Have you heard of content marketing?
If you’re a business owner who’s been researching ways to grow your business online, you’ve heard the term before.
The questions you probably have are:
- What is content marketing exactly? – Many publications online throw the term around a bit, but it’s important to understand the true definition of content marketing and how it works
- How does content marketing work? – This post will dive deep into the deep ‘how-to’ and step by step methods for building an effective content marketing strategy.
- Will it work for my business? – The short answer? Content marketing works for all businesses when it’s done right. Don’t worry, we’ll show you the light.
This post contains the most comprehensive list of content marketing tips on the entire internet. We provided this giant list to give you every option possible to make smart decisions for your business.
Before we dive into the tips, let’s answer the questions above.
What is content marketing?
Here’s the definition of content marketing from the content marketing institute:
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.
Put simply, content marketing is a tool to grow your business.
If your efforts aren’t leading to your desired outcome — engagement, leads, or sales — your strategy isn’t working.
Unsuccessful marketers focus on vanity metrics — analytics that do nothing more than boost your ego.
Successful markets focus on leading their customers through the sales process from start to finish and improve their efforts until the entire process works.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
You begin a successful campaign by answering the following questions:
- Who is my target audience?
- What does my target audience want?
- How does my target audience interact with content online?
- What types of content drive the desired behavior and results of the customer?
- How can we create engaging content for readers that also meets digital marketing standards?
- What is the best way to lead customers through the sales process?
And taking the following actions:
- Perform target audience and keyword research
- Create an initial content strategy
- Produce content regularly
When you create you create an implement your strategy, you want to track and refine it over time to optimize your results.
Stick with us…
We’ll walk you through tips to answer all these questions and act on the information as soon as possible.
Will Content Marketing Work for My Business?
This question bugs you the most, doesn’t it?
You’re a forward-thinking business owner or marketer. We know this because you’re here searching for useful information.
But, deep down, you might wonder if content marketing will produce results for your business?
Maybe you think you’re in a ‘boring industry.’
Maybe you’re worried about return on investment — is dumping money, time, and resources into your content going to pay off? How can you truly know if it’s paying off? The ROI of content strategies is notoriously hard to track, but there are ways you can do it.
Content marketing works.
It can work for your business.
It’s nothing more than a tool. It’s up to you or the digital marketing agency you work with to use it the right way.
Side note: If you’re working with a digital marketing agency, ask them how their strategies are going to help your business improve its bottom line. Really, drill down on that question because great agencies can answer that question and bad ones can’t.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go over the tips. Feel free to jump around and find ones you think will work for you.
Create a Customer Avatar
Question for you — do you know who your ideal customer is? Do you know his or her hopes, fears, desires, and frustrations? Can you paint a vivid picture of them in your mind?
You need to know your target audience with pinpoint accuracy and a customer avatar can help you define your audience. With a defined audience, you can create targeted strategies.
Some questions you can use to build your customer avatar are:
- What keeps them up at night? Finding your target audience’s deep pain points and frustrations can help you highlight them with copywriting and provide solutions
- What are their hopes and dreams? You need to know what your client aspires to, not just in terms of your product, but their life in general. This way, you can tie in your product or service with their lifestyle, which builds trust and shows empathy
- What end result will your product fulfill for them? There’s a classic marketing quote that goes, “When people buy a drill, they don’t want a drill. They want a hole.” Make your marketing fit that mantra
- What other solutions may they have tried?
With this information in hand, you can create a targeted avatar. Then, you use the avatar to write content for your ideal customer. This makes the reader feel like you’re speaking to them personally.
Use This Word Often
This subtle change can skyrocket the results of your content strategy.
The change? Use the word ‘you’ more often.
When you use the word ‘you’ instead of phrases like ‘our customers’ ‘our client’ and [xxxx], you show an investment in the person on the other side of the screen.
Most companies talk about themselves way too much.
Your customers want to know what you can do for them. Keep your content focused on their needs at all times.
Paint the Picture
Imagine you’re at your computer right now.
You receive a notification with a new lead or sale.
Your phone is ringing off the hook with customers calling after finding your company on Google.
Minutes later, you get another notification from your company blog. A reader just commented, “Wow. This is the best content I’ve ever seen. I’m bookmarking it to re-read.”
You think to yourself, “I wished I’d started sooner,” and you’re feeling the same rush of emotions you felt when you hit previous milestones in your business.
And most importantly, when tracking your revenue, you’re seeing numbers that make you wide-eyed.
