Tag Archives: Content Strategy

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6 Fundamental Rules for Building a Practical, ROI-Based Content Strategy by @JuliaEMcCoy

Learn how to build a strong content strategy to drive more focused, ROI-based content marketing.

The post 6 Fundamental Rules for Building a Practical, ROI-Based Content Strategy by @JuliaEMcCoy appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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How to align your content strategy with your sales funnel

Nine times out of ten, a person will journey down a sales funnel prior to becoming a customer.

Whereas in the past you could count on single-touchpoint, bottom-of-the-funnel marketing strategies, it’s now increasingly necessary to push consumers down the buying funnel by creating omni-channel strategies.

Mapping content to buying stages can help you maximize the benefit of your omni-channel strategies.

From awareness of your brand or business via social media, to influencer recommendations, all customers generally need incentives to purchase. This makes aligning your content strategy with your sales funnel essential.

The anatomy of a sales funnel

To really hone your content strategy, you first need to know the stages your customers will journey through prior to purchase. This is the first step into mapping your sales funnel to your upcoming marketing campaign.

The most simplistic sales funnel has three very important stages:

Awareness stage

This is the top of your funnel. The awareness stage is the point at which your target audience is looking for answers to questions, doing general research, and searching out opinions or insightful wisdom.

Consideration stage

The evaluation stage is the middle of your sales funnel. This often involves your audience doing very focused research on your products or services, as well as how they measure up with your competitors.

Purchase stage

This is the bottom of your sales funnel, where you convert potential customers into buyers. This often is when you give a little nudge by stating your position of authority in the industry. Discount codes and promotions also do wonders at this stage as well.

Each stage of your sales funnel is important. It is also very valuable to remember that not all your potential customers will enter at the top of your funnel. You will need to understand where they are in their buying decision, and what content is needed to take them to purchase.

Aligning your content strategy with your sales funnel

Having a plan in place when mapping out your sales funnel will significantly cut down on time and effort down the road. One of the biggest benefits of building a sales-minded content marketing strategy is that you can practically fill up your monthly calendar in a few sessions.

Defining your content needs for your sales funnel, developing foundational content, creating an editorial calendar, and repurposing are the four main staples. It all starts with partnering content with each stage of your funnel.

Step 1: Define content needs for each stage

Ideation is quite possibly one of the most important aspects of any content strategy. Having ideation neatly in place will ensure the content you are pairing with your sales funnel stages are impactful.

How do you do this? Well, first, begin mapping out your unique buyer personas. This data includes, audience interests, demographics (age, sex, location, etc.), and pain points.

This first step of mapping is vital, because by defining your buyer personas, you can personalize content for each buyer persona as they journey down the different stages of your sales funnel.

Top of sales funnel content strategy: Awareness

The awareness stage is just as the name implies. You are building awareness of your brand, business, products, or services through attention-getting content. This is when you begin building relationships.

Social media and blogs are excellent assets for building awareness. Posting awareness-geared content on your social media channels can get your buyer personas to like your post, page, comment and share your content with their friends and followers. They’re getting to know your brand, products or services so that, when they need what you have to offer, you’ll be top of mind.

Middle of sales funnel content strategy: Consideration

Now that you have permission, you can communicate with your target audience in a more meaningful way. With the buyer personas in mind, begin feeding your audience tailored blog content via emails, newsletters, and on social media.

This is a little more sales intensive. You will want your evaluation stage content strategy to highlight the benefits of your products or services to your audience. This is your value proposition.

You can even begin addressing a few pain points associated with your buyer personas to begin moving them down your sales funnel even faster. You want them to evaluate your products or services, and feel that they truly do need them.

Influencer marketing can be very helpful when it comes to the evaluation stage. Influencers have a very loyal following of pre-qualified buyers waiting for recommendations. Delivering your product review from an influencer can build instant confidence to buy.

Bottom of sales funnel content strategy: Purchase

Your purchase stage is the end of the sales funnel.  This crucial step is all about conversions. To give your target audience a little extra push toward checkout, feed them content that showcases your authority in the industry.

