Content marketing is the creation, publishing, and sharing of unique content on your business’ website that doesn’t explicitly market your product or service but helps to build your authority in your industry. We’ve asked experts to share with us their thoughts on developing a content marketing strategy and to provide content marketing tips and examples that can help you become a smarter and more effective marketer.
Here are the top 26 tips on how to develop a content marketing strategy.
1. Focus on Link-Building to Grow Organic Traffic
Helvijs Smoteks, SAAS Lead Generation Expert, Linkody
To make sure the content we create brings traffic, not just for a month from now but for a lot longer time, we put a huge focus on link-building as part of every marketing campaign. We have quite a massive list of content promotion sites. To get the initial traffic boost, we share the content on the following platforms: Medium, Quora, Tumblr, relevant sub-Reddits, Inbound, Flipboard, StumbleUpon, GrowthHackers, Medium, Linkedin articles, the best Facebook groups, BizSugar, and HackerNews. Next, we start with link-building to ensure the content receives organic traffic month over month.
Our go-to link-building strategy is the Skyscraper technique. Then we do infographic link-building, and share the post on a couple of content promotion sites that still give the do-follow backlinks.
2. Use Your Content to Give Recognition and Nurture Leads
Hailey Friedman, Co-Founder, GrowthMarketingPro.com
There are lots of reasons to create content. I’ve developed content for SEO, thought leadership, paid campaigns, ebooks and more. But my favorite use of content is using it as a business development tool, as a way to nurture B2B leads. Let me explain. People love recognition. Instead of cold outreach, try using content as a way to deliver recognition to people. They will be 10x as likely to give you their business.
- Identify your target leads you want to partner with.
- Create a “Top Ten List” blog post that recognizes your top targets for excelling at their work
- Email them to let them know you think they’re awesome and they’ve been featured on your blog. Invite them to share out the blog post.
- Wait for them to reply. 60 percent of the time they will respond with enthusiasm and gratitude.
- Now make your pitch.
3. Map the Customer Journey to Tailor Your Communication
Shem Szot, VP Marketing, StickerYou
In a typical customer buying cycle, the customer goes through five identifiable stages: Awareness, Consideration, Intent (Preference), Purchase, Repurchase.
In B2B sales, the “Awareness to Preference” stage is typically much longer thus creating ample opportunities for marketers. That being said, small businesses can use similar strategies in their marketing efforts.
The first thing that a small business owner should do is identify which of the five stages are identifiable for a particular product or service. Then, the marketer must proceed to analyze the stage at which a customer can be intercepted, how long they may remain in a particular stage, and how long they can be intercepted for.
At an ice cream parlor, the awareness stage could include issuing gift certificates for local fundraising raffles. The consideration stage could be affected by effective trial (ex: giving away small taste samples on the street). The length of time in which a customer resides for each of the stages changes from business to business, but being aware of the stages and having a strategy for each is critical.
4. Make Understanding Your Audience a Priority
Hamna Amjad, Community Manager, Ridester
A good content marketing strategy can help small businesses in achieving high conversion rates. Not only is it important to produce creative and high-quality content, but it should be relevant to your customers as well. Therefore, it is compulsory to understand your audience, their preferences, and their problems. Only then would you be able to connect with them by offering solutions to those problems. Create your brand’s unique identity through your content. What makes your brand different than others? Why should people trust you? And finally, share this content through all the social media networks to reach your customers. Make your social media posts interesting and easy to share to expand your reach.
5. Source Marketing Content from Your Team
Max Greene, Managing Director, Muffin Marketing
One of the biggest problems small business owners have when starting a content marketing strategy is finding the time to write high-quality material on a regular basis. That’s why I recommend sharing the load with your whole team; think about ‘day in the life’ posts, and ask for insights from different departments of your business to spread the responsibility and get everyone involved. Accepting contributions from third-parties can also be a great way to keep your blog topped up when you’re too busy to write content, but you should be cautious of accepting material from everyone. Create guidelines on the types of content you want to be featured on your blog, and share them with potential guest bloggers and new members of staff to keep your content consistent.
6. Set Goals as Foundation for Your Marketing Strategy
Marijana Kostelac, Freelance Writer SaaS & Marketing Brands, Marijana Kay
The best content marketing strategies are driven by goals. Most commonly, these will be geared towards one of these: brand awareness, lead generation, or sales. With goals as the foundation, it’s much easier to come up with content formats and topics.
