Content marketing is nothing new. Smart marketers have been doing it for years, however, with all the changes to Google’s algorithm, SEO’s have been forced to move away from spammy, manipulative tactics and focus on content generation and promotion. The sad truth is most SEO’s have no clue what they are doing. They tell their clients, “Yes, we are content marketers. We build content for you and then we promote it.” At the end of the day, they are churning out, at best, generic content that’s keyword stuffed and sending it out socially via their clients’ social media accounts. This, my friends, is not content marketing. So what is content marketing? Well, that will require a very long answer, so I’m going to break it up into three separate posts for you. Let’s jump in!

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is having a deep understanding of exactly who your customers are (or should be), understanding exactly what they need to know and then delivering content to them in a relevant format and compelling way. The whole process begins with content strategy.

Content Strategy

As I just discussed, creating content for content’s sake is a really bad idea. Ash Buckles, one of my mentors, always used to tell me, “Everything you do needs to be on purpose.” Doing things on purpose is also known as strategy. When it comes to content strategy and developing a killer content marketing campaign, everything you do should be focused around goals, and more specifically around organizational goals. Every single piece of content should tie back into at least one of your organizational goals. For those who didn’t pay attention in your college strategy classes, real goals, or quality goals, are specific, time bound and customer centric. Here are some examples of really good content goals:
  • I want to increase leads coming from my website by 25 percent by October.
  • I want to reduce the amount of customer service calls by 5 percent by the end of Q2.
  • I want to increase our opt-in email list by 1,000 subscribers by May and send them relevant content every month.
  • I want to grow our external content partners by 10 in the next 12 months.
  • I want to grow revenue from our reseller channel by 15 percent by the end of the year.
As you can see, very specific organizational goals are quite different than generic goals and actually make it easier for you to put a content marketing strategy together. Now that you have your goals and know where you’re going, you’ll need to do your research to see what content you need to create.

Research

Before you begin any effective content marketing strategy, you have to know what to write about. Creating content that’s on target every single time is extremely important in your ability to create interest, drive traffic, increase leads and generate revenue. To do this you need to get really good at building out buyer personas. Understanding who your personas are and what their pain points are is crucial. Developing buyer personas is extremely hard. If you can pull this off, you’ll be light years ahead of your competitors. For those wanting more information about performing your research and building out personas, here are some good posts to check out:

Topic Modeling

Now that you have your buyer personas fleshed out, you’ll need to figure out what content they are seeking out. I like to do this in three different ways. 1. I want to interview current customers or clients. Nothing will help you generate topic ideas better than speaking with those who’ve gone through the process of finding information to solve their needs. I typically like to run through two sets of questions. First, questions about their pre-sale pain points, struggles, concerns, etc. Here are some of the questions I like to go through: Second, I like to ask questions about their post-sale experience. Was there anything confusing about working with us? Was our product hard to use? And so on. Here are some of the questions I like to go through: This can be done by picking up the phone or sending out a survey via survey monkey. Either way, you should be able to get some pretty amazing data. 2. I want to interview sales and customer service representatives. I’ll run through the same list of questions with them, however, the answers are often times different and provide additional topic areas that should also be focused on. 3. I want to do some good old-fashioned competitive analysis. When doing this, I typically pull all my competitors’ RSS feeds and all industry publications’ RSS feeds, as well as Google Blog Search and Google News feeds around certain search queries into Feedly, and then start mining that data for topic ideas. After running through these three activities, you should have more than enough content ideas and topics to last you several months. This leads us to creating an editorial calendar to help you stay on schedule. For those wanting more ideas on how to generate great content topics, here are some amazing blog posts to look through:

Editorial Calendar

Editorial calendars aren’t a new thing for most people. For those who are less familiar with editorial calendars, editorial calendars serve two purposes — to create a schedule of when you will be publishing your web content (i.e. blog post, white paper, e-book, video, infographic, etc.) and to help you stay organized. Setting up an editorial calendar is easy. All you need is a calendar (seriously any calendar will do). At Stryde, we use several different solutions for our clients and ourselves. Some of our managers prefer using a hard copy of a calendar they hang in their cube, some prefer using a calendar within Google Docs and some prefer using plugins from within our client’s blogs to help them manage their content The most important aspect of your editorial calendar is ensuring your calendar has milestones laid out for each piece of content. This will help you to know when graphic elements are supposed to be completed, when the written components are to be completed, etc. That way you don’t get to the final, deliverable due date and find yourself nowhere close to being finished. For those wanting to read some other posts on editorial calendars, check out these posts: So, that wraps up the first post in our content marketing series. Our next post will talk about producing your content and our third post will talk about promoting your content. If you liked this post, we’d love for you to share it and check back for the next two posts.]]>

Greg is a member of the executive team at Stryde and a seasoned digital marketer who has worked with thousands of businesses, large and small, to generate more revenue via online marketing strategy and execution. Greg has written hundreds of blog posts as well as spoken at many events about online marketing strategy. You can follow Greg on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.