Your Content Marketing Guide

By September 7, 2015Guides
Your Content Marketing Guide

Do you have a golden content marketing strategy? One that just rains leads in from the sky? If not, then buckle your seat belts and let us help you create the type of content marketing results you always knew were possible.

This guides shows you how to use content marketing and seo together to get the type of qualified leads that can only come from a highly executed content marketing strategy.

Below we go through the different components of your content marketing strategy.

Understanding Content Marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating any type of visual, text, audio, or other multimedia information to educate and engage prospective customers. The power of content marketing is that as you present more and more valuable information, your community and prospect pool grows.

For the purposes of this conversation, content marketing will be discussed as part of your digital marketing strategy. While many companies do produce offline content, we want to focus this conversion to online marketing only.

Because 68% of consumers now read content online about brands that interest them before making a decision. This translates into a 62% decrease in costs compared to traditional marketing efforts.

It is also the reason why 37% of businesses now believe content-led websites are the biggest component to their marketing efforts. Those efforts are just getting stronger.

Every day approximately 4 million blog posts are written. Even more impressive are the 300 hours of video created on YouTube every minute.

Finally, 17% of Americans now listen to at least one podcast per month. According to Edison Research, the average podcast listener hears 6 podcasts per week.

What does it all mean? 84% of B2B marketers now content creation as a great way to increase their brand awareness.

With so many marketers looking at this as an important part of their strategy, you need to have a tight content marketing strategy.

Content marketing strategy

Before you even write your first blog post or shoot your first video, you need a documented strategy that demonstrates how you can grow your business through content marketing.

Right now, 48% of content marketers do not have a documented strategy. Only 32% of marketers who have a verbal or “plan in their head” strategy feel they are effectively using content marketing.

That must change. To do that, we need to start with the end in mind.

Start by coming up with S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you develop a plan that works around your needs.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific– You should know how content marketing fits in with your overall strategy. For example, do you want to add 5 new clients this year through content marketing? Maybe you want to generate 100 new leads?
  • Measurable– Now determine how you measure your results. They can be direct purchases on your website, or opt-ins to your email service provider.
  • Attainable- Do your research first. Every business wants a million subscribers. However, is this realistic and needed for you to achieve your goals?
  • Relevant– How are your content marketing goals relevant to your overall business marketing and sales goals?
  • Timely– Two questions: how much time do you need to put into your content marketing efforts? Then, how long should you wait to see results?

Additionally, you want to create a content marketing schedule to ensure that you can put your plan in action. Like we stated above, document your plan.

Two of the best scheduling tools for content marketers are CoSchedule and Trello. Both provide a secure way to schedule your content over time.

For example ReadWrite has a sample editorial calendar of what they use to create quality content on their blog.

content marketing guide

Identifying your target market

Keep in mind that any plan you create should center around the prospects you want to attract to your business.

For example, if they are busy professionals, you might want to consider creating a podcast they can listen to while driving in the car? Conversely, soccer moms looking for help with raising kids might appreciate how-to videos.

Stephen King reportedly wrote every book for his wife Tabitha. If she did not like it, then he felt that his audience would not either. By using this formula, he went on to make himself one of the best-selling writers of all-time.

This is why you need to create a buyer persona of your ideal prospect reading your content. Picture how they react to every word you write, and what they do with that information.

What are their greatest fears? What provides them with the most joy and happiness? How can you help them receive that information?

By writing to a specific person, your writing becomes clearer, and you create the type of content readers love and crave from you. These same readers become your raving fans, prospects, and customers.

buyer persona

Courtesy of HubSpot

What type of content should we create?

Once you know your ideal prospect, then you can address what type of content you use to attract them to your business.

We divided the content types below into two different groups: traffic and gated content.

Traffic content shockingly helps you bring in quality traffic. Gated content helps you convert that traffic into paying customers.