These are the results you can expect from a successful content marketing campaign.
Now, read the next few sentences:
Our company provides digital marketing solutions, SEO, and web design. We can help your company reach a broader audience online, engage with them, and produce positive results.
One sentence says what the company does. The other paints a picture of how the customer will feel after you’ve transformed part of their life.
Check out the way Ramit Sethi uses the paint the picture technique on his sales page for a personal improvement course:
Read Your Customer’s Mind
Want an easy way to figure out exactly what your customers are thinking and make them feel like you’re reading their mind?
Here’s how you do it:
- Research – Read product reviews on sites like Amazon, Quora, Yelp, Google reviews, and Facebook reviews.
- Highlight – Find the phrases customers use over and over
- Become a psychic – Use their exact words in your copy
Use These Tricks to Measure Content ROI
If you want to get an idea of how much revenue your campaigns drive, use these techniques:
- Goal tracking – Most ad and analytics solutions provide goal tracking, which measures how many times users perform a desired action, e.g., buy your product, call, or enter a contact form
- Set $ values – Create a dollar value amount per the desired action. A sale is overt, but you can also measure (on average) how much your leads are worth.
- Compare – Using methods like customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV) you can measure how profitable your leads are.
Don’t be a One Trick Pony
Use different forms of media as part of your content strategy.
When it comes to content marketing, content means much more than the written word.
Other great mediums are:
- Slideshare presentations
- Paid PPC ads
Elements of Style
Copywriting and blogging aren’t the same as academic writing.
When you write for web, use these elements of style to keep your reader moving down the page:
- Short sentences
- Headings (H1, H2, H3)
- Bullet points
- Add media in between sections to break up the copy
The Yoast SEO plugin provides a ‘readability score’ to make your content easy to read online:
Use the Skyscraper Technique
The skyscraper technique is simple.
Here’s what you do:
- Find the best piece of content about a subject
- Write a piece of content that’s 10X better
- Reach out to people who linked to and shared the other article and show them yours
The creator of this tactic, Brian Dean, uses it to rank for tough to beat keywords like “Google Ranking Factors.”
Optimize for Click Through Rates
When you perform on-site SEO for your website, you will create a unique meta description that will appear on search engines.
You want to add relevant key phrases to your meta description to rank highly in Google and you also want to make sure your description is compelling.
Why? Because Google’s new Rank Brain algorithm prioritizes click-through rates, meaning they will rank a site with lower authority, but a higher click-through rate than its competitors.
In this post, Neil Patel describes techniques you can use to research your current site pages and optimize them for CTR.
Map Your Content to Lead Customers to the Sales Process
Each customer is at a different awareness stage when they discover your business. They may be unaware of their problem, aware of their problem and wondering if you can solve it, aware of your problem and believe you can solve it, or ready to do business with you because they’re convinced you can solve it.
Leading your customers from lead to customer involves guiding them through the process step-by-step with different pieces of content:
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- Service pages
To create an effective content funnel, anticipate which stage of awareness your customer will be at when you create a piece of content and use that content to guide them through to the next step.
Write For Humans, Not Search Engines
While you do want to create content search engines love, you must create content people love too. Google is trending toward prioritizing the user’s experience over the standard SEO techniques.
Writing content people want to read also provides these SEO and digital marketing benefits:
- Longer ‘time spent’ on page (a positive ranking factor)
- Lower bounce rates (a negative ranking factor)
- Social sharing
- Higher engagement
- Better conversions
- Brand awareness through word of mouth
Find Your Citations
If your business has been around for a while, chances are people have mentioned it online. When someone mentions your business online, it counts as a citation for your business. Consider a citation a vote of confidence.
You can search for your citations online and reach out to those who have mentioned you and ask them for a link.
Moz created a detailed guide for finding your citations and getting links from people who already love your business.
Create a Welcome Series for Your Company
Email marketing is still one of the top tools you can use to grow your business with content marketing.
To bond with your customer and lead them through the funnel of education to sale, you can create a welcome series.
A welcome series provides automated emails that send out in sequence based on when a new lead signs up for your email list.
Sending them an introductory welcome email creates an instant connection, helps customers remember your brand, and creates familiarity when you send them new messages:
This infographic from Spark Page shares excellent details and step for creating the perfect welcome series:
Beef Up Your Content
Numbers don’t lie. And the numbers say long-form content ranks best on Google.
