The Content Marketing Institute's 2019 B2B Content Marketing
Report gives us an important insight:
Fifty-six percent of marketers reported the greatest increase in spending over the last year in the area of content marketing.
What does this tell us?
Content is an essential element of marketing, and it's constantly changing under the influence of search engine and social media algorithms. Whether a B2B or B2C brand, it's the content strategy that takes a business forward.
But is it being done well?
Content strategy should encompass the entire life cycle of content. Is it being thought about strategically or is content being produced randomly to keep up with competitors?
When content marketing efforts are turned into an actual content marketing strategy, there will be realistic chances for success.
We'll list nine crucial content strategies that every business can benefit from.
1. Set up a Mission Statement
When most people hear the term mission statement, they think of the one they set for the business. The business mission statement
briefly answers the question why that company exists.
But whenever a strategy is developed for a business, it needs its own mission statement. Of course, it will be aligned with the general mission statement of the business. The content marketing mission statement, in particular, will explain what is achieved with the created content.
If, for example, we're working on the content marketing campaign for a writing service like EssayWritingLab
, we'll need to address three main points:
- The target audience—students who need papers and business owners who need content
- The content we'll use to reach out to this audience—blog posts, guest posts, social media posts, and website content
- The benefit the audience gets—high-quality articles that teach them how to write
So the content marketing mission statement would sound close to this: "We provide students and business owners with high-quality blog, social media, and website content that teaches them how to write."
Each piece of content this team develops will be aligned with that mission statement. When the marketing campaign aims toward a universal goal, it's the focus and commitment that lead the team to great results.
This mission statement is mainly focused on the benefit the audience gets from the content. It's not for the clicks and conversions. Of course that's the ultimate goal with the content marketing campaign. But when delivering great value for the audience, there will be tons of space to fit the business goals in.
2. Think about the Business Goals
What business goals are achieved with this content marketing campaign? This is the main aspect that will turn it into a strategy.
These are a few of the business objectives
that most business owners list as important:
- Profitability—the content marketing strategy should eventually lead toward a greater revenue.
- Productivity—developing more effective content and capturing more leads with a single article rather than fewer leads with a greater number of articles.
- Capturing and converting high-quality leads—a goal that's meant to contribute toward the profitability objective.
- Attracting more traffic toward the main website, where there will be space to convert those leads.
- Gaining influence and authority in the industry—that will contribute toward beneficial social proof.
- Getting better rankings on Google through a focused SEO strategy.
- Social media engagement, which will lead to greater influence and more website traffic.
Each of these business goals will give a specific focus for the campaign. The aim will be to achieve several of these goals with a single post.
3. Deliver Content That the Audience Wants to Read
While figuring out what goals one wants to achieve with the content, also make sure to deliver value for the audience.
But is the type delivered the type of value the target readers need? Is the content published what they would want to read?
That's the trickiest part: getting into the heads of the target readers. Why would they choose to read the business' article instead of something published by competitors? Moreover, why would they prefer the business' content over all those sweet distractions, such as Instagram and Netflix?
Getting the reader's interest is not something impossible to achieve. Specific tools can be used that show what issues the target audience wants to solve.
4. Develop a Content Calendar
- Twitter and Instagram hashtags are great indicators. Start exploring the general hashtags related to the industry. They will lead to posts by influencers, but one will also come across questions and opinions by the regular users of the platforms. Follow the most important hashtags and become part of the hot discussions. That's where trends will be discovered that can be addressed with content.
- Start using Reddit. Seriously, no matter what the business is, one can definitely find a relevant subreddit to follow. Let's say the owner of a pool maintenance business wants to promote it through a content marketing campaign. There's an entire subreddit about swimming pool maintenance and tips. The owner can just observe the conversations, which will lead to great topics that can be covered in campaigns. But they can also become part of the community and post links to those articles, where people will find the solutions they need.
- Use Quora, too. The users ask actual questions there. If those questions are turned into topics for the content marketing campaign, content will be delivered that the audience wants to read.
Is there an editorial calendar or recently start using a tool like Post Planner
? If not, it's one of the first things that will turn the content marketing approach into an actual strategy. Post Planner is great because it helps find content that works, so ideas can be gathered for future posts. Then, it gives a cool planning feature that eliminates the guesswork and brings clarity into the campaign. Finally, publishing can be scheduled across social media platforms, so it can just be set up and forgotten.
But what exactly is needed to plan in this content calendar? There are a few elements to include:
- Channels of publication
- Type of content
- Target reader
- Content developers
The topic and type of content is planned, and a date will be set for publication. But also, a plan for a budget and way of development. What does this mean?
