Throwing together a website composed of a few pages of text with a couple of photos and expecting to make sales is a thing of the past. To thrive in the online marketing world, a business needs to create value-rich content for its audience.
Content creation takes time and effort but, when done correctly, is worth every second you spend on it. The secret to a successful content strategy has a clear road map. Having a manageable content creation process will save you the frustration of trying to compete without a plan. It will also increase your return on time invested as you will adjust your strategy and optimize it for the benefit of your brand.
1. Set Goals and KPIs
Goals are essential for gauging the effectiveness of your content marketing. Start your content creation journey by asking yourself a few questions. What do you hope to gain from your content marketing? Are there any competitors you would like to model your success after? Do you want to focus on building your brand, increasing sales, growing your clientele, or on another objective? Your answers will help you arrive at your goals.
Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are metrics that determine your progress. They guide the strategic decisions you will be making. These decisions have the potential to benefit or hurt your company, so setting and monitoring the right KPIs is essential.
Traffic to your website will determine the degree to which your content is effective. Keep track of daily, weekly, and monthly unique page visits will allow you to gauge growth over time. It would be best to break your content visits into channels to help identify which channels are the most valuable.
If you have priority keywords that you want to try and rank for, make sure these are in your tracking.
Time on Page
The average time your visitors spend on a page will determine whether the specific content is effective. If you create a 3,000-word blog post and the average time spent on the page is 15 seconds, the readers are probably not compelled to read through it.
If you offer content in a downloadable form, the number of users that save it to their device is a metric you should monitor. If you offer content in PDF or podcast form, keeping track of downloads will determine what works and what needs improvement.
If you produce quality content, other websites will want to link to it. Google and other search engines value high-quality backlinks. Keeping track of your link profile will give you insights into the websites that find your content useful.
If your content is shareable on social media, keeping track of how often users share your content is key. Determining which content receives the most shares can help you produce viral content. Look for common elements in your most successful posts and try to replicate them in future content.
Engagement is a KPI that requires measuring the interaction between your audience and your content. This can be done by cleverly placing actions you want your visitors to complete. Newsletter sign-ups, contact form submissions, comments, and other forms of two-way interaction all represent engagement.
KPIs that have to do with conversions should be tracked vigilantly. The point of content marketing is to convert your audience into loyal customers. Record how many leads enter your sales funnel through your content and how many end up paying customers.
2. Establish Your Team of Content Creators
For a small business, the owner might do all of the content creation. If there are enough staff members to go around, the content can be divided among a group of knowledgeable people. It’s important for the content creators to know the subject well and be able to produce engaging posts. You may find it useful to assign different roles to your content team members.
One person can provide the research, another can write text, and a third member can proofread and edit. In the case that you will be producing video content, specialized skills may be required.
If you would rather not burden your staff with content creation, there is always the option of outsourcing this task. Freelancers or marketing agencies that specialize in creating content for your field can provide the volume of content you need while making it suitable for your marketing purposes.
3. Understand Your Audience and Their Needs
Content creation isn’t about the information you want to put out about your products and services. It is about solving your audience’s problems. Understanding this fundamental difference will skyrocket the effectiveness of your posts.
By offering value that is targeted at your target market, people will return to your website. They will trust you and prefer your business for fulfilling their needs.
Achieving a high level of understanding of your audience’s needs requires stepping out of your role as the business owner. It may be necessary to conduct a focus group or interview some of your current customers. By asking the right questions, you will distinguish between the benefits your clients want to learn about and the features you have in mind. Always prefer actionable advice and pragmatic tips over theory and endless talk about product features.
4. Determine Which Buyer Stage to Target for Each Type of Content
Your sales should be structured with the prospect’s experience in mind. The three stages of their buyer experience are awareness, consideration, and decision.
The awareness stage concerns the moment when the prospect understands that they have a need. In the consideration stage, the prospect moves to find solutions for their problem. The decision stage is when the potential customer decides on the solution they are going to purchase.
Your content needs to be the most concise and to the point to catch prospects in the awareness stage. Blog posts, social media content, and e-books are ideal for capturing users when looking around for answers. Content should be easily accessible and have a hook that captures prospects’ interest.
