Marketing & Sales Solutions

Content Marketing Strategy: 5 Sensible Approaches

46 percent of German companies are planning an expansion of their content marketing strategy - a sensible decision.

30 Mai. 2016 Nicolai Kuban
Content-Marketing
Content marketing strategies work best when well planned. (Illustration: Shutterstock-Rawpixel.com)

The anticipated benefits for the company are clear: 61 percent of firms are interested in moving away from disruptive advertising and having their products and services appear more prominently and relevantly in online searches. 84 percent of potential customers leave a website they've chosen to visit if they encounter excessive advertising.

There are even more reasons to support the implementation of a corporate content marketing strategy. Three-quarters of online users express higher trust in companies when they provide helpful and high-quality background information about themselves. Those who create and market their own content contribute to the generation of visitors through the organic search engine channel, to the establishment of their own status as experts, to the generation of the links that are essential for Google rankings and for expanding brand awareness among the target audience. Beyond this, companies that work persistently on their own to improve their rankings on the search engines in a sustainable manner can avoid the need to advertise on a pay-per-click basis, such as using Google Adwords.

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Pay-Per-Click vs. Content Marketing. (Illustration: linkbird GmbH)

The illustration shows how short-term pay-per-click ads are tied to an invested budget, whereas content marketing represents a cumulative channel. While the arguments for content management may sound attractive, many companies don't know how and where to begin. Here are five practical steps for simple but effective development and implementation of a content marketing strategy:

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The Linkbird content marketing circle. (Illustration: linkbird GmbH)

1. Research: How do I find suitable content?

Content campaigns are first and foremost interested in servicing existing demand among a relevant target audience. This means satisfying the direct interests of users of internet search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. This in turn requires an in-depth exploration of the needs and issues facing potential customers, based on the most popular search terms — in plain terms researching relevant topics, search terms and questions. Once the keywords used by the target audience have been identified, content oriented toward them can then be produced, such as helpful, topical product and service data, manuals, how-to articles, FAQ indexes and checklists. To achieve higher online visibility for corporate websites, the search volumes for individual keywords should be weighed against each other and the latest trends on the topic should be reviewed. What is the current demand, what related search queries are frequently seen, how high is interest in Google Trends or other search engines? What other sites, be they large online magazine or private blogs, have covered the topic extensively? An analysis of content on competitors' pages and the keywords that have led to successful ranking can also serve for inspiration and optimization of your own content. This research forms the basis for creating the best content on a specific topic, as it is needed to:
  • reflect the majority of the long-tail demand,
  • generate good links (link juice),
  • and can be active disseminated following publication through online PR.

2. Planning: How can I keep an overview of projects

One sensible approach is to break down content marketing strategy into three categories, defining different goals for each:

  • The system processing and publication of in-demand content of relevance to the target audience within a blog, magazine or advice guide. The goal is increase the visibility of specific search terms, including their positioning in Google, so as to draw more organic visitors.
  • The implementation of entertaining and especially informative campaigns such as videos, infographics, expert interviews and blog posts covering publication. The goal of this content can reflect seeding, meaning the spread to other relevant online media whose success can be measured in terms of the generated links and mentions on other websites or its reach across social media.
  • The creation of content products (including content assets) such as white papers, webinars or series of newsletters. Beyond the aforementioned aspects, the goal should also be to convert users - such as by convincing them to make a download, sign up for a subscription or even make a purchase.

During the planning stage for the content campaign, responsibilities within the team must also be divvied up: who will be researching, who will write the first draft, who will edit, who will approve release and who will perform the follow-up work with distribution channels and contacts? Successful content marketing requires teamwork, so a central communications platform should be established and a forward-looking editorial plan should be created and harmonized with all participants. A basic priority scale can be established based on the traffic potential for a content idea. This involves researching the search volumes for specific keywords and the pay-per-click prices for those keywords in Google Adwords. The greater the search volumes and price-per-click in Adwords, the greater the demand experienced by the search engine, and thus the potential of the content. By comparing that potential against the time and cost outlays associated with creating the content, then the calculations clearly show that it benefits the company to research and create the content.

3. Creation: Which content is most effective?

Once the keyword research has revealed one or more promising concepts, then it is time to generate content in the most personalized, relevant manner possible. This requires someone with a knack for presenting boring or complicated processes and instructions in a fresh, lively tone to draw in and retain the reader. The same applies for the creation of other media formats, such as infographics, white papers, tutorials, case studies and videos.

The best way to support the author of the content is to provide interesting resources to accompany the content idea. These can include researched sources on the topic cited as URLs or documents (PDF) to enrich the text with background information. Beyond this, the author briefing must include all relevant framework conditions (style, structure, target audience / profile...). Each page of the website should include a direct or implicit call to action with direct relevance to the content of the page. To make content more valuable in terms of the content marketing goals, it can be helpful to use tools such as "W question research," "WDF*IDF analysis" or "Analysis of internal linking."

4. Distribution: How do I extend reach?

Once the author has submitted the piece and it has been approved by the content manager, it is sent for publication. Targeted distribution of the content to the target audience is essential for drawing attention. This can include owned media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or newsletters on the one hand and earned media channels on the other. The following websites should be researched, listed and informed about exciting new content:

  • pages that link to similar content from the competition,
  • blogs that feature brand mentions and backlinks to my competition on the same topic,
  • websites that match the content thematically.

While this is a particularly time-intensive process, the work can be made easier using a well-maintained Excel spreadsheet or dynamic contact management software. The effort is definitely rewarded through improved opportunities for high-quality content to be picked up, discussed and recommended by influential media and opinion makers. Those are signals that search engines recognize (in the form of links, page hits, brand mentions, social signals, etc) and reward with correspondingly higher placement based on the relevant keywords.

5. Analysis: How can successful content be measured?

Ongoing monitoring is needed to measure the success of the content researched, created and shared in this way. As a first step, this can record the current rankings, growing number of backlinks and social media mentions. A second step should check whether the organic visitor counts (such as via Google) and referral traffic are rising. A good and sensible metric for the success of a given piece of content can be the graph of traffic based on Google Adwords's CPC value. An analysis is required about which search terms generated which number of page hits per month, and how the respective CPC prices for Google AdWords have been formulated in response. A content marketing ROI soon emerges, ready for both internal and external reporting.

Yet however much visibility is achieved, the call to action to visit the target page on which the content is published must be clear. The website visitor should over the course of the presentation, or at latest by its conclusion, be presented with a call to action or recommendation that brings him or her further — such as to download one of the larger content resources, and which requires the disclosure of contact data. That might be a white paper, a presentation, a webinar, subscription for the newsletter or similar. They convert interested parties lured to the site into active leads, which can then be presented with the company's product and service recommendations. To form a picture of the more extended impacts of larger content campaigns, it's recommended that various monitoring processes be implemented during follow-up. This includes for example routine checks whether the pre-defined keywords rank with the published content, or whether other keywords should be added to the keyword monitoring. Beyond that, the execution of the content campaign marks the start of controlling and process optimization. Routine reporting on links, brand mentions and ranking trends are just the start, and should be repeated after each content campaign.

Once real-life experience with these processes is in place and best practices can be created, many of the work steps can be automated for greater efficiency in the workflow and overall team performance.

Summary

Content marketing can tap into new and sustainable visitor channels that represent more than just pure performance data. They are not directly tied to a budget, and represent a USP in corporate communication. Creativity, expert knowledge and heightened branding on the internet are all factors here. New performance campaigns can potentially help achieve quarterly goals. Content marketing helps grow online channels continually and sustainably for the coming years.

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