Content marketing has been growing exponentially in popularity and there are now over 500 million blogs on the Internet (1.6 billion websites, but only half a billion identify as blogs). As with any great marketing channel, content marketing has become saturated and is less effective in 2020 than it was ten years ago.
So should we just give up now? Well, if you don’t leverage content marketing you will not only be missing out on a lot of leads, but you will also be swallowed up by the competition that knows how to leverage it effectively.
Even though the days of content mills are long gone, there are other, much more valuable ways to leverage content marketing. We are going to give you some insider tips that not only prove that content marketing still works, but that it continues to be one of the strongest strategies to drive conversions.
In this post, I've provided Successful Content Marketing Strategy and actionable tips to not only get the most out of your content marketing, but to take your performance up to the next level.
Check for Grammatical Errors
Not only do you look a little silly to your potential customers if you can’t spell (particularly with spellcheck on every platform from Word and Google docs to WordPress), but you may also see a drop in rankings. Google wants to deliver authoritative results and nothing makes you look less authoritative than having misspellings and grammatical errors throughout your content.
If you're a decent writer but just need some help to improve, install Grammarly, a tool that will help you with everything from emails to blog writing:
Write Relevant and Actionable Content
In order to be a great marketer and business owner, you must first understand your customer. Regardless of the niche you are in, you should know your customer’s problems and pain points like the back of your hand.
And to truly develop a piece of content around your customer’s pain point, make sure that it is actionable. Are you giving them the specific steps and tools they need? Could you take this piece of content and replicate the steps? If you don’t think you could carry out the advice in the article, you haven’t finished it yet.
Develop Content Marketing Goals
A shocking statistic from a study done by jasaseo.be shows that 26% of marketers don’t even have a marketing goal. Of those that do, only about half are meeting their goals fairly often.
Now that you have the company goal in mind, what are you trying to accomplish by creating and promoting your content? Is it brand awareness? More sales in the next quarter? From there, you can pick a topic and map out the piece.
Offer FREE Value through Your Content
Do you know what most of today’s consumers want? They want to hear the word “free.” Think about how many of your friends like to brag about the great bargain they just got. The same goes for your customers. While most marketers and brands are asking for money in return, you can offer free tools and high-quality information to build your brand.
If JASASEO.BE can provide an entire tool for free (keyword suggest, a keyword research tool – and not some cheap thing that barely does its job!), that’s a pretty good indication that there is an ROI on free value
A tool that lets you to test the effectiveness of each page (or groups of pages) to increase your organic traffic without the hassle of building links or writing more content.
Use Content to Drive Leads into Your Sales Funnel
Content marketing is one of the most crucial aspects of a sales funnel. From pulling customers into that initial stage with specific content pieces to getting them to click the “buy” button on the sales page, content is everything.
Start by creating amazing content that drives awareness, whether that is a video, blog post or infographic. Within this content, make sure that you are enticing the reader to move into the next stage of the funnel. This could be by asking for an email address before providing access to gated content. Continue to be aware of how your prospect is feeling at each stage in your marketing funnel and adjust your copy to reflect that:
See our previous article for creating content marketing:
Longer content gets more attention from both Google and people:
You've probably heard this before., but what you might not have heard is that higher rankings also increase conversion rates. A study on Quicksprout showed that when they A/B tested landing pages, the longer ones not only performed better, but also had more qualified leads.
So why does long form content work better? More often than not, a blog post of around 2,500 words will:
Capture attention and offer more relevant information
Incorporate more keywords and SEO optimization
Develop authority of the website that published it
Understand Your Target Audience (and Buyer Persona)
Any marketing campaign, whether it’s content marketing, social marketing or search engine marketing, needs to be directed towards a specific target audience. Although you may wish that every single person in the world was your ideal customer, that's rarely the case. Make sure that you understand whom you’re creating content for – and figure that out before trying to sell anything.
Gain Authority Links with Guest Posting
Guest posting is an amazing way to get more people familiar with your brand. Think about it. If your friend Bill introduces you to his friend Sally, you’re no longer a complete stranger to Sally. She will probably make a lot of positive assumptions about you based solely on the fact that you are Bill’s friend.
Guest posting works in a similar way. You get to tap into the host blog's whole new network and promote your brand. If they have a strong and loyal following, you should get a pretty good ROI. This is a super easy and cheap way to get lots of prequalified eyes to your website.
Optimize all Your Headlines
We once said:
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
But if you never get anyone to click through your headlines to the post, it won’t matter how great your content is.
Click-through rate (CTR) is a direct ranking factor. If Google notices that people aren’t clicking through, you will begin to see a drop in rankings. Keep in mind that you should be optimizing for user intent before search engines. While it is good to include your main keyword in the title, don’t over optimize either.
