Do you know why your content marketing strategy is not working?
Most likely – you don’t have any.
Your blog story – why your content marketing strategy doesn’t work
You know the story. You have a business, so you decide to start a company blog to promote it.
You write a new blog post every week. You don’t really have the time to do proper research. You come up with topics as you go.
Promotion? Yes, you use a social media scheduler to share your blog post on your Facebook business page and on your Twitter account.
You do this for a few weeks and…nothing happens. Silence. Crickets. Yiiiyks!
You feel like giving up. You announce to yourself (and anyone who cares to listen to you):
“Content marketing just doesn’t work for my business!”
Good news: (sorry for being so honest) this is just a lame excuse.
Content marketing can totally work for your business.
In fact, it can work for any business.
Bad news: you’re doing exactly the same thing as 500 million people, and expecting to stand out from the crowd. Impossible.
You don’t have a strategy (content plan is not a content marketing strategy!) – you don’t know what you really want to achieve with your content, and how to get there.
This is an age-old Alice-in-Wonderland type of problem: if you don’t know where you wanna go, how can you get there? (No, having vague “goals” like “I want more sales!” doesn’t count!)
And that is why you’re not seeing any results.
The importance of having a Content Marketing Strategy
But you’re not alone:
This means a staggering 58% of people using content marketing does not see positive ROI from their investment/efforts.
There is a correlation between dissatisfaction with content marketing results and a lack of content marketing strategy:
“84 percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing said they have no documented strategy.”
The times of blog and prey as your content marketing strategy are long-over:
“To date, there are over 1.6 billion websites in the world and more than 500 million are recognized as blogs. Their authors account for over 2 million blog posts daily.”
To sum up: the reason why producing content – even if it’s great content – is not enough to promote your business is that there is so much competition out there, so you need to be very strategic about how you reach your audience with your content.
In 2019, you need to be more specific about whom you reach, when and how. Basically, you need a content marketing strategy.
What is Content Marketing Strategy?
Content Marketing Strategy is a clear game plan consisting of 4 pillars: Strategy, Content, Promotion and Conversion:
For your content marketing efforts to be successful (yield business results), you need:
Pillar I – Strategy
- Sound understanding of your market and whom you’re targeting – your ideal client avatar, their major pain point, and how your product/ service solves it. You need to understand your market positioning (are you offering a premium product/ service, or is it rather a cheap commodity product?) and Unique Value Proposition (Why your clients should buy your product specifially?)
- A clear goal for each piece of content, and how it links with other content pieces – driving more traffic? Bringing in more newsletter subscribers? Building brand-awareness? + A clear, measurable target – basically, how you’re going to operationalize (quantify) your goals:
- Traffic: 1000 new website visitors to your website per month, driven from your blog post as a landing page?
- Newsletter subscribers: 100 new newsletter subscribers/ month from the signup form embedded in your blog post?
- Brand awareness: 100 new Facebook page followers from your post?
- Awareness,what stage of the customer journey your target readers are at – are you targeting leads at the very top of your sales funnel, who are only getting to know your brand (=Brand Awareness stage), or are you talking to people who are already considering buying your product in a retargeting campaign (=Conversion / Decision stage)?
- Promotion channels– what promotion channels are you going to use? Is Facebook the best place to find your audience, or maybe you should focus on LinkedIn instead? Promoting your content on Facebook just because it’s generally popular is like hitting your head against the wall. You need to be where your ideal clients are – no matter whether it’s a popular place or not.
- A way of monitoring and measuring the results (KPIs and KSIs) – use Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to monitor your progress and adjust your strategy accordingly (e.g. your conversion rate is lower than you thought? You need to be reaching more people – either organically, or through paid ads).
Pillar II – Content Creation
- Keyword Analysis – especially if your goal is to drive more traffic to your website from search engines, you need to conduct a proper keyword analysis: which keywords your ideal customer is looking for in Google, how big is the competition for those keywords, and how difficult it is to get on Page #1 in Google for this keyword. You can check that easily using tools such as KWfinder or SEMrush. PRO TIP: target keywords with lower difficulty (below 30), even if the search volume is much lower than in the case of more popular keywords. That way you will have a chance of landing high in Google rankings. If you compete for the top-popular keywords with more established websites (with a higher Domain Authority), you practically don’t have a chance of ranking on Page #1 in Google.
- Planning your Content Topics – How can you plan your content topics strategically? See what your competition does well, and how you can improve on it. You can check which blog posts were most-popular on your competitor’s blog (=how many people shared the post on different social media and platforms) by pasting their URL into BuzzSumo’s Competitor Research Tool: Then, note down the topics and create your own content plan.
- Creating Content that sells – Only now we can move on to actually writing the content. Good content should be:
- long – it may surprise you, but content that gets most backlinks and social shares is about 2,000 words in length – and the longer, the more likely it is to get mentions and backlinks – see the study by Brian Dean of Backlincko, who analyzed 912 million (!) blog posts to find this:
- in-depth and well-researched – bringing real value to the reader – giving them actionable, practical advice on how to solve their problem; presenting new data, findings, or statistics – or presenting them from a new, original angle.
- Having practical utility
- well-written – content that reads well, flows, uses simple language to explain complex ideas and even gives the reader a few chuckles here and there (using humour and personality in your content will never hurt your marketing efforts!)