Developing white papers, ebooks, case studies, and powerful testimonials are perfect content assets for leading your audience to buy. The goal is to educate them, give them valuable insight, which in turn will make you a thought leader.

Discounts and special offers are also a powerful way to get them to add to cart or to complete the checkout. Combine a discount with a limited time offer to put the principle of scarcity to work, and watch your conversion ratio increase!

Step 2: Create your foundational content

Foundational content will be at the core of your content strategy. This content is lengthy, in-depth, and if done right, can make aligning it to your sales funnel simple later on.

This in-depth core content can be drawn upon to develop future infographics, blogs, Facebook and YouTube videos, social media posts, email marketing campaigns, and much more.

However, how do you know where to begin? How do you create this for your content strategy? Well, with your sales funnel buyer personas in hand, you can begin piecing together keyword buckets for each unique buyer persona and sales funnel stage pairing.

Keyword research

There are a number of keyword research platforms online to help move you along. However, Google Keyword Planner is a very good tool to start with. Using their Ad Groups you can get made to order content themes for each buyer persona.

Competitor keyword search

You can also develop robust keyword buckets by doing a competitor keyword search. Ahrefs is a good competitor analysis tool for this. You can also turn to Google Search to find keywords your competitors are ranking for as well.

Next, combine your Google Keyword Planner keywords with those you identified via Ahrefs (or your preferred analysis tool) and you will have plenty of themes and subthemes waiting for content to be developed around.

With your healthy lists of keywords, mind map them into themes and subthemes. This will give you the foundational content pieces you need to move your content strategy forward in a very concise way.

Decide on content types

Knowing what type of content to create can be a challenging one. For example, how will you package and present your content to each of your buyer personas, and at different sales funnel stages too?

Consider the following to keep your sales funnel content strategy impactful:

  • First off, is the content a blog, social post, infographic, video, etc.? This is pretty self-explanatory, but important. You want to maximize your foundational content by having a clear picture of how best to use it.
  • How can you package and present your content as unique? Thought leaders and industry experts are good for this. You can share fresh data, detailed how-tos, and best practices with your audience.
  • What upcoming product releases or new service launches are in the future? This type of content is perfect for highlighting your innovation, and how that innovation solves a problem your target audience needs fixed.
  • Do you have any upcoming events? This type of content could showcase your upcoming presentation at an industry conference, or even highlight your company’s philanthropy at the local level.

Establishing an in-depth content strategy that compliments your sales funnel is imperative. Deciding what types of content to create may seem trivial, however, it could prove beneficial when it comes time to start typing.

How to align your content strategy with your sales funnel

Step 3: Make an editorial calendar

All the tedious buyer persona analysis and keyword research will all begin to look like a clear content strategy as you begin to make your editorial calendar. Like the stages in a sales funnel, you don’t want to skip this one.

Having a detailed editorial calendar in place allows you to stay organized, stay focused, and create content with the most bang for the buck. One essential element to a successful editorial calendar is the ability to track all the moving parts.

Keep it flexible and accessible

Content type, themes, writer due dates, image development, and payments are all components of a working editorial calendar. It needs to be easy to manage and navigate.

Where do you start creating your editorial calendar? Well, Google Sheets is a seamless online tool to develop your editorial calendar, share it, and access it when you are on the go. If you need a little more flexibility and a few more features to work with than a spreadsheet can offer, a collaboration tool like Trello can also be adapted into a calendar with relative ease.

Fill in your schedule

This may seem like a huge task, but begin your editorial calendar by planning the whole year. Each month will have a different theme, which you already have developed from your foundational content research.

Each month’s theme can contain a number of subthemes as well. The key is to be as specific as possible. One way to really make the most of your editorial calendar is to have a foundational piece of content for each month.

With this in place, your buyer personas will have plenty of content for each stage of your sales funnel month after month. You can even use Google Calendar to bring it over the top.

