I was perusing one of my Facebook groups the other day when I came across an interesting poll. The post was written by a gentleman who was about to launch his first business and wanted to know how to focus his content marketing strategies. Should he use: a) social media, b) website and blogging, c) paid ads on social, or d) creating free content to share.
My response: Yes! All of the above!
Content marketing is more than just a single element of your business marketing strategy. It is, rather, a holistic approach to sharing your brand, growing your audience, and expanding your business. Content marketing is intertwined with the running of your business on almost every level. If that sounds daunting, I’ve got an easy solution: don’t tackle it all at once. Instead, start with these 5 simple content marketing strategies.
1. Optimize Your Website
You can create the most exciting content in your industry and still be ineffective if you ignore your website. Your website is your business: it’s where your customers come for information, to contact you, and to verify that you are trustworthy.
If you are generating a ton of leads on social media and driving traffic to an outdated website, you are likely losing most of those leads. Optimizing your website ensures your clients and potential customers are getting everything they need from your business…before they ever speak to you.
Website optimization can take place on several levels: implement search engine optimization tactics like keyword research; update content to reflect your latest pricing, hours, and services; create clear, clickable links and calls to action; hire someone to optimize your speed, mobile-friendliness, and design.
The most important thing to remember is that your website should clearly communicate who you are, what you offer, how it will help your customers, and how they can purchase your product or service.
2. Start a Blog
The next content marketing strategy is to start blogging—and make sure this is somewhere visible on your website.
Before you get overwhelmed, let me clarify that blogging doesn’t need to take a ton of your time. It is also important to remember that this content marketing strategy does not always generate visible ROI right away. BUT, it will over time. Not only that, but the more content you have on the worldwide web, the higher your chance of success in content marketing as a whole.
Search engines are regularly scanning the internet to categorize content and determine what websites are helpful/trustworthy sources of information when people search for specific content. The more (well written and helpful) content that you have, the more search engines start to recognize your site as a valuable resource.
The key here is to start small. Set a goal to write on or two blogs a month, and stick to it. And as you go, start to implement the following strategies.
3. Understand Your Audience
You may think this should come before your blog, and it can, but sometimes it is better just to get those blogging chops working before you get too distracted with research.
Now that you have an optimized website, and a blog that is regularly updated, take some time to better understand your audience. It is from this step that you can start to fine-tune your blog and eventually implement other elements of content marketing.
Understanding your audience simply means considering several things: who is coming to your business? How do they benefit from your service or product? What questions are they asking? What needs do they have that aren’t yet fulfilled by your business?
These are just a few questions to get you started. As you begin to answer these questions, you can dive a little deeper into your research. From there, ask questions like, what is my audience searching for? What words do they use to search for businesses like mine?
Take your answers to those questions and let’s jump into the next strategy.
4. Create Targeted Content
Your research on your audience has likely revealed an important fact. Not everything you write or share will benefit every member of your audience. So how do you navigate your content marketing to reach the most people?
Make a list of your key audience members and what they are looking for (i.e. buyer personas). For each persona, create a list of topics, information, or services that would most benefit that specific audience.
From there, create a map for each piece of content you want/need to create and who you wish to target. Start with one persona and focus your efforts on that sector of your audience. If you focus on too many personas at once, your content marketing efforts will feel aimless.
For example, say you are a broker looking to grow your team of real estate agents. Rather than creating content targeted at homeowners, make a list of blog topics that will draw in an audience of agents. Then, establish some key data that you can share via infographics, social media posts, and even e-books that will specifically target that audience.
5. Up Your Social Media Game
You’ve put in the work to update your website, start blogging, research, and build a plan of attack for your content. Your content marketing strategy is ready to go public.
Social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website, garner new leads, and keep your audience engaged. Every blog, e-book, infographic, and shareable moment should be on social. If you feel ready to tackle paid ads, go for it, but first, make sure you have plenty of content for your audience to find.
Just like your first content marketing strategy, there is no point driving visitors to your business if you don’t have content in place to help drive them through your sales process. Schedule several social posts and make sure you’ve implemented the above content marketing strategies before you start paying to drive traffic to your profile or website.
BONUS STRATEGY: Stay consistent
This is probably the most important content marketing strategy available to you, and it’s free! You can put in all the work to have a beautiful website, blog, great audience research, and the perfect e-book to share. But if you don’t stay consistent with your content marketing, your audience will move on.
With content marketing, it is okay to start small. The goal of this marketing plan is to gain more long-term clients over a period of time…not a quick boost in sales that dies away. Small, consistent steps are the winning strategy when it comes to content marketing.
So keep at it! Take one strategy at a time and work your way toward content marketing success.