How to Elevate Your Content Marketing Strategy
Last updated on March 12, 2020
A content marketing strategy is more important today, than ever. To be successful, businesses need to create brand awareness, build reputation and nurture prospects through its sales funnel. The Internet has completely flipped the buying cycle, where customers have many more options. As a result, your content marketing strategy must focus on creating content that’s helpful to your target audience—whether it’s to educate, entertain or a mix.
Here are ways to elevate your content marketing strategy, to generate leads:
Develop a content marketing plan
Content marketing is a tactic to highly consider, as part of your yearly marketing plan. Your content marketing plan needs to align with your business goals, as well as include specific content marketing goals, tactics and ways to measure and increase marketing ROI. With the intention of getting a return on investment, your content marketing strategy must be linked to lead generation. Depending on the nature of your business, the best content marketing methods to use for lead generation and conversions will differ.
A content marketing plan must consist of the following:
- Target audience research – First, define your target audience. One of the ways you can elevate your content marketing effort is to think like the customer. Answer questions like, “how can I provide a solution to a problem that’s affecting my target audience?” or “what goal does my target audience want to achieve?”
- Competitive intelligence – Identify your competitors. Then conduct research on what your competitors are doing in the marketplace. Some of the ways you can gain insight is through media, content and digital audits, as well as social listening.
- Keyword research – In my blog about how to get traffic to your blog and generate leads, I shared the importance of keyword research. It’s not only necessary to conduct keyword research, it’s vital to how your blogs will rank. This upfront exercise sets the stage for your blog. Start by identifying top keywords to incorporate into your blog. Then, use Google to search for phrases that rank highly for a keyword(s) on the search engine results page. There also are paid services you can use like Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush.
- Content calendar – Create a yearly content calendar. Similar to an editorial calendar, this calendar is vital to elevate your content marketing strategy. It will help you determine your content topics/types and develop a schedule of what you’ll post and share across marketing channels. It should be a working spreadsheet document and updated as needed.
Create quality content
This is central to elevate your content marketing strategy. Every piece of content that you create should consist not only of great content, but quality content, to increase organic traffic. This type of traffic is unpaid and generated by users who find your website after using search engines.
What ingredients contribute to quality content? First and foremost, content must be well-written, use correct grammar and not have any typos. Start by creating memorable key messages and connecting your value proposition to your target audience’s needs. Generate content that grabs attention and provides information.
For effective digital marketing, you can drive traffic by sprinkling keywords, in addition to inbound and outbound links, throughout your content like I’ve done in this blog. Be sure to include a strong call-to-action, to generate leads. This strategy will generate more indexed pages on your website and increase visibility for search engine optimization (SEO).
Blog posts, infographics, video content, news, case studies, webinars, checklists and white papers are all types of content. Think about which ones will be most effective in speaking to your target audience, depending on where they are in the buying cycle and how they consume information. Speaking of buying cycle, that brings me to my next point…
Frame content based on stages of the buying cycle
First, conduct research to get to know your target customer. Once you know that, you can create a customer avatar. Smart content marketing strategies start with the customer.
You must understand who they are, as well as their psychographics, demographics, buying behaviors and pain points. Building a customer avatar, also known as a buyer persona, is crucial in determining:
- Key messages
- Target audience
- Types of content
- How the content is delivered
- How the lead is captured
- What happens after the visitor completes a form
Many businesses know their business and industry inside out. Yet, many often don’t take the time to look at their content through the eyes of their customers. Your customers typically aren’t searching for branded solutions. Instead, they’re searching for their problems.
Unless your content speaks specifically to those problems and how your business can be the solution, they’ll never find you. In order to have content that gets quality leads, it must systematically walk visitors through their problems. This will enable them to relate to your business, then shift to how it uniquely can solve their problem.
Content Marketing Institute reported on 2020 content marketing predictions. One of the predictions, which supports my thinking, is we’ll notice that buyers are impressed when content tells them how we solve their problems, and that too much emphasis on benefits doesn’t work. It will become clear that buyers are the experts on what they want to know and that we simply need to invest in listening to them.
There are three stages of the buying cycle:
- Awareness – Prospective buyers don’t always know when an issue has become a problem that they need to solve. During this stage, your content should clearly define a problem that your target audience encounters. At this point, don’t mention your brand and turn the helpful piece into another commercial. Instead, tacitly promote your brand with embedded links that lead back to your website.
- Consideration – During this stage, prospects acknowledge the problem and conduct research to find a solution. Create content that helps prospects solve the problem. Use check-list blogs that show target audiences how to address the matter.
- Decision – At this point, prospects are ready to decide. Showcase your brand as the solution by name. Leverage case studies and press releases that portray your brand as the problem-solver/thought leader.
Buyers Journey (Hubspot)
Frame content to match these different stages of a buyer’s journey, for successful content marketing and to connect with sales activity. The goal is for your target audience to build a relationship with your brand, products or services during the different stages. Consider the various content formats that I shared and which ones will compel a deeper commitment from your targeted prospects.
Share content across multi-channel platforms
Once you’ve created great content, share it! Two of the top ways to get traffic to your blog and generate leads is to share posts on social media and send personalized emails. Research the best ways and platforms, based on where your target audiences get their information.
To boost engagement and conversions, personalize your content for these platforms. By personalizing, you can deliver content in which individuals have already expressed an interest, thereby increasing engagement with your content and brand—which lead to more loyalty and conversion rates.
Once you choose the right social media platforms for your brand, create and share different types of content. In addition to social media marketing, I highly recommend including email marketing as one of the top ways to share content, build an audience and increase your customers and sales.
Content Marketing Case Studies
According to Chief Marketer, there are numerous companies who have successfully elevated their content marketing to engage audiences. John Deere is one of those content marketing examples. John Deere’s content and publication team created The Furrow, a print and digital magazine to help engage farmers with the brand. The magazine helps drive interaction and lead generation, through the dealer network. Subscribers must sign up through the dealer they purchased from, giving the dealer an opportunity for up-selling and cross-selling.
The content marketing strategy for John Deere has been effective, for the following reasons:
- The main goal was clearly defined: generate leads.
- The content is available in a range of formats and platforms.
- The content is framed, based on stages of the buying cycle.
- There are opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling, as follow up to the lead generation.
Similar to John Deere’s content marketing strategy, CMA used this approach for a content marketing campaign it built for Amerlux, a B2B LED lighting manufacturer, to generate more sales leads for its interior and exterior product lines.
Through a lead-generation program with content in a variety of formats, including blogs, CMA created a path to drive prospects down the sales funnel. Because this campaign was focused on moving prospects down the funnel, compared to general brand awareness campaigns, CMA developed a content creation plan that framed portions of the content in a manner that mimicked a buyer’s journey and executed it.
Topline results included driving 14,508 unique visitors to Amerlux.com, as well as 9,838 individuals to the “Locate Your Sales Rep” page on the Amerlux site. Additionally, 348 people provided their email address as part of the lead generation campaign.
The key to elevate your content marketing strategy is to understand your target audience, generate compelling content that speaks to them and distribute it through the right channels, at the right time. In addition, tell your story in a way that’s relevant, captures attention and creates long term relationships with your customers. Finally, create and distribute content that your target audience will look for, enthusiastically consume and share, throughout the buying cycle stages.
Do you need to elevate your content marketing strategy? Contact us today, to begin the conversation.