Content marketing involves the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content with the goal of growing, engaging, and retaining the audience. If you execute a content marketing strategy in an effective manner, it is one of the best ways you can promote your brand. Ideally, it puts your business in front of your audience when they are ready to make the purchase. Having said that, let us dive deeper and understand how a well-implemented content marketing strategy can help you grow your business.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
The aim of implementing a content marketing strategy is not only to attract and engage your audience but also to convert them into customers. This is achieved by creating and publishing relevant content, including articles, blogs, photos, and podcasts, among others. However, creating and publishing content is only part of the strategy. The other part is driving the published content across your channels of distribution.
Additionally, you need to define your customer persona and content marketing framework. Furthermore, it is important to measure the results and optimise your strategy to derive the desired outcomes. Therefore, the key elements of an effective content marketing strategy are:
- Buyer persona
- Content marketing framework
- Creating relevant content
- Distributing the content across the right channels
- Measure and optimize
1: Defining the Buyer’s Persona
The audience persona refers to the profile of an ideal audience. It is different from your target audience, which is broader than your audience persona. When defining your target audience or market, you identify a large number of people that share the same kind of demographics and behaviours.
When you define your audience persona, identify a specific person who represents your ideal audience. This also means that you should be clear about the demographics to which he or she belongs and his or her behaviours, interests, challenges, motivations, goals, etc. Additionally, you should find out the source from which your audience collects information and how purchasing decisions are made. Besides, an audience persona must be singular because it is important to think in terms of a distinct person and the way he or she feels and behaves.
The goal of implementing a content marketing strategy is to sell your product or service. This is achieved by providing valuable content to your audience. Understanding the audience persona is essential to creating content that attracts them. However, aligning your buyer persona with your business goals is important for successful content promotion.
A persona refers to a detailed sketch of your target audience based on verified commonalities and not assumptions. There should be statistical evidence to prove the behaviour of your target audience. Building a robust persona is crucial to winning the hearts of your audience, creating content, driving engagement, encouraging them to take action, and promoting your message.
To create customer persona refer article, Guide to Customer Persona
2: Define Your Content Marketing Framework
Content marketing is a proven approach that enables companies to create long-term value for their customers and serve their needs. The appeal of content marketing is easy to understand. Creating the right blogs, articles, podcasts, videos, and reports will enable potential customers to find their way to your site and buy. However, the challenge is turning the idea into a strategy that can be effectively replicated.
An effective content marketing framework may be of great help in this regard, as it provides you with structure and guidance that help you devise an effective content marketing strategy. Furthermore, it helps you produce relevant, engaging, and valuable content that takes into account what your audience is searching for, what challenges they are struggling with, and what they are actually looking for. This means that you are not just throwing stuff on your site and hoping that it works. A content framework helps uncover topics and keeps you on track. However, you need to identify which one of the below-mentioned frameworks would work for you.
A. The Hedgehog Concept
The hedgehog concept is all about identifying the area in which you are exceptionally good and focusing on it.
In the Venn diagram shown above, there are three sets of aspects you need to take into account to determine what it is that you can do better than your competitors. They are:
What are you passionate about?
What drives the economic engine in your case?
What is it that you can do better than your competitors?
The intersection or overlap area tells exactly what you are good at. And how do you apply the concept to content marketing? You just have to rephrase the questions as suggested below to create the right content rather than writing on a wide range of topics that connect obliquely to your business.
What topics do you like to write about?
In which areas do you have in-depth information and insight?
What drives leads or sales to your website?
The overlap area in the Venn diagram that you create will tell you exactly what kind of content (your Hedgehog concept) you should create to best attract, engage, and convert your audience.
B. CMI Framework
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) framework provides guidelines that you can make use of to successfully implement your content marketing program. There are seven building blocks in the CMI framework. They are:
In order to achieve continuous success, regardless of the size of your company’s marketing team, you must have a strategic content marketing plan that aligns with your business goals.
