There are various strategies that you can use to maximize the ROI of your content marketing efforts. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all deal. You will need to try out different tactics, or a mix of them, to find out what works best for you and your brand.
Below are my top 10 tips to create an easy content marketing strategy you’ll actually use to grow your traffic, subscribers, leads and revenue.
This is the building block of your content marketing strategy. Without attention-grabbing content that is both useful and shareable, you will have nothing to market and your outreach campaign will become exponentially more challenging.
1. Do your research and generate ideas
Brainstorming is the first step in creating quality content. Find out what your competitors are doing, what they have written about, how those articles performed, how they presented their ideas, and what angles haven’t been considered. Leveraging a proven model by researching your competitors is an easy way to achieve quick wins. It might take a little time initially but this investment will pay dividends further down the line when you have a portfolio bursting at the seams with great blog ideas!
For effective idea generation that will have impact and reach, use tools that will guide you in picking specific topics and keywords. An excellent resource is the Keyword Questions filter in Wordtracker’s keyword tool. This allows you to identify the questions people are asking around your chosen subject. This is a treasure trove of topics people are interested in and actively searching for, meaning you can create some really useful content providing the answers.
As its name might suggest, the keyword tool shows you the keywords people are searching on, based around your own chosen search term. This is important because you can start to reference those same phrases in your content. Using the same language as your audience creates an immediate connection and makes yoru content seem all the more relevant. Use these same words and phrases in your posts to make your content as SEO-friendly and accessible as possible. Similarly, you can use other related keywords throughout your posts to earn long-tail traffic.
Another way to generate ideas is to discover what people are talking about. Try a service such as Hashtagify.me to monitor popular hashtags and keywords that are trending right now. This is a quick and easy way to find immediate sources of traffic and reassure yourself that you’re publishing content that is relevant to what your audience is actually talking about.
2. Search for authoritative data sources
Now that you have a blog post idea, you’re ready to write - but don’t go ahead and jump into it just yet. You want your content to be credible. You need people to read it and walk away feeling that it’s the best resource on the topic they have come across to date.
The solution: make sure you have data sources that back up your claims. Cite research, link to case studies, reference other great posts, and rely on stats and hard facts. Use numbers, bar graphs, and images to quantify results. Writing a blog post that will put you on the map requires serious time investment, but the results will pay off down the line.
3. Analyze your content
You’re done with your post, and you’re aching to push the “Publish” button immediately. But wait! Give yourself 24 hours to come back and review your content.
First, analyze what you have written to ensure quality. Here’s a checklist for reference:
Are the ideas presented and explained in the simplest manner?
Are the ideas and concepts presented unique enough to differentiate you from others?
Are you contributing something thoughtful or offering useful, practical solutions to problems your readership may be having?
Is all of your data accurate and referenced? Does your research thoroughly support your conclusion?
How would you rate the overall quality of your material? If you were a reader, would you walk away having learned something? Better yet, would you be inclined to share the post with your friends, family or colleagues?
Ultimately, all this comes down to a simple concept: are you offering your readers maximum value?
4. Formatting and layout matter
There is no debate about the importance of design in blog posts. The question lies in the “how” and “what” to present.
Opinions will vary on the detail, but in general, consider the following elements when you’re formatting to maintain a consistent, engaging and effective style:
If you’re writing a guide, focus on “how-to” and list posts with numbered steps. This makes it easier for the reader to follow and absorb the information offered.
Images: focus on creating your own images or customizing stock photos with a unique message. Image placement is important because posts that start with an image typically enjoy higher click-through rates.
Video: repurpose your content for video and embed those videos in relevant posts.
White space, subheadings, bullet points, and breaks between paragraphs are vital for readability, especially for those looking on smaller screens. Breaking up text makes longer pieces of content seem less overwhelming, and can help the reader to more easily follow your train of thought.
5. Craft creative updates
Nowadays, publishing a post is the easy part of building a blog. Marketing your content via social media and outreach is the more essential, challenging aspect if you ever plan to make money through blogging. Sharing your content merely by using the title of the post – no matter how catchy it may be – is not enough.
Spend a little extra time when crafting your updates on being creative enough to catch the attention of readers. Reframe your captions to avoid boring your followers with the same update time and again - this is especially important if you plan to share your posts more than once.
Here are some ideas to increase click-through rates and engagement stats for your social updates:
Use a famous quote in your post and use the quote as a Tweetable excerpt
Highlight statistics that promise a tangible benefit or improvement
Write interactive updates – ask your followers questions, add photos and include hashtags
6. Plan an optimized social sharing strategy
Don’t stop at sharing your posts once on each social network you use. While it’s a good idea to research the best times to post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, re-sharing your posts multiple times gives you the benefit of reaching new readers from other time zones.
