The great thing about content marketing, and why it’s so successful, is because it’s a strategy that draws potential clients in, rather than just shouting their way. Craig Davis, former Chief Creative Officer at J. Walter Thompson, said that “we need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” We do this through quality content.
There are many ways to build a strong content strategy and here, we’ll explain some of our top tips. We’ll explain how to write content for your target audience, how to marry content and SEO, and how to look ahead and get in front of potential search traffic and trends.
Start with Your Personas
The most successful content marketing is highly-targeted at a company’s target audience. These marketers have fully analyzed their customers and potential customers, found their pain points, and write content to address these pain points. The more specific your content is, the more value it will bring to your readers.
There are countless tools you can use to build out your company’s personas and write content based on their needs. The first thing you need to do is define your target audience. Then, you have to use data to figure out what they’re searching for and write content around those questions and pain points.
Building out Personas
Persona marketing is based on designing buyer journeys for your target audience by creating representations of them based on market research and real data. To do this, businesses should:
- Take a deep dive into your primary services, products, and company brand. Who do you seek to help? How do you do this? Ask various members of your company, from the C-suite to interns, to define your company’s unique value proposition and use this ethnographic research to build out a brand guideline.
- If possible, ask your existing customers why they chose to do business with you. This provides valuable insight into what your customers think about you and the competitors.
- If you have a CRM system, such as Salesforce, pull as much data as you can about customers to build out a persona template. Depending on your business, your customer personas may include age, interests, hobbies, gender, education, personality traits, goals, frustrations, occupation, and more.
If you still have questions about building out your personas, enlist some help. Many marketing agencies, including Power Digital, offer consumer insights and persona marketing for their clients.
Cater Your Content Strategy to Your Personas
Once you have your developed personas, you can use that information to craft your content strategy. For example, you might notice that your customers skew younger, so placing ads on Instagram or Snapchat might make sense. Or, if your ideal client is interested in traveling, you could write content around traveling and related it back to your business. Again, be specific with your content to attract like-minded customers.
Incorporate Your Content into Your SEO Strategy
SEO and content work hand-in-hand and when building a content strategy, you want to consider the search side of your ideas. These data-driven ideas are the best of both worlds: useful content that your readers enjoy and content that helps you rank in online searches.
When building out an SEO-driven content strategy, the first thing you need to do is some keyword research. Start by making a list of keywords that you think are important to your business. For example, if you’re a mountain bike company, you’ll want to look at search terms like “mountain bikes,” “best mountain bikes,” “how to shop for a mountain bike,” and so on.
When building out your keyword list, you’ll want to include both head terms, which are the frequently searched terms that are short and informative (like “mountain bikes”) and long-tail keywords, such as “best mountain bikes for beginners.” Head terms may be searched more, but they’ll be harder to rank for. Long-tail keywords aren’t searched as often, but they address your potential customers’ questions and pain points.
Once you have a primary list of keywords that are relevant to your business, you can use tools like SEMRush and Google AdWords Keyword Planner to research the search volume of your target keywords, other popular variations, and what keywords your competitors are ranking for. In continuing our example, “mountain bike” has about 135,000 searches a month in SEMRush. The tool also tells us that people search for related keywords such as “trek mountain bikes,” “mountain bikes for sale,” and “mountain bike shoes.”
There’s no golden number when it comes to search volumes for ranking for keywords, but there should be enough searches for people to be interested in the topic, but not too many to get lost in the results. If we were to think of some content around our mountain biking business, we might consider basing our content around searches like “best mountain bikes for beginners” (210 searches a month), “best mountain bikes for the money” (270 searches a month), or “how to buy a mountain bike” (260 searches a month). With this data, possible blog topics could include:
- How to Buy Your First Mountain Bike
- 10 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Mountain Bike
- Our Roundup of the Best Mountain Bikes for the Money
- The Five Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners (and Why)
Your content should live in content clusters, or families of similar content. Content clusters not only help you organize your content calendars, but they are also a powerful SEO strategy because they make it easier to internally link to pages and answer the questions that your potential customers are asking. Your content clusters should address all three of the types of keyword searches – navigational (“take me to the closest mountain bike store”), transactional “mountain bikes under $500”), and informational (“best mountain bikes for beginners”). Each of these types of keywords has a different place in the marketing funnel and accomplishes an important marketing goal. Content clusters help with internal linking, link building, credibility, SERP ranks, and more.
Here is an example of a content cluster based on our mountain biking example:
- Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners
- Best Mountain Bikes for Kids
- Learning How to Mountain Bike
- Where to Buy Your First Mountain Bike
- How Hard is Mountain Biking? A Beginner’s Guide
These are just some simple examples, but you can see that all the content ties in with each other. In your “Learning How to Mountain Bike” blog, you can easily link to you “Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners” or “How Hard is Mountain Biking?” blogs. From there, you can expand out into transactional topics, such as:
- Best Places to Buy a Mountain Bike
- Should You Buy a Mountain Bike on Craigslist?
- What to Know Before Buying a Mountain Bike
You can see that through these content clusters, we guided the consumer journey from consideration to (hopefully) conversion.
Lastly, you should try to look ahead and anticipate your readers’ future needs and craft content around them. Current search trends are great for getting keyword volume and building out content clusters, but you should also craft some content ideas on things in the pipeline. For example, our social media team here at Power Digital is always researching trends and things coming up because although they might not have much search volume now, they will be highly searched down the road. Here are a few tips on staying on the cutting edge of search trends and creating content around them:
- Research your industry thoroughly and know what’s happening. Set Google Alerts to get instant updates on what’s happening.
- Use social listening tools and Q&A forums, like Answer the Public, Buzzsumo, Quora, or reddit to gauge interest in a new topic. This listening is key to know what people are actually talking about.
- Look at seasonal trends through Google Trends. With this tool, you can see when searches are most popular so you can anticipate this spike and write content surrounding it.
- Write some super focused, SEO-optimized content around the topic (see: keyword research!).
- Publish and promote the content.
Content marketing has worked hard over the past years earning its place in the marketing world and today, it’s one of the most important tools. But in a fully-saturated climate, only the strongest content ideas will survive. By developing marketing personas to understand your potential clients, using SEO tactics to develop data-driven content ideas, and staying ahead of the curve on future search trends, you will be setting your content strategy up for success.