While your company’s content marketing plan establishes, assesses, and affirms who you are as an organization, the “audience” building block uncovers and keeps you in line with those who you are striving to reach. You can break your audience into two parts: internal stakeholders who are involved in the content marketing program and those you are striving to reach externally. Furthermore, it is important to consider how their content needs to change over time by evaluating both internal and external audiences, which should occur on a regular basis.
It makes no difference who you are or what audiences you want to reach if you don’t identify and communicate your story clearly. You should not use your story as a sales tool but as a way to build strong relationships with your customers, especially the loyal ones, over time. Furthermore, your story should reveal your passions and serve as the foundation for content development.
Before sharing your stories with your audience, you need to put in place a clear channel strategy. Identifying the appropriate channels through which you want to deliver your messages is the key to making your content marketing program successful. Besides, you should take into account the context in which the content will be viewed by your audience. This means that how and where the content is consumed is as important as the message itself.
If you are ready with your overall plan, audience persona, story, and channel strategy, it is time to translate your plan into action. You need to establish a four-stage process:
- Create and manage
- Optimise, aggregate, and curate;
- Converse and listen
- Measure and learn
At this stage, you also need to identify the person responsible for executing the process. This also means establishing responsibilities, guidelines, and schedules.
Once the previous 5 building blocks have been adequately addressed, the next step is to create high-quality content (conversation) that establishes a connection with your audience. However, what you need to keep in mind when creating content is that your customers are hearing both what they want to hear and what you want them to hear.
Measurement is the last building block in the CMI framework. At its core, the measurement should give you the answers to questions such as what is working and what isn’t, and what you should do to make it work.
C. Hero-hub-help Framework
Google originally developed the Hero-Hub-Help or Hero-Hub-Hygiene model as a guide to help people grow their audience on YouTube. However, it is being widely used as a content marketing framework as it helps marketers close gaps in the creation of content.
In today’s world, there must be a compelling reason for people to keep coming back to you. This can be achieved by creating a strong connection with your audience and continuously publishing coherent and fresh content covering all areas of the sales funnel. The Hero-Hub-Help framework helps you do exactly this.
Brand-focused promotional content that drives emotion can be your “hero” content. This type of content is generally created and published one to three times a year. While small companies may publish such content less often, huge companies may publish it more frequently. Hero content, built around important events and product launches, helps raise brand awareness and establish a strong connection with the audience.
It is this content that encourages your audience to keep coming back to your website. This is achieved by improving your website’s user experience and making it a “resource hub.” This type of content is used more frequently than “hero content,” as it helps to enhance trust, brand awareness, and engagement not only with your website but also with your social media channels. Examples of Hub content include customer testimonials, daily or weekly blogs or vlogs, interviews, influencer videos, and product demo videos.
This type of content is created focusing on specific search keywords used by people when searching for content online. You must create and publish as much “help content” as required, covering all of the key search terms. The goal of the “help content” is to ensure that your website ranks higher for all the common keywords in your niche so that traffic increases.
D. TOFU-MOFU-BOFU Framework
A sales funnel describes a buyer’s journey. As the leads progress down the funnel, it becomes narrower and the group size reduces. As a buyer enters different stages, he or she will look for different types of content.
Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) visitors to your site are those who have just started considering the options. They look for general content that provides information and answers their questions. Some examples of TOFU content are blogs or articles, videos, podcasts, updates on social networks, etc.
Prospects that reach the middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) stage in their buying journey are considered leads, as they have started considering your product or service as an option. They have developed some trust because they perceive that what you are offering can solve their problem. However, they look for content that helps them perceive your solution as the best on the market. As such, MOFU content includes landing pages on your site, eBooks, surveys, checklists, webinars, downloads, and other educational resources.
