A blog content strategy will be vital in guiding your marketing efforts. Learn everything you need to know about developing one in this guide.
Blogs play a central role in the digital marketing world, and for many marketers, it would be hard to imagine life without them. A blog helps drive potential customers to your website, build brand awareness, demonstrate your industry authority, and acts as a launchpad for future engagement.
Approach your blogging journey without carefully planning your content marketing strategy in writing, and you’re wasting your time and content marketing efforts. 60% of organizations with a written content strategy are effective. Compare that with only 32% of those with a purely verbal content strategy, and you’ll appreciate how effective it can be.
Let’s look at what you need to do to create a content marketing strategy to help you achieve your business goals.
Step 1: Define Your Goal
For any plan to be effective, it needs to have a goal, and your content strategy is no different. Your content marketing strategy’s endgame will help to drive your content. It will also allow you to measure the success of your blogging.
If you can, try to make it tangible rather than something vague and difficult to measure in concrete terms. Here are a few examples:
- Do you want to raise brand awareness?
- Is your goal to boost your SEO rankings and bring more traffic to your website?
- Would you like to be recognized as a thought leader in your industry?
- Can you picture a mention in a top online publication or partner with an industry influencer?
If you’re clear about your goals and know what you want the end-point to look like, you’re in a better position to write content that fits your goal.
Imagine you want recognition as an industry thought leader. Your content might be more effective if you focused on a couple of well-written and thoroughly researched pieces a month, compared to several shorter pieces you’ve geared towards boosting SEO.
Step 2: Conduct Audience Research
Before writing a successful content strategy, you first have to define your target audience or buyer persona. This step is critical if you’re just starting or are new to content marketing.
When you know your target audience, you can create more relevant and valuable content. In other words, when you create content, it will be something they want to read and that will drive conversions.
For a more experienced content marketer, the target audience may be different. For example, do you want to target the same audience, are you looking to expand your target market, or are you looking to target an entirely new audience?
You need to consider the following:
- Where your target audience hangs out online
- What is their biggest bugaboo at work?
- What sort of content are they most likely to read and engage with?
Step 3: Conduct Keyword Research
Think of keywords as the bread and butter of an effective blog content marketing strategy. If you don’t define what they are, your blog will struggle to rank well on search engines. If your blog doesn’t rank, getting consistent traffic will be even more challenging.
Keyword research and SEO aren’t as difficult as you might think. All it takes is some keyword research.
Start with Seed Keywords
Seed keywords are the general, broad terms describing topics relevant to your target audience. A list of possible blogging categories can be an excellent way to kick off the process. From there, you can grow more precise concepts and ideas.
Brainstorm as many relevant and related topics as possible and make a note of them.
Expand Your List With the Help of Some Keyword Tools
You can use many keyword research tools to expand the list of relevant topics your target audience is already searching for if your budget allows it. Here are a few SEO content strategy tools to get the ball rolling:
- AnswerThePublic (free)
- Google Ads Keyword Planner (free)
- Keywords Everywhere browser extension ($10 for 100,000 credits)
- Moz Keyword Explorer ($99/month)
- Ahrefs Keywords Explorer ($99/month)
Any new topic ideas that these tools feature should be added to your initial list.
Find Questions Your Target Audience Might Ask
The last stage of your keyword research will be checking social media and online forums to identify your target audience’s questions.
An excellent place to start is by visiting Reddit.com. Search inside relevant subreddits for questions that include your keywords. Slack communities, industry forums, and similar groups are also good places to look. Finally, check Google’s “People also ask” box for relevant search terms.
If your audience is Twitter visitors, you can run similar search functions to check for topic-specific questions.
Step 4: Run a Competitor Analysis
It never hurts to check out your competitors and see what’s working for them. There might be something you can replicate on your site. But, more importantly, you might identify gaps in your competitor’s blog content marketing strategy that you can take advantage of.
There’s a good chance someone is already doing great stuff, and tapping into what they’re doing can highlight what’s working. After all, similar brands are likely to share similar audiences.
Use Buzzsumo to check out the most popular posts on competitors’ sites. Simply enter their domains, and you’ll discover their most shared posts.
Armed with this information, don’t simply mimic what they’ve done. Instead, use what you’ve found out to make similar content that’s even better.