Step 4: Repurpose that foundational content

Repurposing your foundational content will help stretch out each piece of content to support a variety of initiatives. The themes and subthemes you pull from your foundational content should provoke a lot of compelling sales funnel assets.

Let’s say you want to develop an ebook. Each theme you have identified can be a specific chapter of your ebook. Each chapter can be a monthly theme, while your ebook sub themes can be used for weekly blogs.

The data you use for each sub theme can also be placed in an eye-catching infographic. Infographics are great assets for any content strategy. You can repurpose that data for blogs, email marketing campaigns, blogger outreach, social posts, webinars and videos.

Breaking repurposing down

If one of your foundational pieces is an ebook, there are at least 30 assets within that core content you can repurpose. Then from each of those 30 assets, you can develop 10 social media posts.  That will give you 300 social media posts for your sales funnel for just one month.

Those 30 assets from your ebook can also be whipped up into 30 blogs. That is a blog per day for that one theme. Within those blogs you are sure to have a few data sets. You can then turn that data into infographics, and so on.

The main aim when repurposing content is to develop as many assets, themes, and subthemes from one piece of foundation content as possible. This will give you the variety needed to connect with each buyer persona at different stages in your sales funnel.

In closing

For the biggest impact on your bottom line, it is essential to map your sales funnel to your content strategy. Knowing the stages of your sales funnel and identifying buyer personas is a valuable first step that you simply can’t afford to skip.

Your content strategy also needs to revolve around those foundational pieces as well, ensuring you get the most from each asset. And packaging it all in a clear and concise editorial calendar will keep your marketing efforts focused on reach and conversions, rather than daily content ideation.

Best Practices for Building an On-Demand Content Strategy

We are now in the age of the self-educated buyer. Two-thirds of buyers complete their decision-making before they contact a sales rep. They take in content in their own way, on their own time. To deal with this new reality, you must have an effective on-demand content strategy that puts your…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Best Practices for Building an On-Demand Content Strategy

We are now in the age of the self-educated buyer. Two-thirds of buyers complete their decision-making before they contact a sales rep. They take in content in their own way, on their own time. To deal with this new reality, you must have an effective on-demand content strategy that puts your…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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How to Do Content Strategy So Effectively Your SEO Results Get Knocked Out of the Park by @ExpWriters

Check out Express Writer’s Content Strategy Certification Course, and get a 15 percent discount until July 11!

The post How to Do Content Strategy So Effectively Your SEO Results Get Knocked Out of the Park by @ExpWriters appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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How to Prepare Your Content Strategy for Virtual Reality by @DholakiyaPratik

Virtual reality has great potential. Here are a few tips to plan out your content marketing strategy for VR.

The post How to Prepare Your Content Strategy for Virtual Reality by @DholakiyaPratik appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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How to Develop an Effective Content Strategy by @alextachalova

Here’s a step-by-step process for developing an effective content strategy that will generate traffic to your posts.

The post How to Develop an Effective Content Strategy by @alextachalova appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Crafting the Perfect Content Strategy with Brody Dorland [PODCAST]

In this episode of Marketing Nerds, Kelsey Jones was joined by Brody Dorland, co-founder of DivvyHQ, to talk about how to craft a content marketing strategy, what types of content you should be creating for your industry, and how to repurpose your content.

The post Crafting the Perfect Content Strategy with Brody Dorland [PODCAST] appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

10 reasons your content will fail and what you can do about it

Creating content is easy. Creating great content? That’s much tougher.

Just 10 short years ago, the barrier to entry was much lower for companies. Content marketing wasn’t even a thing. But once 2010 came around, it started exploding, as seen on Google Trends:

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In the past six years, the amount of content has grown exponentially. Everyone has bought into the now clichéd mantra: content is king.

Yet, although brands, businesses, and publishers are cranking out more content every year, conversion rates aren’t increasing. Why?

It goes back to the first sentence: creating great content is hard!

Yet for all the changes we’ve seen, there are many basic things that are often overlooked by companies looking to generate traffic and leads from their content marketing efforts. Here are 10 of them.

