content worked best for you.
Analyse your performance, rinse, and repeat!
Avoid Getting Comfortable
Keep in mind that your target audience can shift, and their trigger points and interests can shift as well. Content that works today, may not work tomorrow.
Create content at every step of the buyer’s journey, and always stay up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry.
By staying ahead of the curve, you can be one step ahead of your competitors, and create evergreen content that consistently places you and your business as a thought leader in the space.
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