- Including monetisation logic – some trigger that will promt the reader to consider buying your product/ service;
- Allowing Conversion – e.g. if your goal for the blog post is to collect more email subscribers, you need to have a newsletter sign-up form/pop-up in the blog post! If your goal is directing traffic to your website – you need to link the homepage in your blog post and include a clear Call to Action (CTA) explaining to the reader why they should visit.
Pillar III – Content Promotion
As we already mentioned – with over 500 million blogs on the Internet publishing millions of posts every day – you can’t just publish your posts and expect the audience to find you.
You need to come up with a promotion game-plan, preferably including both paid and organic promotion.
What is cheaper – paid or organic reach?
This may sound like a weird question but actually…it is not.
A lot of people think that scheduling their posts for social media using a social media scheduler (e.g. Postfity – check it out, you get the highest plan for free for 30 days if you put in the code ‘academy2019‘) is enought when it comes to organic promotion.
It is not: the organic reach on Facebook and other social media is so low these days – that at only around 5% you would need to have a massive audience in order to reach enough people to make enough sales.
That’s why you can’t rely on just re-sharing your posts on Social Media. You need to go the extra mile – see this excellent Advanced Content Promotion Checklist by Process Street – and yes, it’s as much work as it looks.
‘Going the extra mile‘ with organic promotion – such as answering relevant questions on different forums and in groups, social media listening etc. – can still bring you great results – but it will be very time-consuming.
Consistent, multi-channel resharing of your content takes so much time – that sometimes if you calculate the alternative costs (= what you didn’t do during that time, that you probably should be doing) it may turn out that it makes more sense to invest money into paid promotion (especially if you see positive ROI from it).
Always use an expert when starting Google Ads, Facebook Ads or LinkedIn ads campaigns – you will avoid making silly mistakes (aka ‘Google Stupidity Tax’).
It’s better to pay an expert and get positive results from your ads – then save a few hundred $ and waste your marketing budget for nothing.
Pillar IV – Content Conversion
To quote Danielle Sabrina, the founder of What Vibes Your Tribe -“a media company that connects the worlds of business development, marketing, and venture capital.“:
“With any business I work with or even my own, I’m always hyper focused on the moment a prospect or lead turns into a client, aka. the conversion. That’s where the digital marketing component comes in: what’s the point of having a dope creative activation that generates press or buzz and not have the proper funnels set up digitally that can follow up and nurture those potential clients until they become actual clients?” [Source: https://tracktime24.com/Blog/play-your-strengths-entrepreneurial-advice-from-danielle-sabrina]
If you’re creating content, but you have no clear Call to Action (CTA) what the reader should do after reading it, and no funnel set up – e.g. email marketing funnel to convert readers into newsletter subscribers – your content will not allow you to push the leads down the sales funnel.
And the ultimate goal of creating content for content marketing is to attract, capture and nurture potential customers for your business.
This step is crucial and inevitable.
Just think about it:
How many times did you buy a product/ service from a company straight after stumbling upon their blog post online?!
Maybe it wasn’t the right time for you to buy this product, or maybe you didn’t trust the business yet.
But if you had stumbled upon some really valuable posts from that company several times (think: retargeting!) you could start thinking about them more and come to a conclusion that they must be as good as their blog. Also, you started recognising their brand.
Or maybe you signed up for their newsletter, and they gave you so much value in it, you decided to buy something from them?
Whatever it was that make you consider the purchase – you probably had at least 4-6 contacts with the company before converting from a lead into a customer.
Even if you don’t quite realise it.
This is why newsletter is still so effective as a way of nurturing leads – after capturing initial interest on the blog, you can set up a drip campaign using autoresponders and keep ‘warming leads up’ on an autopilot.
Btw. – If you want to learn how to set up email marketing funnels on your blog/website – grab a copy of my ebook here. – it walks you through the process of creating email marketing funnels on your website step-by-step, using FREE email marketing tools.
Content Quality – NO content is better than BAD content
Can you imagine wilted flowers in a window display of a florist?
Of course not. It would be bad PR.
Same goes for bad content – it can do your business more harm than good.
And yet – I see so so so many business blogs producing hundreds of crappy blog posts for literally ages, not seing any return from these efforts, just because everybody is doing it – so they think they should do it too.
Often the main reason why content fails is that nobody wants to read it, because it doesn’t bring any real value to the target reader.
This often happens when you don’t really know your target audience and the only reason you’re writing the content is to promote your business.
Look – nobody cares about your business. Your content should be about your audience – not about you.
Writing content just for the search engines – results in poor quality content.
Grow&Convert (A top-notch content marketing agency) defines poor quality content written exclusively for search engines (rather than to bring real value to your audience) as mirage content:
“Mirage content is content that looks good on the surface, but after giving it a deeper look, you realize it’s nothing but high-level fluff.”
Poor quality, “Mirage Content” will not only fail to bring you results but may also be dangerous for your brand reputation:
“There’s no way you would do business with a company that gives such elementary advice on a topic when they’re supposed to be the experts in this field. If you’re trying to attract high-value clients, writing content like this to attract them will not work.”
Content Marketing Strategy – the bottom line:
In order to get results from your content for your business, you need to have:
- A clear content marketing strategy – with goals, targets, KPIs & KSIs;
- Great valuable content that is really created for the reader – not (just) for the Search Engines;
- Remove any mirage content you may have on your blog
- Have a content promotion plan in place – both organic and paid;
- Have funnels set up for conversion – so you can ultimately turn your readers into customers;
Hope this sheds some light on what Content Marketing Strategy is and how you can improve yours to get better results – let me know in the comments!