In today’s competitive market, it’s hard to leave a mark online. It’s not just the small business that struggles. With poor strategies or no proper plans at all, many big companies also battle to succeed.
The customer is king, and you need to keep the king happy to run a successful business. In today's world, digital marketing has changed a lot. Today you cannot just rely on SEO to get relevant traffic on your website. To succeed online, you need qualified traffic and leads that convert.
Content has taken center stage in the field of digital marketing. Without targeted content marketing, there are bleak chances that your business will survive online.
Are you one such business frustrated with not being able to market your business successfully? If yes, it’s time to re-evaluate your content marketing
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 84% of B2C marketers successfully created brand awareness through content marketing. At the same time, 61% succeeded in generating leads. This is the reason why more businesses are now focusing on their content marketing strategies.
According to the same report by CMI, 59% of B2C marketers expect larger budgets for content marketing in 2020 than they had in 2019. Whereas, fifty percent of the respondents are looking to improve the audience's quality and conversion through content.
In the current scenario, content marketing is the life and soul of any online business, and without a proper strategy in place, your success largely depends on chance.
This guide will tell you how to create a killer content strategy for your eCommerce blog.
But first, let’s see why content marketing is so essential for your business.
Why is Content Marketing Crucial?
Content marketing is inarguably the best way to introduce your company to the world, drive relevant traffic, generate business, and build trust with potential customers.
All businesses face tough competition to win the attention of a handful of people that we call customers. You might wonder, with the current world population of 7.8 Billion, why are we referring to customers as just a handful?
Well, firstly, different businesses have diverse audiences. You cannot market your products or services to everyone. There will be just a few people requiring your products or services at a particular moment, so that leaves you with a small number of prospects. And remember there are many companies like you that are striving to get their attention.
So how do you win over your customers?
To win your audience, you need to build a brand. And how would you build a brand online? Well through unique content. You can’t lure your customers with empty pages and boring sites.
You need content that resonates with your company’s ideas and educates or helps your customers with their pain points.
However, before you sit down to strategize your content marketing, there are three questions you need to answer-
- Who is your target audience?
- What will they benefit from it?
- What is your company’s objective?
We’ll help you answer these questions in detail in the following steps on how to create a killer content strategy for your business-
Define your goals
The success of any strategic plan depends on how strong the foundation is.
The first step to creating a content strategy is to define your goals. Without clear goals, you won’t be able to determine what kind of content you want. Moreover, you won’t have any parameters to compare your results with.
To start with, you need to ascertain why do you even need a content strategy in the first place. To know ‘what’ kind of content your business needs, you need to know ‘why’ you need it.
Is it to-
Let’s take an example-
This is leafly.com’s about us page. It clearly defines the audience (people looking for science-based information, licensed brands, and retailers). Highlights what the audience gets from this site( cannabis information, strains, and products, and legal, licensed retailers). And state their objective- to get licensed brands and retailers closer to their customers.
Once you know what you expect your audience to get out of your site, you can formulate your business goals.
2. Define your KPIs
To measure your success, you need to define key performance indicators (KPIs).
KPIs allow you to recognize areas of improvement and measure what you achieve through content marketing.
Take the KPIs as milestones for your achievements. These milestones are crucial because, without them, you’ll be lost and wouldn’t know if your efforts, time, and money paid off or not.
These should include your goals in terms of sales, revenue, SEO, traffic, etc.
- Your quarterly, monthly, or annual revenue targets.
- Increase in site traffic and customer retention by a certain percentage
- Improve search ranking of the pages that you want to promote, also known as key pages.
- Get a specific number of likes, shares, or comments for your principal pillar pages.
3. Create buyer personas
To create relevant content, you need to know your audience. Until you have a clear understanding of who your buyers are and their needs, you won't be able to create appropriate content.
Buyers persona is a research-based fictional profile that you create for your ideal customers. Who are they? What are their likes and dislikes? What are they looking for? Etc. Creating a buyer persona helps you better understand your audience. Many marketers even name their buyer personas as individuals.
To create a customer or buyer’s persona, you’ll have to conduct surveys, interviews, or talk to your audience. A typical persona would help you get the following information-
- Demographic details- Gender, Age, Location
- Occupation details- Responsibilities, job title, income, industry
- Pain Points- the most significant problem that they need to solve.
- Interests- What they seek, their desires, and what makes them tick
- Preferences- In what form do they like content to be in? Podcasts, stories, videos, etc?
- Online behaviors- What do they look for? What kind of keywords do they use? How do they search and buy?
Once you know your buyer persona, you can easily create content that resonates with their wants and needs.
Let's understand this through an example. Consider you have a cannabis business, and you want to create your buyer persona. You deal in CBD products, mostly topicals, and oils, but you are clueless about your target customers. In this case, how would you market your products?
It would interest you to know that according to newfrontierdata.com, there are nine types of cannabis consumers. Their research is based on the consumer’s habits, demographics, and preferences.
But among these nine types, in which category does your audience fall in? To know that, you’ll have to create your buyer personas.
To create buyer personas, you can follow the steps below-
a) Start with a template
First of all, you need to create a template and fill in the relevant headings based on the details you are looking to gather.
A typical template could be as follows-
Once you have your template ready, you need to fill in the details.
And how would you do that?
There are various ways to collect details. Read on to find out-
b) Conduct Interviews/Surveys.
The sure shot way to gather accurate details is by asking precise questions. You can conduct surveys or take direct interviews of your-
- Already Existing Customers
- Prospective Customers
- Your Target Customers
- Previous Customers
c) Get in touch with your sales team.
You might have underestimated this, but your sales team can be a sea of information. They are the ones who deal directly with customers and prospects. They can provide relevant information on what kind of questions they get and the challenges customers face.
With their help, you can come up with the needs and pain points of your buyers.
d) Be active on social networks.
Social platforms are the most useful tools to know your customers. Use these platforms to understand how your customers feel about you, what they talk about you, etc. It's also an excellent platform to engage your target customers directly and ask them questions.
e) Use various tools and business data.
Tools like Google Analytics can provide you with in-depth insights into your customer behavior.
Go to - Audience- Interests-Overview. Here you’ll find the segments your visitors fit into-
Similarly, you can get useful insights from your social media as well.
For instance, you can find demographic details on Facebook via Facebook page insights.
f) Study Competitor’s websites-
It may surprise you, but your competitors can offer valuable insight into your target audience. Your competitors will target the same customer niche as you, and through their data, you can learn a lot.
Various tools can help you study your competitors' web presence. One exciting tool is Alexa's Audience Overlap Tool.
Enter your competitor’s website URL and hit the Find similar websites button.
This will create an enticing map of sites that share the same audience as your competitors. Through this, you would know what platforms your target audience is most active.
4. Audit your content
Most businesses already have a lot of content. So before formulating your content strategy it’s imperative that you audit the already existing content.
Analyze content on your social media, blog, videos, podcasts, etc.
To do this, you need to-
- Start with a sheet and make a log of all your blogs, guest posts, etc.
- Assess if they are useful and have user engagement
- Identify loopholes or shortcomings
This is the perfect time to analyze your competitor’s content, as well.
a) Log your content-
Various tools can help you do this. One of the most popular tools to analyze your content and fix your SEO mistakes is the Screaming Frog.
It’s a site crawler that will-
- List URLs
- Include redirects and broken links
- Find duplicate content
- Check titles and descriptions
- Create interesting sitemaps
To begin with, you can download its free version and crawl up to 500 URLs.
Some of the alternatives to Screaming Frog are SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz Pro, SEO Powersuite website Auditor.
b) Check its effectiveness
Once you have all the details on a spreadsheet, you need to check how effective your existing content is.
You should look for the following metrics-
- Pieces with inbound links to the content
- Search rankings for targeted keywords
- Most popular content
Keeping these parameters in mind, you can determine which content is fine and which needs some modifications.
A useful tool to check these parameters is SEMRush Position tracking tools and site audits.
c) Identify Shortcomings
The last step of the content audit would be to identify the gaps or areas that can be improved. You might find out -
- High ranking keywords relevant to your niche that you are not working on or targeted keywords that do not rank well on the search engine
- Customer queries that you might have missed.
- Content that can rank well with some modifications.
A popular tool to identify such gaps is Ahrefs.
With this tool, you can find out how your keywords are ranking and even analyze your competitor’s keywords ranking well on search engines.
To do this, go to organic search, enter your URL—select Content Gap.
The following window will appear-
Enter your competitor’s URLs under Show keywords that any of the below targets rank for. Enter your URL below But the following target does not rank for and hit the Show Keywords button.
You’ll get a list of your competitor’s high-ranking keywords that you can focus on now.
5. Determine the best platforms
After so much research on your target audience, you will get a fair idea on the platforms they like to hang out the most. You’ll want to be present on the media where your target audience is most active.
You might find out some channels where you already hold a strong position, and your target audience is also active. These are the platforms you need to focus on more. Engage with your audience, listen to their needs, and drive relevant traffic back to your site.
For channels that you are not active on, you need to build a strategy to engage new leads and gradually build a successful presence.
You can use Google Analytics to be sure about the platforms where your audience is most active and sharing your content.
Another great tool to find this data is BuzzSumo. It gives valuable content insights through interesting charts.
6. Choose content types.
Now that you have figured out the channels that your audiences hang out on, you need to decide on the type of content you should create to engage them.
Content can be in various formats- articles, videos, podcasts, etc.
Typically, almost every business relies on blog posts or e-commerce blogs. Having valuable, actionable, and shareable content on your website allows you to reshare and repurpose them on other sites.
However, to be successful, you would need a mix of content that is right for your audience on different channels.
Tools like Buzzsumo can help you understand the types of content you should create to boost social networks' reach and engagement.
Besides Blog Posts, some other forms of content that you should focus on are-
Video Marketing- Videos garner the attention of audiences of almost all age groups. Videos are very efficient in engaging viewers and promoting your brand. According to Wyzowl, 81% of businesses using video marketing saw a drastic increase in sales, whereas 99% of people/businesses said they would continue to use video content in 2020.
Videos can be informative, educational, tutorials, or explainer videos. It’s an effective way to explain your product and services to the masses.
Infographics- Who doesn’t love good graphics and easy-to-understand information?
Infographics are one of the best ways to explain your product or services creatively. Two reasons you can't ignore infographics are - they are easy to understand and attractive. They are easily linkable and shareable. The best part is you can easily convert your already existing blog into a stunning infographic with tools like Picktochart and Canva.
Podcasts- Podcast is content in audio form. This type of content marketing gives you the freedom to talk to your audiences directly.
In today's busy lifestyle, podcasts offer people an easy way to listen to what they love on the go. It's easily downloadable on a mobile device or computer. Hence, if you are using podcasts as a way of content marketing, you need to be sure of what intrigues your targeted niche. If you already have some exciting videos that your customers like, you can repurpose them and use their audio as a podcast.
Podcasts have been rapidly growing in popularity. According to Podcast Insights, 51% of the US population listened to podcasts in 2019. 49 % of people listened to podcasts at home, while 22% in the car.
Check out the infographic below for some interesting statistics on podcasts-
Image Marketing- With an ever-shrinking customer attention span, image marketing is a must-have in your content marketing arsenal. Exciting images can quickly grab customer attention and have an incredible retention rate.
According to Visual Capitalist, every internet-minute user shared 3,47,222 posts on Instagram in 2020. This number was just 46,200 in 2017. This shows how much users are likely to engage in sharing images on social media.
Some of the tools that you can use to create images/Gifs are- Canva, Giphy, Stencil, etc.
E-books- E-books are a must-have in your content strategy plan if you are looking to target your customer’s pain points. It is also one of the best ways to generate new business leads. They might be time-consuming and require a lot of effort, but in the end, they are worth it all.
E-books can help you build your brand by educating your customers and giving solutions to their problems.
Webinars- Webinars are online seminars that are excellent in generating leads for businesses. According to the State of Webinars-
- The use of video marketing is rapidly increasing, with 87% of companies capitalizing on this growing craze.
- 79% of customers claimed that webinars influenced them to buy a product.
- Whereas 81% of marketers claimed that webinars helped them generate new leads.
Webinars help a business explain their products and services to the potential customers better, keep them engaged for longer, and build a relationship with them. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have webinars in your content marketing strategy.
White papers- Content marketing white papers are not for everyone, but it can convert potential leads when used correctly and by the right business. White papers are formal, authoritative, and well-researched reports. They usually target a particular problem and provide a comprehensive solution to it.
White papers or reports are usually written in a serious tone. One thing to note is that white papers are not a direct sales pitch; instead, they aim to offer solutions to a particular problem and persuade the customers based on facts and proofs.
Polls and quizzes- Polls and quizzes are very efficient in grabbing customer’s attention. Content that is engaging and shareable is a must-have in your content marketing plan.
Email newsletters- One of the best ways to get your content in front of the right audience is through email newsletters.
Although, as per CMI, 83% of businesses use email newsletters marketing, it’s not easy to create compelling newsletters. There are certain tips and tricks to create newsletters that the target audience would open and engage with your brand. Sending personalized emails and avoiding spamming is the first step towards successful email marketing.
Follow these simple steps to create email newsletters that grab your audience’s attention.
7. Determine and allot resources
Once you determine what kind of content you need, it’s time to allocate resources. You need to be clear on who will implement the content marketing strategy. You can either hire a content manager to manage writers and take care of the entire process from identifying topics to edits. Or you can outsource the content strategy to a marketing agency specializing in content.
If you decide to have an in-house team, the following is how your content marketing team might look like-
- The Chief Marketing Officer would have the final say on the content strategy.
