Upgrade your content quality from good to great without breaking the bank
Great content marketing maketh a successful marketing campaign. Great content marketing can be done without gigantic budgets. You just need to do five things very well.
Here are the 5 secrets to creating remarkable content that will cost you almost nothing:
- Create an air-tight content marketing strategy to guide your content creation
- Involve your audience in the content creation and content marketing process
- Adopt the mindset of TV networks when planning content creation
- Run a ROT analysis and inject new life into old content
- Craft a complete content experience for your users
What is a content marketing strategy?
A content marketing strategy is a plan for managing all the content that you create and own. This can be written content, visual content, audio or any other type of tangible media. Your content marketing plan perpetuates your communication with your target audience in an orderly fashion while demonstrating your expertise and commitment to solving their problems.
Your content marketing strategy will typically have the following components
Seven Core Components of a Content Marketing Strategy
|1||Content objectives||How will content contribute to your company goals?|
|2||Target audiences||Who are we trying to reach – buyer persona(s)?|
|3||Preferred channels||How will we distribute the content and what’s the purpose of each channel?|
|4||Excellence of execution||How will the content look like and how can we perfect its execution?|
|5||Content formats||What forms of content will be created and why?|
|6||Content promotion||How will content be promoted and which content gets priority?|
|7||Defined metrics||What are we measuring, why are we measuring it, and how are we measuring it?|
Seven of the most ideal content formats for content marketing are:
- Blog Posts
- Case Studies
For more ideas on content formats, check out “113 Content Types to Organize With Your Marketing Calendar” by Nathan Ellering of CoSchedule.
Why does your business need to have a content marketing strategy?
According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI), the majority of marketers do not have a documented content marketing strategy. Their annual report: “Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budget and Trend Reports” has consistently shown this to be the case for the past eight years.
Download the 2019 B2C version of Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budget and Trend Reports
Download the B2B Version of Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budget and Trend Reports – NA
By creating and maintaining a content marketing strategy you will have an edge over 60% of marketers out there because they do not have a content marketing strategy and if they have one it’s not (properly) documented.
In order to avoid creating content that underperforms and wastes talent, resources and everyone’s time, you need to have an air-tight content marketing strategy. A well-managed and properly documented content marketing strategy will reap you the following benefits:
- Every single team member will adhere to one cohesive vision.
- Your content will have uniformity; from blog articles and eBooks, all the way to email script.
- You will experience less churn and burn for your content.
- You will stop wasting talent, resources, and everyone’s time.
- Better targeted content distribution will result in more qualified audiences.
- Every single piece of content will be tied to your strategic objective.
Understand that your audience has the upper hand
It’s tough; it is really tough being involved in the never-ending struggle for your target audience’s attention. You not only have to compete with direct competitors these days. Your target audience themselves create an endless stream of social media updates and share those with friends, family, and acquaintances.
Here is the juicy part though. Your target audience pays more attention to updates by their family and friends than they do to content shared by a brand. So as a brand, despite having talent and resources, you are still in a weak position. You are basically not relevant.
Listen to your audience
In order to become more relevant to your target audience and get their attention, you need to understand what makes them tick.
How to understand your content audience and know what makes them tick
Understand your content audience through their
|Methods for understanding your content audience||Tools|
|Social listening||Awario Agorapulse TweetDeck Keyhole Mention Brandwatch|
|Questionnaires and surveys||Qualtrics Survergizmo SoGoSurvey SurveyMonkey|
|Onsite search data||Internal search reporting in GA|
|Organic search data||Organic search data GA|
|Ready-to-use research||Crimson Hexagon|
The more you listen to your audience, the more you will be able to create content that resonates with them.
Work with your audience
Your biggest ambassadors are your customers. So don’t just listen but capitalize on user-generated content (UGC). There is no better social proof than user-generated content and it costs you nothing most of the time. Examples of user-generated content are:
- Uploaded videos
- Uploaded images
- Case studies
- Social updates
- Blog posts
It does not take much for you to create user-generated content:
How to create user-generated content
|Recruit your biggest brand enthusiasts||Find out which customers are already talking about your brand and make them official brand ambassadors.|
|Host contest for content||Hosting a contest where your customers submit content is an awesome idea for collecting user-generated content.|
|Use reviews and ratings||Ratings and reviews are a testimony to customer satisfaction and are very powerful when placed in context of your product or service.|
|Amplify user-generated content||Take advantage of the content that has already been created by your audience and share or repost.|
Talk like your audience
If you are looking for some serious engagement with your target audience and ultimately conversion listen up. Produce content that talks in the same way as your audience does. Researching how your customers and prospects talk is quite easy. We have already mentioned listening to your audience together with the methods and tools involved. Let us look at some more listening methods; this time with the aim to master the language your customers use.
