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How to Use Content Marketing to Grow Your Business


What is content marketing and what is it’s real purpose? How can you afford to spend hours of your time labouring over long blogs to generate an income for your business? In this blog I’ll walk you through exactly why this is an incredibly high value area to invest your time and resources in and how to use your content marketing efforts to grow your business.


Most online marketers will have heard of the term content marketing splurged around over the past decade. But what do we mean by it?


Basically, content marketing is all about creating and sharing online material that will grow your traffic through organic search – Google, Bing etc.


The relevance of this from a business perspective is simple maths. If you can grow your site traffic, you are also growing a bigger pool of prospects, and more prospects should lead to more revenue and profit over time.


The reason content marketing has grown so much in prominence nowadays is the value organic search holds for your business vs other acquisition channels (e.g. social media, email marketing, paid search, referral).


The goal of any digital marketer these days is to earn rankings on Google and drive sustainable customer acquisition and business growth.


Sadly, nothing comes easy and content marketing is no different.


Earning your positions takes time and effort, and sustaining them with constant site optimisation and link building also requires persistent work. But, it’s worth it!


1. Identify Your Target Audience

So often when I speak to people about content marketing they often forget the most basic of steps – identify your target audience.


Often companies want to skip this step and just dive in – don’t do it!


Skipping this step is a bit like deciding to sell steak at a vegan restaurant – you’ve likely missed the mark.


Identifying your target market or markets should always be the foundation of any marketing, let alone content marketing.


It’s best practice in this situation to start developing customer personas.


If you haven’t already, this can be completed by analysing both your site’s quantitative data (e.g. Google Analytics) and qualitative data (e.g. feedback, surveys etc).


By pulling these two information sources together you can quite quickly build up an image of who your customers are. This should include the following:

  • Demographics

  • Psychographics

  • Motivations

  • Site Behaviour

  • Purchase Propensity

  • Average Order Value

  • Lifetime Customer Value

This is an exercise in and of itself and you should make sure to do this before mapping out what content you will create.


The reason for this is that customer personas should help you formulate the type of content that’s useful, topical and likely to be helpful to users. It will also help you to best identify the writing tone and develop a more effective and relevant brand personality to maximise the impact of your content.


Once you’ve got to this point you should be confident that vegans don’t want steak!


2. Carry Out Keyword Research

Once you’re confident in who your customers are, it’s time to work out what is relevant and useful content for them which will also help your business.


This is done by conducting and analysing keyword research.


What is keyword research?


It’s basically an analysis of the types of keywords and topics people search for.


Taking the vegan restaurant example again, if you don’t utilise this step to formulate great ideas and opportunities, everything on the menu may as well be cale!


Use the information you’ve gathered from your identified customer personas to brainstorm a number of content ideas you think would be both relevant and useful to them.


Why do I keep mentioning the words relevant and useful?


Basically, for any content marketing strategy to be successful it must meet both criteria to create an impact with your target audience.


For instance, if you produce content for them which is neither relevant nor useful to them, why would they become customers of yours?


Once you’ve completed your content ideas brainstorming, you’ll want to start identifying the keywords and phrases associated with these ideas that your users are searching for.

The two main tools I suggest using for this are the following:

  • Free Tool – Google Keyword Planner

  • Premium Tool – SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

Why use both?

Simply, it helps you find as much robust information in terms of what people are searching for – I always find two sources are better than one.


The things you need to look out for are the following:

  • Keyword Volume – what is the average monthly search volume?

  • Trend – is the keyword consistently searched for, on the rise or the decline?

  • Competition (‘KD %’ in SEMrush) – how likely you will be able to rank for this keyword with your content?

This may seem a little intimidating at first but as you export your lists from both tools and compile them together, the best keyword opportunities from your brainstormed ideas will become very obvious.


3. Identify and Allocate Resources

Next up, you’ll want to map out who will be producing your content.


If you have a marketing or content team, great! If you’re a smaller company or an individual, it’s time dust off the cobwebs and get out your ergonomic keyboard!


By this point you will have identified your customer personas and planned out the content you want to produce and mapped out the structure.


Now comes the hard part – producing it.


Again, I hear lots of people saying they’re no good at writing content and don’t have the time to spare from other activities.


Fear not! There are other options.


For instance, freelancers such as myself can be incredibly quick and capable at taking your homework and getting it written up.


Some other great online resources to find highly qualified, experienced and capable writers with expertise in on-page SEO are on the likes of Fiverr or Upwork.


Whether you are creating the content in-house or outsourcing, make sure that you have a process that covers the following parts:

  • A person to manage the content creation

  • Any tools, information or documentation required to create content

  • Resource time and costs (if outsourcing)

  • Content publishing workflow – e.g. creation – publishing – promoting

  • Additional assets required (e.g. images, infographics, videos)


4. Create a Content Calendar

This part is pretty straightforward but can be highly effective for mapping out how to drip feed your audience as well as showing Google how active you are.


