Have you ever been faced with a new challenge (whether it’s your own business, client work or for your employer) and felt immediately stuck at step 1? Not sure where to start?
You know that content marketing is SUPER important – everyone from your boss to your business coach keeps telling you that CONTENT IS KING, right?
So what’s been stopping you?
I’m going to let you in on a secret: content marketing is EASY.
It really is. You don’t have to be a super-duper writer from a fancy ad agency or a “social media guru” to succeed with content marketing.
If you follow a few simple processes and remain consistent, you will succeed with your content marketing strategy.
Content marketing strategy can be broken down into 5 steps you should follow so that you’re in a great position to plan your next moves.
- Know your audience
- Plan your content
- Create great content
- Publish and promote content
- Measure and refine
1. Know your audience
Your audience is the very heart of everything you do. After all, without clients or customers who pay you for your goods and services, you don’t have a business.
The key is to understand WHO you’re talking to:
- Where do they live?
- Demographic info such as age, education, family status etc.
- What motivates them?
- What interests them?
- What do they do for a living?
- What challenges do they have that your products or services can help with?
Answer these questions and you can create PERSONAS.
Here’s an example of a persona from www.justinmind.com:
You don’t have to design personas as fancy as this – just make sure you have all the information for the personas for your ideal audiences.
How do I do research to create personas?
- You can dig into the great data available in Google Analytics or Google Ads (if you’re using these for your site)
- Take a look at the most popular articles in your industry on BuzzSumo.com, go to View Sharers and look at the types of people who share and read this type of content
- Use Alexa.com to view detailed demographic reports
- Use Quora to research your target customer’s needs
- Ask your existing customers to share more info about themselves by running a survey with Survey Monkey or TypeForm
You can use Twenty20.com to find great images of people you can use for your personas.
How do you help your audience?
You should answer these questions:
- How do my products or services help my audience?
- What type of content will help them?
- What content is my competition offering and how can I improve on this?
You can trawl through social media networks to see what interests your audience and what problems they have.
Collect all your findings and research and store this as a reference for when you move into the next phase of content marketing: Planning.
2. Plan your content
You know the old adage: fail to plan is to plan to fail. It’s so true for content marketing because your content plan gives you the drive to remain consistent (which is key) and relevant to your audience.
If we look at content planning, it involves the following two areas:
- What content will I produce?
- When will I publish this content?
Let’s check it out:
What content will I produce?
This step involves looking at TOPICS and deciding what you’re going to cover in your content plan day after day, week after week and month after month.
There are a number of ways to get ideas for content – and if you have more, please feel free to mail me at email@example.com
Here’s how to find content ideas:
Help your audience
Look at each audience you created in Lesson 1 and understand what their problems and challenges are. How does your product or service help them? Now, create a list of topics that specifically addresses each problem.
An electrician’s client not only want a new light added to their lounge but are also looking at ways to save electricity.
The electrician should create a really good article for her blog that explains how to save electricity by getting into electricity saving habits and changing to energy-saving light bulbs around the house.
That’s one topic ready to be written for the electrician’s blog. Boom! On to the next one…
Brainstorm and mindmap topic ideas
Have you ever tried free association with a mind map? You start with a massive blank sheet of paper and in the middle of the piece of paper you write an idea. You start jotting down related ideas from the main idea and connect them with lines. Each idea leads on to other ideas and soon the piece of paper is sprawling with words that are all linked to the main topic in some way.
Here’s what a mind map looks like (example from www.learningfundamentals.com):
Do you notice how quickly your brain can create topics from just one idea?
You can brainstorm by yourself or you can ask friends, family or colleagues to help.
The key is to have fun and enjoy the process so that ideas flow freely without limits or restrictions. You will be amazed how quickly the ideas come once you start brainstorming and mindmapping.
There are great sites that list the most popular articles for a particular topic.
www.buzzsumo.com analyzes what content performs best for any topic or competitor. You simply enter a topic or a website URL into the search box on the home page, hit the Go! Button and you’ll see a list of articles ranked by number of social shares. Buzzsumo is free to use for a limited set of results and you need to upgrade to a paid subscription to see the full set of results.
There are a number of keyword research tools online that help you generate ideas.