Ask yourself a few questions before you make a firm content plan. For example:
- Is there something they’ve missed out on?
- Can you make a topic more relatable by adding your own story or unique experience?
- Can the research and data be integrated to make it more believable?
- Does the content solve any critical problems of your target readers?
Step 5: Brainstorm Content Ideas
Now that you know who you want to reach with your content and what will work, it’s time to develop juicy content ideas for your content team. You’ve already created a list thanks to your keyword research and competitor analysis, but now it’s time for you to come up with some ideas of your own.
Here are some tools that might help get the juices flowing:
- Feedly: The Feedly RSS feed helps you track trendy topics in a particular industry and find content ideas.
- Buzzsumo: Use several market research tools to discover popular content and content ideas.
- BlogAbout from ImpactPlus: This tool will show you common headline formats with blanks you can fill in yourself.
- HubSpot’s Website Grader: This tool will help you see where you’re at with your SEO efforts and website content.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer: Simply enter general topics or terms you’d like to create content about, and this tool will do everything for you. It analyzes titles, headlines, provides feedback on length, word choice, keyword search volume, and grammar.
Step 6: Create a Content Calendar
Now that you’ve done all your research and have got the necessary data, you can bring it all together into your content calendar. As you plan, create, deliver, and measure your content, this calendar will be your touchpoint throughout the year.
A content marketing plan is an essential document, but that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. On the contrary, it should be flexible so you can make adjustments if you need to take advantage of industry trends, news, and current events.
If you need to, there are free tools, such as Google Calendar or Trello, that you can use to create your blog content calendar. However, if you want a dedicated content calendar tool, CoSchedule might be more to your liking.
Step 7: Create an Editorial Calendar
One final step before you can put your creative side to work is to create an editorial calendar. Here are a few things to consider:
- What content piece you’re going to publish and when.
- There might be a public holiday coming up that could fuel content ideas.
- What are the deadlines that you need to meet?
- When will the content need to be promoted, and where will you distribute it?
Step 8: Create Your Content
Now, you can get down to the fun part of the process and build your content. Why are you going to build it rather than writing it? Because you don’t simply write good content, you assemble it.
For your content to be considered exceptional, it has to be:
- Well-written: That means the spelling and grammar must be correct, and you shouldn’t use complex terminology or language unnecessarily.
- Researched: When you use case studies, examples, and stats, it shows you’ve done your homework.
- Media-rich: Include lots of highly relevant and high-quality content images.
- Formatted for skimming: According to research, the average reader spends 37 seconds reading a blog post. Therefore it makes sense to create skimmable content. In other words, break up the text into easily digestible chunks, use plenty of headers, subheaders, block quotes, bulleted lists, italics, and bolding.
Step 9: Promote Your Blog
You’ve been very productive and gotten several blogs ready for publication. Once your blog is live on your site, you have two options. Firstly, you can sit back and hope people find it. Secondly, you can work on spreading the word and promoting your blog on other digital content channels.
If you promote your blog well, it will make a significant difference. If you want your pillar content and blogs to be successful and find a loyal audience, blog promotion is key.
Focus your efforts on the following:
- Social media content platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
- Link-building strategies, both internally, to relevant articles already published on your website, and externally, to media outlets and authoritative sites.
- Email content marketing campaign that might include lead-nurturing emails and newsletters.
The most reliable way to drive traffic to blog pages is with organic traffic. In fact, the #1 traffic source for high-income bloggers is organic traffic from Google. Organic traffic is any traffic that comes to your website from a search engine, but it isn’t paid for.
Step 10: Measure Your Blog’s Performance
A crucial aspect of any content marketing strategy is measuring the results of your content production. It’s all well and good churning out countless amounts of content if you don’t perform a content audit and analyze feedback from your readers. It helps if you know what your audience persona likes and what they don’t like. Understanding why they didn’t like it will also be beneficial.
You can use various metrics to help you answer these questions.
You get consumption metrics from Google Analytics. Data provided will include the average time visitors spend on a page, bounce rate, and pageviews. This data answers questions such as:
- Did a particular blog post bring a massive spike in traffic?
- Are users spending more time on one specific genre or piece?
- Did a particular piece of content, for example, thought leadership content, generate large numbers of shares on social media or comments?
Social Sharing Metrics
Suppose you want to judge how engaged your audience is. You need to find out what type of content your audience is sharing, who is doing the sharing, which platforms they use, and whether any of your content is converting.
Using Google Analytics, you’ll be able to generate a report that will give you an insight into the style of content you need to be creating if you want to increase conversions.
You’ll also learn which social media platforms work best. When analyzing the information, bear in mind that some niches encourage sharing more than others. It’s often best to compare your performance with your direct competitors.
If your content is playing a part in your sales funnel, you should tailor it to the specific audience in each segment of that funnel.
Your content may be attracting leads, but it could also be leaking them. By monitoring its performance and identifying areas for improvement, you can stop users from dropping out of the sales funnel. It will also help you identify areas that could generate new leads.
The main aim of a blog for most businesses is to boost revenue. For any sales based business, you need to measure the amount of revenue your funnel content has generated. Again, this is something Google Analytics can help you with.
Data analysis is a handy tool, but it’s very black and white in the insight it provides. Listening to your customers is another way you can identify ways to improve your digital content strategy.
It’s also vital for your customers to know they are being listened to and heard on social media. Ask them for feedback and suggestions, and make sure you engage with them regularly.
Step 11: Amplify Your Blog Content Strategy
The final step in any content marketing strategy is the amplification of the blog content. To do this, you have to determine the places your audience is frequently online. Then you have to publish on those channels in order to reach them.
61% of marketers say that generating leads and traffic is one of their biggest challenges, so let’s see if we can help with some tips.
Content amplification is a strategy you can use to increase traffic to your content. You might already be familiar with it if you’ve shared a blog post on a social media platform or done an ad campaign. It is a method for using online channels and platforms to promote your content. For example, a B2C and B2B marketer will often use content amplification to boost brand awareness or ROI.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can amplify your content.
Consider Paid Ads
Paid ads are a method you can use when you want to amplify your content. There are many different varieties, but three are more commonly used than any others.
- PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising: This is when you bid on keywords to earn placement at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). If your content includes blog posts and product pages, these are excellent for PPC ads.
- Paid social media ads: Social media ads are great if you want to raise brand awareness. The tools that you use help you reach a much wider audience than organic methods. For example, with Twitter Ads, you can post promoted tweets that will land on the timelines of your chosen audience.
- Paid ads on a video platform: YouTube is the most obvious platform, but you need to do some market research and social listening to ensure your chosen platform is the most effective for reaching your audience.
Use Blog Posts for Lead Generation
The primary purpose of a blog post is to provide helpful content for your customers. However, you can also use blogs to promote your great content.
Examples you might consider include how-to articles about using your products, a guest post or advertorial that drives traffic back to your blog. Guest posts are an excellent platform for showing your industry experience, plus you get an opportunity to link back to your blog content or include it in the post.
Partner with Influencers
Find an influencer to post your content, and it will be seen by their audience. Typically, they’ll tag your business which means their audience members will be exposed to your content and social media channels.
Make a Content Offer
You could use content offers on your website or leverage any service you offer by sharing it in an online course or relevant report. This is an excellent option for SAAS companies.
Take Advantage of a Content Amplification Platform
Several platforms are great to use when you want to amplify your content.
- Medium: This is a platform where you can write about certain topics in order to find new audiences. It’s great for content amplification because it allows you to connect with a specific targeted audience.
- Quora: Quora is a forum-based platform. On it, users can ask, answer, or edit questions related to almost any industry or topic.
- Facebook Ads: Facebook Ads focus is on retargeting and offers an array of personalization options and audience targeting, both of which can improve conversion.
- PR Newswire: This platform is for people in the media and PR industries. It’s a base for various press releases.
- Reddit: Reddit is a base for news and content sharing, where users can post questions, links, or another content type. Users rate this content either positively or negatively.
- Instagram Ads: Instagram offers a range of different ads, but if amplification is your goal, Explore Ads is one of the better ones.
- Pinterest Ads: Use Pinterest Ads, and you’ll be able to showcase content and products. They are generally highly visual such as stunning infographics or glossy images.
It’s bound to be very tempting to fire off your blog posts as they come to mind. However, having a written blog content strategy will save you time and effort. Plus, you’re likely to see more success which will spur you on to create and publish more.