A very long time ago (the mid-nineties in fact), before the internet was anything special at all, Bill Gates said that content is king. As always, the founder of Microsoft, and arguably the father of modern computing was right on the money.
Long before there was Google, before Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird search algorithm changes, and before we had more websites than humans on the planet, Gates had figured out the core of the world wide web: information.
Twenty years on, content is still king, but there are far more rules, best practices, and competitors than the early days. Today, you need much more than a URL, a basic site, and some text. You need a plan, and a big part of that plan is your content marketing.
1. Know Your Target Market
If you don’t already know the major personas that make up your customers, then it’s time to generate detailed profiles for your target demographic. You need to know who they are, what matters to them, and what drives them to buy (or not.)
If you are selling to an existing customer base, use your client lists and databases to generate these profiles. If you’re just starting out, use your social media followers as a guide.
2. Know What They Want
Great content in significant volumes will eventually get you noticed. The key word being eventually. If you want to speed up the process of being discovered, there are a few things to do.
Keyword research is still a valuable tool, and even if you’re not going to be stuffing your content with keywords and phrases, generating lists of targeted words and phrases can help you brainstorm topic ideas.
3. Stop Trying to Sell
Sites that sell more don’t try to sell….much. It may sound strange, but the hard sell approach to online marketing is dead and buried alongside article directories and link farms. Today, you want to educate and engage. Become a valued resource for your customers, and to become a go to, shareable and reputable news and information portal for a dedicated community.
If your content sounds like advertising, your bottom line will suffer. Complement that with a lead capture tool as a softer approach to gain leads in exchange for another value-adding resource.
4. Brainstorm Content Ideas
Once you know who your customers are, and what they’re looking for, the next step in creating a content calendar that transforms your site into a marketing machine is to brainstorm content ideas.
Think about questions your customers are most likely to be asking, and then answer those questions.
Remember that content doesn’t only mean text (although articles are still the best way to get noticed by search engines, thanks to their text-based algorithms!) Consider creating videos, infographics or downloadable media.
5. Create a Realistic Schedule
The key to content marketing success is a combination of quality, quantity, and consistency. If your site is a flurry of activity for a few weeks after you launch, and then nothing happens for months, you won’t see much benefit.
So while it’s always better to post high-quality content more often, you might not be able to commit to posting every day, or even every second day. As long as you set a schedule and stick to it, even once or twice a week is a great start.
6. Generate Content
After you know what and when you’re going to post, it’s time to get down to the business of creating content. Remember you don’t have to create everything yourself. You can outsource to freelancers, or create an in-house team to share the load.
Record your blog post on your phone voice message app. Then send the recording over to Fiverr.com to be transcribed. Create a blog post from the transcription with very little work.
7. Automate As Much As Possible
Most people and most companies start strong when it comes to their content calendar. But then things get busy, the person responsible forgets, and their regular posts become sporadic or nonexistent.
Rather than fall into this trap, it’s always better to create content in blocks, and then schedule the posts on your site. Use tools like Hootsuite to schedule social media posts about your content and site.
8. Remember: Slow and Steady Wins the Race
The best thing about content marketing is that it’s accessible to everyone. You don’t have to have a huge marketing budget to make it work.
If you take the time to research and plan, set up a content marketing calendar, and stick to it, you will see results. If you publish 1 post a week, that’s 52 pieces of content every year, drawing attention to your products and services.
Content is still king, all these years later, and the content calendar is the strategy that helps keep your digital kingdom on top. By growing a stronger footprint online, you can be found in search. And by having more content you have quality material to share on social media. Mix that in with a lower dose of lead capture opportunity posts and you have the makings of an online digital funnel.