Offer Exclusive Content to Your Email List
With an ROI of 4,400%, email is still one of the most powerful marketing channels that you should be leveraging, because the people on your list are already your fan.
If you aren’t already offering exclusive content to your subscribers, you're missing out. People love to feel special and when you tell them that only they (the subscribers) are going to receive the “best of the best” information, they're more likely to opt in.
Content marketing without consistency is just like a fitness schedule that is not performed on a regular basis. Both cases will bring fewer results.
In order to build your brand’s reputation, you should create and share valuable and qualitative content consistently, and the best way to organize this somewhat daunting task is to use an editorial calendar:
If you don’t have a huge team or budget, you can do this with a simple Excel or Sheets spreadsheet. However, there are a number of tools available, such as:
This is one of the easiest hacks to implement. Add visually attractive (and prominently placed) social sharing buttons throughout your website pages and blog posts. Use an easy, one-click sharing button, because if it's time-consuming or otherwise difficult, nobody will use it.
On the Single Grain blog, each post has a floating social sharing column that follows you as you scroll down, so it's always right there:
Another idea is that when your readers finish an article, create a CTA (call-to-action) that asks them to share your content on social media.
Know What Form of Content Each Social Platform Is Best For
Each social media channel varies slightly in their preferred form of content. For example, YouTube is obviously the best place for video content, Twitter is great for a one-sentence teaser and a link back to your blog, Instagram and Pinterest are great for visual content, etc. Pinterest is also a great holiday-themed platform:
Post to Medium
This is a tactic that is often overlooked, but is a very powerful way to get more traffic to your site. Medium is free to post on and provides a wealth of information on a variety of topics:
To optimize for the highest CTR to your website, only post the first several paragraphs of your article and make the reader click to your website to read the rest. If you want to really take it to the next level, make sure that you optimize your dated posts – that means refreshing old ideas, images/screenshots and stats (and, of course, all links) to make it more relevant to the current year.
In addition, check your keywords. If you are ranking for keyword topics that are relevant but not mentioned in the content, consider adding a section that explains those topics.
Update Old Content
Speaking of optimizing your older posts…. In this rapidly changing industry, a year or two is all it takes for your content to become outdated. Or it might be ranking for keywords that you were not initially targeting. Rather than going through the hassle of writing an entirely new post, a better idea is to just update it. That way you don't lose any SEO juice on the original URL.
Updating older, well-performing content involves:
Performing some research to see what has changed on the topic
Rewriting parts of the article to reflect these updates
Citing new, authoritative sources
Making sure that all the links are working (and updated – generally you don't want to link to a source that is more than a 1-2 years old)
Replacing any obviously outdated images
Refreshing the intro and conclusion
How do you know which blog posts to update? You should conduct a thorough content audit on an annual basis to discover any insights into your blog and content marketing strategy.
Your Content + Influencer’s Quote = Positive Results
Approach an influencer whom you believe would be interested in your content, brand’s values or ideas:
Within five years, influencer marketing is positioned to become a $5-10 billion industry. And the companies and brands that are aware of this and have already invested in influencer marketing campaigns have generated up to a 520% return on investment! Here are some more juicy stats:
On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing.
81% of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective.
51% of marketers believe they get better customers from influencer marketing.
An easy tactic is to get an opinion on the same matter that your content discusses. Publish some quality articles with some great quotes from known influencers in your space, and you’ll reap amazing benefits.
Use an Influencer for Better Content Exposure
Another option is to pay an influencer to promote your content to his/her audience. Before committing, make certain that you do some proper research. Analyze the influencer’s audience, engagement and their trustworthiness. These are all elements that make the difference between a good and a bad investment in influencer marketing.
Remember, this is a relationship and just like any relationship, influencer marketing should be a two-way street. If your brand is the only one that benefits, you won’t be long for this strategy. You will eventually find that nobody wants to partner with you.
YouTube influencers are probably the most popular, but that's not your only option. The main types of influencers include:
Social Media “Sensations”
Because 44.44% of influencers feel that brands aren’t providing them with fair compensation, stand out from the (bad) competition by treating your influencer(s) well and reap the benefits of a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Pay a Lot of Attention to Your Keyword Research
Keyword research is super important. The better you rank for specific keywords, the better you’ll perform in the SERPs. I’d say that this is one of the most common mistakes that marketers make: they neglect the keyword research process. It’s not that they don’t do it, but they’re not really finding the best possible combinations of keywords for their purpose.
