Content marketing is leaving outdated marketing methods in the dust.
Feeling doubtful? The $400 billion content marketing industry is on track to explode. Overall, content marketing will grow by $269.24 billion during 2019-2024.
It’s not a new practice, but it is finally getting the recognition and respect it deserves because content marketing works. (Plain and simple.)
If you stopped cold calling right now, what would happen?
You wouldn’t get new customers.
But what would happen if you were to stop content marketing?
You’d still be bringing in leads and traffic months, even years later.
Content marketing also compounds over time, which means it’s a long-term investment that will continue working for you long after the content is published. And since 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, quality content that ranks on search pages is going to keep producing results and making your brand discoverable. ?
What Exactly Is Content Marketing, and Why is It So Powerful?Content marketing compounds over time. It’s a long-term investment that will continue working for you long after the content is published. ? Click To Tweet
Content marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on writing and publishing relevant content that will attract, educate, and engage a defined audience.
Instead of reciting the typical sales pitch, content creators are helping consumers solve problems.
That seems a little counterproductive for a marketing strategy, right? How can you increase your sales if you aren’t talking about how great your products and services are?
The answer is simple: you’re building trust and authority. Instead of adopting the sleazy salesman role, which is an immediate turnoff for many consumers, you’re having a pleasant conversation with them and providing information they need. And that will likely inspire them to see what else you have to offer.
Consider this: Google reports that SEO (search engine optimized) traffic is five times greater than PPC (pay per click) and ten times greater than social media.
Speaking of Google, that’s where 92.96% of global traffic originates, so ranking on Google is an absolute must if you want to see success. During the pandemic, Google search traffic jumped from 3.6 billion searches per day to more than 6 billion per day.
Simply paying for ads on Google isn’t going to cut it. On average, a person sees between 6,500 and 11,000 ads per day, not to mention 42.7% of worldwide internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 relying on ad-blocking tools at least once a month.
With that constant advertising bombardment, it’s no wonder people have largely become “ad blind.”
Using an SEO-first content marketing strategy isn’t interruptive like typical ads (and it won’t be flagged by ad blockers). It allows businesses to target new prospects at every stage of the purchase funnel.
6 Steps to Create Content That Generates Leads and Brings in Traffic
Your brand’s content strategy framework is your golden formula for success. It goes much deeper than simply writing articles that target keywords.
Whether you’re a content marketing beginner wondering how to get started or a veteran looking to polish your existing strategy for better success, you’re in the right place!
Below is a step-by-step look at how a rock-solid content strategy foundation works.
1. Know Your Foundations: Niche, Expertise, and CDF
When it comes to content creation and marketing, you need to be able to answer the following questions first:
- What is my niche (targeted industry)?
- Who is my audience?
- What are my qualifications/expertise?
- What are my business goals?
- What do I have to offer than nobody else does?
The last question is your Content Differentiation Factor, or CDF. Basically, your CDF is what makes you unique among your competition.
Before you can start defining your audience and writing content for them, you need to have a clear understanding of who you are and what you want to accomplish.
Is your content marketing going to be used to find new leads? To educate people about solutions (and how your product or service can solve their problems)? To provide citable data and studies? To increase the organic web traffic on your site? To create brand awareness?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you have the groundwork laid for your content marketing strategy.
2. Understand What Your Audience Wants and Needs
Part of your Step 1 analysis should be figuring out your target audience. But knowing who your audience will be is very different from knowing how to convert them into customers.
Some of the ways you can identify the needs of your audience can include:
- Reviewing online comments and conversations to identify consumer needs.
- Researching keywords that are relevant to your targeted niche.
- Studying your competition to see what they’re doing.
- Sending out customer surveys.
- Creating audience personas for your content strategy.
All of this research should answer these two critical questions: “Who am I writing for?” and “What are they looking for?”
3. Target Keywords with SEO Best Practices
Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is the practice of writing and formatting content in a way that ranks in search engines.
