A Step-by-Step Guide to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy That Converts

by Mary Cole

Last updated on October 29th, 2018

content-marketing-strategy

Your content marketing strategy influences how you reach your audience.

If you don’t have a content strategy, now’s the time to create one.

Many businesses feel overwhelmed about where to begin:

  • What content should you produce?
  • How often?
  • And where should you post it?

We’re going to answer those questions today.

The important thing to remember is that content serves as a magnet. It draws people to your business, which gives you the opportunity to convert them.

Without a content marketing plan, you can’t expect people to simply stumble upon your website.

In this post, we’ll teach you how to create content that converts, then use your newfound knowledge to reel in prospective customers.

What is Content Marketing Strategy and Why Is it Important?

Content marketing strategy is the set of steps you take to research, create, publish, and promote information that’s of value to your audience. Content is nothing more than text, audio, or video that helps people solve problems.

The key ingredient every content marketing strategy needs is quality. Lots of content floats around the Internet. Some of it is useless, but there’s plenty of great content, too.

You have to do better than your competition. Otherwise, your content won’t be visible in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Writing for the Content Marketing Institute, Julia McCoy notes that a solid content marketing strategy can generate three times more leads than paid advertising.

Lead generation is one of the most important metrics businesses track. The more leads you bring in, the more opportunities you get to make sales.

Think of your content marketing strategy as the lure for prospective customers. Your offer is the hook. Instead of throwing your money at potential prospects, focus on drawing them in with solid content.

How to Know if You Really Need to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

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Very few businesses won’t benefit from a content marketing strategy. Ask yourself whether your prospective customers struggle with problems or goals. If the answer is “yes,” you need a content marketing plan.

Let’s say that you sell a consumer product. You want more people to buy it.

Instead of paying for advertising — or in addition to it — you write articles that appeal to your target audience. The goal is to help them with their problems or goals for free.

Because of those articles, prospects find your website. They read your content, respect it, and continue to come back. When they need a product like yours, your brand is top of mind.

Without a content marketing strategy, though, you’re just guessing. A strategy allows you to create the right content at the right time.

Why Creating a Content Marketing Strategy is So Important to Get More Conversions

Consumers convert when they’re ready. It’s that simple. But a content marketing strategy enables you to be there at the moment a prospect decides to buy.

Strategy often separates the content marketing winners from those who never manage to reach their audiences.

With a strategy in place, you’ll know the following:

  • Which keywords to target
  • The voice to use in your content
  • When to mention your product
  • How to deliver a slam-dunk call to action

You don’t just want people to read your content. You want them to take the next step.

To convince them, show that you’re an authority in your space. Offer more generous content than your competitors. And devise a content marketing strategy that helps you reach people when they need you most.

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy That Converts: A Step-By-Step Guide

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You know you need a content marketing strategy, but you might not know where to start.

We’ve created a step-by-step guide you can follow to make sure you’re reaching as much of your audience as possible.

Step 1: Research Target Keywords

Many marketers erroneously believe that keywords are so 2010. That’s not the case.

When someone types a search string into Google, they use keywords even if they’re not aware of it. You have to figure out what keywords will appeal to searchers.

Ubersuggest is a great tool for finding keywords to target. Start with a simple keyword, then find long-tail keywords to add to your list.

Plenty of other free keyword research tools exist, as well.

You can target both competitive and non-competitive keywords. Focus on longer-tail variations to get targeted traffic to your site.

For instance, a keyword like “running shoes” will target a wide range of people. The keyword “running shoes for bad knees” will narrow down your audience, which is a good thing when it comes to attracting and converting qualified leads.

Step 2: Find Related Keywords

You don’t want to rely exclusively on a single keyword. To help Google understand your content, mix in related keywords.

Ubersuggest can help. Just keep typing in keywords related to your topic and writing down related keywords that would make sense to your audience.

Google has to parse tons of information, so you want to do as much as you can to help. Many keywords have dual meanings, for instance, so adding related keywords will help Google understand what type of search intent to target.

Step 3: Design a Spreadsheet For Each Topic

Create a master spreadsheet you can use as a template. That way, you can copy it for each piece of content you create.

The spreadsheet should include the target keyword, related keywords, and any other information you need to know before you begin content creation.

As long as you have a spreadsheet, you can share your ideas with other people on your team, get feedback, and publish content so it fits your schedule. Don’t skip this step if you want your content marketing strategy to be organized.

Step 4: Outline the Content You’ll Create

An outline helps you organize your ideas and structure your article so it provides maximum impact, both for SEO and for readers. It also helps you decide what subtopics you want to cover and prevents you from forgetting ideas before you start creating content.

The outline should go in your spreadsheet. If necessary, label each subtopic in the outline with the appropriate heading tag and other useful information. For instance, under each subtopic, you could include statistics you want to mention or links to include.

Step 5: Create a Draft of Your Content

Each piece of content starts in draft form. You can use Microsoft Office, Google Docs, or any other program with which you’re comfortable. Alternatively, write your drafts in WordPress or your preferred content management system.

After you write your draft, let it sit for a day or two before you revise and edit. Alternatively, send it to a trusted editor who can catch mistakes and point out jumps in logic and other issues.

Step 6: Design a Publication and Promotion Schedule

You can decide how often you want to publish your content. Consistency matters more than frequency.

For instance, if you publish new content every Monday, your readers will know when to check back and read your latest offering. You might publish three times per week, every weekday, or even every day.

Try to publish content on consistent days and at consistent times. Being off by a few hours probably won’t hurt you, but organization is key for the success of your content marketing strategy.

You must also schedule content promotion. Posting about your new content on social media and emailing people you mention in each article can have a drastic impact on how many people your content reaches.