Industry standards used to say the key length per page was 300-500 words, but new data shows the top-ranked content online usually has 1800-2000 words:
When you create long form content, aim to make it the best content about the chosen topic period. You also want to choose an evergreen topic, meaning the topic will be relevant for years to come.
Epic content takes time and effort, which is why it works so well. Few people are willing to put that much effort into their content and the ones who do run laps around the competition.
Use Search Display and Facebook Ads to Gain New Leads
Most companies think about ads the wrong way. Ads aren’t just a tool to get users to buy right away. You can also use ads to draw in casual readers and move them through the stages of awareness we mentioned earlier.
If a customer doesn’t know or trust you, they won’t click on an ad to buy your product or service right away. If, however, you use ads to provide them with something useful, interesting, and free to get their attention, you can build the trust you’ll need to market to them later. Check out these awesome examples of companies using ads to connect with users:
Think Long Term
Content marketing requires patience to see the fruits of your efforts.
It may take several months to a year for your post or page to rank on page #1 for Google.
An SEO campaign isn’t considered mature until the one year mark. When you work on a content strategy, think about your long term engagement, sales, and traffic goals then work backward to create a strategy that fits.
When creating a content marketing strategy, think of how you can not only gain a customer but keep them for life. An effective content marketing strategy not only lands new customers but continues to remind them why they purchased in the first place.
Ways to increase engagement for the long with customers and prospects are:
- Blogging consistently
- Email marketing (both sales and engagement-oriented)
- Remarketing ads
- Special offers
- Active social media
Use This Powerful Ranking Signal
Collecting as many reviews and testimonials from customers and clients has multiple benefits:
- Google uses reviews as a ranking signal
- Reviews provide ‘social proof’ which show potential customers why they should trust you.
According to research from Bright Local, 91 percent of people surveyed said they read reviews (at least occasionally) and 84 percent say they trust reviews as much as their own friends.
Republish Your Content
You may have heard that duplicate content is a definite no-no. As it turns out, that’s not exactly true.
You can republish your content on other websites as long as you identify the original piece of content with a rel: canonical tag.
Some platforms, like Medium, have this import function built right into the platform:
Even top Google engineer, Matt Cutts, explains how many forms of duplicate content don’t harm your SEO:
Harness the Power of Guest Blogging
Guest blogging on authoritative websites helps you gain quality backlinks, send traffic back to your website, build your email list, and increase your brand awareness.
That is if you do it right.
The aforementioned Google engineer once declared that guest blogging was dead, but he meant that spammy guest blogging was dead.
Given you find a reputable website and create legitimate and useful content, guest blogging is still a top white hat technique businesses can use.
Some great articles on guest blogging are:
Don’t Build on Rented Land
There are many great third party tools and websites you can use to aid your content marketing efforts.
You don’t, however, want to build your business on someone else’s property. This is called digital sharecropping.
Let’s say you decided to add all of your content only to Facebook instead of your own website. If Facebook decides to change its terms of service or delete your page, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Companies like Facebook change their rules all the time. Relying on third parties alone is a dangerous strategy.
Having your own dedicated online real estate and using long term strategies like SEO and email marketing will ensure your content efforts don’t go to waste.
Use Influencer Marketing to Build Your Brand
Influencer marketing is the process of leveraging the fame of celebrities to promote your product. This extends further beyond typical “A-List” celebrities like actors, rock stars, and comedians. There is a large number of social media influencers out there — people who are only famous through their social media platforms — that you can work with to promote your product. Neil Patel has a great guide on launching an influencer marketing campaign.
Spy on Your Competition
There’s a simple recipe you can use to beat out your competition on search engines:
- Find out what your competitors are doing well
- Do it much better than them
You can use tools like Ahrefs and Buzz Sumo to figure out how your competitors use content marketing. Once you have data on the type of content they create, where their links and engagement come from, and the level of depth they put into their content, you can create better content on the same topics and reach out to everyone who engaged with their content.
It’s that simple.
Create a Maze to Keep Your Readers on Your Website
You can use what’s known as the Wiki Strategy to improve our SEO and keep readers on your website longer.
Here’s a condensed version of the strategy (follow the link to see full):
- Create the best content online
- Link to reputable sources in your content – Wikipedia is a heavily cited and linked website. Meaning that you never have to leave Wikipedia to find more information. You want to create the same effect with your linking strategy
- Find experts to contribute to your site to build the catalog
- Promote your content
- Track your progress
These are just a few of the many content marketing tips you can use to grow your business.
What are some of your favorites?
What have you tried?
Tell us what has worked (or what hasn’t)/