Prospects reaching the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) become buyers. However, the content they look for in the final stages includes customer testimonials and case studies. Therefore, the content you need to have in the resources section of your website to convert marketing-qualified leads into buyers must include demos, client reviews or success stories, events, comparison charts, etc.
In short, the TOFU-MOFU-BOFU framework will help you create content that best meets the needs of customers at each stage.
E. Spaghetti Framework
The spaghetti framework is best suited for beginner bloggers who are just getting started. When you are just getting started, you might have a lot of questions, such as:
- What should you write about?
- What should the blog represent?
- How often should you blog?
- What should be the headline formula for your blog post?
- What personas should you address?
The questions are endless. The spaghetti framework will help you find answers to all these questions.
The spaghetti framework basically involves throwing everything you have at it and then analyzing the outcomes. In simple terms, you just start creating content right away without worrying too much about what topic you should write about, who your target audience is, etc. You will gradually start realising what content works for you and drives traffic to your site. Based on your findings, you can begin creating more user-approved content.
The spaghetti content marketing framework may be divided into two categories: creating content on varied topics to determine the best mix, and creating content on very specific topics for a period of time and then repeating with other niches. Instead of writing on random topics, you stick to a particular niche for a while and then change if it doesn’t work for you.
Over time, you will be able to figure out exactly what you should write about in order to communicate with your audience.
3. Creating Relevant Content
The content creation process is the same for different channels. However, you need to have a solid strategy in place to keep you on track and ensure that there is a definite purpose behind the content you create. Actually, the content creation process starts with research. For the purpose of research, you can use the following tools:
Google keyword planner
Google’s Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool. It also helps you identify keywords that can be used in the content you create. This makes it easy for search engines to present your site in front of your audience for relevant keyword searches. In addition to allowing you to discover keywords related to your niche, the handy and free tool also allows you to find out the estimated monthly searches for each keyword and the costs involved. The Google Keyword Planner is best used for creating content for Google Ads campaigns.
Buzzsumo is a powerful tool that allows you to find out the popularity of content by topic. To provide relevant content to your audience, it is important to know what is popular. Using this tool helps you avoid wasting time on visiting various social sites and finding out what prospects are talking about, what their needs are, and what their concerns are. What Buzzsumo can do for you is:
- Provide content insights, such as topics people are discussing, by searching across several social sites. The tool analyses what specific topics are being discussed where and how much attention these topics are gaining.
- Identify the individuals who are influencing others, the posts that are being shared on social media, and those who are gaining the public’s attention the most. This helps you decide who you can follow and get on your side.
- Allow you to establish keyword alerts when content is updated or posted. With Buzzsumo, you can find out who posted content and where, and what steps you should take.
- Conduct a competitor analysis to see what works and what doesn’t for them. This way, you can avoid doing things that are not effective, understand what works best, and assess your position among your competitors.
“AnswerThePublic” is a search listening tool. The freemium tool is helpful not only in finding hidden keywords but also in generating content ideas. It listens to search engine autocomplete data and quickly identifies useful phrases and questions that people are asking about the keywords you are targeting.
It is a goldmine as far as consumer insights are concerned, and you can use the tool to create fresh and useful content that your customers are looking for.
Below is an example for content ideas for keyword dynamic creative optimisation
Google Search Recommendations
The Google search recommendations assist users by showcasing what’s been searched in relevance with the query. This is triggered based on what users are searching.
Below is an example if you search lead magnet
Recommendations include ideas, examples, definition, templates, landing page and more. By looking at the recommendations we can create content for different topics to drive visibility.
Quora is by far the largest online platform for asking questions and receiving answers. Answers are often provided by those who have expertise and knowledge on specific topics. Since the launch of Quora in 2009, the platform has grown to more than 300 million unique users every month. As such, it is a goldmine when it comes to SEO and content marketing.