For example, if the goal is to increase brand awareness, formats can be blog posts, videos, and co-authored thought leadership pieces that are then exposed to the audience of another brand. Lead generation will involve live tutorials, product demos, and research-backed long-form blog posts, and content with a sales goal often include a case study. Using goals as the foundation makes it easy to build a plan of action and measure its effect.
7. Host an Engagement Focused Giveaway
Derek Hales, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Modern Castle
Running giveaways are great for your audience and great for your site. Find a product or service that’s relevant to your content. Set up a giveaway with Gleam.io. Create 8-15 methods of entry that help your audience engage with the content you want to promote.
Promoting a giveaway in this way supports multiple channels including:
- Social – more conversations, more social shares, more social mentions, more likes.
- Organic – social signals, backlinks, social comments, and interlinks that are created by the giveaway all help to support the healthy organic growth of your site.
- Referral – people love giveaways, and they also love to link to them. Running a giveaway is an easy opportunity to see new referral visits coming in from a variety of third-party sites.
- Direct – all of the above help to also build brand awareness, which means more direct visits
8. Always Target the Right Metrics
Mehmood Hanif, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist, PureVPN
Your content marketing campaigns can result in your favor only when your strategy is focusing on the right metrics. The metrics are the guiding beacons for content marketers as it allows them to have a clear understanding of what area of the strategy needs more focus and efforts, and how they should mold the strategy accordingly.
9. Know Your Potential Customer
Ksenia Newton, Digital Marketing Manager, CrossCap
Your content marketing strategy has to incorporate a substantial research on your potential consumers, their pain-points, the words they use to describe those pain points to colleagues, as well as the channels the consumer is using when talking about those issues and looking for the right solutions.
The 2018 consumer is very smart. The consumer researches, evaluates the information and findings, and asks more questions behind the scenes, in groups and specialized forums such as Quora, Reddit, and LinkedIn. From the content marketing strategy perspective, you have to be part of those discussions that take place online to make sure you gain the trust of your potential client first before you start pushing your agenda.
A purely transactional relationship is dead, and it’s time for a partnership and loyalty. That’s why when your potential consumers are in the market research phase, you need to start providing them with quality content and in-depth answers to their questions. Earn their respect slowly by becoming the industry expert, the go-to person, and then your product or solution will be considered accordingly.
10. Formulate Your Buyer Personas
Alyssa Dannaker, Content Marketing Associate, Sagefrog Marketing Group
Today’s consumers make educated purchases by conducting research themselves, which is why all smart content marketing strategies should begin with formulating buyer personas that help you understand and create the content consumers will be searching for. For small businesses looking to be especially strategic on a lower budget, more effort should go into the content offer itself in order to provide a truly helpful piece for prospects, such as an eBook or comprehensive guide. Then ensure landing pages, emails and other corresponding campaign pieces are straightforward and concise, clearly address pain points, and all match in look and feel.
11. Ask These Three Questions About Your Content
Earl Choate, CEO, Concrete Camouflage
When creating content for our website or guest posts, we ask ourselves three questions: is it the first time something like this has been published, can we make it better than what is currently out there, or can we make it different than the content that already exists? It’s obvious the content game is already crowded. Our strategy helps us cut through the noise and get it in front of those that it can help. If our content idea fits under any of those categories, then we move forward. Once it’s published, we also make sure to have a promotional plan ready to go so we can hit the ground running.
12. Have a Clear Idea of Your Brand
Laura Kloot, Content Expert, Outbrain
Before starting the work of building a content strategy, there are two basic but very important questions that every small business owner must answer: “who am I, and who are my potential customers?”. Ask yourself, what’s my business all about? Why do we do what we do? What’s different or special about us? What are our goals? Then, turn the tables and take a deep look at your target audience. What are their pains? Their interests? Where do they hang out online? What information are they looking for? The better you know yourself and your customers, the better and stronger your content strategy will be.
13. Remember Consistency Builds Credibility
Kristi Porter, Small Business Marketing Copywriter & Consultant, Signify Solutions
While there are many experts and articles online that stress certain platforms and frequencies, the most important factor in developing a content marketing strategy is to find a consistency that you can actually execute. Consistency builds credibility. It also helps you establish a manageable routine. Yes, it may be optimal to tweet 10-15 times per day or blog weekly, but if you hear the advice but can’t follow it, or only follow it for a short time and become overwhelmed, you’ll get frustrated and give up. You can always add platforms and increase frequency, but it’s important to establish a foundation that allows you to succeed both for yourself and your audience.
