Content continues to be king, and it will only reign even more in the future Digital marketing requires high-quality content and a well-developed content marketing strategy to stand apart from competitors. The COVID-19 pandemic only further drove the need for great content. As a result of the coronavirus and shutdowns, many events were canceled or postponed in 2021, leaving many businesses–especially in business-to-business (B2B) verticals–with a larger budget for content and other aspects of digital marketing.
The ability of companies to invest more time, effort, and money on content means that you’re going to see a lot more top-quality content out there. If you want to keep up with the competition, you won’t be able to succeed with an inadequate content strategy.
The following are 6 steps to take to build a winning content marketing strategy in 2021 and beyond.
1. Set Specific Goals and Have a Clear Mission
You should know exactly what you want to achieve with your content marketing strategy. Whether your goal is to increase traffic to a certain page or your website in general, increase conversions, promote something like a virtual event, or educate an audience at the top of the funnel, all of your content should have a clear purpose.
However, before setting goals for each of your content pieces, you should have a core mission behind your strategy that every member of your marketing team knows well. Based on the mission in place, you can then develop goals aligned with that mission and determine how to approach your content strategy. You can also figure out which metrics to look at based on the goal in mind.
Knowing your purpose provides direction for making decisions in your business. Do you need guidance in identifying the purpose of your work?
2. Conduct Audience Research
Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes that many companies make is neglecting to research their audience before launching content campaigns. As a result, they may make their content too specific or, conversely, not specific enough. Producing and sharing content based purely on intuition can lead to an ineffective strategy and a waste of resources.
The best way to make sure your content strategy is worthwhile is to do some research around your target audience. You should be able to pinpoint your primary and secondary audiences, which can help you figure out which types of content to produce to please both. Figure out demographics to develop in-depth buyer personas, which you can use as hypothetical people to help you model your content. Based on the personas, you can use a certain voice or cover certain topics that match each persona.
Your Google Analytics Audience report is a great place to start. You have easy access to your users’ age, gender, and interests. Take advantage!
Your sales messages may be clever and informational or humorous and storytelling but unless you are targeting the right audience it won’t matter how good your message is when it comes to converting.
3. Research Topics and SEO Elements
After you’ve gained a deeper understanding of your audience, you can begin to figure out which topics your audience likes to explore.
You can use a wide variety of tools available out there to help you figure out what types of content to create and how to optimize it. Tools like Moz now make it easy to see information around keywords, search volume, click-through rates, and ranking difficulty. The terms you’ll likely want to optimize for most include specific long-tail keywords of three or more words, while you can aim for a long-term goal of ranking for broader short-tail terms.
If you want to know what keywords your visitors are USING to land on your site, your Google Analytics Acquisition report > Campaign > Organic Keywords is where you can see this information. Or if you have Search Console connected to your analytics (which you should!), go to Acquisition report > Search Console > Queries.
While keyword use is still important in search engine optimization (SEO) today, keep in mind that optimization for search engines comes second to optimization for the user. Make sure your content is readable, engaging, and fresh and optimize for SEO naturally. If your content is rich, relevant, and well-constructed, you’ll likely please readers while touching on many key terms more organically throughout.
4. Perform Competitive Analysis
As a company, you need to look at what you can do with your content that competitors, who are essentially fellow publishers, aren’t doing. If you can find out what your audience wants from the content they read or view, you’ll be able to identify the gaps that you can fill.
Google Analytics allows you to see a ranked list of the most visited pages on your site and the average session time and bounce rates for each page. To find this information head over to Google Analytics Behavior section < Site content< All Pages report.
Take a look at what competitors are doing that their audience seems to like and identify all of the topics they’re covering. You can compare and contrast different competitors to see which strategies are gaining the most traction. Based on what’s working, you can model some of your own content strategies after theirs. At the same time, you can pinpoint certain topics that you can cover that would set you apart from competitors.
For example, while one competitor may provide plenty of how-to guides around a certain topic, they may neglect to cover relevant industry news that could appeal to readers and boost rankings.
5. Gain a Clear Picture of the Buyer’s Journey
Generally, all of your customers will travel down the sales funnel along the buyer’s journey as they go from the awareness stage to the decision stage. At the awareness stage, consumers are simply looking for more information about a topic, such as a problem they’re facing but don’t yet understand. By the time they get to the bottom of the funnel, they’re ready to make a buying decision.
Many sales funnels are inefficient and contain certain “leaks” at touchpoints that don’t work. As a result, people are likely to drop off at some point along the buyer’s journey before converting. Try to follow the customer journey on your own and imagine you’re considering making a purchase. Perhaps you notice that there aren’t topics that effectively describe a solution to a customer’s problem that can connect to your offerings or a lack of email content keeps customers from returning to you after they begin to lose interest. Maybe there simply isn’t any content in place to help retain customers after the initial sale, encouraging them to make additional purchases with offers or promotions.
Regardless of the issue, try to develop a complete picture of the buyer’s journey from start to finish, and use your content marketing strategy to fill any gaps that might lose leads or customers.
6. Distribute the Content Where It Needs to Go
It’s not enough to create great content–you also need to distribute it to make sure it succeeds. Many companies might publish blog posts and hope that their audience finds them, but they’re not likely to attract a lot of attention without any distribution plan.
Figure out where your audience is likely to hang out and try to push your content on the platforms that matter. For instance, some people in one segment of your audience might spend a lot of time on Facebook, while a more professional audience might enjoy certain content on LinkedIn. Also, try to identify the times when your audience is most active on those platforms, which may be the best time to schedule a post for new content.
Taking all of these steps will help you develop a winning content marketing strategy that keeps you ahead of competitors and in your audience’s minds. By researching your audience, determining which types of content to create, filling gaps in your industry, and distributing content properly, your content will thrive in 2021.