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 StrategyAs 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.
ResearchBefore 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:
- What B2B SEOs Need To Know About Buyer Personas
- 3 Steps To Create Buyer Personas & Buyer Journeys To Kick-Start Your Content Strategy
- Developing A Buyer Persona? Avoid These Four Common Mistakes
- How To Create Meaningful Buyer Personas For The Buyer’s Journey
Topic ModelingNow 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:
- Never Run Out of Content Creation Ideas With These 8 Research Tools
- 15 Free Tools For Instant Content Ideas [and 2 paid ones]
- Find Content Creation Ideas: 7 Sources for a Virtually Endless Supply
- 88 Content Creation Ideas for Better Business Blog Posts, Images, or Videos