Choosing the right keyword can attract the right audience, which could propel your content marketing strategy into the largest driver of new customers for your business.
“What are people who are interested in your niche looking for? What questions do they have? What do they like? What do they read? Keywords offer a lot of insight into these factors, giving you a glimpse into the common searches that your audience is performing. The goal is to see what they want and then provide it.”
Educate Instead of Trying to Sell
Content can be considered a selling machine – indirectly. However, if your content marketing strategy includes free content (blog posts, newsletters, social media posts), you should have a clear purpose for this content. I’d say that the perfect goal would be to bring the prospect from point A (not interested) to point B (very interested) to doing something/getting a problem solved (become a customer).
And the best way to do this is: only once you’ve educated your prospect should you start to suggest your service or product.
Pay Attention to the Analytics
Analytics matter a lot. A content marketing campaign is actually dependent on statistics, as you’ll always want to optimize and eventually scale your efforts.
The reason why you should be looking at analytics is because you need to see where people are dropping off in your sales funnel. Unless there is a technical error with the site, you will want to A/B test the copy. You can even track it right in Google Analytics
More often than not, you’ll find patterns and “winning” content, and soon enough you’ll know what works and what doesn’t so that you can double down on what does work.
Leverage Data to Optimize Your Content
Data collection is huge today. Every company is trying to acquire leads. Most will ask for your name, email, phone number, gender, favorite food, high school locker combination, etc., in order to create a description of you (called a buyer persona) and deliver the best possible products, services or advertisements for their audience.
Doing this will increase your sales because you won't just be pushing products at everyone on the web; you'll be able to target specific people with specific offers, making it more probable that you will get the sale.
And you should do exactly the same thing with your content: use the information your target audience shares with you to better satisfy their needs and problems.
Produce Both Evergreen and Trending Content
Both evergreen and trending content are worthy of your attention, but I prefer to focus 70% of my efforts on the evergreen subjects, while 30% goes to trending topics. Make no mistake – if there's a hot topic in your space, write about it. Just ensure that you're not churning out the same content that everyone else is by providing your own unique angle, statistics or research that your company has gathered, or writing truly 10x content about it:
The benefit to writing about evergreen subjects is that you'll be able to keep updating it every year or so and get a lot more mileage out of it with a lot less work.
Use Conversational and Simple Language
Exceptional content is never complicated. Most people don’t get excited about reading a textbook, but they do get excited about having a conversation with a friend. Write with a conversational tone, not a monotone.
This is also a great opportunity for you to leverage your brand by creating a unique voice. If you're a funky startup, you can “chat” with your readers and use casual jargon. If you're an accounting firm, you'll want to sound professional, but you can make the topic more palatable with cool examples and easy-to-understand language.
Engage with Your Prospects as Much as Possible
Think of it like a friendship. The more you talk, the stronger the relationship becomes. How frequently are you connecting with your prospects and customers? Once a week? Once a year?
Your content is a great tool that can serve you well in this regard. While writing articles, for example, or when recording videos, address your audience directly. Use the second person (“you,” “your”) and ask them a lot of questions. Encourage them to deliver their answers in the comments, through an email, or on your brand's Facebook page (and be sure to respond quickly!).
Note: If you do ask for comments (as you should!) YouTube doesn’t like for you to actually say the words “leave a comment below” or make it otherwise obvious that you are asking them to comment. Instead make it more natural by saying something like “let me know what you think of…”
Offer Strong Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
CTAs are essential. People generally don’t do stuff unless you tell them to. So next time you want to them to like your social media page, ask them for a page like. When you need more subscribers, create a strong call-to-action that encourages sign-ups. The trick to an effective CTA button is to inform the user what's in it for them:
Most people also don’t realize that you can A/B test your CTA. Here are a couple factors that will change the CTR of your CTA:
When in doubt, test it! The numbers never lie. As content marketers, this is often overlooked, though it is important to do. Here are a couple of things you can and should be A/B testing:
Various Opt-ins and CTAs
Google now offers a free A/B testing software. Make sure that when you do A/B test, you give it ample time to have a full sample of data to look at and don’t change too many things at once.
Understand Which Traffic Channels Are Worth It
Your content is usually not worth posting everywhere. For example, it might not be worth it for an e-commerce store that sells women’s shoes to be posting on Medium. Some traffic channels will be hard to leverage, so it’s much wiser to focus your energy on the platforms that bring increased results.
To get an idea as to where you should start, look at the channels that your competitors are using. If they are investing money into those channels, guess what? They work!
You need to test, test and test again. Figure out which channels work best for your brand/product and then double down on them.