Traffic Content

  • Blog Posts- Articles for your website that cover the core messages of your business. Cover educational topics that are valuable and useful for your audience that demonstrate your authority and understanding of the topic.
  • Videos- The interactivity of videos are in huge demand today. You can post videos on your blog, website, or on third party sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
  • Podcasts- Mobile traffic is now the dominant form of internet traffic. Podcasts are ideally suited to provide users with mobile content. This is because, so many users listen to podcasts on the go.
  • Images- The mighty image has made social networks like Pinterest and Instagram interactive forums where users share and discuss these images.
  • Infographics- A combination of text and images, infographics tell a story with quick quips, stats, and colorful graphics. Behind videos and website browsing, infographics are the most popular visual content on the web.
  • Slideshows- For some reason, slideshows always get forgotten when it comes to marketing. That is a shame, because SlideShare receives over 60 million visitors per year. That is not a surprise, since they are owned by LinkedIn. A perfect fit for their publishing platform.

Gated content:

  • White papers- Provide your prospects with information to help them make an educated decision on moving forward with your products or services. White papers are useful for lead generation, since you should require users enter basic contact information in exchange for giving the white paper away for free. 
  • Guides- A guide like this one provides the information you need to help you succeed with the topic at hand. Writings guides or tutorials for your prospects establishes your authority and knowledge about the subject.
  • EBooks- Just like you purchase a paperback or hardback in a store, you can download. Often businesses give them away for free in exchange for lead generation. However, some eBooks are sold as well. Platforms like Amazon Kindle and Smashwords are useful for selling your eBook.
  • Webinars- 61% of businesses state that webinars are a part of their content marketing strategy. If you have a complicated product or service you want to sell to a mass audience, few tools are better. You have a captivated audience interested in your services.
  • Toolkits- If your company sells software or specific resources, then you might want to provide a toolkit for users. For example, QuickSprout provides users with a toolkit of resources they can use for content marketing.
  • Contests- 70% of large companies use gamification to increase their audience. That is probably because a well-run contest can bring a 34% increase in your Facebook fans. Gaming company, Dobangos, increased their website traffic by 167% through a contest on Pinterest.

Now that you have the different types of content, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of content do you want to create for your business?
  • Do your followers want to receive information in that format? (QuickSprout)
  • How can you fit the content into a regular content schedule?

Once you know the answer to these questions, you can create a content marketing template that would works for your audience.

Content marketing templates & their corresponding content marketing examples

Content marketing templates make your content creation reproducible. Once you have the template down, you can keep on creating similar content repeatedly to build your business.

9 content marketing templates

Example-The first content template is the example piece. The example post is when you write an article proving your point with examples of why your point of view is correct.

A good example of the example is 5 Essential Qualities of Irresistible Product Descriptions. The point of the article is made right away. Each of the 5 qualities are really examples that serve to reinforce the main on creating irresistible product descriptions.

the daily egg

Thought Leadership- The thought leadership template is when you logically take people from point A to C in your thought process as you explain why your position is correct.

A good sample of thought leadership comes from Kathryn Aragon. Her post on how Marketing Has Changed: Are you Keeping Up discusses what she feels are the newest trends in online marketing. By talking about trends, she demonstrates how she is a thought leader on the latest and greatest in the industry.

kathryn aragon

Inverted Pyramid- In journalism there is a saying, do not bury the lead. An inverted pyramid starts with your conclusion, so fidgety readers do not leave your page wondering what you are talking about in your article. The rest of the article supports your opening conclusion

inverted pyramid

Interview- This type of template is usually a video, podcast, or written transcription.

This interview with Guy Kawasaki is a transcript of the original interview in a blog post.

Many marketers also use video on Google Hangouts, audio interviews on Blog Talk Radio, or record them for podcasts.

 positive writer

List- Companies like BuzzFeed developed their brand around list posts, also known as listicles. In the example below, BuzzFeed shows you “10” Heartwarming Cat and Dog Heroes, so you can check out each animal on their list.   

 buzzfeed

 

Round Up- Another popular post is roundups. Roundups are lists of websites for specific categories or niches. The idea with a roundup post is that you share other people’s content from around the web.

In exchange those who were mentioned hopefully share your post with their social network and list. It is also a great way to give and receive backlinks to your website (see SEO section below).

The round post below from Mental Floss took a slightly different approach. They contacted blogs in advance to find out the most popular post on a specific site.

