All the best websites since the dawn of the internet share one thing in common – they have had great content.
Whether someone goes to a site for business or pleasure, what keeps people coming back is content. However, only in the last few years have digital marketers started to really dig down into all the types of content marketing the digital medium allows.
When the web was young, text content was 99 percent of what was available. Text was all the vast majority of users had the bandwidth to download. Multimedia was kept to simple formats with small file sizes so it wouldn’t take days to browse a website.
How things have changed!
Scads of bandwidth and processing horsepower have transformed the types of content marketing. But to truly make the most out of your content efforts, you first need to understand the value of planning content marketing strategies.
The Importance of Content Marketing
Your approach to content marketing contributes to a variety of business goals. Some of the most notable impacts you can see with awesome content include:
- Boosting brand awareness and recognition.
- Gaining visibility in targeted channels.
- Fostering trust and loyalty.
- Building credibility and authority.
- Attracting relevant traffic to your site.
- Advance visitors through the buyer's journey.
But this all doesn't just happen if you write blog posts just for the sake of having content on your site. You need a documented strategy in place to make the most of your efforts.
The Benefits of a Content Marketing Strategy
There are many clear advantages to putting your strategy on paper. In fact, 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
The top benefits of documenting your strategy include the following:
It Better Aligns Teams Around Goals.
Your content strategy should be built around clear smart goals that fit into big-picture business objectives. When you have your goals clearly defined, you can get all hands on deck, rowing the boat in the same direction.
It Simplifies Planning Different Content Types.
You don’t have to scramble at the last minute as publication deadlines emerge. You should not settle for the same old boring, basic formats and types of content. Planning ahead gives you and your team more time to be creative and think outside the box.
It Keeps Everyone Focused on Priorities.
With a documented strategy, there are no questions or uncertainties about who should be working on what. Everyone on your team has access to see what their priorities are on a daily basis, so you can ensure that you’re creating the content you need and distributing it when you need to.
Aside from these most notable benefits, there are several other advantages to documenting and following a content strategy.
- You get a clear understanding of who your audience is.
- You understand exactly how you’re helping them through your content.
- You clearly identify your uniques as compared to your competitors.
- You layout a clear plan for distribution and promotion.
Building Your Content Marketing Strategy: 7 Tips to Get Started
It can feel daunting to plan out weeks or months of content for your site, but you will see immediate benefits from planning ahead.
Here's how to get started with building your strategy.
Start With Goals In Mind.
As with every marketing initiative, you need to understand the why. What are your objectives with your content?
You're spending a lot of time and resources on content, so you want to make sure there's a target to aim for. You want to define success so it's clear to see what's working for you and what's not working for you.
Most content marketing goals are tied to driving traffic, boosting ranking on SERPs for organic visibility, engagement through relevant communities, and generating leads.
A good place to start is collaborating with your sales team so you can align your goals with theirs. Sales and marketing should no longer be working in silos. They need to get clear on how their combined efforts fuel business growth.
Create a service level agreement (SLA) that establishes accountability for both marketing and sales. This document will tell you how many marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) you need to deliver to your sales team so they can hit their revenue goals.
Establish How to Track Your Progress.
Every goal you set should be measurable and be assigned key performance indicators (KPIs). These show you how your team is tracking toward achieving those goals.
Once you have KPIs aligned with your goals, it's time to build reports to track them. Analytics tools are essential to your content marketing because they give you real time perspective on if your strategy is working or not.
For example, one of our goals with content marketing is to produce 100 quality leads for our sales team every month. The KPIs we look at are high and medium MQLs generated.
Once our marketing and sales signed the SLA, both teams built customized dashboards in HubSpot. This is one of the reports we have in the marketing dashboard.
As you can see, the reports makes it easy for us to visualize our progress throughout the month.
Stay In the Know On Your Audience.
So many businesses overlook this step and try to appeal to a mass audience. But in content marketing, casting a wide net won't get you very far.
You need to hone in on your target audience and segments within your industry. The best route for keeping up with your audience is by creating buyer personas.
These help you understand what content they need and what stage they need content to advance through the buyer's journey.