The advantages of using Quora for SEO and content marketing include the following:
- As Quora has successfully built up its authority, search engines show Quora pages in SERPs
- If you have been consistently providing genuine and helpful answers to questions and linking the same to a page on your site, it may be of great help to you in driving traffic to your web pages. However, this is dependent on factors such as your credibility, the quality of your answers, the attractiveness of a question as well as your answer, how evergreen a question is, and the upvotes received, among others.
- Many credible, important, and influential people use Quora. You can request that they answer some of your questions. This can help you build the credibility of your website. Striving to build authority on Quora will make you the go-to person for topics that you are good at.
- Quora also helps you identify question-based long-tail keywords, which are generally less competitive. Furthermore, long-tail keywords enable natural and conversational searches. The keywords that are traditionally used are not only highly competitive, but they are also not helpful in making your site rank higher on SERPs.
Once you complete the research, the next step is content creation. As mentioned before, you should create high-quality content that adds value and meets the needs of prospects at various stages of their buying journey. Having discussed in detail various aspects related to research and content creation, let’s now understand a few important aspects of content distribution:
4. Content Distribution
Content distribution refers to the promotion of content to your online audiences in different media formats and through various channels. These channels may be categorised as owned, social, earned, and paid.
Owned Content Distribution
This involves distributing content to different web properties belonging to you, such as your blogs, eBooks, emails, newsletters, or microsites.
Earned Content Distribution
Earned content distribution refers to third parties distributing your content or information related to you via publishing sites, press release (PR) articles, guest article contributions, shares, product reviews, and retweets, among others.
The earned content distribution also includes likes, shares, comments, and retweets that you receive organically (unpaid) across social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter.
Paid Content Distribution
When you pay for the distribution of your content, it is referred to as “paid content distribution.” Payment may be done in various ways. However, it is mostly implemented on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. In this case, you pay a specified amount every time a user clicks to view your content. Some examples of paid content distribution include direct advertising, content distribution networks, paid ads, social media ads, sponsored content, and influencers and reviewers who are paid to talk about your brand.
5. Measure and Optimize
Analyzing the results or outcomes of your content marketing campaigns is as important as creating engaging content. Most marketers do not attach enough importance to measurement and the factors that indicate the success of their campaigns, and this often contributes to not achieving the desired ROIs. Furthermore, it is not enough to just measure the results. You need to optimise your campaigns to ensure successful outcomes.
Content marketing optimization refers to making your content effective and functional. This means your content should be relevant and useful, as well as easy to find and consume for your audiences: existing customers, website visitors, prospects, new leads, influencers, and your social media audience. Content that is optimised with your audience in mind would be genuinely helpful in growing your business.
The biggest benefit of content marketing optimization is that it makes your content stand out and demand attention. Your audience will share and engage with your content if it is genuinely helpful to them. Another benefit is that it helps to build trust among your target audience.
That said, the three main factors that you must measure to monitor the progress of your content marketing campaign and optimise it to achieve desired outcomes are:
Visibility: The two key aspects that shed light on the visibility of your content online are the traffic and the number of new users visiting your site. The ‘new users’ metric provides an indication of the ability of your content to attract visitors. Google Analytics helps you find out the number of new users who have visited your site and the number of times (sessions) they have visited. In addition, you can find out the location of the visitors, the devices they used to view your content, and the channels that led them to your site.
Engagement: This metric tells you how engaging your content is. The level of engagement of your content is determined on the basis of the average time spent on a page and the number of pages viewed in a session by a visitor.
If you are getting more new users than returning users, it indicates that your content is attractive but not engaging enough. On the other hand, if the number of return users is higher than the number of new users, it shows that your content is of high quality but is not attracting new users.
Conversion refers to the number of visitors who take the action you desire after going through your content, depending on their stage in the sales funnel. The actions they take could range from subscribing to an email newsletter or clicking on a link to download an eBook or report to ultimately buying your product or service. You can decide the goals, and the conversion rate may be worked out for each goal. The goals may also include the number of leads generated and the total number of service orders received or items or units sold.