This week’s HubTalks is from one of the top 50 content marketers globally and one of the top 25 social media professionals, Ian Cleary.
Ian’s work has been featured on New York Times and Inc.com. Along with running two businesses, RazorSocial and OutreachPlus, he is also an award-winning blog writer and has contributed articles to VentureBeat, Entrepreneur.com, Social Media Examiner and many other leading online Publications. He is a regular contributor to Forbes.
In this article, he shares with TalentHub his expert knowledge on how to bring your content marketing to the next level and what it can do for your business.
Did you know that 89% of B2B and 86% of B2C companies report they are using content marketing?
Yes, content marketing is a very important marketing tool for most businesses, regardless if they are business or consumer oriented.
But…it only delivers tangible results with the right strategy in place.
This is why we created an easy to follow 5-step framework called ELEVATE that we used to train thousands of companies from all over the world.
Here’s a summary of the 5 steps with practical tips that will help your content marketing reach new heights.
In many ways, building a content marketing program is like building a house – you need to start with a strong foundation.
This means that the work starts well before you produce your first piece of content.
Here’s what it entails:
• Research your competitors – who are your main competitors, what keywords are they ranking for, what type of content they produce, where are they getting backlinks from, etc.
• Define your customer persona(s) – who are you targeting with your content? Map out their profile i.e. their age, geography, job title, income level, their interests and goals, where they spend time online, etc. Hubspot has a free tool for creating personas that can be quite helpful.
• Build a list of keywords – which keywords do you want to target? Using a tool such as SEMRush or Ahrefs you can build a list of keywords and even see the estimated difficulty score for ranking for these keywords.
You will get so much more value from your content if you focus on creating something better than your competitors and with your persona in mind, while targeting the keywords that you have a good chance to rank for.
Remember, for each of the keywords you choose to target, you need to consider if attracting this traffic will help you move someone along your sales funnel.
After all – traffic is vanity, conversion is sanity!
When someone lands on a piece of content on your site, they could be an existing customer, a warm prospect, or someone who’s never even heard of you or your business before.
You need to consider each of these scenarios and figure out how you will track the results from these visitors.
Let’s say you ran a software company and you wanted people to sign up for a free trial.
You’d set up a funnel goal in Google Analytics to tracks visitors moving from a piece of content to your pricing page and finally to your thank you page.
This way you’ll be able to see which specific piece of content is driving trial signups. Now, you’ll want to drive more traffic to that content by:
• Optimizing it further to move it up in the SERPs
• Guest post on other sites and link back to it
• Link internally from other popular posts
• Put it in the ‘popular posts’ section on your homepage
Goals in GA will help you focus on the results you want to achieve with your content!
When you do all your research upfront, creating and publishing quality content becomes a lot easier.
You know who you’re competing against, who you’re writing for, and how to optimize the content so it reaches your target audience.
You have a solid list of keywords you want to target and you can create tons of relevant, interesting topics based on those keywords.
But, how do you organize your efforts so that you minimize content blocks and make sure that producing content doesn’t become a burden to you and your team?
Build an editorial calendar and map out the content topics, deadlines, roles, responsibilities, etc. for the content you’re publishing in the next 3-6 months.
If you don’t want to invest in an editorial calendar tool, here’s a useful hack:
Our team uses Asana for task management, but we also figured out a way to use this tool to track our content marketing efforts.
Asana has a useful Boards feature where you can create a project (your content calendar) and track the progress in a visual way. When you create a board for your calendar, you can then add corresponding columns for each step of your editorial process, and then assign and manage tasks for each.
It will be so much easier for you and your team to create and publish content when everything is already mapped out on your editorial calendar.
Build it and they will come…
Someone smart said this once but it doesn’t apply to content!
Today, content promotion is more important than ever. We’re overloaded with content so the only way to break through the noise is to produce amazing content and then promote it as much as possible.
Here are some ideas for promoting your content:
• Do regular ongoing promotion through social media channels. Pick quotes/snippets from blog content, create imagery for each using a free tool like Canva, and share regularly. Social media can be an amazing traffic generation tool for your blog!
• Find out who shared similar content in the past and reach out to let them know about your content. You can use BuzzSumo content research tool to find these people simply by entering the keyword your article is targeting.
• Build a list of other people that may be interested in your content and
reach out to them. For example, if you created a research report find out a list of sites/people that promoted research reports in a similar area. Use an email outreach tool to manage your outreach efforts and track your results.
If you want to maximize the results you get from your content marketing program, you need to measure and track all the key metrics and optimize accordingly.
In other words, you need to look back to see what worked and what didn’t work.
But how do you know which metrics to track?
It’s actually quite simple. Just go back to the goals you set for your content. They will tell you what you need to measure.
In general, you’ll want to know:
• Which posts got the most reads, shares, and inbound links (consumption and engagement metrics)
• Which got the most email subscribers or trial signups (mid-funnel conversion metrics)
• Which content pieces generated sales (bottom of the funnel conversion metrics)
Optimization is an ongoing process so you’ll need to look at these metrics periodically and use the insights you get to tailor your content so it produces better results.
Content marketing won’t deliver the results you’re looking for if you don’t build a strategy first.
By following the 5 steps of the ELEVATE framework, you’ll get on the fast track to content marketing success – you’ll surpass your competition and grow your business online.
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Author: Ian Cleary
Ian Cleary is the founder of the content marketing agency RazorSocial where he provides consultancy and training. He is also Co-founder of OutreachPlus which is email outreach software for sending highly personalized emails and follow-ups to generate more traffic, PR and sales for your business.