In our last article, we analyzed the different types of written content that can be used in your marketing strategy. As a refresher, here are the types of written content we discussed:
- Article writing/blog posts
- Web pages
- Product descriptions
- Case studies
- Email newsletters
- Press releases
- White papers
Getting started with digital marketing and content writing
Let’s face it – everyone creates content these days, including your competitors. That’s why it takes more than just writing and posting a blog to get noticed. You need a strategy.
That’s where content marketing – a form of digital marketing, comes in.
You might think that your strategy simply consists of writing a blog post, followed by posting it to your social media and linking to it in your newsletter – and you’d be right. In and of itself, that certainly is a strategy.
However, it’s not a complete strategy. To be completely optimized for success, your marketing strategy needs to start long before you create that first piece of content.
Here are the 7 steps you need to take to properly plan, develop, and execute a successful content marketing campaign:
- Set your business goals: Digital marketing resembles a roadmap of getting you from Point A (where you are now) to Point B (where you want to be). Without knowing what Point B is, how will you get there? To help you get started, download this marketing goals template from HubSpot, or ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want to raise awareness and attract people to your brand?
- Are you aiming to convert targeted prospects who are likely to be interested in your product or service?
- Is your goal to nurture leads that are on the verge of becoming customers?
All of these questions relate to the basic sales funnel of attracting, converting, and nurturing leads, which we’ll explore further in a few steps.
- Develop buyer personas: Buyer personas give you a detailed snapshot of who makes up your target audience. They’re not based on real people, but rather a fictional person who embodies your ideal customer. They include demographic details, interests, and behavioural traits that help you understand their goals, pain points, and buying patterns. Download this guide to start creating effective, accurate buyer personas.
- Determine your customers’ search intent: People use search engines for different reasons, and you want to ensure that you show up under the right queries. Providing the right information in your content will help you do that, and help Google rate your website as high quality.
Typically, there are four types of search intent:
- Informational: the searcher is looking for specific information on a particular topic
- Navigational: the searcher is looking for a specific website or web page
- Commercial: the searcher is looking for products or services to fulfill a need
- Transactional: the searcher intends to buy something
Once you determine the search intent, you can then research the right keywords to use in your content.
- Research target keywords: Keywords play a vital role in a search engine’s ability to send organic traffic to your website. Offering keyword-rich content that brings value to web searchers is also crucial to the success of a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Conduct thorough keyword research using online keyword research tools for every piece of content you create, prioritizing the highest-value keywords by their search volume, keyword difficulty, and average cost-per-click. If you’re a beginner to keyword research, Yoast offers a guide that will bring you up to speed.
- Determine the type of content you need: Remember the questions we asked a few steps back when you were setting your business goals? Here’s where we choose which content to use in relation to where your goals sit on the sales funnel:
- Attract Stage: During this stage, you’re looking to generate awareness about your brand with content that has broad appeal. Consider using content such as videos, infographics, and other types that are both informative and entertaining to give them the biggest chance of going viral.
- Convert stage: Once you’re past connecting with a wider audience, the goal is to provide content that speaks directly to a target audience. These people are now familiar with your brand and interested in learning more or becoming customers. High-value educational content such as blog posts, web pages, e-books, white papers, and case studies all work well here.
- Nurture stage: Customers at this stage have now converted in some way or have already made a purchase. Now’s your chance to further engage them with great content such as your email newsletter, which will drive traffic to your website, blog, or marketing campaigns. For existing customers, this stage is also effective for repeat sales and brand advocacy.
One great thing about content marketing is that you can repurpose pieces of content in other forms to use at different stages of the funnel. For example, use an older video from a previous Attract campaign in an email newsletter for your next Nurture campaign. You can also turn those old blog posts into an informative white paper, or create an explainer video based on one of your product pages. The repurposing possibilities are virtually endless, and help you get the most of your content while optimizing results.
- Research topics: At this stage, we look for strong, strategic topics that will resonate with our audience and drive results. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some tactics that should help:
- Identify trends in your industry: Some online research will help uncover what’s trending with your audience right now. Online reviews, the Google Trends tool, and Quora articles related to your industry will all give you valuable insights into your customers’ current pain points.
- Social media survey: Run a poll on social media to ask your followers what they’d love to read about, or invite them to share their most pressing questions.
- Look at your competitor’s keywords: Identify which keywords your competitors are outranking you for. You can use the SEMrush Keyword Gap Tool to help identify keywords that will give you some choice topic ideas.
- Content planning and writing: Content planning refers to mapping out the framework for creating and posting your content, as well as its ongoing management. Many marketers use a content calendar to track such issues as where you will publish your content, who will manage it, how often will you publish, and how your strategy is performing. Download one of these content calendar templates to help with your plan.
Now that you’ve gone through all these steps, you can finally start content writing!
One final thought about digital marketing and content writing
Remember, content marketing isn’t a “set it and forget it” scenario. It needs ongoing monitoring and adjustments to ensure it’s always optimized to help you reach your business goals.
Every kind of digital marketing, including content marketing, SEO, and social media, is an ongoing learning process, especially as your customers’ needs change. Be sure to keep in sync with your audience by following the above steps. You’ll be glad you did.