My favourites are:
These keyword research tools will help you find topics that people care about that are related to your main topic.
How to find topics that are guaranteed to be what your audience wants to know about
The simplest way to find out what people care about is to follow the money. The way to do this is to go to Amazon.com or Udemy.com or Coursera.com or any other sites where people PAY for content and look at the best sellers or most popular section.
For example, if you want to write an article about dog training, go to Amazon, find the best-selling books about dog training and have a look at the TABLE OF CONTENTS for each book to see what topics are covered.
The same goes for online courses – take a look at the course overviews for the most popular courses in a topic and you’ll see what you should be writing about.
I’m not suggesting you COPY the content of course but get inspiration for what topics people actually pay good money for.
This site is fantastic because people ask questions and other people answer them. This will give you fantastic ideas for what topics to write about.
Next up…putting topics into an editorial calendar.
When will I publish this content?
You’ve got a massive pile of topics after your topic research and now you need to plan when to publish.
The best way to do this is with an EDITORIAL CONTENT CALENDAR.
An editorial content calendar is a visual document that lets you and your team schedule your content production and publishing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
I like using a spreadsheet to keep things simple.
Here’s what you should include in your editorial content calendar:
- Who will produce this content?
- What format will the content be in (video, audio, blog, social media)?
- When will be published?
Your calendar can also include all the steps needed to actually produce the content (e.g. writing, editing, revisions, final check, publishing) and can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.
I prefer simplicity so that the content calendar does what it needs to do: keep me consistent.
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel so here’s a fantastic article by Hubspot that has some editorial content calendar examples and even templates for you to download:
3. Create great content
This is where we really get into the weeds and start creating great content.
Content can be written (in the form of blog posts/articles, web copy, social media updates, emails), audio (in the form of podcasts or audio recordings) or video.
The key to great content is RELEVANCE.
Does your content speak to people in a way that they can relate to? Is it relevant to meeting their immediate needs?
Does your content satisfy people by helping them?
- Inform: in the form of books, blog posts, social media posts, online courses, how-to videos, guides, playbooks or many other formats that impart information to people
- Persuade: in the form of sales copy (as found on web pages, landing pages, emails and social media posts)
- Entertain: in the form of books, movies, podcasts, audiobooks, memes
When you sit down at your desk and start creating your content, it will fulfill one of the objectives above.
Below are super resources I’ve put together that you can use to learn how to create great content:
Here’s why I think podcasting is booming right now:
- People need to give their eyes a break from the constant screen-time from mobile devices, computers and tv screens
- Audio has been shown to have the same benefits on learning processes in the brain as reading
- Audio is convenient for people who need to drive or use their hands for other activities
for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Getting Started with Podcasts
How to start your own podcast
Complete step by step podcasting tutorial
Creating blog posts are essential because:
- Blogging is a way to inform, persuade and entertain your people
- Blogs live on your own website, so you are building on your own land and not rented property in the form of a social media platform
- Adding fresh content to your site in the form of blogging is a good way to keep people coming back for more (and therefore good for SEO – search engine optimisation)
Below are great resources that teach blogging:
How to write a blog post: the definitive guide
How to write a blog post
How to write a blog post: 22 actionable tips
Writing a book (fiction or non-fiction):
Joanna Penn is my favourite go-to for creating fiction or non-fiction books:
She’s also got great information about starting a solo career in writing – useful if you want to create books or knowledge products and sell them online.
Video has become massive worldwide as Internet speeds improve, and this means you really need to get your business into video marketing and creating content for video.
YouTube Marketing from WordStream
YouTube Marketing from Hubspot
Neil Patel’s YouTube marketing guide
The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing
Medium.com has fantastic resources for writers who want to write better.
One of my favourites is The Writing Cooperative:
The key to creating great content is to test, refine and test some more. If you want to master your craft, start today and DO. There are plenty of places that can teach you and give you tips but the best way to become a better content marketer is by actually DOING.
This is critical. If you want to become a better writer, write. If you want to make great videos, make videos.
The resources above will give you an edge and set you up for success but if you don’t start and create content yourself, you’re not moving forward.