Then they went back to those blogs afterwards to mention how they quoted them in their latest post, so they could get shares.

 most popular posts

Review- If you want to sell products from your website, then you should consider review posts. Review posts look at specific products, and then review their effectiveness for customers.

That way, if you want customers to purchase the Infinix Zero 2 smartphone (see below), you need to come up with a fair and balanced review of the product.

 android portal

How-To- What would the web be today without the do-it-yourself manuals. For those who want to know how-to, information can obtained for almost any topic imaginable. YouTube is one the largest collections of how-to videos on the planet.

Figured out how to light a pilot light on an ancient gas stove, and pretty much every other personal and professional task imaginable.

You can even let your audience know how you go from Fool to Cool: How to Stay Calm, No Matter What.

 

forbes

Case Study-Finally, we come to the mighty case study. The case study is a live example of how your website impacted other businesses. Part story, part numbers, and part expose on the industry.

At Shout, as as an SEO agency and social media agency, we like to provide a number of different case studies, so companies understand how our content and search services work.

shout case study

Ideas for content marketing

 

Once you have a few templates you want to use, you can start coming up with different content ideas. We have a few different philosophies or strategies to guide you through the brainstorming process.

10x10x4- This content marketing tip was popularized by Mike Koenig, the founder of Traffic Geyser. Darren Hardy described the philosophy as follows.

  1. Write down the top 10 frequently asked questions.
  2. Write down the top 10 questions a potential buyer should ask you.
  3. Record 30-90 second videos for each question.
  4. Record 4 more 10 minute videos that include:
    1. To Get More, Go Here Video to show them a website page with all of your videos.
    2. Video Lead Page where you offer at the end to email them all 20 videos in exchange for their email address.
    3. Thank You for Signing Up- A thank you video letting them know the process.
    4. Buy My Stuff Video- For those who want even more, how to buy your services.

 

WhatToWrite.OrgThis website provides you with writing prompts to help you create content that your audience appreciates. They go through a series of questions that can turn your ideas into blog posts for any niche. Like a guided brainstorming session.

what to write

Brainstorming– At the end of the day, you might still need to sit down and just brainstorm topics. You should probably come up with about 50-100 topics before you start creating content. That way, you can organize those ideas into a calendar like we discussed earlier.

Content Marketing Tips

 

Now that you are ready to start creating content, let’s go through some content marketing tips to ensure you enhance your efforts.

#1 Keep your average word count between 1,000 to 2,000 words. The days of writing 300 word blog posts are over. Unless, you are a well-known authority figure already they just do not work.

BuzzSumo reported that the content of the 10 most shared stories on Facebook had an average 1,000 word count.

#2 Make your content scannable– While your content needs to be longer, the funny thing is only 16% of online users read a website word for word. This means you need to format the content for those who skim your information.

To do that:

  1. Create lists– We mentioned earlier how Buzzfeed built their entire blog on their listicles. That is because lists are easy and quick to read. Plus, they are shareable.
  2. Use Pictures– Pictures that back up your point can have a great impact on your content strategy. The reason infographics work so well is that they are text combined with images. A perfect logical and emotional combination.
  3. Space– Do NOT crowd up your text. White space helps your readers focus on your content. Do not distract them with too much information.
  4. Get to the point– Motley Fool has ridiculously amazing content. The problem is they have these 30 minutes videos to get to the one point that matters. Argh! Your prospects are busy. Get to the point of your article.
  5. Don’t bury the pointProBlogger mentioned how many blog posts seem to bury the main point. Remember that content is a long-term strategy. If you struggle with this, then use an inverted pyramid.
  6. Be extremely usefulZen Habits was asked how they added 12,000 readers in 5 months. The answer is they create extremely useful content.

Power of stories for branding

Seth Godin’s post on The Noisy Tragedy of the Blog Commons discusses how bloggers need to make sure that “every word counts” if they are to gain the attention they deserve.

One of the best ways to make your words’ count is by telling a story. Take the stories that Microsoft tells it consumers. It does not focus on their product, but the consumers who use Microsoft’s products.

For example, Easydom founder Sergio Tucci, talked about how much he loved using Microsoft and how he kept pushing for almost two years to get a contract with the software giant for his home automation company.

