No matter what your business goals are, whether it’s sales, paid media campaigns, building your brand, SEO or simply starting a company from scratch, there will come a time that you’ll reach that ‘aha’ moment. That moment when you realise content marketing impacts absolutely everything you do!
It won’t matter how good your product or service is, if nobody knows about it, it might as well not exist.
Think about it, the way we make any purchasing decision has changed dramatically over the last… I was going to say 5 years but the recent pandemic and global unrest seems to have completely shaken any shopping habits and turned things completely on their head.
Who would have thought I’d buy, ‘test ride’ and learn about a skateboard online based on comments and videos alone?!
Well, I did. The shop with the best reviews, content experience, videos, vlogs, … got my business. This all seems very logical now, but I’m sure that the owner must have thought that his marketing team was out of their mind when they first came up with the idea of implementing a content strategy.
So, let’s get down to business, here you will find everything you need to know in creating your one-page content marketing strategy!
What is a content marketing strategy?
A content strategy refers to the thought process and reasoning behind creating your content. There are several ways of going about this:
- You may be reactive, meaning that you create content as a consequence of what is going on in your environment;
- You may be a passive bystander which means that you wait to see what your competitors do and follow their lead;
- You may be proactive. Here you will be setting goals and planning how to reach them. Based on these goals you will plan a series of manoeuvres which you will carry out with very specific content piece.
Why have a content marketing strategy?
Content experience! Yes, content experience, well come to think of it, since the outbreak of Covid-19 I’d go so far as to say customer experience.
Nowadays I ask Google everything, from how long it takes to boil the perfect egg to my shoe size, and I expect it to give me a dead-on, personalised, accurate answer every time. I definitely don’t expect to be given random content.
This brings me on to your marketing strategy. Does your audience perceive you as random or personalised? Is your blog organised by latest or by greatest content?
How customers and prospects engage with your content, with its structure and with the environment it lives in is now more important now than ever. So, this involves:
- Developing a strategic approach to creating your content;
- Structuring your content so that it can easily be found by your audience (by topics not dates);
- Encouraging your audience to engage with your content.
The ultimate goal of being able to convert your prospects as you lead them through the buyer’s journey.
What’s in a Content Marketing Strategy?
A Buyer Persona
This is where we start, by understanding what your ideal customer expects his experience to be when interacting with your brand. As yourself, “in what way will they expect it to be personalised, relevant, memorable and valuable?”
A personalised customer experience begins when we are able, as marketers, to focus on designing a customer journey around our audiences’ true interests, values and aspirations.
We do this by creating a ‘buyer persona’ and defining the way they will be interacting with our brand at every touchpoint. Whilst drafting the document we need to be asking ourselves:
- How can we create a personalised customer experience that delivers the right content at the right time?
- Do we understand our persona’s buyer’s journey?
- How are we going to engage our reader so that they feel valued and understood at each touchpoint? (and this includes talking to them with the correct tone of voice at the right moment in time, no point in being whimsical when their credit card hasn’t been accepted or serious when they sign up for your newsletter.)
- How are we going to create a ‘made for you experience’?
Next step up is to establish goals.
Take your time for this as this will determine what way the wind blows and how you set your sails.
A solid content strategy will help you grow your audience and revenue more effectively than publishing whatever you feel link in the morning.
Here are a few examples of goals some of my clients tend to go for:
- Traffic – Traffic is a big goal and one that’s not to be taken lightly. Make sure that you detail a one-page content strategy that you can get your head around and fully visualise. Monitor trends (Google Trends is great for this), add value, create an outreach strategy and ensure that your brand is visual and neat.
- User Engagement– If this is your chosen goal, then traffic is not your focus but getting higher conversions and sales from the traffic you currently have. User-generated content (UGC) is a strategy that AirBnB use while Adidas lead the field in interactive content. Their multiple campaigns engaged their Millenial following by allowing them to participate in the design of their products. Great lead to follow.
- Product Sales – With a content strategy designed to drive product sales you will be interweaving interactive content with free resources that will prove invaluable to your audience.
- Social Media Following – So once you have created your content you may be looking to adapt it to specific audiences. You may be planning to send it out to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Platforms like forMarketer are great in helping you simultaneously schedule and distribute all of your content following a content calendar. Medium and Quora are great places to get your content promoted. Both completely free with optional partner programs.
- Email Subscribers – Here you will be looking at creating gated content behind opt-in forms that a reader will be happy to download in exchange for their email address. My personal favourites are Sendinblue and Hubspot. Both have free available plans with paid extensions. I find Sendinblue covers a lot of Hubspot without breaking the bank.