In a world of consumption spend more time creating and you’ll look back on your day and smile to yourself: “I made that”.
4. Publish and promote content
Okie dokie, – let’s jump into what to do after you’ve created a great piece of content.
Your content has been written or recorded and you’re ready to hit the GO LIVE button.
Let’s explore this important step so that you not only get your content live properly but also distributed so that people actually see it.
Publishing your content
For self-hosted blogs you will hit the Publish button after your content has been:
- Checked again
For social media posts you should follow the same process of writing, editing and checking to ensure that your content is accurate, grammatically correct, free of spelling mistakes and that the links from your post actually work.
For video content, watch the video and check for factual correctness, sound levels and to ensure the final edit is ready for publication.
Once you are ready to publish and you’ve gone through all the steps in your go-live checklist, hit the publish button.
And at this point I am sure you’re expecting a flood of new traffic and comments and shares and likes and all the other good stuff content brings.
Sadly, your content will be unnoticed unless you PROMOTE it.
Here’s how to promote your content after publication:
- Email a link to your content to your subscribers
- Share a link to your content on your own social media channels
- Reach out to influencers you mentioned in your content and let them know your content is live and that you’ve mentioned them
- Mention your sources when you share your content on social media
- Share your content to communities you’re part of who allow you to share your own content
- Submit the URL of your content to Google Search Console via an XML feed to ensure your content gets indexed quickly by Google
- Run paid advertising to promote your content
- Link to your new content from your older blog posts
- Link to your blog post from an answer on Quora
- Comment on other posts or conversations and add value to the conversation – don’t spam
- Submit your (excellent) content to journalists who are looking for stories to publish or reference
Remember that content can be repurposed into many different formats once you’ve created it – you don’t need to start from absolute scratch!
A blog post on a specific topic can be turned into:
- Audio file
- Slide for sharing on SlideShare
- Facebook group or page post
- Instagram post
- Post on a community like Medium.com
- LinkedIn article
- Email or series of emails
All these different formats open new opportunities for your content to be exposed to audiences on the Internet – which means more traffic, shares, comments and visibility.
Influencer marketing is super powerful for content promotion. If your content gets picked up by a massive influencer who shares it with their huge audience, your content will get massive exposure.
Develop relationships with influencers slowly and steadily over time. Don’t spam them. Don’t bother them. Do make meaningful connections with influencers.
Here’s what’s important when making connections with influencers:
- You’re relevant to their audience
- You add value to their own brand
- Your values align with theirs
- Your content is actually amazing
5. Measure and refine your content
How do I know if my content marketing is working?
Remember when we set up objectives for your content marketing during the planning phase?
Your content marketing is working if it helps you meet your business objectives – which ultimately means more people who buy from you over and over again.
Some important metrics that indicate that your content marketing is working hard include:
- Traffic: are people visiting your blog posts, listening to your podcasts or watching your videos?
- Completion rate: how long are people spending on your pages? If they start reading a blog post or watching a video but leave before finishing, your content isn’t working the way it should
- Engagement: are people reacting and commenting on your content and sharing it?
- Conversions: are people buying your products or services because of the content you published? You can measure this using tracking tools that measure how your content influenced the buying decision
Over time you will gather data from your measurement tools (Google Analytics for example) to show you what types of content really work and which ones are duds.
Analyse the content that works to understand what type of content resonates with your audience and what results in sales.
Use the results of your analysis to plan new topics in your content calendar.
Rounding it all up
Content marketing can be very effective to attract people and influence their decision to buy from you over and over again.
Keeping track of what’s working for your audience is essential so that you keep producing the best content day after day, month after month.
In a world of massive content production and overconsumption of content, it’s often difficult to stand out from the crowd and make your voice heard.
People are bombarded daily with information and your job as content marketer is to:
- Filter out the junk and present only the truly valuable nuggets that will help your audience
- Curate content from other sources and present it with your own unique approach
- Remain focused ONLY on helping your people – content marketing is about solving THEIR problems and not about self-promotion
I’d love to hear more from you about how I can help you on your content marketing journey.
Please comment below with any questions or comments about what you’ve learned and where I can help.
Feel free to reach out to me for a personal email response by mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best for your content marketing and chat soon!