Use the 80/20 Rule to Optimize Your Content Marketing
Referring to content marketing, you should figure out which 20% of the content you're creating generates 80% of your overall results. Remember that you can apply this to testing various mediums, testing blog post formats and even topic clusters. Once you know what that 20% is, put more of your focus and resources on it.
Then the 80% of your work should be promoting that 10x content.
Keep Up with the Marketplace
The digital environment changes practically every day and the speed of progress is phenomenal. That is why it is so easy for online marketers to fall behind: they get stuck with something that used to work while ignoring the reality of a growing and changing market. As technology and techniques advance, the marketplace will inevitably fluctuate.
Your role as a content marketer is to pay attention to what’s going on and be one step ahead of your audience so that you can inform them. Figure out what the latest marketplace rules, trends, disasters, technologies and topics are and pay attention to them!
Content marketing works. That’s why so many people are using it today. The key to ensure that it continues to work is by leveraging new and innovative tactics like setting clearer content marketing goals and A/B testing various content. Stepping away from the content mill and into a customer-focused strategy is how you will make content marketing work.
FAQs Content Marketing
Should we do this?
Too often clients say, Can we do this? They are so enamored by what’s new and possible that they don’t stop to ask whether it’s right for the audience, right for the message, and whether it could work.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
How does marketing without talking about or promoting our product/service help us create leads and sales?
Your current or future customer is not interested in your product, they are interested in solving a problem or challenge, usually both organizational and personal. By leveraging inbound marketing tactics companies can share content with the intention of inspiring their audiences. Instead of pushing out product information, content is intended to stand out based on elements such as authenticity, thought leadership, experience in solving those problems, etc.
Why would I want to educate my customers and help my competition?
Loyalty, building a long-term relationship, and customer retention are three key components. Consumers today are oversaturated with many businesses providing the same product or service. By educating customers, they will make informed decisions and look to you as the subject matter expert.
How can content marketing help address our target audiences throughout the customer purchase journey?
That question gets at the heart of how content should be used. Content should address the motivations and needs of the customer at various points of their process, so that it strengthens their positive feelings about the brand, heightens their likelihood to convert, and increases their customer lifetime value.
How can I use content marketing to increase brand presence in the most efficient way?
First, make sure you’re inserting your brand into a conversation that’s relevant to both your offering and your audience. Missing that foundational mark is the content equivalent of getting on the wrong flight. Secondly, once you’ve identified your broad opportunity, do your homework – find the optimal intersection between conversation volume and conversation saturation. The goal is to tackle the topic(s) that are unexplored enough for you to own that still attract enough eyeballs to drive your bottom line. That calculus varies based on your product sale point, obviously, but the base principle is still the same.
How do we measure content’s influence on sales and revenue?
That one question drives the best decisions, the best priorities, and the best subsequent questions that drive impact. To connect content to revenue, your marketing and sales teams need to be tightly aligned to the same business objectives, company messaging, and agreed-upon processes.
How much is it going to cost?
Marketers who have limited experience with content marketing often worry that the cost of creating content is just too expensive for their company. The reality is that marketers often expect to pay way more than creators charge for various content assets
What’s our goal? Why are we doing this?
The goals of content marketing are simple: you build your brand awareness by personalizing your brand, you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and you increase traffic to your website with each post by using SEO friendly keywords.
What are the editorial and commercial benefits of creating interactive content?
The way society consumes content has changed. We can no longer expect users to simply scroll and consume text-heavy, dull, static content placed in front of them. Neuroscience points to a solution: interactive content is shown to awaken the brain and result in increased content memorability. It will power the future of storytelling.
What are we doing about voice search?
Keyword research is more important now than ever. Specifically, in regard to capturing Google Home answers. Google provides most of its voice answers from the featured snippet at the top of search results.
How can I get my executives to create and share content for the company?
Getting executives to buy into content marketing is an important step. And getting them to actively participate in your content as your company’s thought leaders is another. You need to put the leadership into thought leadership content and look for those leaders wherever possible.
How do I use content marketing to help other people in my organization?
The beauty of content marketing is in how valuable it can be across the company and not just marketing. Your head of recruiting can use it to attract the right talent, your communication people can use it to communicate to investors, your head of training can use it to educate current employees. Too many executives are so concerned about themselves and their own teams that they don’t give an olive branch to others. This question shows me somebody who can really help others accomplish bigger things for the company.
How can we make something go viral?
There’s no guaranteed formula. But no matter the industry, you can increase your chances if your content. 1. Presents a unique story, idea, or dataset. 2. In a way that directly addresses a pain point or creates an emotional response in your core audience and. 3. In an engaging format. And, that’s not enough. You have to promote the heck out of it.
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