Seven years ago, I delved full-force, head-first, neck-deep into something I truly enjoyed doing.
I had a natural love for both “writing and the internet” – a writer by 12, and an entrepreneur by 16. I think I was born to be a content marketer.
One year after I jumped into online writing, Express Writers was born. (My video story sharing my heart + opening up about growing a company culture came out yesterday!)
Through the last blur of a seven-year, full-time career in this industry, I’ve been hands-on in creating, producing, and training on internal content services that have answered a demand and fulfilled a need for our clients, with the help of an amazing remote team in my staff. To date, we’ve sold over $4 million worth of content services to over 5,000 clients. And last year, I was fortunate to be named one of the Top 50 content marketers for 2016.
What have I learned from being in the industry, and keeping up with its fast-paced nature?
Two key things:
1. Businesses today know they need content marketing more than ever.
Back when I was on the phones in 2011, I had to convince people why they needed it. Today, 89% of B2B marketers now invest in content marketing – and we see it. My staff and I have to “convince” on the “why content” question a lot less.
2. But, businesses don’t know what they need in content, or how to make their content marketing work well for them (read: ROI).
I think of great content marketing like a well-oiled, rotating water wheel. You have to show up daily and consistently put content out to get something back. If you have your process, people and a source of amazing content ideas down pat, success happens. (For me, content marketing produces 90%+ of my business leads.)
But getting there is such a struggle. What do you invest in, how often, where do you put it – and how do you know if it’ll net rankings (or brand awareness/traction – whichever goal you’re going for)? Wait – do you have a goal?
All of that is the meat of content strategy.
And if you don’t know strategy or have a working one implemented, your content marketing return on investment (ROI) is going to be much, much lower that it could be.
The cool part: if you do know it, returns can be HUGE.
Exploring the Content Marketing Ecosphere: How Does Content Strategy Fit In as An Integral Part?
Here’s a few crazy stats about this beautiful industry:
- It’ll be worth $313 billion by 2019.
- Billions of funding have been put into content marketing startups by now – VC investors realize the value of the industry and SaaS creators/entrepreneurs within it.
- And 91% of B2B marketers that are “very committed to content marketing” see success (CMI).
That’s serious stuff right there.
But… only 61% of content marketers have a documented content strategy.
And out of the 89% of marketers that actually do content marketing, only 3% rate their content marketing as “very successful.”
Per the CMI study, here are those two stats in contrast. 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing:
Yet only 3% rate it as extremely successful:
What causes the drop?
A lack of direction with content strategy.
OK, great – next logical question:
But what the heck is a content strategy?
Ah, great question.
It can be hard to even answer this one.
Because as Michele Linn of CMI said so aptly, your “editorial calendar is not a content strategy.”
The truth: content marketing without a solid content strategy is nothing. And a viable, content strategy is the arena, the action area of your content marketing.
Strategizing for and creating great content, publishing and managing the content that goes into your content marketing, is all a part of what goes into content strategy.
Here are the other moving parts and tasks that make up the whole of a great content strategy:
- Knowing how to define your audience (and customer) persona, easily and clearly.
- Being able to define your exact customer needs, and create content for their defined pain points.
- Planning worthwhile topics that attract and hold the attention of your ideal customer
- Being aware of two key directions your content focus should be in for definite return on content investment.
- Discovery of the right keywords for your niche and brand that will result in ROI (finding them CAN be second nature once you know how)
- Create a monthly editorial calendar (learn a few of my favorite, free / low-cost investment tools to use)
- Focusing, mapping out, and creating content types worth your time
- Pre-publication, knowing how to prep and optimize your content for SEO to make sure people Googling your keywords can find your content
- If it’s for your clients, you’ll need to know how to set content expectations in terms of measurable ROI
- Being able to measure the actual ROI of your content, adjust accordingly, and maintaining and updating your best posts for more results
Here is the core of what makes up a content strategy, painted in an easy-to-read Venn diagram style (you’ll see this again on my course page):
Why Should You Listen to Me Teach Content Strategy?
You could go to anyone, right? So why listen to me teach content strategy?
Here’s the thing.
The bones of this course were already written and taught by me three years ago – and have proven results in ROI.
We have an internal notebook that I created just for this role, and candidates in my team that progress to eligibility for the training (after client satisfaction rates are solidified, successful content writing has happened, editorial training, etc.), receive 1:1 mentoring and real-time critique from me after they take the training. The final step in the training has always been to create a fictional content strategy. If they pass, they’re golden – and clients love their work with the reports they get.
Here’s another thing.
The course is June is based on the training I wrote three years ago and update seasonally since – but it’s 10x better.
I’ve talked to my Strategists, analyzed the training myself, and realized we needed more. Videos, cheat sheets, shortcuts, and more tactics, knowledge, and strategy lessons.
So, the idea for the certification course was born.
The idea went bigger when I realized the continual need in the industry that I couldn’t just answer easily with a “product:” implementing a working, ROI-focused content strategy.
I think that giving brands and marketers the keys to the success of their own content will result in amazing things.@JuliaEMcCoy on her upcoming #course Instead of just creating a 'product,' I decided to create a course for this industry need.Click To Tweet
When it launches in June, it will be one of the most up-to-date strategy courses in the industry. And you’ll be ready to start implementing immediately once you go through the materials, because I’ve created my course around actionable teaching that translates to skills you can take home today and start earning your customer’s love, trust and business with, or use to build and create amazing content for your own brand.
We’ve sold literally thousands of these products in the past 6 years, and the strategies have resulted in serious brand ROI. Last year, I even built and launched a new content level from the ground up to answer an industry need: and today, people are buying it – and experiencing online results from this level for their brand.
Everything at Express Writers, from products to staff roles, is a result of my “ear to the ground” attitude in the industry. I’m building, teaching, and creating based on real industry needs.
We’ve been our own guinea pigs, too. And what I test on us results in success – we’ve netted top 3 positions in Google for long-tail, low comp keywords by creating in-depth, visual and long-form content strategically around it.
OK, enough convincing.
Sign up at courses.expresswriters.com!
Tentative launch date for my content strategy certification course: early June, 2017.
Get notified when it comes out: sign up at courses.expresswriters.com.
I plan to certify my internal staff with the new course first during the launch week, and move to launching it to the public by mid-June, 2017. I’ll be offering two levels in the course, and one level is going to include a LOT of bonuses. I’m partnering up with some pretty cool SEO/content tools to make big things happen for my students!
Another plan of action we’re doing is certifying Tara Clapper, our Content Development Specialist (already a super-savvy content marketer) who will be ready to teach the course locally and certify for entire content-focused marketing agency offices. (That’s been a request of our team in the past.)
Get ready, world – content strategy is comin’ at ya!