You may have some competition if you’re considering implementing a content marketing strategy (which you should!). Everyone is catching on to the value of content marketing, and producing content is key to staying relevant in the digital world. Look at the most recent statistics…
- 28% of B2B companies have a sophisticated/mature content marketing strategy
- 53% of marketers say writing blogs is their top inbound marketing priority
- B2B marketers allocate 32% of their total marketing budget to content marketing
- 70% of B2B marketers surveyed say they are creating more content in 2017 than they did in 2016
The intense competition around content marketing means your company needs to do it well. Our guidelines will help you get the most out of your content marketing. As a bonus, we’ll give you a free template to create your content marketing calendar. Who doesn’t love freebies?
Let’s start with the basics: What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the creation of digital material to educate potential customers about a company’s product or service. Content marketing is often free content that provides value to potential customers without explicitly promoting a brand. Hint: You’re reading content marketing right now!
Content marketing comes in many forms, including:
- Blogs: This is the most common form of content marketing. Blogs are everywhere! They live on your website, are posted and updated frequently and easily shared on social media. Blogs are meant to be easy to consume and should include images and subheadings to provide a clear readership path. They also drive a ton of traffic — 10 percent of blogs are shown to increase organic search traffic over time.
- Ebooks: Ebooks are longer than blogs and provide more technical information. Because they are longer, they are published less frequently than blogs. Ebooks often contain the most valuable information of any form of content marketing so ebooks are often gated, meaning a customer fills out a form to download the content. This also generates engaged leads!
- Infographics: Infographics clearly convey data or statistics. They can include text, charts and graphs, illustrations and more. Infographics are great for social media. Struggling on content for your channels? Consider an infographic! You don’t need a designer to create infographics — there are tons of free templates
- Videos: While producing videos requires significant resources, videos can yield a high return on investment. Videos have been shown to increase landing page conversions by 80 percent and build consumers’ trust in your business. Now that’s what we call successful content marketing!
- Quizzes: Internet users love interactive content — think of Buzzfeed quizzes! You too can ride the wave of quiz popularity. We implemented a quiz strategy for one of our clients (check out the case study here) and promoted it through social media. It increased their average monthly leads by 576.2 percent.
There are other types of content marketing, too — podcasts, templates, etc. — but consider those listed above if you’re just diving into content marketing.
Determine your goals for content marketing
Content marketing is extremely valuable only if it’s done intentionally and strategically. Otherwise, it can be a waste of resources. That’s why you need to make goals and, no, your goal cannot be “to increase business”— isn’t that the point of all marketing goals anyway?
We recommend defining your company’s SMART goals for content marketing before getting started. SMART stands for specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and timely. Examples of SMART goals are:
- Increase organic site traffic by 12 percent by the end of 2017
- Add 100 new qualified leads through gated content monthly
- Grow email list by 20 contacts through blog subscriptions for each blog published
As you learn more about content marketing, adjust your goals to ensure they are always achievable and relevant.
Identify your personas
We talk about personas all the time — on our blog, internally, with our clients, etc. Personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customers, should drive all the content you put online. Each piece of content should be written for at least one of your personas — something they would find valuable and for which they would be searching online. Not only do you want the content to be relevant to your personas, but the format should be appropriate for them as well. For example, if your persona is a C-Suite with significant knowledge about your product, maybe an ROI calculator or case study would suit them best.
Analyze and improve existing content
Leverage the content you already have when constructing your snazzy new content strategy. Start with your Google Analytics and look at performance of any content you’ve published — blogs, ebooks, etc. How much organic traffic does the content get? Which keywords are ranking well on these pages? If you share this content on social media, also look at your social media analytics. Does sharing content get more clicks and interactions? Do you see any trends relating to the images you use?
When you do this audit, we also recommend optimizing existing content. HubSpot does this and has found optimization to more than double monthly leads from existing blogs. Optimization means updating statistics and graphics, making titles more appealing and improving keyword usage.
With your personas and intel from existing content in mind, it’s time to brainstorm topics for your content marketing strategy. Get your team together, show them which topics you’ve already covered and start throwing ideas around. If you get off-track, use these guidelines to help the process:
- Develop content to support existing website pages. This gives you more opportunities to link to your content within your website (hint: this is good for SEO). For example, you might want to have helpful blogs and ebook on each service/product page to nurture your customers through the buyers journey.
- Write content around your long-tail keywords. Have your SEO specialist identify the long-tail keywords for which you’re trying to rank, and brainstorm topics around them. Content marketing, especially blogging, is a great way to rank organically for long-tail keywords because of the length of each page.
- Use online brainstorming resources. The HubSpot Blog Topic Generator uses an algorithm to give you an array of titles for your content pieces. Or, try Buzzsumo, which shows you how topics — and your competitors — perform on social media.
Create a content calendar
Using the topics your team brainstormed, put together a content calendar for everything you will produce, from blogs to podcasts. Schedule deadlines for up to a quarter in advance — time flies when you’re creating lots of content, so you want to be prepared!
We use a shared spreadsheet to keep things organized and up-to-date. We also have back-up topics in case the information needed for a specific piece of content isn’t available by the deadline. Ensuring a consistent flow of content production is great for search rankings!
Here’s a recommended publishing frequency for each type of content:
- Blogs: Publish as much (and as consistently) as your resources allow. Research shows that companies who blog 16 or more times per month receive 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than companies who blog four or less times per month.
- Ebooks: Start strong with your ebook publishing frequency. Ebooks are one of the best ways to capture leads, so it’s important to get them published with landing pages set up as soon as possible. Make sure you have the most important topics for your personas covered, then analyze performance before you taper off in production.
- Infographics: Whenever you have a data-heavy blog or ebook, create a corresponding infographic! These are perfect to share on social media and make the content seem more digestible.
- Videos + Podcasts: Always posts these on a consistent schedule, as people will subscribe to the feed and expect a regular addition. Most podcasts are weekly (unless they are seasonal).
Keep days of week in mind as you create this calendar. As you can probably guess, B2B companies see highest engagement on weekdays, and B2C companies experience the opposite.
Overwhelmed? We created a template Google Sheet to save you some time. Copy it into your preferred spreadsheet software and adjust it as needed to fit your needs!
Enjoy the world of content marketing, and good luck! You and your team will learn lots along the way, so send us a message if you discover anything we should add. We look forward to hearing from you!