- Search Engine Rankings – Great content comes from great research. Great research comes from a great content strategy. I just can’t highlight this enough. If you want your blog to rank well on Google you need to understand what keywords you want to rank for and ensure that your strategy holds strong around all those keywords.
A Gap Analysis
We live in a personalized world. So now brands like us need to learn how to deliver content in a personalized world. For this, you need to base your content on the needs and challenges that your audience is facing on a daily basis. If your audience is able to understand and relate to your content they will look at you as a trusted authority.
So, you need to know what you are up against in the online world.
For example, if you are a hotel chain, you are not just competing with other hotel chains but with the entire Travel + Leasure industry. This includes National Geographic, AirBnB and Disney.
This is good! This is very good, there’s lots we can learn from these brands and incorporate into our online content experience. Here we need to:
- Understand what your competitor’s online presence looks like;
- Layout what your audience wants and compare this with what they’re getting
- Track how your competition uses content, the topics they cover, content preferences, gaps, etc. Any information that can teach you how to stand out.
As keywords pop up twice here, I’m not going to go into much detail now, but at this stage, it is important to understand which keywords have the most potential for your business. The idea here is to have a good idea of what terms prospects are looking up in Google and use these to attract visitors to your website.
Please, clear your mind of any preconceived ideas and go through your prospects buyer journey yourself.
We need to understand how your niche search for things on Google. This is known as understanding their ‘search/user intent’.
In layman’s terms, a search can have various meanings:
- A user may know exactly what they are looking for and type that into the search.
- A user may have an idea of what they are looking for and Google provides ‘best-fit’ answers.
- Then we will have me when I started my skateboard adventure. I had no idea what I was looking for and threw ideas out at Google. Google interpreted what I meant and turned it into something meaningful so that I could further my online search. Well done Google!
In fact, I guess calendars are more on the organisational side and help bridge the gap between strategy, creation and distribution. Many use static excel calendars, which are fine, but you’ll waste a tonne of time updating them and there are tools around that can help you with this. Again, I use forMarketer’s all in one tool that covers strategy, distribution and offers a dynamic calendar which automatically updates as I get things done, published and promoted.
You need to be planning at least 3 months ahead. Think that first you want to be creating a strategic blueprint and your calendar is where you and your team get to put the tactics into play. Let me explain.
An example may be:
If your goal is to build loyalty– Your calendar needs to be populated with thought leadership. You need a few days to:
- Understand your buyer persona’s main pain point;
- Research topics;
- Research formats that work best for them;
- SEO and keyword research
- Create a list of content topics and formats. Look for one main topic and a few subtopics that further clarify points of that main topic.
- the goal of each content piece;
- it’s publication date;
- due date;
- topic and title;
- target audience;
- buyer stage;
- content details;
- a call to action.
If you have thought about this then you are already one step ahead of the game. One of the biggest misconceptions about content marketing is that great stories will thrive on their own. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case.
No one will show up to read your article unless you tell people that it exists. But this is like everything. Please don’t promote anything when people are either sleeping or busy with their family as they won’t react. Do some research and find out the best times for your audience, channel, subject matter and niche. Buzzsumo is a great little tool for this.
In very much the same way as you know what time to get hold of each one of your friends, you need to know when to capture the attention of your individual audiences. With this information to hand carefully plan and schedule your content distribution.
How do you create a content marketing strategy?
Well, to make this part as simple as humanely possible (I did say that this would be a one-pager!). There are three steps in creating your strategy:
Dominate a niche, consume other peoples content, log article’s and pdf’s that inspire you.
Use this as your resource centre to dip into when you are short of ideas. If you can be controversial with a solid reasoning on anything your competition has published, that’s even better, people love a bit of conflict.
b) Brainstorming Ideas
Think about what content pieces inspired you and why. What would be cool to make? A video version of a blog? A pdf explainer?
What captivated your attention and what would work for your buyer persona?
c) Understanding Needs
This is vital and serves two purposes.
What are your businesses number one top priorities? What content do you need to create to fulfil those needs? What department needs this, is it sales? customer success? when do they need it by?
Then, you have your customer’s needs. What do they need to receive a unique and valuable content experience from your brand? What do they need to receive a personalised customer experience from your brand?
Jot these needs down and order them in terms of priority.
c) Tweaking and updating old content
This is a great way of maintaining your site up to date as well as preparing it for all of that new traffic.
The best way to get this done is by doing a content audit. We need to ensure that each content piece aligns with the reader’s search intent, facts and dates are correct as well as update any images that may be off or bad quality.