When researching the best keywords to target, you should ideally look for low-competition, long-tail keywords that are three or more words in length. And, most importantly, these keywords should be highly relevant to your niche.
When writing your content, avoid keyword-stuffing, which is the outdated practice of forcing a keyword into an article as many times as possible, even if that results in the article being difficult to read. Doing so will negatively impact your ranking.
SEO rewards writing that flows naturally. For the best SEO results, you should also:
- Optimize for voice searches. 71% of consumers would rather search by voice than type their question, with a projected 122.7 million voice search users for this year. This means there is more value in optimizing your content for natural speech rather than keywords. For example, a voice search is going to prioritize pages that answer a question such as “Who was Steve Jobs?” rather than keywords like “Steve Jobs apple company.”
- Improve readability with visual appeal. About 65% of your audience will be visual learners. Images, bulleted lists, subheadings, and videos will help to make your content easier to read.
- Create your own studies, data, infographics, and imagery. This practice allows your graphics to be indexed by Google while generating backlinks when other websites cite your content in their articles. Win-win!
4. Become a Trusted Authority in Your Market
What exactly does it mean to be an authority?
The pandemic took a toll on the public’s trust. In fact, there’s an all-time low in consumer trust for informational sources, according to the Edelman 2021 Trust Barometer. And yet, the numbers show that trust in individual businesses is at a global high.
Simply put, when consumers lost faith in the government and media, they instead turned to businesses for information.
Building your authority can mean your brand is perceived as a source of trustworthy, relevant information for your consumers, or your brand is an authority website based on Google’s ranking standards.
From a content marketing perspective, you should strive to achieve both of those goals.
The way to do that is by regularly publishing content that consumers are searching for online and want to read.
Remember, it’s not a sales pitch. You’re not telling your customers that you’re an expert — you’re demonstrating your credibility to them, which is much more effective.
In addition, you’re engaging with your audience and generating website traffic, which will help Google recognize your site as valid.
5. Strategize and Schedule Your Content for Consistency
HubSpot surveyed 7,000 businesses and used the data to develop a marketing benchmark report. They found that companies with 1,000 or more pages bring in 9.5 times more traffic than companies who have less than 50 pages.
Looking at that raw data, you might assume that quantity is more important than quality. In truth, the two go hand-in-hand.
Simply pumping out worthless content for the sake of upping your page count is not going to be an efficient or productive use of your resources. The real key here is consistency. You should be:
- Using a calendar to ensure that you have content scheduled and planned in advance.
- Auditing old posts to keep them relevant and up-to-date.
- Budgeting your time and expenses to stay on top of outsourcing costs and make sure your dollars are going into high-quality content creation.
- Promoting your content with an omnichannel approach to increase shares, conversations, and leads.
6. Maintain Your Progress with Analytical Data
Relying on analytics, whether that’s Semrush, Google Analytics, or a variety of other tools, is one of the best ways to track your progress and see trends.
This data will provide a clear picture so you can see what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to make strategic decisions and ensure your long-term success by tweaking your strategy when necessary.
In order to truly measure your progress, it’s important to set KPIs (key performance indicators). You need to have specific goals to track, such as website traffic, new leads, browsing sessions, bounce rates, et cetera. This will give you targets so you’ll know if you’re actually seeing the growth you want and need.
If you’re hitting your KPIs, that’s great! You’re on the right track!
If not, it’s back to the content strategy drawing board.
Content Marketing is the Future of Marketing… and the Present
It’s not a question of if content marketing will be successful.
It already is.
Companies who committed to the initial investment and stuck with it (that’s important!) saw incredible ROI over time, while businesses who brushed off content marketing as a waste of time or started it halfheartedly but let their strategy fall by the wayside ended up at a huge disadvantage compared to their competitors.
That’s not to say you should stop investing in cold calls, PPC, and other methods. A well-rounded marketing strategy is still important.
But if content marketing isn’t a key component of your strategy, you’re missing a major opportunity.
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