Visit Fit Small Business’ list of best marketing blogs for 2017 to get inspiration for your marketing strategy.
14. Find Your Unique Angle
Harrison Doan, Director of Analytics, Saatva
Find your unique angle before you start putting together a whole strategy. It’s imperative that you know exactly what you want to say with your content before you start writing or even planning what components you’re going to include. Conduct some initial research on target keywords and audience engagement patterns to better understand what your angle should be. Has it been done before? How can you make your content more unique than what’s already out there? Finding and perfecting your angle is, in my experience, the key to creating top content that can convert as well as inform.
15. Publish Timely Content
Andrei Vasilescu, CEO & Digital Marketing Expert, DontPayFull
First, do some intense research work to find your target audience and their problems along with how they want their problems to be solved. Then, prepare your business contents in a manner that easily relate to the audience, and engage them to a good level which eventually leads to conversion. If your business contents are interesting or a bit controversial, then they will tempt the audience to share them with others or to make comments and reply comments to start a conversation. To produce good engagement and conversion from any good content, proper timing is the most vital matter that counts. You have to find the exact time of the day when the content will be seen by maximum audience or the time when people need solutions of particular problems that you can solve.
Frequently publishing interesting business contents produce better impacts upon the audience, and hence you will get more prospective customers which may generate more revenue for your business.
16. Establish Yourself as an Expert
Mike Theodore, Digital Marketing Manager, Digital Third Coast
A good content marketing strategy establishes your voice as the expert. It does not push your product, your service or parrot the clichéd, obvious or tired line of thinking. During your “ideation process”, create a mindmap to identify topics related to your business and develop strategic topics to deliver insightful and useful information to the general public. Remember that delivery format can be as important as the message. Experiment with your medium to attract the most eyeballs — long-form writing, flash posts, video, social and infographics. Creating the content is just the first step, as promoting on social media and link development through dedicated outreach efforts make the world of difference.
17. Focus on Delivering Value
Sarunas Budrikas, Owner, Angle180
Nobody needs one more blog or email in their inbox, unless it delivers great value. Don’t copy others. Find your own unique voice. It doesn’t need to be a full-blown content marketing strategy, to begin with. Just pick a narrow target audience and start the conversation with them through one of the public channels. For example, your FAQ list is a great place to get blog ideas from. Another great way to engage with your prospects is to answer the questions your industry or product avoid the most.Be honest and focus on long-term.
18. Document, Not Innovate
Vlad Molchadski, CEO, BizTraffic
The easiest way to create an effective marketing strategy is to simply document the buyer’s journey of that company’s product or a service. There are defined stages each prospect goes through before making a purchasing decision, and they are usually awareness, consideration and decision. Earn trust by educating. At each step of the way, they are consuming different types of information required to move them along toward a buying decision.
19. Don’t Just Write for Your Prospects
Donna Duncan, SEO/Content Marketing Consultant, B-SeenOnTop
Many people write their content strategy with only their best prospects and customers in mind. While you absolutely should be creating content for people who need your products and/or services, they are not your only audience. You should also be trying to garner the attention of webmasters and social media influencers because they help you earn exposure, backlinks, and visitors – all key ingredients to online success. Learn who else is creating helpful content in your field, and try to identify ways you could leverage each other’s strengths and expertise to grow both your businesses.
20. Perform a Digital Competitive Analysis
Ben Landers, President & CEO, Blue Corona
Before you even start developing your content marketing strategy you need to complete a digital competitive analysis. The reason is, how can you develop a winning strategy if you don’t know the existing score?
A digital competitive analysis will give you a baseline measurement of where your company’s digital presence falls compared to your competitors, and tends to highlight the areas that you need the most work. You may even discover some content marketing tactics your competitors are using to drive their own success. When we set our content strategy—both in-house as well as for our clients—we use a variety of tools to answer five key questions about ourselves and each of our competitors.
The simplified version looks like this:
- Which companies are tracking activity on their website?
- How accessible is each company’s website?
- What types of digital content does each company have?
- How visible is each company on major search engines?
- What does each company’s social media presence look like and how many online reviews do they have?
If you find your company is lagging behind your competitors in any of those categories, you’ve got a good place to start with your content strategy.
21. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Michelle Kubot, MBA, Marketing Director, Ambrosia Treatment Centers
Contrary to what you might read elsewhere, focus on quality over quantity. One solid, well-researched article that contains information not available anywhere else is worth more than 100 generic articles that regenerate information. If you want to get attention, you have to add value to your specific audience. What do they care about? If no one is going to read, watch or share your content, it’s never going to be effective.
22. Know What a Great Content Package Is
Nicole Donnelly, Chief Marketing Officer, SaltyWaffle.com
To keep up with content we hire contract writers and are very clear with our requirements. If you think of voice search and the way that you speak to your phone to have Google find something for you, your keywords are getting longer and more specific. When putting together content for clients we, have to consider the way that people would search using voice and create a content package that addresses customer/reader needs. A great content package contains a video, 2,000 words that answer multiple relevant questions on the topic, and at least one Instagramable image. Your primary content package should live on your own website’s blog. You can then take the pieces of the package to post to all of the relevant social networks. Don’t forget G+ as it’s a Google property and should be populated with all of your keywords and content as well.
23. Know the Difference: Content Marketing Strategy vs Content Strategy
Lisa Smith, Content Manager, SJC Marketing
Know the difference between a content marketing strategy and a content strategy. Your content marketing strategy focuses on the why. You need to think about why you are creating the content and why the content is valuable and helpful to your audience. Your content marketing strategy should outline business objectives that will be achieved with content marketing, as well as the problems your content needs to solve for your audience. Your content strategy goes deeper into how you do this. It develops the tactics you are going to implement to carry out your content marketing strategy.
24. Work with Different Content Marketing Formats
Daniel Thompson, Head of Marketing, Tom’s Junk Collectors
First of all, the format of your content should not be chosen among different formats; it should be all of them. You will post articles on your site. No doubt, some of those articles will need videos to make the topic more clear. Some of them will need infographics. You should work with all formats! You can reach out to tons of people through various channels if you cover all formats. Plan your content ahead, and keep a steady flow of content. You might want to build a network to promote your content, and it might include a platform like Viral Content Bee. A place like that can initially boost your content, then you can reshare it through the other parts of your net for better results!
25. Plan Your Content on a Quarterly Basis
Lenore Kantor, Chief Launch Officer, Launch Warrior
Content marketing is all about finding the topics where you have unique insights that can be shared in creative ways that allow you to demonstrate your expertise to prospective customers. I recommend planning your content on a quarterly basis. Come up with four key themes or topics that will be of interest to your audience, so you can build out your plan for Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4. Keep it simple and high level!
Having a clear focus will make your process straightforward to avoid becoming overwhelmed. For example, if you are selling a service and it makes customers’ lives easier because they can accomplish other things, in Q1 you might want to talk about why hiring someone will free them up, and in Q2 you could review what’s important to look for in a service provider, then in Q3 cover how to choose the right solution for you. Write up these topics as blog posts or articles, which can then be used in your enewsletter or sent out to relevant industry publications. This content can also be re-purposed or broken out into social media posts.
26. Ask Your Customers Questions
Bradley Shaw, President, SEO Expert Brad
In my opinion, content marketing has become SEO and online marketing in 2018. The best, highest quality, most informative website wins. Think about it — Google wants to provide results to its customers that answer the questions they are searching for. Ask yourself, what questions are my customers looking to answer when searching for my products or services? Create high-quality content that answers those questions. My best advice is to search the term or topic you are targeting and make a note of the top ten results. Your goal should be to create content that is more informative, better organized, and overall provides a better user experience than the current results. For example, you sell skin care products online. Brainstorm, and make a list of questions, such as how to reduce wrinkles on the neck or how to prevent dry skin in the winter.
Create content around these topics with links to your products. Ensure the material is a resource and not a sales pitch. If you create an actual resource, over time people will link to it, and Google will begin to view the page and your website as an authority on the subject.
For a content marketing guide in four easy steps, check out our article on the ultimate guide to content marketing.
The Bottom Line
Developing a successful content marketing strategy doesn’t happen overnight because customer demands change through time. But as your target market evolves, so should your marketing approach. This means your process also needs to be adaptable and fluid if you want to stand out. These tips from the experts should guide you in creating a content marketing strategy that can set you apart from your competitors.
Did we miss out on your favorite tip in developing content marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments!