Just as the success mantra for brick-and-mortar businesses is, “location, location, location,” the winning refrain for online companies is “content, content, content.” There are several reasons effective content can help your operation achieve its goals including:
- 70% of businesses are using content marketing, likely including your competitors.
- Content marketing can drive 55% more traffic to your website.
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing
Yet only 36% of businesses are “very committed” to content marketing. Any company that does business online — including retailers, subscription services, business applications, or custom software developers — needs a content development strategy to demonstrate its expertise, drive traffic to its websites, and move prospects through the sales funnel.
If you already have a content marketing plan, great! Now is a good time to revisit it and make sure it’s helping you meet your business goals.
If you don’t have a plan, use the tips below to create one and see how much your business grows.
1) Define Your Goals
To define your goals, ask yourself some key questions. Are you hoping to increase the number of visitors you get to your website?
The number of customers you have? The amount of money they spend per purchase? The number of times they return? Your content strategy should reflect these goals.
Once you know them, you’ll need to figure out how to measure them. Do so by establishing key performance indicators (KPIs). They should be incremental so you can determine whether you’re making good progress.
For example, if you want to increase your website visits by 25% within a year, check this number quarterly to make sure it’s going up. If you’re at 6% after one quarter and 12% after two, you know you’re on the right track.
2) Identify Your Audience
Your audience is likely your target market. If you already have data about them, you can use it to determine the topics and tone of your content.
For example, if you’re an online clothing retailer for mostly college-educated women between the ages of 25 and 34, you can start to think of content about fashion for work, social occasions, or outings with kids.
If possible, break your target audience into smaller groups. You can use this information to develop buyer personas, which are composite characters you build to describe a particular type of customer.
For instance, the clothing retailer might build personas for students, working professionals, and stay-at-home moms. You can develop more specific content to reflect the needs of each persona.
3) Decide on Topics, Types, and Outlets
Now you can start to be more precise about what your content will look like and where it will live. Start by getting feedback from your current customers.
What kinds of things do they want to know from you? Use online surveys or your social channels to gather this information. Look at what your competitors are doing, including what’s working well and what’s not. Build a list of topics you want to cover.
Also, think about how to convey the information. Does your target audience like to read? If so, blog posts, articles, newsletters, eBooks, or white papers might make the most sense. Are they more visually oriented? If so, infographics, videos, and images might work better. You can also consider case studies, presentations, webinars, and podcasts.
Location is also key to reaching your target audience. The default place for all your content is your website. Create a section to store them, divide them into content types, and start to build your collection there.
Link to these pieces from your social channels and cross-link from your other content (such as to an infographic from a related blog post). You can also create exclusive content for, say, your newsletter subscribers.
4) Create a Content Calendar
To ensure your content is timely and relevant, and supports your goals, create a calendar that assigns each piece to date, an outlet, and a project manager. Use a tool that makes the most sense for you and your team.
For example, you can simply create a Google Calendar and enter each content piece as an event. You can also try some project management applications such as Asana or CoSchedule.
5) Promote Your Content
Your plan and calendar should also include content promotion. Once you have a great piece available, like an eBook or a podcast episode, let the world know about it. There are many ways to do so:
- Post enticing descriptions and links on your social media channels.
- Do the same in your newsletter if you have one.
- Repost on sites like LinkedIn and Medium, which allow you to create content on their platform.
- Run ads through Google or Facebook.
- Use bulk SMS platforms to enhance your reach.
- Use your network to find bloggers, podcasters, and social influencers to mention you, your content, and your products or services.
Content marketing can be a great way to reach new customers and boost sales. It can be time-consuming, though, and even more so if you’re shooting in the dark with no plan. Make the effort upfront to figure out a strategy. When the sales start rolling in, you’ll be glad you did.