A content calendar doesn’t need to be remotely complicated, it just needs to organise and spread out the promotion of your content and take advantage of key dates, times and trends if possible.


There’s two main benefits to employing this approach.


Firstly, it better allows you to nurture your audience and entice further prospects in.

By regularly promoting content you’re demonstrating how active and on it you are to the user, which in turn makes you a more relevant and useful resource (see what I did there?).


Put yourself in the users shoes, would regular production and promotion of content make you more engaged with a brand than a massive dump of it at irregular intervals?


Secondly, Google loves to see websites continuously tweaking and producing.


Google wants you to be creating and promoting new content as well as regularly updating and optimising old material.


Why?

Simply, it shows that you are an active resource and have not stopped producing new material. And Google loves content!


It’s also worth noting that even simple modifications to existing pages on your site can be seen as refreshed content by Google.


Generally speaking, the more regularly refreshed the content is the more favourable Google will look on your website as it almost appears brand new when your website is recrawled.

Always think of enticing your users as well as Google.


5. Create Content

Now this stage might seem overly obvious, and well, it is.


However, there is a difference between simply creating content from the homework you’ve done, to actually setting it up correctly to meet the criteria needed for on-page SEO.


Before you even think about ramming in the keywords you’ve uncovered and try to game the system to favour your blogs and articles to help it rank, keep it simple – write for people.


This may seem like an obvious statement, but time and time again I see online writers trying to write their headings, title tags, meta descriptions and even alt text for search engines and not people.


If this idea is in your head, chuck it out. It’s people who will read your content and it’s people who will fundamentally be the judge as to whether it’s worth reading, sharing or acting upon.

Thus, everything from your tone of voice, structure, readability and flow should focus on making it engaging, relevant and useful for the reader.


Where you will earn the edge is by structuring your content into clear sections identified in your keyword research under the overarching topic you identified.


Make the structure sequential and logical. Don’t just add sections in for the sake of them, everything you write should have a clear purpose and add value to the piece overall.


Once you’re happy with your article, make sure to go through every on-page element and ensure you are setting your blogs up for SEO success.


It’s simple and straightforward to focus on the reader, use your keyword and topic research and make your content engaging and compelling to the reader as well as obvious to the search engine.


Writing naturally and logically whilst using your homework is the simple secret to creating successful content.


I know it sounds obvious but read through your articles or blogs a handful of times before putting it live on your website.


If you’re able to, run it by a colleague to quality check, or if not, read out it out loud until you are happy with everything from the information given to the tone and style of your writing.


6. Promote to Your Target Market

You made it! Your content is relevant, useful and most importantly, written!


The next part is all about how to successfully blow your own trumpet and position your fantastic content to the right users.


Here’s where you want to be really smart.


In any good content marketing strategy all your content produced should be your net, and what you do with the prospects you catch and how you nurture them further is up to you.


I will break this down for you.


It’s wise to use the obvious methods of the digital marketing mix to amplify the visibility of your new content, which should include some or all of the following methods:

  • Organic Social Media Posts

  • Paid Social Media Posts (budget dependant)

  • Email Marketing (e.g. Newsletter and include in any DRIP campaigns)

  • Influencers – if you’re working with others get them to promote the content also

These are all pretty self-explanatory methods for drumming up some views, but what you want to do is learn how to commercialise these users for your business. Here are a 2 of methods I suggest you try:


Nurturing Users

Now when a user lands on your site, you don’t want their journey to end by them simply taking your information and going back off into the void of the internet. Instead, you want to start building marketing qualified leads (MQL).


First, you want to make sure you are employing any relevant advertising or social media pixels on your site – most importantly on your content and high conversion pages.


These can be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Ads, Adroll, Criteo pixels etc – if you’re using an advertising platform that doesn’t have one, use another.


You can easily set these up with Google Tag Manager or by directly editing your sites html code – if you’re unsure drop me an email or a comment below and I’ll explain how you can easily set these up.


By having these set up on your pages, it means that your cookies are basically capturing each user that opts in ( as long as they accept your cookies).


This means that you can re-engage users who clicked on your content into your wider marketing funnel.


Gated Content

Gated content is a little bit more obvious.


Instead of simply allowing users to come onto your site, read your content and leave without an action, why not make it a fair informational transaction?


You essentially only allow them to access your content if they enter their details (e.g. name and email address).


This can be a great way to build mailing lists and bolster your prospects within whichever CRM system you use.


By gathering this information through the likes of pop-ups or specific site pages, you’re now able to promote relevant associated goods or services, or even other related content, to your highly engaged users.


Seems like a fair trade right?


However, when you re-engage with your new stream of prospects be sure to nurture these users. Don’t simply throw product messages at them straight away and assume they’ll buy from you because they read an article.