When there's a busy editorial calendar, there's the realization that not everything can be achieved with a limited workforce. There will probably be a need to expand on the writing and editing team. Fortunately, that's easy. Freelance writers (or graphic designers for infographics) can be hired using services like Upwork
. But if there isn't time available to interview several freelancers, hiring a writing service will find the best writer. Here are a few such agencies to consider:
When having the right people in a team, a more effective content marketing plan can be developed. Organizing the tasks and developing more content over a shorter period of time will lead to faster development of the brand's online reputation.
5. Set and Measure Key Performance Indicators
When a strategy is developed, measurable goals have to be set. These key performance indicators (KPIs) will give specific numbers, which can be strived toward. After a certain period of time, performance can be compared to these goals to get an overall impression for the effectiveness of the strategy.
Here are a few examples of KPIs to aim toward:
- Get 5,000 new email subscribers in one month.
- Hit a revenue goal of $4K in a month.
- Increase the traffic on site at least two times in a month.
- Boost the search engine ranking on a specific keyword.
- Get at least 50 mentions on social media.
- Get at least 5K comments on Facebook in a month.
Set these specific metrics, and track them. Don't get disappointed if the goals aren't achieved. It just means something needs to be changed in the approach. So work on the campaign to make it better, and transfer those goals for next month.
6. Observe How the Social Media Audience Reacts to Content
Set goals, analyze the interests of the audience, and start developing content. But how does one know that the strategy is headed in the right direction?
It's important to see how the audience reacts to the content served. Social media is perfect for that. Of course, all articles are shared on Facebook, so it's time to start paying attention to the Insights
this platform gives.
Facebook gives Insights for a business page or group.
There, one can see the likes, comments, and overall engagement with the page. Look and compare how each piece of content engages the audience. The cool thing about Facebook Insights is that they can be exported into an Excel spreadsheet, where the engagement can be compared on a daily, weekly, and monthly level. Thus, one can easily single out the pieces of content that made the audience active.
Was it an infographic? Was it a controversial post? Was it a cool headline? Dig into the aspects that made a certain type of content more successful than other publications. Naturally, that'll be the focus for the future.
7. Share Expertise
Here's a brief experiment that will prove my point here: conduct a Google search on a random keyword related to the business.
Let's say a pool maintenance business is owned. Search for the phrase "how to maintain a pool" on Google. In-depth articles can be found that seem logical and fact-based.
That's the type of content that Google likes to serve to its audience.
Whatever the business is, there has to be a rare and particular understanding of it. The general audience doesn't know the stuff the owner knows. So share some of that expertise. People are hungry for some of the knowledge an owner has. If it's given to them in the form of free content, one will deserve good rankings on Google.
What kind of free content? Articles, eBooks, slides, or infographics . . . everything works as long as it's great.
8. Evaluate Each Piece of Content According to Specific Standards
How is great content measured? How does one know they're delivering great value for readers?
Whenever a piece of content is developed, answer the following questions:
- Is it unique?
- Is the introduction captivating?
- Is the article well-formatted?
- Is it different and better than what your competitors offer?
- Is it perfect in terms of grammar and factual relevance?
- Is it written in an authoritative tone?
- Does this content deliver actual value beyond calls to action or promotions?
- Is the content easy to read?
- Would the reader have additional questions or misunderstandings after reading this?
- How would someone criticize this article?
Those are the basics. Take the time to measure the quality of the content against those standards before it's published. There will probably be some aspects that could use some editing. That's okay. Editing is always okay, since it leads to better content.
9. Leave Some Space for Creativity
Of course it's important to develop a content marketing strategy and plan each step of it. But when the focus is on planning, content marketing can turn into a technicality. It's important for this plan to be flexible.
What if a new trend in the industry arises, and the plan is already booked for the next two months? Of course some adjustments need to be made, so a few articles can be fit in that address that trend.
New ideas can also come from industry conferences, Reddit and Quora conversations, news, and all kinds of engagement. Whenever an idea is gotten for a new topic or a new type of content, fit it in the schedule. Let the campaign develop as organically as possible. Let the audience contribute to it, too. When they ask for a specific issue to be address, respect this request, and deliver what they need.
Most of all, it's important to stay creative. That's what makes the campaign noticeable in the crowd. And believe me; the online world is crowded regardless of the industry we're talking about.
Many small business owners head into the world of online marketing with great expectations, but little or no experience. They don't know how they can achieve those expectations, so they soon end up disappointed.
It's not that content marketing is rocket science. It's easy when realizing what works for a particular brand. It all starts with a good strategy, so it's about time to start working on it. Agreed?
Joe McLean is a dedicated, full-time freelance writer for Assignment Masters. He has the busiest schedule you can imagine due to the popularity he enjoys online. Even so, he still manages to work at his own pace and have an amazing social life. Joe says that he gets all the work done because he has discipline, and that this is what gives him the motivation to do it all in the first place.
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