1) Your headline is boring

Headlines are the most important element. It’s the first thing people see. You need to hook them instantly or risk losing them permanently.

There are a variety of headline types you can choose from – news, opinion, how-to, question, listicle, etc. – but your headline must accomplish several things.

Let’s use Tereza Litsa’s excellent post on ClickZ, 15 writing tips to rank higher on social and search results as our example.

  • Set expectations for the reader. When I click on this story, I expect that I’m going to discover a list of 15 tips about writing. Sure enough, there are 15 subheadlines that deliver on my expectation.
  • Convey a reader benefit. The benefit here is ranking higher on social and search results. Who doesn’t want that?
  • Include a keyword. In this case, “writing tips” jumped out at me, but perhaps the keyword is something more like “ranking higher in search results”. It might have been more helpful to target a phrase like “content writing tips” or use “SEO” or “Google” rather than the term “search results”. (Nitpicky, I know, but it could be the difference between a good amount of traffic and a great amount of traffic – think about how a user will find your article via organic search).

There is one missing element from this example, however: an emotional hook. Words that convey happiness, awe, urgency, curiosity, fear, or anger can be incredibly powerful and get more people to click on your headline.

A great headline can be positive or negative sentiment, but above all is must be one readers find impossible to ignore.

Tip: If you have trouble writing interesting headlines, run it through one of my favorite tools, CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. CoSchedule analyzes for word usage, length, emotional impact, keywords, and sentiment.

The headline tool ranks Litsa’s headline at 65, which means there’s room for improvement (I always shoot to have headlines that score a 70 at minimum – such as my headline for this post, which scored a 75).

2) Your content is vanilla

Content that dares wins. Yes, you want to make sure your content is educational, entertaining, inspiring, or informative – but there’s no excuse for being boring and just sticking to facts or having the dull, robotic tone of a poorly written textbook.

Have an opinion. Throw in some humor. Show your own personality.

Give your content a fun theme. Do something that separates you from your competitors and helps you stand out in your industry.

Just look at Larry Kim, who is as much known for his obsession with unicorns as he is for his obsession with PPC marketing. The topic of search can be a bit boring at times because it’s often approached in a technical way – yet he finds a way to make his content stand out.

3) You make your content too hard to share

I’m still amazed when I come across publications and blogs that either don’t have social media buttons, or make them hard to find. Don’t make it hard for people to share your stuff!

If you make people click on a “Share” link or button to access the ability to share your story via Twitter or Facebook, that’s an added step that increases the odds people won’t share it. Reduce friction for your users! Put the share buttons right on your website.

Just look at SEW. This publication makes it super easy to share a post, with buttons right below the headline, and even within the article:

 

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If you post long content, it might be worth having share buttons at the bottom of your post as well – or you could anchor your share buttons on the left side so people can share at any point they want.

4) You failed to properly promote your content

Don’t just promote your article once. Promote your article multiple times on all relevant platforms.

For example, one tweet on Twitter is not enough. Have you tried pushing out a new tweet for the same piece of content (perhaps with different copy) every three hours to reach people in different time zones?

Don’t just tweet about your content one day. Tweet about it for a week. And it never hurts to promote older content on Twitter as well – only a small percentage of your followers see all of your tweets.

If your posts aren’t getting enough organic visibility on Facebook – and it’s pretty like you aren’t – consider boosting the post. Facebook has lots of great ad targeting options.

Also, make sure your content team and company are regularly promoting your content with their personal networks. Suggest they set up a tool like TwitterFeed to automate the process and share articles automatically anytime they publish.

If you’ve got a really good piece of content, don’t be afraid to send an email to your industry friends or influencers – perhaps even with some pre-written text that they can simply cut, paste, and schedule. A simple, “Hey I just posted this really cool thing, check it out” could help your content get some great traction.

5) Nobody knows your brand

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The old idea if you create great content it will be found has been thoroughly debunked. You won’t become the next Mashable or BuzzFeed just by writing about social media or pumping out listicles about things I won’t believe.

