5 Strategic Steps to a Winning Content Marketing Strategy for Your Inbound Marketing
Eighty-five percent of B2B marketers say lead generation will be their most important content marketing objective in 2016 yet only 32% have a documented content marketing strategy to execute that goal. With content playing a huge role in inbound marketing and being one of the most powerful sources for creating new traffic and customer acquisition, it’s essential to develop a solid plan that positions your business to reap these positive rewards.
The challenges, however, that most brands have with content marketing are producing engaging content, measuring its effectiveness, and creating content consistently (Source: Content Marketing Institute). If you have a content strategy, you want to make sure that it’s working and reaching your desired audience. There is a way to overcome these objections and experience the engagement your valuable content deserves…and that’s with this five-part plan.
Here is an exact outline of the action steps you need to launch a successful content marketing campaign for your overall inbound marketing strategy:
#1 Knowing Your Target Market
Having a clear understanding of your target audience and who they are is the prerequisite to your content strategy. You see, identifying the pains and challenges of these specific groups allows you to tailor your content that solves problems and brings value. Ultimately, you want to create content that engages your market and moves them to action. This requires clarity of knowing what they want so you can deliver the goods.
The optimal way of doing this through buyer personas. Essentially you are painting a picture of what your ideal customer looks like…almost like creating a real person yet based on the types of customers your business has and wants. Buyer personas include details like:
- Job description and responsibilities
- Role in the buying process
- Problems and concerns they're experiencing
- Pain Points
- Their Typical Day
- Most impressing questions
- Goals and objectives
Establishing these personas allows you to build a deeper and personal connection with your audience because you’re relating your messages to their pains. You are speaking directly to them, making your content strategy impactful, effective, and engaging.
Knowing your target market will serve as an ultimate guide to your entire inbound marketing strategy because your content revolves around your intended audience.
#2 Brainstorming Content Congruent to Your Sales Funnel
Your brand will attract different prospects who are at different stages in your sales cycle (or sales funnel). You may have a visitor who visits your content who is ready to invest in your service yet another who is “just browsing” and doing research. With this fact, it’s important to create content that fits the needs of your prospects at each stage that moves them to the next stage of your funnel.
Let’s briefly label the stages of a sales process and content ideas that fits each one:
- Awareness Stage
The prospect is essentially in the discovery process of your brand. They realize they have a problem so they are in the research phase, simply looking for educational content that will help them overcome their pains and problems. The focus here is generating content that creates awareness and promotes your brand as the go-to source. Strong content ideas here include blog posts, webinars, white papers, and infographics.
- Consideration Stage
The buyer is not ready to make a purchasing decision yet is now familiar with your brand and respects you as an authority in your niche. They are looking for information related to solutions. Create content that encourages list building to get qualified email subscribers. Types of content that works in this stage are video series, guides, product webinars, and case studies.
- Decision Stage
The prospect is getting closer to making the buying decision so your goal is to create content that makes this an easy flowing transaction. The content you will use to help close the deal will be different from the content used in the previous stages of the funnel. To convert leads into sales, the best content types that work well are free trials, implementation (how-to) guides, and live demonstrations.
#3 Content Creation
Now that you’ve identified your personas and have brainstormed the types of content to fit each stage in the sales process, it’s time to produce content that solves problems. There are countless ideas for creating content that your market seeks to read. The key is serving your audience a variety so you speak to the different learning styles of your readers.
Here are some of the most effective kinds of content to consider:
- Blogging (of course)
- Research reports
- White Papers
- How-to Guides
- In-person events
- Print Magazines
- Visuals/Images (charts, graphs, memes, etc.)
- Case Studies
With testing and measuring (which we'll discuss more in step #5), you’ll soon discover which types of content best resonates with your audience, giving you a solid direction on which to focus your energies on more.
Quick SEO tip: Search engines favor content that has over 2,000 words. In other words, the longer and more detailed your content, the better for ranking!
#4 Getting the Word Out (Promoting)
As soon as you create your content, you want to publicize it quickly to your various marketing channels, ready to share value with the world. You see, content does not promote itself (hence, content marketing) so its important to have a syndication strategy where you will distribute your content once it goes live online. This is where it gets fun! There are so many eyeballs in your market just waiting to receive the news…you just have to get the word out.
The promotion of your content, however, will largely depend on the campaign. While a blog post may be shared on social networks, a new white paper might require a bigger push in the form of paid content amplification.
Check out these quick strategies to promoting your content:
- Email marketing - The best because the list is already engaged with your brand
- Social Media - It's okay to share several times on social media sites. For example, you can share the same post on Twitter 2-3 times a day throughout the week for effectiveness
- Google AdWord: For a new white paper or eBook, you can create display campaigns to raise awareness and remarketing campaigns to retarget abandoned visitors
#5 Test, Track, Analyze, Measure, & Tweak
Don’t just create your content, promote it, and hope it sends traffic and leads your way. No! You must gauge to see what’s working and what’s not. This is the true essence of marketing success…knowing what your market is most receptive to so you can stick with what vibes most with your audience and give the people what they want. Testing, measuring, and tracking is essential to your overall content marketing strategy.
To measure your content success, here are a few questions you can ask to discover what’s effective:
- How many page views does the content receive?
- How many leads did my content generate?
- What type of content is shared the most?
- What type of content is read the most?
- What keywords do people search for to find my content?
The answers will provide you with concrete data to use for your next content and ways to curtail it to meet the demands of your market. A win-win!
Armed with this strategic plan, you can now move forward in confidence to creating a successful content marketing strategy that will help you manifest your business goals and objectives. Take action now, develop this plan quickly, make adjustments as you go along, and enjoy the benefits. Your audience is waiting!