Facebook allows you to schedule content in advance. You can also use tools like Buffer to make promotion easier.

Step 7: Conduct Influencer Outreach

When you mention people or brands in your content, reach out to them and ask them to share your content. Many of them won’t follow up, but it’s a numbers game. The more people you contact, the more shares you’ll receive.

You can also get in touch with people who might find your content interesting and who have large online followings. Influencers can make generic content go viral, so if you have a fantastic piece of content, you want to give it every chance of being seen by people in your target audience.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for a share. Just don’t pester influencers. Focus on building relationships and helping them. In the video below, Crazy Egg co-founder Neil Patel talks about influencer marketing and the best ways to go about it.

When you ask an influencer to do something for you, ask what you can do to help them in return.

Step 8: Set Aside Time for Internal Linking

Internal linking helps your content rank better in the SERPs and keeps people on the page. You don’t want website visitors to click away after reading your article. Instead, you want them to dive deeper into your site.

Obviously, if you’re building a content marketing strategy from scratch, you don’t have existing content. As you add new content, go back to old articles and add relevant links to newer pieces.

If you have the premium version of the Yoast plugin, you’ll get automatic suggestions for internal links. This can speed up the process considerably.

However, remember that high-quality internal links are paramount. Optimize your anchor text (the words that get linked) for the target article. For instance, don’t use meaningless phrases like “click here.” Instead, incorporate internal links naturally using anchor text with relevant keywords.

Developing a Content Marketing Strategy: Checklist

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Now that we’ve covered the eight steps required to build a content marketing strategy, where do you start? Having a handy checklist can help make this process easier and more efficient.

Here’s a content marketing strategy checklist to get you started:

  • Keyword Research: Make sure you have an extensive list of keywords related to your products, services, or brand. Update this list constantly to include new keyword ideas so you never run out of content.
  • Content Goals: What do you want to achieve by publishing content? Each piece of content can have a separate goal. For instance, one might be to establish topic authority, while another is to convert leads.
  • Content Length: How long do you want your articles to be? Long-form content often gets better traction in the SERPs because it’s considered more thorough. However, if the topic doesn’t warrant 5,000 words, keep the content shorter.
  • Style Guide: Create a style guide so that each piece of content has a consistent voice, tone, and appearance. Include details like spelling and capitalization of brand terms, how many images to use for each article, and how many subheadings to use.
  • Pillar Pages: You might want to create pillar pages. These are high-level pieces of content that target your most desired keywords. Link to your pillar pages consistently throughout your articles.
  • Non-Text Content: Consider creating videos, infographics, and interactive content to work alongside your text-based content. You can embed these pieces in your articles to make them more engaging.
  • Writing and Revising: Develop a system for creating and proofing content so it reflects your best work. You can assign anyone on your team for these tasks or outsource them if necessary.
  • Target Audience: Every piece of content should be aimed at a particular segment of your target market.
  • Promotion: Determine how you will promote your content. Your content marketing strategy for promotion can include email marketing, influencer outreach, and more.

Feel free to refer to this content marketing strategy checklist as often as necessary so you stay on track. You can also revise your strategy to reflect new goals or to reach a new audience.

3 High-Converting Content Marketing Strategy Examples

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If you’re just starting to develop your content marketing strategy, examples, can help. They show you how your own content might look and provide inspiration for your future campaigns.

The following are three content marketing strategy examples to get you started.

1. Backlinko

Brian Dean of Backlinko went against nearly every content marketing trope in existence. Instead of writing lots of short, succinct articles, he decided to publish extensive, keyword-rich articles.

To date, he only has a few dozen articles on his blog, but he gets massive traffic. He’s also one of the most-referenced bloggers in the marketing sphere.

How did he do it? Through email outreach. He spends tons of time promoting his content by asking for links and shares.

You can read about his skyscraper content marketing strategy and how he boosts his SEO through sheer determination. While you don’t have to take your own strategy to this extreme, you can benefit from understanding how his strategy works.

2. Zappos

As one of the most successful companies in the world, Zappos already has a long reach. It’s no slouch in the content marketing department, though, and uses its blog to attract a huge audience.

You’ll notice that Zappos doesn’t just write articles about how to pick the perfect pair of shoes. Instead, the company covers a wide range of topics to appeal to its target audience.

From local color pieces to tips on travel, you’ll find tons of information on the Zappos blog. The ecommerce brand even writes about how to make your shoes and clothing last longer, which seems counterintuitive, but the information is endearing and fosters customer trust.

3. Hubengage

Hubengage is an app that helps promote employee motivation and engagement. On its blog, Hubengage publishes articles on how to make employees happier. The company also publishes content on its competition and on use cases.

You can benefit from studying Hubengage’s content marketing strategy because it’s diverse but always attuned to its audience. The company also offers an excellent example of how to incorporate promotional posts into your content marketing strategy.

Conclusion

A content marketing strategy doesn’t just spring into existence. It takes time and effort to create.

Use our guide to developing a content marketing strategy, then start testing your content. Crazy Egg offers user behavior tools that show you how visitors interact with your content so you can make adjustments as necessary.

The more you know about how your content performs, the better you can perfect your content marketing strategy. Run A/B tests to refine your landing pages and home page or to test different CTAs on your blog posts.

As your brand evolves, establish new tests. You can incorporate that data into future content creation decisions.

Content marketing can help your business grow, but only if you make data-based decisions and learn from other brands. Focus on getting your content marketing engine started, then step back and make small adjustments to increase conversions.

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Mary Cole

Mary is a self-acknowledged numbers nerd who loves using analytics to drive business decisions. She currently consults for a handful of B2B/SaaS startups out of her home office in Austin.

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