By telling the stories surrounding Microsoft they make their brand stronger. In a field where technology regularly becomes commoditized, the stronger brands like Microsoft thrive.

Content marketing and SEO

Over the past few years, search engine optimization (SEO) has changed from Link Building, to link earning. You do this by creating and marketing great content that attracts links. Additionally through blogger outreach your content can gather even more links.

Do not underestimate the power of content marketing and SEO. Right now, organic search drives two-thirds of all web traffic.

How do we do this?

Focus first on optimizing your website

Any improvements to your own website for the purposes of greater search is called on-page optimization. This includes using the right keywords, connecting your site to Google, writing Meta descriptions, and improving your site’s speed and functionality.

Fortunately, for WordPress users this process is a little easier thanks to a number of different plugins. While we could write an entire article solely on WordPress SEO plugins, for right now we want to focus in on one specific SEO plugin: WordPress SEO by Yoast.

This plugin can help you with a number of the technical aspects of SEO. These include:

  • XML Sitemaps, so Google has a complete map of your website to crawl and determine your ranking on their search engine.
  • Page Analysis for each page and post on your site. This way you have an SEO checklist, so you include items like Meta descriptions for the posts and alt tags for your images.
  • Ensure your keywords are consistent throughout your content.

yoast plugin

Second, focus on off-page optimization

Google changes their algorithm almost every day. They do it, so they can constantly produce the best search results for their users.

How can you as a marketer help them help you?

Start with creating quality backlinks to your website. As we mentioned in the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Website Links, a good link should come naturally through great content.

Take Backlinko for example. They increased their organic traffic by 348% in 7 days by researching natural methods for backlinks, and creating content that is so good it beats out their competitors.

Naturally, when they shared their content with people who link back to other sites, they started to receive more links for their own content. Google noticed and their website traffic shot up like a rocket.

Video content marketing

 

A phenomenon happened last year in Melbourne. A small video by the Metro station went viral. Intended for patrons of the Metro, the message was so good it was viewed over 109 million times.

The video Dumb Ways to Die is a morbid and interesting way of how cartoon characters die tragically stupid deaths as they sing about each way.

Some, but not all of the ways include things you can do when you are by a train station. The Metro wanted to reduce the number of deaths and accidents.

In response, over a million people pledged to be safe around trains. The results was a 10% reduction in near misses and accidents.

Metro

While the video is an interesting example of how-to help Metro commuters stay safe, the campaign provides insights into the makings of a viral marketing campaign.

Most marketers think of content marketing as blogs and case studies. While they definitely play a strong role in any content marketing strategy, videos are a very effective strategies for marketers as well.

As you can see from the HubSpot graphic below, 64% of B2B marketers feel that videos are effective. Compare that to 60% for blogs and case studies. The only online tool more effective than a video are webinars.

b2b top 5

Content marketing automation

Once you have developed a quality traffic sources, you want to build up your conversion content. To do this, you need to have a content marketing automation system.

Most companies start with a ways to capture leads. SalesForce Pardot uses smart forms to help you score and grade the quality of the leads you have.

Once you do that, you can create a drip campaign to engage with prospects. A drip campaign is a series of automated emails that you send to customers over a specified period of time.

You can use many of them to educate the prospect to learn more about your product. Then when a prospect is ready to move forward, they are no longer a cold lead.

Additionally, 61% of content marketers also use e-newsletters to capture more business.

All of these interactions are tracked and analyzed, so you can improve your campaign to these prospects and convert them into clients.

sales process

Content marketing agency & services

After reading through this guide, you probably had one question the entire time.

How can I possibly do this all by myself?

The answer is that most small businesses do not. In fact, 62% of companies outsource their content marketing, seo, social media, and other internet marketing tasks to professionals.

If you are feeling a bit uncomfortable with doing all of the work for content marketing on your own, then let Shout help you. Our content and search specialists are results obsessed.

We study your analytics for every clue and advantage to improve your digital marketing strategy. Contact us, so we can discuss the current challenges you are facing, as well as the opportunities we can provide working together on your content marketing strategy.