Reddit is a great place for customer research. All you have to do is head over to a subreddit that discusses the topic relevant to your brand. This is where your target audience hangs out and its members pour their hearts out about problems you can solve. Now, look at the most popular recent threads. It is all about how they express the problems. You can use the same language they use to attract them.
So let’s say you are a small business consultant. You should head over to the subreddit small business. Now, look at the language the small business owners use to describe their pains and needs.
So I found some juicy stuff I could use to create content:
Then I was able to create an awesome copy that reflects the same language. You can use such content for a Facebook ad, email or even a landing page.
I have always told my clients to visit relevant forums to see what their target audiences are talking about and how they talk. Reddit is the mother lode of course. However, depending on the niche you are serving there could be some very interesting forums out there for you to use in this manner too.
Ask Product Hunt
The reason Ask Product Hunt is amazing is because most people who ask questions there have not found answers when Googling. Time to note the words and phrases your target audience is using to express their pains and needs.
Then create content resembling the pain and needs of the query. Most importantly using similar language expressed by your target audience. In this case, it would make for a great blog post or video. See example below:
I don’t get to watch much television these days. But the last two shows I binged were Breaking Bad sometime back and recently Cobra Kai (YouTube Original Series). If you look at these two shows or any television show you have loved over the years, you will notice that they all have something in common. They all release a full season’s worth of episodes that follow the same format and rhythm.
From a content marketing perspective, this makes a lot of sense. According to my content marketing superhero, Jay Baer, “Content shows are consistent thematic executions, in the same modality, targeting the same persona(s), and the same funnel stage(s)”. He categorizes these shows as follows:
The three types of content shows for content marketing
|Type of show||Description||Example|
|Binge-worthy shows||Content created and distributed on a consistent basis. This type of content follows a theme and gives your audience consistency.|| Podcasts, video series, webinar series etc. |
It would be very difficult to have the same thematically based consistency with small content like blog posts.
|One-time shows||Content that deals with your target audiences major pain points. The purpose of such content is to become the definitive source of knowledge for a particular topic that your target audience is grappling with.||White papers, event broadcasts, research papers etc.|
|Regularly scheduled shows||This is the type of content effort that fills up your content calendar. Usually with different creators and an array of topics. However, they all fall under the same strategy.||Blog posts, short videos, social posts etc.|
The benefits of this approach:
- Easier planning and execution of content
- Your audience has something to look forward to
- Easier to measure success because of consistency
How to create content like a TV producer
Ever wanted to be a TV producer? Well here is your chance. Well, maybe not but at least you can create your content like one. Here are some basics for giving your content that TV-show appeal and engage your target audience like never before.
- Use a logical flow relating to how your target audience will consume your content.
- Furnish them with enough information on each episode but keep them curious for the next one.
- Make sure the titles are captivating but relevant to the series.
- You must have a visual theme; each content piece must be visually distinct but relevant to the series.
- Use extracts as teasers on blog posts or Instagram for example and build anticipation.
- Make sure you cross-link the episodes; if you don’t your audience will not find all the content in your series. Go ahead and get some tips on cross-linking your content here.
- Always promote before, during, and after the content has been published.
Just like everything else, make sure you measure the success of your series. Measure your success by views, likes, comments, and downloads. Run a pilot and see what response you get. If it completely flops, don’t give up and instead find a better way to retell the story.
The worst thing you could do to your content is to create it and let it gather dust. Any content you create will have taken up the finite resources you have in your possession. This is why you need to maximize all your content.
ROT stands for “Redundant, Outdated, and Trivial”. You should use it to organize your content into these three categories. You can then decide on whether to rewrite the content, reformat it (for example turn a blog into a video) or refresh and republish it.
Let us now define what the three ROT categories mean:
ROT Content Analysis
|Redundant content||Over time, you will probably write a ton of articles that cover similar topics. Perhaps you find them to be too similar or you’ve written about the topic too many times. You can consolidate them into a single piece of content for better focus value.|
|Outdated content||Do you have an article about an old event or how Google Plus will take over the social media scene? It’s time to delete that piece of content as it has no real value. Just make sure you 301-redirect the old URL to a similar article or category on your website. Not all outdated content should be deleted. Some can be re-written. For example, one of the primary reasons for re-writing content is that the keyword set that was initially targeted does not represent what searchers use today. You can refocus the keyword and re-write such articles instead of deleting them altogether.|
|Trivial content||When performing a ROT content audit, you might come across content that makes no sense for your brand to have out there. A webshop that sells sneakers should not be posting content about baking donuts right? It is best to get rid of such content.|
Advantages of ROT content analysis
By using ROT you make sure that your best content is the most visible content. You also inject new life into very relevant content that did not get the attention it deserves from your audience. If you have evergreen content (content that is always relevant), you can use ROT to keep updating and promoting it.