Established brands with existing audiences have a clear advantage – they have become a habit. It’s like trying to convince a Google search user to switch to Bing or an Apple user to switch to, well, anything else.

If you’re a new brand, you’re at a big disadvantage. In addition to creating great content consistently, you must also grow your audience. It can be done, but it will take time and will greatly depend on how much you’re willing to invest. It may take years to escape obscurity and start really growing your following.

Consider:

  • Using display ads and remarketing.
  • Running social media ads.
  • Attending and networking at conferences or meetups.
  • Speaking at industry conferences or events.
  • Growing your personal network – online and offline.
  • Teaming up with other brands.
  • Writing content for large and influential websites, blogs, or publications.
  • Building relationships with the media.

6) Your content is ugly

Many web pages are simply ugly. Just long blocks of text. Ick.

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Break up your text. Make it look pretty.

Use short sentences. Try to limit your paragraphs to 2-3 sentences.

Use visuals.

Use formatting smartly to make your text for scannable and less overwhelming to readers:

  • Subheadlines
  • Unordered or numbered lists.
  • Bolding and italics.

7) Your content is too promotional

Content that is designed simply to promote your brand won’t perform well. People will see through it and be turned off by it.

Create content that helps your audience. Create content that answers questions or provides helpful information.

Content isn’t about you. It’s about them (your audience).

8) Your content fails to spark an emotional response

A great emotional response goes beyond just the headline. Your content must also make readers feel something, whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, or disgust.

According to a Fractl study, one of the top reasons people share a piece of content is to make their friends feel something. This is even more true for women.

Facts are far more impactful when you can put a human face on it. Tell great stories that evoke emotions.

9) Poor grammar and spelling

Nothing is worse than clicking on an article and seeing a typo in the first sentence. A small error can turn a great piece of content into worthless content.

When I was editor of Search Engine Watch and a typo slipped through, we heard about it! You’d see comments like, “I was going to read this article, but I stopped after I read the typo in the second paragraph. I expect more from Search Engine Watch!”

Poor grammar and spelling wrecks the reading experience. This is why it’s so important to make sure you have a great editor and an editorial team that is laser-focused and dedicated to writing well.

Maintain high editorial standards. Or else you risk looking unprofessional, ruining your reputation, and losing readers.

10) You don’t have a strategy

Content may be king. But content without strategy is the equivalent of the town drunk.

Make sure you know who your target reader is and what you want them to do after they read your content. Remember, you may have several different targets within your existing audience.

For example, Bas van den Beld looks at audiences based on actions they are likely to take. Those are:

  • Seekers: People who are searching for information. These are “top of funnel” people who may not yet know about you or your brand.
  • Joiners: This is your community and your loyal audience. People who know you and like the content you consistently produce, so they’ve decided to follow you on social media or sign up for your email newsletters.
  • Sharers: These are people who help spread your content through their personal networks.
  • Buyers: These are the people who have bought from you or are ready to buy from you.

There may be some overlap in these, or there may be none. People might read your content and never sign-up for buy from you. Or you may have people who discover you, subscribe to your newsletter, follow you on Facebook or Twitter, share your content with their personal networks, and eventually purchase your product.

Have a purpose for every piece of content you create. Your content strategy should help you achieve your larger marketing and business goals. So make a plan, measure it, and learn and adjust based on your successes and failures.

Danny Goodwin is a content strategist at L&T Co., a brand publishing company. A professional editor, writer, and ghostwriter with over 10 years of experience in marketing, he has created content for SMBs and global brands alike, spanning all things search and digital. He was formerly the editor of Search Engine Watch. Follow Danny on Twitter.

Are You Missing This Vital Ingredient in Your Content Strategy? by @KathrynAragon

One of the least talked about, but most critical, element of a strong content marketing plan is focus. It’s time we get back to the basics.

The post Are You Missing This Vital Ingredient in Your Content Strategy? by @KathrynAragon appeared first on Search Engine Journal.