I'm sure content marketing has crossed your path in some way, shape or form in the past few years. If it hasn't it will (how about now?). Content marketing is on the rise and blogging is one of the most popular forms of content marketing. In fact, according to a recent HubSpot study, 62% of businesses have a company blog. And it's growing. A different study, B2B Content Marketing 2014 by the Content Marketing Institute found that 73% of content marketers are producing more content than they were a year ago and that 58% of B2B marketers plan on increasing their content marketing budgets in the next 12 months.
So if you haven't started with content marketing or just need a refresher, read on to find 10 easy steps to get started with content marketing today.
1. Conduct an audit of your current content
The first step is to dig up all the content you’ve already created or have published on your website. Do you already have a company blog? Has your creative department ever produced a buyer’s guide or whitepaper? How about a ‘how-to’ video? Once you’ve created this comprehensive list, move on to the next step.
2. Measure the success of your content
Now that you've located and inventoried all your content, you'll want to measure the success of this content. How many pageviews did your blog posts get? How many people have downloaded your buyers guide? How many times was your video shared on Facebook? If you've never measured the success of your content, then you need to put a plan in place to do so. An easy way to start is by using Google Analytics (You can use this checklist to get started).
The reason it is so important to measure the success of your content is so that you can create a content marketing strategy that focuses on the content that was successful. More on this later.
3. Research your ideal buyers
Ask yourself who your ideal buyers are and what questions they may be asking or researching during the buying process, especially online. These questions are perfect for topics for the content you will create. Think about these categories of questions your ideal buyers might be asking:
Reviews of products or services in your industry especially if you are a reseller of other brands
Comparison/difference questions (Example: Concrete pools versus fiberglass pools. What's the difference?)
'Best of' topics (Example: Best Mexican restaurant in town)
4. Find keyword phrases
Find keyword phrases that your customers are searching for online and, based on this research, establish the types of questions you can answer for your ideal customers. You'll also want to do some research on the volume and competition of these keyword phrases. Your goal is to write content using keywords that are searched for frequently but also have low competition on the search engines. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find this information.
5. Determine what content you will create
Once you have a topic, you need to decide on the format you want to use to create your content. Content types include blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, videos and research reports, just to name a few. If you have never done content marketing my suggestion is to start simple with blog posts. Ultimately, you want to think about how your ideal buyer consumes information and create content in the format that is best suited for that potential customer.
6. Choose a blogging platform
If you do decide to blog (which all companies should be) you'll want to choose a blogging platform. One of the most well-known is WordPress and it is a free. If you already have a website, you can also publish your posts there.
7. Write, edit, edit, edit
Yes, you will have to write your content. This can be a tough task for many. That is why I recommend starting with the blog post. For blog posts you'll want to keep it between 500 and 700 words. Enough to provide value but not so much that you'll overwhelm your readers. Make sure the content focuses on providing value to your reader. This should NOT be a promotional piece about you or your business. There is a time and place for that, namely during the sales process. Also, you'll want to spend as much time editing as you do writing and read your content out loud so that you can hear how your readers will read your content.
8. Publish, Promote, Promote, Promote
It's not enough to just write the content. You must publish and promote it so that your ideal buyers find it. If you have done your due diligence and written content that is valuable to your buyers (see step 3) and is also keyword optimized (see step 4) then your content has a good chance of being found by the search engines. This should lead organic traffic to your content. You should also promote your content through other channels like social media and email to increase the net you cast.
Just like I suggested in step 2, you will want to measure the success of your newly published content. See step 10 for why.
10. Continue writing about what works; discontinue what doesn't
It only makes sense to get the most out of the content creation efforts.. In order to get the most out of your content, you need to measure what is working and leverage this strategy. If your 'how-to' blog posts get a lot of traffic and shares on social media, do more. If not, change course and try (and measure) something new. One cautionary note – be sure to give your content enough time to be effective. A week's worth of data generally isn't significant enough to justify major changes to your strategy. The effectiveness of your content marketing strategy should be measured over months (or longer), not weeks.
Content marketing can be overwhelming. Hopefully these 10 steps make it a little less complex and get you started on the right path. If you have further questions on content marketing you can post a comment below or reach out to me via email or twitter. Also, to help with your content strategy, download our FREE Blog Editorial Calendar Template today and start creating content that delivers measurable results.