You also want to be on the lookout for any upgrades you can create that will offer your new traffic a reason to give you their email address. Here are a few lead generation content upgrade ideas:
- Bonus content;
- Expert Interview
- Case Study
- Resource List
- Email Course
Don’t just stick to the one, go freestyle and be as creative as possible. Vary your call to actions, these can be inline, click-to-reveal and the non-intrusive pop-up opt-in form we all love.
d) Keyword Research
This one is the godfather of this section that deserves an article of its own, and that you are welcome to more detail here.
Basically you need to know what your competitors are ranking for.
You are interested in getting to know the ones that they are not ranking first position for but 11th -20th for.
These are the word they are almost ranking for but they are not. If you are using a tool like SEMRush then you’ll also be handed the content that got them there. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Yes! that’s totally crazy, now take a look at their content and better it. You’re going for first place here.
Every content piece deserves research. I personally prepare a small library before even considering putting pen to paper. This consists of:
- At least five high quality, inspirational content pieces that cover the same topic.
- At least ten high definition (HD) (if possible) images that represent the emotion or message I am trying to get across.
- Five HD images that represent the topic
- A list of Googles top ten results for my target topic
- An electronic notepad where I have quotes, references, and ideas on everything I have read, especially if I agree or disagree with anyone.
This is where I prepare myself a cup of coffee and start getting creative.
Remember we are out to express and not to impress.
Your content needs to be valuable, insightful and useful. You are out to create a content experience for your audience and you are doing this not only with your bonus content and your tactics but through your words.
Speaking of which, longer-form content tends to rank for more keywords. This shouldn’t surprise you I guess but what it does tell us is that people are looking for thorough, good quality content.
While you will have at least one main or ‘cornerstone’ article that is 3000 words long, optimized with bonus content, you need to be looking at creating secondary content that covers specific topics you will probably have only touched upon within your main article.
These secondary (shorter) topics allow you to cover each subtopic in more depth while filling your editorial calendar with related topics and at the same time helping you rank for those keywords.
All articles, no matter who has written them need to be proofed. Or by you 24/48h later or by someone else. Here you are looking for grammar, readability and sentence structure. Grammarly is a great option for grammar proofing if you don’t have an editor and Hemingway is brilliant for readability and ‘proper English’.
May I also suggest that you just make sure your H1, H2 and H3s are all correct and that you are making good use of formatting, please.
Easy readability is a must and part of that great content experience we want to provide. Most of our audience is on their tablet or mobile. Break things down into small readable sizes and help google scan your article by using the correct on-page SEO.
I’m not adding anything new to the conversation here. We all know that when done correctly Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads and Google Adwords are most definitely the quickest but most expensive way to promote.
You may have noticed that some content articles seem to follow you around, no matter what you are doing on Google, these are paid too.
No matter what your take is on this, it is important that you do more than simply sharing your articles on social media and your email list. These promotion strategies are far too simple on their own.
We aren’t exactly talking about saving trees but we are talking about saving time, generating traffic and driving leads. This includes a whole range of updating old content, turning it into new formats and getting guest posts in. But my all-time favourite? … Content Hubs!
A Content hub is a central place where all of your content lives. They are generally flexible, and are published around a tag, keyword, buyer persona, buyer journey phase… making them ultra ‘personalized’ content repositories.
They generally look sharp, have a tile-style feel to them making them ultra-graphic, ultra-attractive and simple to skim over.
The idea is to control your customer’s user experience by tailoring it to their specific pain point and include a good media mix to maintain their interest.
Guest Posting and Link Building
Guest posting is a great way to promote your content. I would try to avoid the sales pitch where you promote a product or your domain, nobody is interested in that. Instead request a URL pointing to your article instead.
There is nothing better than a high-quality backlink.
- First find blogs with similar articles
- Then discover the sites that linked to them
- Now we want to email these sites asking them nicely to change their current links and link back to yours. Obviously, this will only work with outdated articles and those of inferior quality to yours.
Your one-page content marketing strategy may feel a bit like an eternal scroll but remember that we are out for the long haul.
The point is if we are to deliver content in a world of personalisation and customer experience, you need to ensure that your content is constant, that you do the right research and spend the time creating the right things to ensure that your marketing approach is based on real-life challenges your audience is actually dealing with on a daily basis.
Ensure that your audience can contextualise the content you are generating. Ask yourself, “does it make sense to them?” If the answer is yes, keep going.
Make sure that your content is easy to find and that you are everywhere, valuable, trustworthy and personalised. It is not until this happens that they will seek your brand as a trusted authority.
Great content comes from great research. Great research comes from a great content strategy. So, if you want your content to rank well on Google you need to understand what your audience needs are and ensure that your strategy holds strong and true around those needs and keywords.