Does your business have a content marketing strategy in place yet?
If not, you’re behind — a 2018 study from the Content Marketing Institute reported that 86% of B2C businesses utilize content marketing.
However, as you may have already figured out the hard way, content marketing by itself is not enough. You also need to have a strong and effective strategy behind the content you’re creating.
Are you tired of reading marketing tips that seem cool at first but don’t yield great results? Keep reading to learn about a content marketing strategy that actually works!
1. Effective Content Marketing Means Having a Full-Funnel Content Marketing Strategy
If you’ve ever taken a marketing class, you probably already have a basic understanding of the marketing funnel. However, we’re going to go ahead and break it down here, just in case you’re not familiar with this concept.
The marketing funnel can basically be broken into awareness, evaluation, and conversion. You might hear different terms for these same concepts.
Ultimately, the goal of any content marketing strategy is sales. You want to lead potential clients through this funnel and then turn them into sales conversions.
To have an effective content marketing strategy, you must have a clear understanding of the marketing funnel. You must also focus on each element of the funnel. Don’t over-focus just one part.
Content marketing is not just about following digital content trends. It’s about consistently creating effective, high-quality content that will add real value and serve your client base along each step of that marketing funnel.
Top of the Funnel
At the top of the funnel, you have awareness: i.e., awareness of a particular need or desire and awareness of the product or service that can fulfill that need.
Blog articles and social media posts are excellent examples of content that fall into the top of the funnel. This is the content you create that is all about building your potential client’s awareness of the solutions that your business offers. Top-of-the-funnel content should all be free content, readily available to all potential clients/customers.
After all, you will not be able to sell a service or product to a client if you have not first made them aware of what you offer and why your offering will be of value to them.
However, sometimes business put too much focus onto the top of the funnel. Raising awareness is great, but remember what your ultimate goal should be with all your content marketing tactics: getting leads and gaining conversions.
To do that, you’ll need to focus on the full marketing funnel, not just one point of that funnel.
Middle of the Funnel
Once potential clients have made it past the awareness stage, now they are ready to evaluate the options that are available to them in order to solve the problem that they have just become aware of.
These are the resources and educational content that will encourage your customers to dive a little deeper into learning about what you can offer them. Some examples include white papers, case studies, checklists, mini e-books, etc.
Again, much of the middle-of-the-funnel content should be offered for free. However, you will want to make this content accessible to users by asking them to sign up for your email marketing list in exchange for receiving the free content. This way, you know that they are sincerely interested in your business’s offering.
Look at you, you’ve just created a lead.
Bottom of the Funnel
The bottom of the funnel brings us to conversion, where you take those leads you got in the middle of the funnel and convert them into paying customers.
When a potential customer is ready to convert into a paying customer, they are looking for things like free trials of the product, user reviews or other customer stories, comparisons between similar products, webinars, mini-classes, etc. Including this bottom-of-the-funnel type of content on your website is what will help you to turn your leads into sales!
As you can see, for a truly effective content marketing strategy, it is important to have creative and useful content along with each point of the funnel — top, middle, and bottom. Neglecting any area of the funnel will have a negative impact on your sales and your content marketing process.
2. Effective Content Marketing Is Avatar-Based
Without an ideal customer avatar, your content marketing tactics will be largely ineffective. That’s because all of your content needs to be created with a person in mind — a person who is going to become a paying customer of your business.
You don’t want to just create blog articles or other digital content simply because it seems like something cool or trendy. You want to create content that answers a question or solves a problem that a real-life person would have.
To know what those questions and problems are, you need to have a customer avatar in mind.
As you design a customer avatar, avoid generalities. Don’t just say, “our ideal customer wants to learn more about how to run a small business.”
Think more in terms of, “our ideal customer is a middle-income millennial who wants to be location-independent and wants to learn more about how to run a successful small business as a freelance copywriter.” See the difference?
Once you have a specific customer avatar in mind, you can create content that is based on the intents of that person.
3. Effective Content Marketing Is Intent-Based
With every piece of content you develop for your business, take the time to consider the customer’s intent.
What is the customer hoping to learn, do, or achieve after they’ve finished reading or consuming your content? The answer to this question will, of course, depend on where they currently fall within the marketing funnel.
Once you’ve determined intent, create high-quality content based on precisely what the potential needs in order to fulfill their intent.
Focus first on creating content for those consumers who currently on that line between the middle and the bottom of the funnel. Show them comparisons of how your service or product performs next to similar offerings. Show them great customer reviews and success stories.
Once you have a strong and solid amount of content targeted towards the middle/bottom line of the funnel, you are ready to start putting more focus into creating content at the top of the funnel. That way, once you have built up awareness in potential clients, you will already have fantastic content to continue moving them through the marketing funnel.
That brings us to the next item in our effective content marketing strategy.
4. Effective Content Marketing Is Ascension-Focused
We’ve talked about intent-based content, but you also want to ensure that you don’t have any content with dead ends. For every piece of content on your business’s site, consider what the consumer’s next intent will be. Then, guide them towards that next piece of content.
This should be purposeful and organized; think back to the marketing funnel. You want your potential customers to go through these focused on creating leads, not just on leading people in circles around your blog posts. Having high engagement online is only as valuable as the sales that engagement leads to.
On blog posts, this is where the call-to-action comes in, whether that’s sending the customer to a “contact us” page or encouraging them to put their email address in to receive another piece of exclusive, informative content.
5. Effective Content Marketing Is Segmented
This step of the content marketing process ties right in with being ascension-focused, as well as with knowing your client avatar.
You can tell what a prospective client is interested in based on how they are spending their money and their time. By visiting content on your site and taking the time to read it, watch it, or listen to it, as the case may be — they have indicated their interest in the product or service that you are offering.
This is where ad retargeting comes in. You already know that they are interested in what you have to offer, but you probably won’t convert them on their first visit to your site. It’s the returning customers that really bring in the revenue.
And how to make them returning customers? By creating targeted content that reaches out to specific segments of your potential client base.
If someone has already been on your blog or website once or twice, make sure they see more relevant ads for your business — whether that’s through a targeted email campaign, social media advertisements, or some other tactic.
6. Effective Content Marketing Is Cross-Channel
You might have an excellent, well-written blog, but that doesn’t matter if you don’t promote your content across multiple channels. Social media is especially important, such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
Before going any further here, it’s important to note that you don’t want to become overwhelmed by trying to create and promote content on too many different channels. This is especially important if you a beginning entrepreneur with a small or non-existent content marketing team.
So, think back to your ideal customer avatar. What platforms are they using? What kind of social media sites are they most active on? Then, plan your content marketing strategy based on creating content for the platforms that your ideal customer uses most frequently.
Even if you have a large budget and content marketing team, quality still wins out over quantity here. Creating focused, high-quality content for a few key platforms will give you further reach and impact than will having low-quality content that is scattered across the web on dozens of platforms.
Time to Start Planning
As you can see, the keyword in any successful content marketing strategy is just that: strategy. To be successful, make sales, and see real results, then you need to have a strategic plan for your content creation process.
Now that you’ve learned the six key elements of effective content strategy, it’s time to get started on creating your own content marketing plan.
Check the rest of our blog for more tips, tricks, and advice on digital content trends and the content marketing process — like this article on effective social media posts!