Statistics cited by Truconversion show that the best time to publish a blog post is between 0800 and 1300, Monday through Thursday. How and when to post on social media is as follows:
Facebook: Wednesday through Friday, 1300-1600
Twitter: Monday through Friday (B2B Blogs) or Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday (B2C Blogs), 1200-1800
Pinterest: Saturday mornings or weekday evenings, 2000-2300
LinkedIn: Tuesday through Thursday, 1000-1800 (during business hours)
If you are overseas and can’t publish updates during these times, use a scheduling tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite.
7. Answer comments
This piece of advice has been repeated so often, you’d think it wouldn’t make any list of “Tips to…” anymore. So why does it keep coming up? Because it is one of the easiest and strongest ways to build relationships with your readers.
Your readers want to know that you are listening to them, appreciate their visit and care about them and their opinions. Responding to comments keeps you in tune with their needs as well as adding a personal touch to your blog.
Set aside time in your schedule to go through your social media profiles and, as much as possible, reply to comments and tweets, even if it’s just to say “thank you”. It will get more time consuming as your blog grows, but interacting directly with your readers will reap you benefits. After all, if you feel like a friend to your audience, they are more likely to be loyal.
8. Get the attention of influencers
Influencer marketing has been huge the last couple of years, and will continue to be the fastest way to reach a large audience. Nevertheless, it is important to remember a basic concept: context!
Obviously the first step is to define your blog’s brand and target audience. Armed with an understanding of exactly what people come to your blog for, you can start to research others in similar fields. Ideally you want to create a shortlist of influencers who write about topics which are complimentary to your own. If you sell luggage for example, a travel and fashion bloggers would be a logical starting point.
The second step is to begin reaching out to those bloggers and influencers and start building a relationship with them. This is a big task and one that realistically, you’ll need to continue to invest time in. Here are a few tried and tested tactics to get you started:
Once you have made a shortlist of influencers you’d like to work with, start following them on social media and via their blogs. Retweet, share and like content that is genuinely relevant to your audience. Comment where appropriate but don’t weigh in just for the sake of making your mark. Try and add value where possible.
Creating roundup posts of notable opinions, stats and comments from influential people in your niche makes for a great blog post and a fantastic way to give kudos to those making waves in your field. To curate this post you could reach out to those on your shortlist and ask them to submit a few lines, time permitting or, send them a link after the post goes live advising that they have been featured. This can be done via email or informally via social media and is a great way to get a conversation started and your name known.
Consider writing a couple of link resource posts. These tend to be easier to collate than round-up posts as you only need to cherry pick articles that you think your readers will like, but they are also an easy way to start a conversation with influencers and set the tone for future collaboration. Write a short introduction – the central theme, the authors, and why you think the link post is relevant - to set the scene and then lead your reader into content that you know they will get something out of. Link to the posts you feature and make sure you tag the authors on social media when you share the post itself via your own Facebook, Twitter or other platform.
9. Reach out to your own network
While marketing to influencers can explode your reach, there’s one element you cannot afford to overlook: leveraging your own network. It may not consist of big names, but the people in your network can really help you get the word out. It can help to think of this as the grassroots, word of mouth approach, with your blog tapping into the networks of those who follow you.
Monitoring and analysis
10. Track everything
Everyone has some ideas and tactics that fail, even sometimes those you thought were going to take your blog to the next level. On the other hand, you might try something small and give it little attention only to find that it has transformed your understanding of your niche and your readers’ needs.
It’s essential to recognize these trends and ramp up winning strategies while curtailing losing ones in order to use your available resources most effectively.
What is it that you are trying to achieve? Keep a note of these goals (bearing in mind your objectives may well change) and then analyze the metrics that are most relevant. Find the appropriate figures for what you need to track and use them to get insights on how effective your content marketing strategy is.
Keep in mind that looking at a single stat in isolation is rarely helpful. If you are looking to increase your traffic figures, simply viewing raw traffic numbers is of little use. Untargeted traffic that doesn’t convert into a contact, a sale, a like or a subscriber for example means nothing. It would be better to have a lower traffic figure but an uptick in conversions, suggesting you’re winning more of the right kind of visitors with your efforts.
Are there any tips, tactics, or strategies you’ve used to implement a successful content marketing strategy? If so, what were the results and how did they help you strengthen your blog or business?