Guides, instructional videos, and reviews are best for people in the consideration stage. This is where you get to display your product or service in all its glory. People in the consideration stage are willing to spend a little more time researching their options. Podcasts also work great as they are long-form conversations that give you the chance to inform your audience.
Product comparisons, testimonials, and reviews are effective on people looking to make a purchase. When your prospect is in the decision stage, they are ready to buy and need brand-specific information that will cause them to complete their purchase.
5. Do Your Keyword Research
Every business has keywords that relate to its products and services. Making a list of relevant keywords to your brand is essential for pursuing top rankings in Google. Keyword research should reflect what your audience is looking for as well as your location. For instance, a list of keywords for a divorce lawyer in Detroit might include:
- divorce lawyer
- divorce attorney
- divorce lawyer Detroit
- divorce lawyer near me
- child support
- how much will a divorce cost me
There are several sources you will want to use to build your keyword list. Using Google’s search engine is the easiest place to start.
- Start typing your niche, in this case, “divorce lawyer Detroit” into the search bar. Google will suggest various keywords on auto-complete. These keywords are terms that Google knows its users conduct searches for often.
- Next, head down to the bottom of the search results page. You will find a list of related searches. These are also keywords you should consider for inclusion in your content.
If you don’t already have a Google Ads account, sign up for one and check out the Google Keyword Planner. This useful tool allows you to search keywords and get helpful insights into their competitiveness and the number of searches conducted monthly for each one.
6. Start the Brainstorming Process
Breaking up your content into categories will allow you to come up with topics much easier. Make a list of subjects regarding your niche and brainstorm some content ideas for each topic.
For example, if you have a sporting goods store, you can start by breaking down your content topics by product type, sport, demographic, and brand. So, your general categories might be shirts, shoes, and accessories. Sports may consist of basketball, baseball, running, and soccer. Demographics would divide products into age groups, and the different brands would be listed under their own content groups.
You might also include celebrities and sports teams that use the products you sell or movies and music videos where your products can be seen. Determining your content categories will provide you with an unlimited source of ideas for your posts.
7. Create Content Outlines
Attempting to write content without an outline will only cause you to spend more time on the process than necessary. Choose a content topic and have an end goal in mind. If you cannot define your purpose before you start writing, you will never convey value to your reader.
Write out the central ideas you want to include in your piece of content. Break these ideas into subheadings and rank them in the order it makes sense to talk about.
8. Create Your Content
Your outline should do half of the work for you. When you establish the structure of your content, go ahead and flesh it out. If you are writing a blog post, break your text into short sentences and paragraphs.
When creating your content, make sure you are integrating the keywords (in a natural way) outlined above.
End your content with a call to action or a point you want your reader to walk away with. When you review your content, you should look at it through your audience’s eyes. Make any edits and ensure that you are offering the best possible user experience.
When you have written and proof-read your content, you’re ready to put it out on the internet for your audience to enjoy. While it isn’t rocket science, there are a few details that will give your content an extra push if published properly.
Accompany your blog posts with a meta description. This is a special HTML tag where you write a brief description of your post. Search engines often use meta descriptions as the blurb they include in their results. Keep your meta description between 50 to 160 characters.
If you are posting your content on social media, do some research to determine the best time of day to post. You want to avoid posting your content at a time when your audience will miss it. Posting social media content at the wrong time of day will get lost in the vast sea of other posts. Facebook and other social media platforms offer you the option of scheduling what time you prefer your post to be published.
10. Measure Results
All content creators make mistakes or follow practices that are less than optimal. By measuring your results, you can improve your content creation and close in on your competition. Your KPIs will guide you to useful conclusions on the things you should focus on and the faults you need to leave behind.
Keep track of the effectiveness of the elements of your content. How much time are people spending on your content? Is your audience heeding your calls to action?
Finally, benchmark your content against your competition’s. Is your blog moving up in the search results? Are social media shares increasing? Keep a detailed spreadsheet and re-evaluate your content creation regularly. By weeding out your weaknesses, you can strengthen your content-creation process and help your business grow.