Creating content – such as blogs, social media posts, emails, ebooks or whitepapers – is a great way to engage customers with your business. It also attracts the attention of search engines like Google because it creates new information for your website (with blogs, ebooks and whitepapers) and backlinks pointing to your website (when you post links to your blog on social media and emails).
But as with most successful endeavors, you need a plan for content marketing to be effective. I have described a few steps here for setting up a content strategy, even if you have never done this before.
The purpose of content marketing
Content marketing is about positioning yourself and your company as experts in your field. And you are the experts! You have experience. You have specialist knowledge. They know the industry and the local industry landscape. You know what you are doing and customers want to see proof of it.
The online content you create is part of your proof that you know what you are talking about. But it is also more than that. If you write them well, they offer your readers actionable advice and real solutions that they can apply to their problems. This encourages them to come back to your blog for helpful information and to stay longer to read more articles.
Visits, especially longer ones, tempt Google’s search algorithms to improve the ranking of your website. And readers are more likely to become customers if they regularly consult your blog for advice.
Decide who you talk to
I don’t need to tell you that the internet is a big place. You are not trying to reach everyone on the Internet with your content. You try to reach exactly the people who need your services. Define your target group by:
- Determine the age, income range, location and other personal characteristics of your ideal customer (e.g. if you’re a running shoe company, do you want customers who prefer to run? Or do you sell explicitly to runners?)
- Write about why your customers use your services: What problems are they trying to solve, and why do they need a company like yours to solve those problems. Don’t be too lazy here. If you are a roofing company, then your customers probably need a new roof. But are they looking for roofers who are nearby? Reliable? Fast? Why do they choose you of all people?
- Describe your unique selling proposition: the characteristics of your company that make it particularly valuable to your ideal customer
Once you have defined your target group, you can better tailor your language and content to your target group.
Define your goals
Okay, yes, your goal is to attract more customers and make more money. But to achieve this, you need to think a little deeper about how your content helps you achieve this goal.
Think about your business and how you want to improve your online presence. Then write clear, unambiguous goals that are achievable within your budget and time frame. Some examples of specific objectives are
- Improve your search engine ranking by ten places
- Acquisition of 500 e-mail addresses
- Sales increase by 15 % in two months
The more concretely you can formulate your goals, the better. If your goals are specific (and realistic), they are easier to achieve. They don’t seem so overwhelming, and it’s easier to visualize the steps you need to take to achieve them.
Choose your channels
Content marketing is about attracting visitors to your website with the help of the content you provide for them. Your content marketing will use a combination of content channels such as a blog on your website, social media channels, email marketing and possibly paid advertising.
None of these channels is a panacea. Blogging without an audience feels like shouting into the abyss. Constantly posting content on social media without having a plan can cause your audience to scroll by. Your email marketing won’t get far without an email list to send to.
But together, these channels can reinforce each other.
- If you’ve created great content on your blog, your social media channels are the place to share it with your audience.
- When readers come to your website to read your blog, you can invite them to share their email addresses via a pop-up form that offers a discount in exchange for their address.
- Once you’ve collected enough email addresses, you can start emailing customers about sales, events or new content you’ve created.
Content marketing is a series of cogs and wheels that all interlock. The first steps can be a little tricky, but when all the cogs mesh and run smoothly, these cogs will set each other in motion and generate a solid return for your business.
Blog like the expert you are
Now that you know your target audience, your goals and your content channels, you can start creating content.
A good way to organize your content is to set blog topics for a few months. If you’re new to blogging, you sometimes wonder what to blog about. After writing a blog or two, it seems like there’s nothing left to say! But that is far from the case.
Your customers are constantly on the lookout for new content. It may seem repetitive for you to talk about your company over and over again. But your customers don’t know and understand your industry as well as you do. They want to find out more about how you solve their problems.
Commit to one blog per month initially and think of topics for three months, so 3 blogs in total. The topics can be as broad as you like, but your blog will be more interesting for your readers if you go into more depth on certain topics.
An excellent way to come up with blog topics is to think back to a problem you solved for a customer that day and write about the situation, how it affected the customer and how you solved the problem. This is useful because it describes a real problem that other customers might also have. It shows customers that you understand their problems and know how to solve them.
You’ll never run out of blog topics if you keep thinking about how you can solve your customers’ problems, because their problems are endless – that’s why they need you!
When you write, you should be as detailed as possible and show your readers ways they can take action or learn something from your blog. Don’t write fluffy articles, but something substantial, detailed and actionable. A substantial blog is of greater benefit to your readers and better demonstrates your expertise on the subject.
Share this content with your audience
If you just keep blogging without telling anyone about your articles, Google may eventually find your blog and include it in search results. But that would take a very, very long time. Don’t wait for Google to discover your fantastic content – tell others about it!
You can start publishing new blog posts on your social media channels. Depending on the industry, this can be Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or a combination of two or three of these channels. Tailor each post to the target group you are addressing on the respective channel: professional for LinkedIn, casual for Facebook, entertaining for Instagram, short for Twitter.
Publish posts according to a well-considered schedule. There are many articles on the best times to post on social media, such as this one, which is broken down by channel. Read some of these articles and create a posting schedule that works for you. You’ll want to customize it as you learn what your audience likes, but it’s a great way to start posting with a purpose.
You can also inform your e-mail list about your blog articles. I go into more detail about email marketing here, but here are a few pointers on how to use your email list to spread the word about blogs:
- Only send an e-mail about your blog once a week.
- Segment your email list and create a different message for each one. You may also want to send emails to each segment at different times or with different subject lines. Trying out different ways to send your emails to each segment will help you refine your email marketing over time.
- Include a call to action in the email, e.g. “Call us to find out more about [BLOG-THEMA] ” or “Email me if you have any problems with your [BLOG-THEMA] “.
If you don’t have an email list yet, you can start by collecting email addresses from your current and former customers. Most people are happy to provide their e-mail addresses and stay connected with your company.
You can also set up a pop-up window on your website that asks visitors to provide their names and email addresses to receive an incentive such as a discount. But never pay for an e-mail list. You will realize that this is ultimately wasted money.
Informed, expert content strategy
If you are still unsure how to develop your own content strategy, let webdev4u help you. We have developed content strategies that:
- are driven by data
- Focus on achievable yet effective goals
- that captivate your audience
We’ve helped dozens of clients improve their Google ranking and increase their sales with a sound content strategy – and we can do the same for your business. Arrange a free consultation and together we will find out how content can improve your online presence. Without obligation!