My favorite part of using ROT is content atomization. This is when you take one very big content piece and break it up into smaller pieces of content. Ever thought of turning your eBook into a series of short videos or blog posts? The best way to do content atomization is by following the 1:8 rule. This means that for every large content piece, you should be able to get eight smaller pieces of content with different formats (social media posts, podcast, video etc.).
Furthermore, atomization saves you time when it comes to brainstorming ideas for your content calendar. It makes your content more searchable; meaning that having more content formats on the same topic boosts your chances of ranking for that particular topic. Smaller content is also more consumable and you can use it to lure your audience to the main piece of content. Last but not least, atomized content will be shared more as most of the time it will be posted on social media in small chunks.
How to run a ROT content analysis
- Define your goals and criteria: state what you define as redundant, outdated or trivial; state the primary criterion for the audit (traffic, conversion, social shares etc.). For example, if you have an e-commerce website conversion should be your primary criteria.
- Now you can export the entire list of content and the data points needed for your analysis. For example, if ‘page views’ is your primary criterion, you can look at your Google Analytics report that shows page views for each page (behavior > site content > all pages).
- The next step is the obvious one where you ask if the content in your hands is relevant, redundant, outdated or trivial.
Have you ever researched what your content experience looks like to your audience? Is it easy to access and understand? Does it serve the entire buyer journey? Where does the ‘wow moment’ happen (when the user realizes she has been missing out on something awesome)?
If you can answer these questions positively, then you are not a good brand but an absolutely superb brand. It means that you have done a great job planting your content across every channel in which you can engage your audience.
You should consider your website and blog the nucleus of your content. Content that you distribute on other relevant channels
Let us look at a model that I have used many times when planning content. In the below example we see a plan for a men’s hair product (Hair Ujista) that stops you from going bald. You should have a core message for every stage of the buyer cycle from which your copy will originate from. This is how you will communicate to your buyer persona – in this case Brian Mac Doodle (yeah go ahead and have a laugh).
When planning as in the below example, you have the perfect opportunity to implement what we discussed before about listening to and mimicking your audience.
Profile: Brian Mac Doodle
- 35-year-old well-educated man
- Earns an upper-middle-class income as a business owner
- Loves spending time with his family
- His receding hairline makes him self-conscious
- He is worried about not being attractive to his wife anymore
|Buyer Journey and Behavior (Example)|
|1 Awareness Stage|
|Prospect’s mindset||Prospect ‘s goal||Our core message to him|
|Just as 72% of buyers in the awareness stage turn to Google for answers, Brian will look online for solutions before calling an expert.||Understand the cause of the problem and identify possible solutions for his symptoms.||What you have is more common than you think; 85% of men suffer from hair loss by the age of 35. Let us help you understand more of what you are going through.|
|2 Consideration Stage|
|Prospect’s mindset||Prospect ‘s goal||Our core message to him|
|Now that he has sufficient insight into his situation, he looks for the most efficient way to solve his problem.||Compare and narrow down options by eliminating solutions that do not fit his criteria.||The best solution is one that organically repairs your hair roots without side-effects. This eliminates the need for expensive hair restoration surgery.|
|3 Decision Stage|
|Prospect’s mindset||Prospect ‘s goal||Our core message to him|
|He is now ready to decide which product to use and how to get it, be it at the local pharmacy, a webshop, or at the drugstore.||Get rid of final doubts and find the easiest way to get the product.||Hair Ujista gives you instant results and can be bought online or at a pharmacy near you. Read these reviews from people who have successfully used Hair Ujista.|
You will notice that the lower we move down the funnel the more specific the focus keywords for your content become. This is normal as the lower you go down the funnel the more qualified the audience becomes because the buyer-intent is stronger. Search volumes are based on UberSuggest for the United States of America.
To conclude this guide, please remember that the content you create is about your audience and not about how awesome your service or your product
Find your audience wherever they are and engage them in every stage of the buyer journey. Refresh, refurbish, atomize, listen, mimic and strategize. Also, remember to enjoy content marketing; the most powerful weapon in your hands as a marketer.
With over a decade worth of experience working with small businesses on different aspects of digital marketing, I have come to realize that content should be at the heart of every small business marketing strategy.
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