Instead, a great way is to introduce these users into specific email DRIP campaigns relevant to the content they engaged with on your site.


For instance, offer them regular follow up emails of your latest news, a content round up and your latest articles and brand messages.


7. Measure Results

No marketing strategy could be considered a success without clear measurements.

This idealistically should include a set of key performance indicators (KPI’s) and benchmarking.

Now, I know that for some businesses this is easier said than done.

Often if you don’t have sufficient resources to fully manage your content, promotional channels and analytics, tasks like this can fall by the wayside. This is why I’m going to highlight the major metrics to look out for and why they’re important.

Google Analytics

If you are going to look at only one source of data for measuring your campaign successes and failures, look at Google Analytics.

I say this because Google Analytics is able to pick up all relevant on-site data, conversion data and a huge bulk of social and email data (if set up correctly).

To save time, when measuring the success of new content keep a close finger on the pulse for the following metrics:

  • Pageviews – measure the number of page views your content gets

  • Avg. Time on Page – how long users spend on average on your content (the longer the better!)

  • Bounce Rate – the percentage of visitors who enter the site on your content and don’t proceed to any other pages (usually you want this as low as possible)

  • Exit Rate – the percentage of users who exited from your content page only (again, it’s usually best for this to be a low as possible)

Over time you’ll also want to compare and measure the impact of multiple channels that are driving traffic to your blog or article (the ‘Source’ in Google Analytics).

Organic search is the channel you want to drive as the highest portion of traffic.

However, be prepared to wait for the organic search channel to pick up traffic as an acquisition channel – Rome wasn’t built in a day. You usually don’t simply rank for desired keywords and drive mountains of traffic to new content through Google and other search engines overnight.

Instead, you’ll likely see spikes from other channels such as social media and emailduring your initial promotional phase. This will likely subside and traffic will drop after the initial promotion.

Once your content has shown strong initial traffic, as well as proving to crawlers that it’s highly targeted, comprehensive, relevant and useful you’ll start to see a growth in organic search traffic in the longer-term.

This will help your content rank for your desired key terms over the preceding months and drive ongoing steady traffic from organic search channels like Google.

Be prepared to wait, it won’t happen as soon as you put it live!

Social Media Analytics

Social media is a fantastic channel to increase your content’s speed to market and initial visibility.

New content and regular promotions are usually also a great way to continue building your audience by being active on the various platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube etc).

This makes promoting new content a bit of a 2 birds 1 stone scenario.

Here are the main metrics you should try to keep on top of from platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:

  • Impressions – the number of times your post/ad was seen (whether engaged with or not)

  • Clicks – the number of clicks your post/ad received

  • Comments – the number of comments your post/ad received – responding here will help you boost your overall engagement, so stay active!

  • Landing Page Views (paid posts only) – number of people who clicked onto your content from the ad link

  • Cost Per Landing Page View (paid posts only) – the cost for each click you received from your users to your content

Email Marketing Analytics

Email marketing is notoriously the cheapest way to drive online business value, once it’s set up correctly.

Again, like social media, emails are a fantastic channel to boost visibility to new content at very low cost (depending on the level of sophistication you have set up and your existing audience size).

The main metrics to keep on top of should be the following:

  • Open Rate – the number of times your emails were opened by users

  • Click Through Rate – the percentage of users who clicked on your links (e.g. content page link) against the number of emails opened

  • Unsubscribe Rate – the percentage of users who unsubscribed from your email marketing as a result of the email received

These metrics can be helpful in a number of ways.


Not only do they help to show the impact of your email marketing at driving users to your website content, but they can also show how well designed your emails are and if your audience needs cleansing.


Firstly, if you are experiencing low open rates and click through rates (e.g. below industry benchmarks), your email design may be a little off.


A good way to rectify these issues is to try A/B testing where you can offer 50% of your audience one design option and the other 50% another one. You should then look at which performs best by comparing the metrics highlighted above and then only use the most successful design going forward – this should be a continuous exercise of testing, tweaking and improving performance.


This is a great way to continuously improve the performance of your email marketing.

Secondly, if you’re receiving an abnormally high unsubscribe rate then it may be worth conducting a data cleanse.


By doing this regularly you will be able to remove users who consistently don’t engage with your emails from your mailing lists.


Why spend time and money on users who aren’t interested?


Conclusion

Content Marketing is an incredibly effective way to grow your business.


If you follow the steps in this blog and keep putting in the hours you’ll definitely see the return on your investment over the long-term.


Always make sure everything you write is relevant and useful to your audience and ensure you are continuously producing more and more great material.


The more relevant and useful you are to your audience, the more you will also be to Google. Casting out regular nets to draw in prospects is a sure fire way to develop a strong and robust marketing funnel.


Thus, content marketing is essential for modern businesses to drive value.

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