- The Content marketing manager would be responsible for managing the content team and daily delivering on the content marketing strategy.
- A team of writers/freelancers to create quality content on various niche and topics.
Whether you build an in-house team or outsource your content strategy, you need to appropriately define the roles. You might also require to invest in some useful tools for managing social media or editorial calendar software along with a strong team.
Once everything is in place, you can start creating your content. The following is the process that one needs to follow to write a typical blog post-
- Identify the relevant topics.
- Take the help of marketing analysts to determine correct SEO keywords.
- Create an outline
- Write the content and furnish it with good quality images
- Back up the facts with relevant studies/research/statistics
- Get it to proofread
- Make changes/corrections as suggested by the editor
- Upload and publish it to the website.
To consistently deliver top-quality content, you need to ensure that you allocate the time and resources appropriately.
8. Make Use of the Content Calendar
Most businesses struggle with proper organization and consistency. For successful content marketing, a content calendar is a must. A content calendar allows you to plan a successful publishing schedule. It is a must to keep your content team organized. It helps you keep track of deadlines, provides visibility to your team, and enables you to plan.
A typical content calendar would have the following details-
- Type of content
- Due Date
- A platform where content will be published
- Relevant keywords and links
- Target Persona
A standard content calendar looks like following-
However, this can be as extensive as you want it to be. A content calendar should be accessible to all the team members so that everyone can check the progress.
Once the content calendar format is ready, you need to generate relevant topics. You can have brainstorming sessions with your content team to find relevant topics. Different team members deal with diverse aspects. Hence, everyone would have an interesting perspective on your target customers. Such sessions can provide many potential topics. From these topics, you need to narrow down the list and finalize the most relevant titles.
Another and one of the best ways to find relevant topics is by knowing what your customers want.
Tools like Answer the public and Buzzsumo’s Question Analyzer can help you know what questions people actually ask.
Simply type a topic into the search box, and Answer the Public will beautifully display a list of questions people search for that particular keyword.
For instance, I searched for CBD on Answer the Public and got the result as above.
9. Finally, create content.
After analyzing, researching, making market reports, it’s finally the time to create content.
Once you have listed down the relevant titles, the first step would be to check if there’s already some content previously written available with you. You can evaluate such content and see what your target audience has been talking about, or their reaction to it.
You must keep your target audience in mind and write in a voice that suits your audience and aligns with your brand.
For instance, if you want to build a friendly rapport with your customers, use a warm tone and give it a personal touch. Whereas, if you are looking to educate your customers and want to come up as a serious brand, the use of a professional and formal tone would be better.
The content should be in an easy-to-understand language. If you are writing scientific articles and are targeting a specific niche of a knowledgeable audience, then only you should use technical or scientific terms. Otherwise, keep it simple and avoid jargon and technical terms.
It’s best to divide your content into three parts- the introduction, body, and conclusion. The use of headings, subheadings, bullet points would make it easier for readers to understand it and Google to crawl through it.
Also, you must keep the SEO factors in mind. Your content should be optimized for search engines or to be precise for Google. Ensure that you do not stuff in the keywords but use them wisely.
At the same time, make sure that your content is informative and valuable for your target audience. The content should be purposeful and leave a clear call to action for readers.
10. Market your content
Now that your content is ready, it’s time to proofread it. Your Content marketing team should have an editor or a proofreader that will check all content for facts, grammar, and authenticity.
Once the proofreading team approves the content, it's time to publish it.
Go back to your content calendar and check where and when you had scheduled to publish this particular piece of content.
Whether you publish it as an e-book or on your blog, you need to have a strategy in place to promote it once it’s live.
Make sure all your content is shareable. You can share it with influencers who can further engage an audience that might find it informative and useful. Another way to place your content in front of a relevant audience is through email marketing.
Tools like Missinglettr can be useful in promoting your content on auto-pilot mode through drip campaigns.
Another tool that can help you promote content is OptinMonster.
11. Evaluate outcomes
With so much effort put into the entire process, now is the time to evaluate the results. At this point, I'd like you to go back to point number 2, where you defined your KPIs, i.e., the Key performance indicators.
Use tools like google analytics to measure how successful your efforts have been.
Monitoring your performance would help find the most compelling content and the content that failed to click the audience's interest. This information would help you create better content in the future and would increase the chances of success.
For this last step, it is essential to lay down the correct and achievable KPIs initially.
Creating a killer content marketing strategy isn't a walk in the park. It takes determination, time, effort, and consistency to strategize and implement the plan successfully. But with team effort and proper planning, this will be worth the effort.
With a documented content marketing plan, you will be directing your business for long-term achievement.