You know that old saying “Throw everything at the wall to see what sticks”? Unfortunately, that’s what too many businesses are doing when it comes to their content marketing, and it isn’t working.
Let us be clear: You need to have an effective content marketing strategy in place if you want to succeed in today’s marketing landscape.
According to SEMrush, content marketing offers the following benefits:
- 97% more backlinks
- 434% more indexed pages on search engines
- 55% more traffic
- 5x more leads
- 13x greater likelihood of generating ROI
- 62% reduction in cost from traditional marketing
If you aren’t doing it—or more likely, if you aren’t doing it right—you’re missing out on all of that while wasting precious time and money.
What Does the Content Marketing Landscape Look Like?
In January 2020, SEMrush surveyed more than 1,200 marketers in 39 countries to gain a better understanding of the way businesses are using content marketing. By looking at that data, we can better understand what comprises an effective content marketing strategy.
Who’s Using a Content Marketing Strategy & Is It Effective?
While 91% of businesses are using content marketing, that number drops to 77% for the businesses that have an actual strategy in place. And the really alarming part is that only 9% of businesses feel their content marketing strategy is excellent.
What Content Marketing Tactics Are Being Used?
An effective content marketing strategy must include not only a plan to produce content but also the right tactics to ensure the best results.
Roughly 67% of businesses are using search engine optimization to boost their content, and 51% are updating and repurposing existing content. What’s concerning, though, is that only 11% are using user-generated content as part of their strategy.
How Much Is Being Spent on Content Marketing?
Approximately 46% of companies spend $10,000 or less on content marketing, and only 9% plan to make a significant increase in that marketing spend.
What Does an Average Content Marketing Team Look Like?
Of the companies that were surveyed, 78% have a small marketing team, consisting of a writer, a social media manager, and an SEO specialist. Some just have one person handling all of those roles.
What Types of Content Are Being Used?
According to survey results, the types of content being used include the following:
- 86% – Blog posts
- 67% – Email
- 45% – Infographics
- 43% – Case studies
- 36% – Success stories
- 35% – E-books and whitepapers
- 28% – Video tutorials
- 21% – Webinars
- 21% – Print
- 19% – Original studies
- 19% – Interviews
- 16% – Quizzes
- 12% – Templates
- 11% – Podcasts
- 10% – Product manuals
- 5% – Other
Why Do Businesses Need an Effective Content Marketing Strategy?
Most businesses understand that they need content, even though their reasons for producing it range considerably…
- 75% – To generate more quality leads
- 71% – To attract more traffic to their website
- 56% – To improve brand reputation
- 45% – To improve customer engagement and loyalty
- 19% – To empower new products positioning
- 17% – To increase the number of payments
- 2% – Other
What is less understood is that a strategy must be involved in order for content marketing to be worth it.
Having an effective content marketing strategy can help marketers do all of the following:
- Be more productive
- Monitor their results and make necessary tweaks
- Attract and engage their audience more effectively
- Anticipate the challenges that will come up
- Use their resources properly
- Hit their goals
How to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
The 3 biggest challenges that were reported in the SEMrush survey included being able to create content that would…
- Generate quality leads
- Attract more traffic
- Resonate with their target audience
To combat these issues, an effective content marketing strategy is in order. But what does that mean? What does one look like?
Essentially, it comes down to making sure 3 key elements are included:
- Brand voice
- Editorial calendar
Now, let’s look at each of these in more detail…
Establish Your Brand Voice
As with all types of marketing, it is imperative that you let your brand personality shine through in every piece of content you put out.
No one wants to read or engage with the same old boring content that anyone could have created.
Create a brand voice and an avatar that clearly represents the personality of your company. That way, your whole marketing team can create content that is in line with what you want to portray.
Plan Out Your Content Calendar
You simply can’t have an effective content marketing strategy without planning out what content you’re going to publish and when. If you’re winging it, your results will always be hit or miss.
Within your content calendar, you’ll need to do the following:
1) Map Out Your Topics
There should be a method involved in choosing your topics.
For example, you could use Google Search Console to see what you’re already ranking for and then do keyword research to find related topics to build a strategy around.
Or you could start with your products and services and do keyword research around those. Whatever you do, make sure it’s based on real data so that you know it’s content that people want.
2) Map Out Your Customer Journey & the Content for Each Stage
Not every person in your sales funnel is going to need the same piece of content, so you’ll need to plan your content around the stages of the customer journey.
For example, you’ll need content for each of the following stages:
- Awareness – for those who are just finding you
- Consideration – for those who are considering what you have to offer
- Decision – for turning prospects into buyers
- Retention – for keeping your customers coming back
- Advocacy – for getting your raving fans to spread the word about you
3) Plan Out the Types of Content You Will Use
Some people like reading articles. Others like listening to podcasts or watching videos. That’s why you should put out a variety of content so that you can appeal to more people.
Don’t leave user-generated content out of the mix either. Reviews, ratings, comments, video testimonials, and customer photos are some of the best media you can have for your business.
PRO TIP: Use SEMrush’s Brand Monitoring tool to view mentions of your brand and your competitors.
4) Identify the Channels Where You’ll Publish Your Content
Now, you’ll need to decide where you’ll publish your content. Start with the ones you are most familiar with and where your audience tends to hang out.
For example, if you put out a lot of visual content, Pinterest or Instagram would be a good choice. If your audience largely consists of baby boomers, Facebook is a good option, whereas Snapchat is ideal for millennials and tweens.
Don’t overcomplicate things by trying to be everywhere at once. While you do need to reach people in various places, you’ll just spin your wheels if you try to be all over the place.
5) Place Your Topics on a Content Calendar
Now that you know what content you’ll be creating, it’s time to schedule it out on a calendar. This can be as simple as printing out a blank calendar and writing in the content you’ll be publishing on the corresponding date.
No matter how you do it, actually having a written content calendar is essential.
Use Analytics to Monitor How Your Content Is Performing
Analytics are the key to an effective content marketing strategy because it’s data that allows you to determine how well your content is performing. Without it, it’s a shot in the dark.
By analyzing the results of your data, you can understand what content your audience wants and doesn’t want.
Look at the following data points:
- User Behavior – unique visitors, pages per session, bounce rate, traffic sources
- Engagement – likes, shares, comments, mentions, republications
- SEO Results – organic traffic, dwell time, backlinks, keywords
- Company Revenue – number of leads, existing leads affected, conversion rate, ROI
When you know what content your audience is eating up, what is getting you the results you want, and what isn’t cutting it, you can create more content to put you on top.
While developing an effective content marketing strategy does take time up front, it streamlines the whole process and makes it much more worthwhile for your company.
When we look at the SEMrush survey results that we cited above, it’s evident that by putting more effort and resources into developing an effective content marketing strategy, you’ll be setting your business worlds apart from the masses.