Setting up a blog on your business site can help you reach more people, establish your business as an authority, and keep people coming back to your site. But you can’t just throw any content up there and hope it sticks. You need a plan. A carefully developed content strategy will focus your efforts in the right places, increasing your odds of getting the results you want.
You need to know who you’re writing to, so start by building a profile of your main audience for your products. Think about their age, gender, location, interests, the sites and apps they use, their hobbies, and their problems.
What type of content does this audience prefer in terms of topics, tone (jovial, professional etc), media (articles, videos etc), and length? You can determine this by looking at other sites your target audience uses, conducting an analysis of your existing content, checking in on what your competitors are doing, or by running surveys.
Think of content as fitting into three types. General educational content is of interest to your niche, but not necessarily to your product specifically. Targeted educational is within your niche and related to your products. And response-oriented is a straight up unadulterated sales piece. For example, if you run a used car dealership:
- Targeted Educational: Things to look out for when buying a used car; 4 signs it’s time to trade in your car; 3 tips for getting a good price on a used car.
- General Educational: What Tesla is up to; who got caught in the latest emissions scandal; general tips on car maintenance.
- Response-oriented: Posts about specific cars on your lot; promotions you’re running; posts on your USPs.
General educational is more shareable and generates more backlinks, but has a low conversion rate — although it attracts car people, they may or may not be looking to buy right now.
Response-oriented content is less shareable — who would share a post detailing a promotion at a local car lot with all their friends? However, the people it does attract are probably looking to buy.
Targeted educational is somewhere in between.
So what do you focus on? Unfortunately, there’s no one answer. It depends on your business and the state of your niche. Generally speaking, if you’re selling a product or service, you’ll want to focus on targeted educational content with some response-oriented content sprinkled in. But if that content isn’t ranking in Google, you may want more general educational content to build your backlinks and help push your site up in the search results. Some experimentation will be needed.
Next, conduct keyword research. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, and KWFinder. Your goal is to identify what your target audience searches for in Google, and develop content that will appear on the results pages for these searches. Keywords with higher search traffic will be harder to rank for because the competition will be higher, but will generate more traffic if you are successful.
Don’t neglect content with lower search traffic. In terms of raw traffic, 10 pieces of content that pull in 100 visitors each per month is as good as one piece that pulls in 1,000 a month. By focusing on the lower volume keywords (known as the “long-tail”), you can dominate your niche. Build your content plan around these keywords, and integrate the keywords into your content in a natural manner.
Create Goals and Metrics
What are you trying to achieve with your content? Is it increased traffic to your site? Conversions? Social media likes? Define a goal for each content piece, and identify metrics to quantify your progress towards that goal. This is where some skill with a tool like Google Analytics comes in very handy — you can track visitor behavior across your site, including the pages they land on, where they go next, and whether they buy.
If you visit a site that hasn’t updated their blog in six months, what do you think? Is the site dead? Is the business still running? Are they lacking the resources to even maintain their website? It’s not a great impression. Make sure you have the systems and people in place to put out regular, continuous, high-quality content. This might involve hiring someone to write content, going to a content broker, or writing it yourself.
It’s also a good idea to have a number of generic posts written up and in reserve so that you have a buffer for those times when you didn’t create content for whatever reason.
Be flexible with your strategy. If something isn’t working, whether that’s a particular type of content, topic area or style of writing, change it. Regularly take time to analyze your existing content. Observe what works and do more of that. Learn what doesn’t work and do less of that. Your content strategy can and should evolve and adapt over time.
Don’t view your content marketing strategy in isolation. Link it in with your other marketing and promotional efforts. If you’re having a sale on a certain product in a few weeks, build some content around this. Conduct your link-building efforts in tandem with your content, generating links to your new content pieces. And of course, share your work on your social media channels and encourage your network to do the same.
Hopefully, this has given you a good start on how to develop and run your content marketing strategy. Just the fact that you have one will probably put you ahead of many of your competitors. If you keep learning, experimenting and adapting, you’ll soon pull into the lead.