Content marketing is one of my favorite ways to consume and produce marketing. It can be a lot of work, but if done correctly, it can be very effective. It plays a pivotal role in both SEO and inbound marketing.
Before we begin on the basics of content marketing, let’s define what it truly means. Brian Clark of Copyblogger defines content marketing as the following:
”Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with youBrian Clark,Copyblogger
I’m a fan of Copyblogger because they do a great job of making things relatable and it’s easy to see they are very good content marketers themselves…so I trust them. Which incidentally is why I paid money to take their content marketer certification course. It also proves their point.
What is Content?
Most people think of the written word when they think of content. Blog posts, white papers and the like are definitely content but so too are podcasts, infographics, slide shows, videos, graphics, and illustrations. Content is anything you produce that helps attract potential customers to fill the sales pipeline.
Step 1: Define Your Goals
You may think choosing a goal seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people jump into marketing without knowing what they’re trying to accomplish. Having a clearly defined goal will help refine your content marketing efforts and gauge success. Below are some general goals I run into frequently that may help get the wheels turning:
- Increase overall revenue
- Increase sales of a certain product or service
- Increase general brand awareness
- Generate email addresses of qualified leads
Once you have defined your goal, write it down on the top of a whiteboard or planning document. You want to have it prominent because it’s easy for that goal to get lost once the other steps start to take motion.
Step 2: Define Your Audience
Step two can’t really exist without step one. Once you know your goal you need to ask yourself who would ultimately be your customer? It’s much more effective to create content for a specific audience as opposed to everyone in the world.
Step 3: Research
Now that you know what your goals are and who you are creating content for, it’s time to do some research. There are lots of content research tools to use out there. Below are a few of the gold standards:
- Google Keyword Planner
What Exactly are You Researching?
What you’re looking for are areas of opportunity where you can educate and/or attract your audience. Find things that people are looking for answers to and create content around that. For example, if you own a boutique hotel in Winter Park, Colorado research things like “hat to do in Winter Park” or “fun things to do in Winter Park,” and create content around that as opposed to creating content strictly about your hotel. If you know the audience you want to reach is young families, you can refine this concept further by creating content such as:
“5 Things to do in Winter Park, CO with Kids Under 12”
During your research, ask original questions. For example, “What You Need to Know About Visiting Estes Park with Kids in the Winter Time.”
If you can find topics that are more specific, you may not reach as many people but you’ll have a better chance at more qualified leads. Content marketing isn’t about how many people see the content you create, it’s about the goal you defined.
Step 4: Create Content
You’ve defined your goals and audience, conducted your research and now you’re ready to create content! Play around with different types of content to see what works best with your audience. All content can be optimized for SEO pending you apply general SEO best practices.
Step 5: On Page Formatting
Content is an important part of the SEO ecosystem. Make sure that your content follows SEO best practices. That means if it’s a blog post, you’re adding H1 tags and subheadings. All images should have Alt tags in place and your headlines and URLs contain your keywords or intent. For more of these best practices, Rand Fishkin over at Moz has a helpful post called, “What does it mean to ‘Write for SEO’ in 2018?”
Step 6: Distributing Content
Don’t assume that once you’re done with creating good content that Google will do all the work. You need to distribute your content on social media channels and guest blogs for it to be actually seen. Doing this helps increase your SEO. Don’t be afraid to promote multiple times on social media. The way people consume information online and the manner in which social media platform algorithms work can limit how many people see your content, so don’t shy away from posting and rewording multiple times.
You can also repurpose content into different mediums (convert a blog post into a video etc.), and promote it again on social media as if it’s something new! Try putting ad dollars behind social media posts and target your intended audience.
Step 7: Give Your Content a Boost
Step seven is an extension of step six because technically it’s another way to distribute your content. However, it involves having digital ad accounts in place so it’s a little more involved than simply posting on social media.
Google Search Text Ads are great for bidding on keywords and phrases that you’ve discovered in your research phase. The PPC Hero Beginner’s Guide to Setting up An AdWords Account is a good place to start if you’ve never done this before. The guide is a little dated as Google AdWords rebranded to Google Ads and iterated the entire platform, again. (sigh). However, the basic foundation they laid out in this guide is pretty much the same and is still a good place to start.
Facebook and Instagram Ads are also good for creating ads or boosting posts about your content. If you’re new to creating ads on Facebook or Instagram (owned by Facebook), a good place to start is Facebook Blueprint.
Content marketing is an effective marketing tool that can fill the top of the funnel of the sales pipeline. Executed and maintained properly, content can earn leads for many years to come.
If you are interested in having Resolute develop a content marketing strategy for your company, or would simply like to have us manage your content marketing, please contact us to learn more!
Natalie has worked in digital marketing for 15 years. She holds a content marketing certification from Copyblogger since 2013. She has worked on blogs before content was king and worked in SEO before it was an acronym. She has developed and executed hundreds of content marketing strategies and borderlines on obsessive when it comes to gauging results.