Ah, another January rolls around…the time each year that we resolve to eat better, drink less, work out, and do more. For most of our clients, that means tackling the marketing jobs that are hardest to start or easiest to let go. At the top of that list is Content Marketing. Social media, blogging, emails, YouTube, podcasts. The possibilities are endless… and a little overwhelming.
Table of Contents
In this blog post, we’ll share our top tips for creating a successful content marketing strategy. From defining your target audience and setting clear goals to creating and promoting high-quality content, these tips will help you get the most out of your content marketing efforts and drive profitable growth for your business. Let’s get into it!
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”(1) Of all the marketing tactics a business might embrace to earn trust, a mindful content marketing plan is one of the most doable. And trust, more than any other emotion you foster, will build your audience and inspire loyalty.
Nowadays, content marketing encapsulates dozens of formats and channels including blog posts, articles, video content, infographics, social media, and podcasts. This is both a blessing and a curse as digital marketers are constantly adapting to new popular ways to share and absorb stories. But regardless of the format or channel, digital storytelling has the potential to build brand awareness through gentle, patient persuasion. We don’t have to be pushy with our communications, because we have so many chances to share tiny stories that coalesce into a delightful brand position.
Why does content marketing work across platforms and despite algorithms?
The short answer is trust. Think about it like a friendship: when you show up consistently, listen well, and respond mindfully, you demonstrate that you value your friendship and you can be trusted with a persons stories, needs, and fears. Now apply that approach to your content marketing.
Good content humanizes our brand.
Real brands represent real people with real dreams and values and quirks. When we share the stories of our people, we remove the us-or-them barriers and build connections.
Good content is transparent.
No brand can bullshit the public forever. Social media, blogs, review aggregators, and apps mean that how we act and what we produce is right there for anyone to see.
Good content builds credibility.
Paired with all of the above, consistent, valuable content establishes expertise in our niche. We become the go-to source for products or knowledge, and we are worthy of referral and recommendation.
And, most importantly, good content promotes good communication.
Digital channels, especially social media, are fast becoming the linchpin of 1:1 engagement and customer service communications, so much so that 47% of Americans aged 45 and over, and 72% of millennials (!), said they would be more likely to be loyal to a brand that responds to feedback via social media over a brand that does not. (3)
Where to begin: developing a winning content marketing strategy
Like all good planning, content marketing begins with “who, what, when, why, how?” And, as always, your people come first.
Define your target audience
Who are you trying to reach with your content? Is this for existing customers, potential customers, trade professionals? What matters to them? How can you provide value without wasting their time? Understanding your target audience is crucial for creating content that resonates with them and meets their needs.
Determine your business goals
What do you want to achieve with your content strategy? Clearly articulated goals will keep you on track, define systems, and create measurables. The most common goals we hear from 5forests’ clients are:
- Traffic: Is the number of visitors to your website increasing? You can use tools like Google Analytics to track the number of visitors to your site and see how this changes over time.
- Leads: Are you generating more leads from your content marketing efforts? You can track the number of leads generated from your content using a marketing automation tool or by simply keeping a count of the leads that come directly from your content.
- Sales: Is content marketing part of a planned sales process? You can track the sales generated from your content using tools like Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Hubspot, or by attributing sales to specific pieces of content in your sales tracking system.
- Engagement: Are people interacting with your content (e.g., comments, shares, likes)? Tracking engagement can give you an idea of how your audience is responding to your content and whether it is resonating with them.
- Brand awareness: Are more people aware of your brand as a result of your content marketing? You can track brand awareness through social listening, surveys, PR, and overall traffic.
Take the time to perform a content audit
Is there ever a time that we like to hear the word “audit”? No, I don’t think so. Should we reframe this as “Understanding engagement”? Yeah, just as bad. I’m sorry, but no matter how unappealing it sounds, you can’t create an effective content marketing strategy without first identifying what you have and how it is performing. This will help you identify any gaps in your content and pinpoint areas for improvement.
- Identify your target keywords: What terms do you want to rank for in search engines? Researching and identifying target keywords can help you create content that is optimized for search engines and attracts the right audience. Need a hand? We like Answer the Public for keyword research.
- Create a content calendar: Plan out when and where you will publish your content. A content calendar can help you stay organized and ensure that you are consistently creating and publishing new content. We use ClickUp for ours, but Google Calendar and spreadsheets can work just as well.
- Determine your distribution channels: How will you promote your content? Will you use social media, email marketing, paid advertising, or a combination of these and other channels? Should you use professional podcast production services?
- Set up tracking and measurement: How will you measure the success of your content marketing efforts? Identify the key metrics you want to track (e.g., traffic, leads, sales, engagement) and set up a system for tracking and analyzing these metrics.
