Many of today’s most successful companies are growing by harnessing the power of content marketing. If you decide to use content to reach and engage online audiences, you are in good company. But how do you start?
You might feel like you’re drowning in all the decisions you have to make: What will I speak about? Who will create the content? Will I publish this on my company blog or an external site?
Among your first tasks is to create a content marketing strategy that will deliver the results you want. The worst thing a marketer can do when devising a content marketing strategy is overlook how everything ties together. Your blog posts, articles, and content products need to supplement one another and work toward a shared goal of qualifying leads.
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To create this cohesion, you should have articles published on reputable sites that link back to relevant blog posts, inviting readers to learn more through gated content. By scattering links to your blog posts across the web, you’ll leave trails that guide readers to your site. And in readers’ eyes, these publication placements serve as a third-party stamp of approval, subconsciously validating you as someone they should trust.
For both off- and on-site content to drive real business value, it needs to be part of a bigger, more integrated plan. When you have a cohesive content marketing strategy, it can do the following to boost your bottom line:
1. Capture Your Audience’s Attention
For content to accomplish your goals, it has to engage the right readers. And to relate to your specific audience, you have to understand who they are and what they need.
Draw up detailed personas, and create campaigns that include both on- and off-site content targeted at these specific segments. To take it a step further, include relatable anecdotes, timely hooks, unique perspectives, or answers to questions that entice readers to learn more.
When strategizing content ideas, think through these three questions:
- What problems are customers facing in my industry?
- How can I leverage my company’s expertise to solve these issues?
- Who at my company has the know-how and passion to alleviate those concerns?
2. Funnel Readers to Your Site
Off-site content functions like a mini funnel, making it easy for interested readers to access your blog. By linking back to relevant blog posts in these articles, you can attract interested readers and take the conversation to your turf.
Your external content might get the majority of views the day it’s published, but it stays on the web indefinitely, ready to pop up when potential clients search for related topics. Eighty-one percent of consumers do online research before contacting a salesperson. If they don’t find you through your content, they’ll find your competitors.
Whether leads trickle in on day one or 100, the journey needs to make sense. With a cohesive strategy, the material in both your blog posts and published articles is related, so this should present natural opportunities to add backlinks.
If your on- and off-site content don’t align, readers will be confused and jarred when they arrive at your content. Think through potential linking opportunities when planning your campaign to create a natural, cohesive path that stimulates the education process and draws readers closer to your brand.
3. Educate Prospects Your Way
Once you’ve earned readers’ trust through external content, they’ll be more likely to access your blog to read your post and, hopefully, learn more through other relevant posts and whitepapers.
Think about content marketing as a one-on-one, transparent dialogue with potential customers. They’re doing research because they want to find the right product for their particular situation, and a website filled with relevant, digestible information will ease their concerns and earn their dollars come purchase time. Set up as many opportunities for engagement as possible, but be careful to make sure they’re natural and make sense so you don’t overwhelm visitors.
4. Streamline Lead Qualification
By educating consumers through a cohesive content strategy, you’re nurturing leads before your salespeople get involved. It helps leads qualify themselves so you don’t have to. Plus, companies that nurture leads generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost, and nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured ones.
Although leads are an educated bunch, you need to give them a little direction to ensure they take the action you want. Always include a call to action: a question at the end of the article to spur engagement in the comments, a link to subscribe to the blog or email newsletter, or a link to a landing page to download a gated piece of content.
When readers voluntarily give you personal information, you know they’re genuinely interested in your company — and probably your product. You now have a way to keep in touch and send related content to continue the learning process.
A cohesive strategy starts with a well-defined purpose. Whether you’re creating content to get leads or attract a blog following, every content product should be designed to support your overall marketing goals. And the only way to do this is through a cohesive strategy.
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This article was originally published on the Influence & Co. blog.