Identify Key Touchpoints With Each Persona.
Once you have personas created, you're ready to dive deeper on what each of their experiences is like as they progress from a lead to a customer. This is where customer journey maps come in hand.
The goals of content mapping is to target readers based on their personal characteristics, which you know from your buyer personas, and where they are in the buyer's journey. You can plan content for later lifecycle stages for each persona.
Audit Your Current Content Efforts.
You may be inheriting a wealth of content assets, so before you can build a strategy, you should look at what you have on hand. A content audit helps you get a bird's eye view of all the content you have and what to do with it.
By assessing all your content, you can find gaps in your strategy that need to be filled, as well as identify what content needs to optimized and how to do that.
Additionally, you can establish priorities and find what kinds of content your audience is engaging with the most. Consider using SEO tools to pull reports of all your content to make the audit faster and easier to manage.
Find Your Best Content Channels.
You want to find where you audience spends the bulk of their time so you can get in front of them in a familiar place. There are many ways to assess your best channels.
Google Analytics is often the go-to resource for all traffic metrics, but you can also use other analytics tools to get an overview of where your traffic comes from.
For example, we look at the source of traffic in our HubSpot reports.
As you can see, the bulk of our traffic comes from organic, so a main focus of our content marketing strategy is SEO oriented. We know that's where a lot of our buyer personas find us.
Consider Content For Every Stage.
When you're planning content types, you need to cover all the stages of the marketing funnel.
Source: Single Grain
You can brainstorm content by diversifying your assets in top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). Planning for each stage comes down to look at different kinds of formats.
These days, content marketing has exploded with all kinds of fantastic formats:
- B2B and B2C customers alike can now access thousands of hours of video on any topic.
- New tools have made it easier than ever to produce thrilling and memorable infographics.
- Interactive experiences that once took hours of coding can now be built in just minutes.
There are dozens of types of content marketing out there, and you should be considering how to use them in impactful ways. The majority of content that produces real engagement – and conversions – falls into nine kinds.
9 Types of Content Marketing
For your blog to be effective, it needs to be packed with helpful and informative posts. When people can put your content to work for them, they’re more likely to trust you as an authority.
Blogging Best Practices:
- Determine the pain points and burning questions that your readers go online to resolve.
- Perform keyword research to enrich your content with real search queries people use.
- Use attention-grabbing, keyword-optimized headlines and split test them for clicks.
- Explore post formats, but remember, most top performing posts are 1,000+ words!
- Use analytics, social media, competitive research, and feedback to generate topics.
Once your visitors are checking out your blog, what inspires someone to go a step further and be a subscriber? The answer is a high quality lead magnet – and that often means an ebook.
By going into deeper detail than even the best blog posts, ebooks are intended to help your users move toward their goals in exchange for inviting you to contact them periodically.
Ebook Best Practices:
- Align your ebooks with buyer journey stages to determine your topic and approach.
- Use objective facts, figures, and statistics to raise your credibility as an authority.
- Carefully plan out the sections of your ebook so you can use each for blog posts.
- Pepper the text with great graphics and be sure you have a full, compelling cover.
- Use the formatting conventions and visual language of publishing for a polished look.
3. Email Marketing
People will generally only sign up for email marketing if they get something in return. Once they’ve accepted your lead magnet and subscribed, they expect relevant and valuable content!
Email Marketing Best Practices:
- Be sure all of your users affirmatively opts in to receive your email before sending any.
- Establish expectations for how frequently users will receive email and stick to them.
- Provide your subscribers with the option to select a plain text or full HTML email.
- Experiment and optimize your headlines to see which messaging resonates the most.
- Remember – with very few exceptions, each marketing email should have just one call to action (CTA).
4. Video Marketing
Among all the different types of content marketing, video marketing is unique: It can convey a huge amount of information in a very short time and is uniquely effective on mobile platforms.
B2B decision makers are learning to love video marketing, too. It gives them the chance to make good use of their downtime, especially when video content is five minutes or shorter.
Video Marketing Best Practices:
- Ensure your video ends with a CTA that lets users move on to your site or offer.