It’s also a good idea to regularly review and adjust your content marketing strategy to ensure that it is aligned with your business goals and effectively reaching your target audience.
Document your strategy.
Of all the things you will read in this article, this is the most important.
Your content marketing strategy should be a living document that will evolve as you discover more about your voice, your customers, and your channels. And I’m not being pedantic! Research shows that 64% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy! (4)
Content “on the fly” is time-consuming, disjointed, and demoralizing. The results are accidental and difficult to reproduce. The ROI is underwhelming.
Conversely, a documented strategy:
- provides a framework,
- is measurable
- is reproducible,
- gives focus,
- creates accountability,
- can be communicated with others.
And more than anything, a documented strategy is a sanity-saver. No more “wtf do I post today?”
How do I create engaging content?
Creating engaging content is both easier and harder than it seems. Easier because your audience doesn’t live and breathe your work the way you do. Harder because you need to be consistent to be effective. Here is the checklist we suggest you apply to every piece of content, whether it’s a white paper or a reel:
- Who is this for? Understand who you are writing for and what they are interested in. This will help you create content that resonates with them and meets their needs.
- Is this useful or entertaining? Provide value to your readers by answering their questions, solving their problems, or making them happier.
- Is this interesting? Use a variety of formats (e.g., text, images, video) and mix up your topic selection to keep things fresh. This will help you avoid monotony and keep your audience engaged.
- Does it tell a story? Even little stories still have a good narrative arc. What was the challenge or magic that made this moment worth sharing? Remember, we are programmed to love, remember, and share a good story.
- Are you being long-winded? Nothing turns off an audience like verbosity. If you just can’t edit it down, consider adding a TL;DR, chapters, headings, and bullet points to make your content easy to scan and digest.
How do I distribute and promote my content?
Producing the content is just the first step. Fortunately, there are many ways to distribute and promote your content, including social media, email marketing, influencer outreach, advertising, guest blogging, and more.
Our advice: don’t try to do them all. Find the places where your audience lives and dedicate your time to that channel. Consistency and engagement are more important than being present on every new platform or channel offering.
How do I get started with content marketing on a small budget?
There are many free marketing channels you can use to promote your content, such as social media, email marketing, and guest blogging. These channels can be effective for reaching your target audience and driving traffic to your website. While advertising can also be a useful tool, it can be expensive and may not be feasible for a small budget. Instead, consider using paid ads selectively, such as for specific campaigns or to reach a targeted audience. (We may be biased, but we also recommend working with an agency that understands how to get the most out of your ad budget.)
Of course, another terrific way to stretch your budget is to reuse and repurpose existing content. This can save you time and resources that would otherwise be spent creating new content from scratch. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of each piece of content:
- Identify your top-performing content: Look at your analytics to see which pieces of content are generating the most traffic, engagement, and leads. These are the pieces of content that you will want to consider repurposing and reusing.
- Determine how the content can be repurposed: There are many ways you can repurpose content, such as turning a blog post into a video, an infographic, or a podcast. Consider the format and distribution channels that will be most effective for reaching your target audience.
- Update the content as needed: Make sure to update the content as needed before republishing it. This can include adding new information, adjusting the tone or style to fit the new format, and optimizing it for search engines.
- Promote the repurposed content: Don’t just publish the repurposed content and forget about it. Promote it through your usual channels and consider using paid advertising to reach a wider audience.
Finally, consider collaborating with other businesses or influencers in your industry. This can help you reach a wider audience and tap into new resources without incurring additional marketing costs.
When done right, content marketing can be a powerful and profitable marketing strategy. By consistently creating and promoting valuable, relevant, and consistent content, you can build trust, loyalty, and credibility. But to be successful with content marketing, it’s important to have a clear and well-defined strategy in place, as well as a commitment to creating and promoting high-quality content consistently. Additionally, regularly measuring and analyzing the success of your content marketing efforts can help you identify areas for improvement and optimize your strategy for better results. By following these best practices, you can effectively use content marketing to achieve your business goals and drive profitable growth.
If you’re looking to take your content marketing to the next level, consider hiring a team of experts like 5forests to help you achieve your goals. Our content marketing professionals can help you create and implement a content marketing strategy that works for your business. Contact us today to learn more!
(1) What is content marketing? Content Marketing Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/
(2) Vanessa Mitchell (CMO) 12 June, 2018 06:26. (n.d.). Why Customer Trust is more vital to brand survival than it’s ever been. CMO Australia. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.cmo.com.au/article/642102/why-customer-trust-more-vital-brand-survival-than-it-ever-been/
(3) Millennials demand more social media engagement in exchange for Loyalty. ZDNET. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.zdnet.com/article/millennials-demand-more-social-media-engagement-in-exchange-for-loyalty/
(4) Contentmarketinginstitute.com. Content Marketing Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/b2b-2023-research-final.pdf