Creating content — like blogs, social media posts, emails, ebooks, or white papers — is a great way to keep customers engaged with your company. It also attracts the attention of search engines like Google because it creates new information for your website (with blogs, ebooks, and white papers) and backlinks that refer to your website (when you post links to your blog from social media and emails).
But like most successful endeavors, you need a plan for content marketing to be effective. I’ve shared some steps here to build a content strategy, even if you’ve never done it before.
The point of content marketing
Content marketing is about positioning yourself and your company as the experts in your field. And you are the experts! You have experience. You have expertise. You know the industry and the local industry landscape. You know what you’re doing, and customers want to see proof of that.
The online content you generate is part of your proof that you know what you’re talking about.
The online content you generate is part of your proof that you know what you’re talking about. But it’s more than that, too. If you’re writing it well, it gives your readers actionable advice and real solutions they can apply to their problems. It encourages them to return to your blog for helpful information and stay longer to read more articles.
Visits, especially long ones, entice Google’s search algorithms to improve your website ranking. And readers are more likely to turn into customers when they habitually turn to your blog for advice.
Decide who you’re talking to
I don’t have to tell you that the internet is a big place. You’re not trying to reach everyone on the internet with your content. You’re trying to reach the exact people who need your services. Define your content audience by:
- Identifying your ideal client’s age, income range, location, and any personal attributes that may apply (for instance, if you’re a running shoe company, do you want customers who prefer walking? Or are you explicitly selling to runners?)
- Writing to why they are seeking your services: what problems are they trying to solve, and why do they need a company like yours to solve them. Don’t be lazy with this one. If you’re a roofing company, then yes, obviously, your clients probably need a new roof. But are they looking for roofers who are local? Reliable? Fast? Why, specifically, are they choosing you?
- Describing your unique selling proposition: the features of your business that make it especially valuable for your ideal customer
When you’ve defined your audience, you’ll be better able to hone your language and content so that it talks to them.
Define your goals
Ok, yes, your ultimate goal is to get more clients and make more money. But to do that, you have to think a little deeper about how your content will help you achieve that.
Think about your business and how you’d like to improve your online presence. Then, write clear-cut, unambiguous goals that are achievable within your budget and timeframe. Some examples of specific content goals are:
- Improve your search engine ranking by ten places
- Acquire 500 email addresses
- Increase sales by 15% in two months
The more specific you can be in setting your goals, the better. When your goals are specific (and realistic), they are more achievable. They don’t seem overwhelming, and it’s easier to visualize the steps you need to take to meet them.
Choose your channels
Content marketing is driving people to your website using the content you’ve to attract them. Your content marketing will use a combination of content channels like a blog on your website, social media channels, email marketing, and maybe paid advertising.
No one of these channels is a silver bullet. Blogging without an audience feels like yelling into the abyss. Constantly posting content on social media without a plan can cause your audience to scroll on by. Your email marketing won’t go far without an email list to send to.
But together, these channels can boost each other.
- If you’ve created great content on your blog, your social media channels are the place to tell your audience about it.
- When readers arrive at your website to read your blog, you can invite them to share their email addresses through a popup form that offers a discount in exchange for their address.
- When you’ve collected enough email addresses, you can start thoughtfully emailing customers about sales, events, or new content you’ve created.
Content marketing is a series of cogs and wheels that all turn one another. Getting started can seem a little tricky, but when they are all up and running smoothly, those cogs turn each other to generate robust returns for your business.
Blog like the expert that you are
So, now that you know your audience, goals, and content channels, you can start to create some content.
A great way to start organizing your content is to line out a few months’ worth of blog topics. Those who are new to blogging sometimes wonder what they should blog about. It seems like after you’ve written a blog or two, there’s nothing left to say! But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Your customers are hungry for new content all the time.
Your customers are hungry for new content all the time. To you, it may seem repetitive to talk about your business over and over. But customers don’t know or understand your industry as you do. They want to learn more, and specifically, they want to know more about how you solve their problems.
Start by committing to one blog a month, and think of three months of topics, so 3 blogs in total. Topics can be as broad as you like, but your blog will be more engaging for your readers if you drill deeply into particular topics.
An excellent way to think of blog topics is to recall a problem you solved for a client that day and write about the situation, how it affected your client, and how you solved it. This is useful because it describes a real problem that other customers may be having, too. It shows clients that you understand their pain points and how to solve them.
You will never run out of blog topics if you keep thinking of how to solve customers’ problems because their problems are endless – that’s why they need you!
When you write, include as much detail as possible, and offer ways that your readers can take action or learn something from your blog. Don’t write fluffy pieces; give them something meaty, detailed, and actionable. A meaty blog is more beneficial for your readers and better displays your expertise on the subject.
Get that content out to your audience
If you just kept blogging without telling anyone about your articles, Google may eventually find your blog and start including it in search results. But that would take a long, long time. Don’t wait for Google to discover your fantastic content – tell people about it!
You can start by posting about new blog pieces on your social media channels. Depending on your industry, that may be Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or some combination of two or three of these. Tailor each post for the type of audience you’ll find on each channel: professional for LinkedIn, casual for Facebook, fun for Instagram, brief for Twitter.
Post on an informed schedule. There are many articles on the best times to post on social media, like this one that breaks it down by channel. Read a few of these articles and create a posting schedule that works for you. You’ll want to tweak it as you learn what your audience likes, but it’s an excellent way to start posting with a purpose.
You can let your email list know about your blog articles, too. I talk in greater detail about email marketing here, but here are a few pointers to using your email list to share blogs:
- Only email them once a week about your blog.
- 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 of delivering emails to each segment will help you hone your email marketing over time.
- Include a call to action in the email, such as “Call us to learn more about [BLOG TOPIC]” or “Email me if you’re having trouble with your [BLOG TOPIC].”
If you don’t have an email list, you can start by collecting email addresses from your current and former customers. Most are happy to provide their email addresses and stay involved with your company.
You can also put a popup on your website that invites visitors to share their names and email addresses for an incentive like a discount. But never pay for an email list. You will find that it’s ultimately wasted money.
Informed, expert content strategy
If you’re still unsure about creating your own content strategy, let OGAL help. I’ve built content strategies that are:
- Driven by data
- Focused on achievable-yet-powerful goals
- Engaging for your audience
I’ve helped dozens of clients improve their Google ranking and increase revenue with an informed content strategy, and I can do it for your company, too. Call me (682.936.2385) to book a free consultation, and we’ll explore how content can help boost your online presence. No strings attached!