- Experiment with polished, professional videos, live streaming, and cell phone videos.
- Focus on quality audio, which is more likely than video glitches to scare a viewer off.
- Use editing to your advantage rather than trying to get everything perfect in one “take.”
- Review your video analytics to determine when and where users are clicking away.
5. Social Media Marketing
The nuances of social media marketing depend on a number of factors. Each platform offers you different opportunities, and it’s important to use them to the utmost by knowing them well.
If you only have time for one social media platform, most B2B businesses will get the highest ROI from their time investment with LinkedIn. B2C firms should look at Facebook or Twitter.
Social Media Marketing Best Practices:
- Use compelling photographs or illustrations in as many posts as possible (aim for 100 percent).
- Don’t just post links and headlines. Always add your own perspective or some analysis.
- Do your best to foster real conversations – reply to threads and contact users individually.
- Use hashtags, including relevant, trending tags and your branded tags, to raise visibility.
- Share content from influencers in your space to pave the way for future collaboration.
Infographics are among the most intriguing and influential types of content marketing to emerge over the last few years. They help people see data in fascinating new ways.
Experts have estimated infographics are actually the most shareable content out there. They tend to be shared anywhere from 2X to 3X more than other content formats when designed well.
Infographic Best Practices:
- Start with strong data! Insightful data is key to helping users make sense of their world.
- Map out your infographic before you begin, figuring out just what you want it to convey.
- Tell a compelling story with your graphic, including a beginning, a middle, and an end.
- Cite all of your data sources to foster trust and demonstrate your chops as an authority.
- Ensure your infographic has your company URL on it so those who see it can find you.
7. Case Studies
Case studies are crucial to customers entering the decision phase of the buyer journey. They are used by serious leads to determine which solutions are likely to suit their specific situation best.
Case studies are among your best opportunities to showcase the ways your solution has exceeded the expectations of buyers just like the reader accessing it. Ideally, they lead to sales contact.
Case Study Best Practices:
- Segment your case studies by product and usage case to maximize the effect on your leads.
- Use plenty of social proof, with laudatory quotes from your clients getting pride of place.
- Build each case study to have a start, middle, and end – with your product as the “hero.”
- Emphasize the business problems you solved and how they relate to leads’ pain points.
- Make sure your case study is tied into your overall strategy, leading toward sales contact.
8. Tests and Quizzes (“Interactive Content”)
Interactive self-assessments are unbelievably popular. Every once in a while, a wave of them will flood the B2C sphere. Everyone loves getting a new little morsel of personality info and comparing results.
But tests and quizzes can be perfect for B2B too when they communicate business value. An interactive experience can gently pull users along and get them excited to learn something new.
Interactive Content Best Practices:
- Make sure your content provides real, tailored responses – not just a sales pitch.
- Structure quizzes so leads can use them to get actionable data on business issues.
- Don’t require an email or login for users to be able to see their personalized results.
- Provide a way for users to share their quiz results to colleagues or to social media.
- Use the minimum number of questions necessary to get meaningful, robust results.
9. Online Course
Online courses are becoming more popular as a way for brands to showcase their expertise and create a lasting relationship. A good course gives you a stake in a lead’s future success.
Because these courses operate on a “one to many” model, they are highly scalable and can serve the needs of a diverse clientele. They also tend to be inexpensive once established.
Online Course Best Practices:
- Develop courses with the specific skills and knowledge your learners desire in mind.
- Look for ways to provide feedback where possible, such as with auto-graded quizzes.
- Signpost the length of course content like videos and texts to make them more accessible.
- Segment through other marketing practices, especially email lists, so tailored content reaches your learners.
- Furnish visible ways for users to verify and share their learning so they feel more motivated.
Connect With Your Audience Through Content
With all the types of content marketing out there, there’s always a new way to connect with the right lead at the right time. Every kind of content helps you add value in different ways.
Text content, especially blogs, will form the backbone of most of your content marketing strategy. Still, it’s a good idea to diversify. That way, you help users learn and retain information.
No matter where you start or what your objectives look like, stick with it and always keep building your content library. Before long, your brand will be recognized for excellence.