By Andy Buyting, Founder & CEO
Since we started Tulip Media a few years ago, we’ve continuously evolved and are consistently developing new strategies for our Client-Partners to use as we see what works and what doesn’t. While doing that, we’ve learned that, at the core, there are really 6 steps to an effective content marketing strategy that virtually any business from any industry can leverage.
We’ve worked with our Client-Partners through both print and online publishing and consistently found that these six steps, when applied diligently and consistently, can translate into phenomenal results. Experiencing such results has been invaluable for these companies in creating a market presence and experiencing significant business growth.
#1 – Know Your Core Customer
If you don’t know who you are talking to, if you don’t have your core customer clearly defined, then how can you expect to reach them through your content? Not just in content marketing, but in any marketing strategy, you need to start by identifying your core customer and then develop a way of speaking to them directly.
Start by summarizing in a short paragraph who you are trying to reach. Who is the person, what are their motivations, and what are their concerns? What are they trying to accomplish?
Don’t describe your customer as a company that fits into a set of demographic criteria, describe them as a real person. It’s easy to view the business world as a series of companies, but at the end of the day, you need to appeal to the real people within those companies because that’s who is ultimately making the buying decisions and going to drive the revenues toward your business.
In developing this marketing strategy, you should break company targets down into the people that work there. Are you appealing to the CEO, a supervisor or selling agent, a financial advisor? Know exactly who within the company you are dealing with and why.
Once you have a crystal clear image in your mind of who you are trying to reach, then you can start writing content that speaks to them.
#2 – Learn from Your Competitors
A large part of developing an effective content marketing strategy is gaining a competitive advantage. The best place to start building a competitive advantage is getting to know your competitors by observing what they are doing and what they’re not, what is working for them and what isn’t.
I recommend doing a keyword and competitive analysis on the two competitors that you run into most often, your direct competitors. In addition to this, perform the same analyses on your aspirational competitors. These may not be direct competitors, but instead companies that you look up to and would like to imitate in some way.
A tool to utilize when performing these analyses is SEMrush. SEMrush can provide insight into your marketing strategy by showing how your company’s web traffic compares to your direct competitors’ and your aspirational competitors’.
92% of all search traffic stems from organic searches. Only 8% comes from paid listings. SEMrush will break website traffic down into organic and paid, desktop and mobile. It will also give you insights into the main keywords that are driving organic traffic to both your and your competitors’ websites.
#3 – Understand Your Keywords
Note that when you are looking for keywords to integrate into your content marketing strategy, you will want to select non-branded keywords for the best traffic results. (For example, ‘Joe’s Janitorial Supplies’ would be a branded keyword search whereas ‘janitorial supplies’ would be a non-branded keyword search.)
Google Keyword Planner is an excellent tool for testing keywords by location and demographic. This tool will also offer recommendations for other closely related keywords that may perform better in the region you are targeting. The goal is to optimize for keywords that have a high search volume and a relatively low competitive index in your target region to maximize conversion potential.
#4 – Integrate Keywords Effectively
Now that you understand which keywords you want to target, you can begin integrating them into your online content.
Publish keyword-optimized content frequently to achieve the highest search engine rankings for those keywords on an ongoing basis. Make sure that the keywords you’ve identified as the most relevant to your business with the highest search volume are being integrated into articles that you post on your blog on a consistent basis. Repetition is key. To successfully index your keywords and rank highly on Google, you’ll want to make sure that your keywords are used in the post URL, in the title of your post, in the first 100 words of your article as well as sparingly throughout your post.
As important as it is to integrate keywords enough, it is equally important not to overdo it. Google does detect over-saturated articles as ‘gaming the system’ and will lower the search ranking of those articles accordingly, so use your keywords sparingly. This is why even in this article we only reference the 6 steps to an effective content marketing strategy a few times.
#5 – Deliver Content Consistently
The more content you have on your website, the more Google will see you as an expert in your field. The more Google picks up on your main keywords being used consistently (and sparingly) throughout an array of content, the higher your website will be ranked for that keyword overall.
Having blog posts that are many years old may seem displeasing on an aesthetic level, but aged content actually adds credibility to your website and contributes to higher search rankings. Even if no one is reading the old content anymore, Google is still picking up on the keywords that you leveraged and indexing them as keywords that your website has authority on.
Delivering a consistent content stream is important to maintain your search engine rankings. In order to maximize your ranking potential, I suggest publishing at least one new piece of content each month. This is a sustainable level of consistency that will work wonders for your online presence. If you can publish two posts a month, even better. However, I often suggest once a month because consistency is more important than quantity that is not kept up.
Length is important too when you are creating content. Ideally, your blog posts should be 1500 to 2000 words in length to achieve the best results.
#6 – Leverage Your Content Across Multiple Platforms
Finally, the 6 steps to effective content marketing is not complete without content integration across multiple platforms.
If you’ve written an article for your blog, put it in print as well to use as handouts for your sales prospects. Providing an article in print gives you credibility and longevity that digital content just can’t provide. And since you’ve completed 90% of the work by writing your blog post already, putting it in print can be done with a few clicks of a mouse.
Integrating content across multiple platforms can also mean other media forms. For our Client-Partners, we’ll often create videos from article content. We simply re-write the article into a script format, have it professionally voiced over and then created into a video, complete with an intro, outro and a sound bed.
You can then take the information from the article and create an infographic to use online and in print media. You can create shareable quotes using pull quotes from the article layered on top of graphics or images for use on social media. You can combine all of these digital assets into an email newsletter that goes out to your audience. The possibilities are vast.
The point of integrating content across multiple platforms is that your audience likes to consume content in multiple ways across multiple platforms. Some like to read content, others like to watch it, while others may like to listen to it. My point is once you have your article documented once, you’ve completed most of the work already. Why not repurpose that content in different formats across multiple platforms?