As inbound marketing has grown to become one of the most important areas of marketing in recent years, businesses and brands the world over are constantly updating their content marketing strategy to find more and more engaging ways to win and connect with customers online. Your content marketing efforts must always be in line with your short- and long-term goals. Content creation is now more important than ever before, and we will explain you why.
Today, some 89% of B2B marketers are using content marketing to promote their businesses and foster deeper connections with their audiences. However, whilst the numbers clearly show that content marketing is “where it’s at” in 2017, what they also indicate is that there is a lot of competition to contend with.
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The vast majority of top companies already have a strong and documented content marketing strategy in place and are dominating certain keywords and online search in general, making it no small task to try and compete with these big dogs with your own efforts.
That doesn’t mean that you can't take your own space in the market and grow from there. Your content strategy must be objective and realistic based on where you currently stand compared to your competition. Create content based on keyword research and more. Not guesses. Google analytics also being a great tool to understand your strengths and weaknesses.
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However, the great thing about inbound marketing – much like the tech industry – is that it’s always evolving, and there’s still plenty of opportunity to create something unique, unforgettable and timeless and use it to attract new customers.
The important thing to remember, however, is that content marketing doesn’t end at the blog. True, a well-written, well-researched and highly-educational blog will indeed form the cornerstone of your efforts, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
From social media marketing to eBooks, white papers, videos, infographics, podcasts, user-generated content, mobile apps and webinars – a content marketing strategy goes far beyond the blog. Here’s a list from the Content Marketing Institute’s latest B2B marketing report showing what types of content marketing tactics organisations are using today (and note that the average company is using 8 of them).
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How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Tech Company
Developing an effective content marketing strategy is not easy. For your own content marketing strategy to be a success, It will require research, time and effort to get right, and indeed the strategy development is an ongoing process in itself – what works today might not work in a year’s time, so you will need to be continuously analysing your results and optimising your existing content and tactics as you go along.
However, there’s no need to be floundering around in the dark not knowing where to begin. As a professional inbound marketing agency, we know what’s required to get off on the right track, and so we’ve put together a roadmap consisting of five phases that we use to develop effective content marketing strategies for our clients and some of the best content marketing strategy examples.
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1. Set Business Goals
A content marketing strategy can be used to achieve many things. It may be for lead generation or lead nurturing, for raising brand awareness or increasing follower numbers by creating great social media posts, for driving new traffic to your website or growing an email subscriber list, for propelling downloads of eBooks or white papers, or simply for driving sales and to produce the best blog you can.
It’s important, therefore, to understand exactly what your goals are at the beginning, and to document them, for they will be what you measure your actual results against two, three, six, and twelve months down the line.
If you’re after email subscribers – how many are you expecting? If it’s revenue from sales – how much? How many leads would you like to see generated when your content marketing strategy is executed?
Document these goals, for by doing so you will be able to much more easily decipher what’s working and what’s not as your strategy develops.
2. Create Inbound Marketing Buyer Persona
Before you jump straight in and start creating content, however, your next step is to identify your target audience – which means that you need to create inbound marketing personas.Personas are simply semi-fictionalised representations of your ideal buyers. To create them, you’ll need to prepare a questionnaire, which you will then answer on your personas’ behalf.
- Are they male or female?
- What is their level of education?
- What industry do they work in?
- What’s their career path?
- How much money do they earn a year?
- How much buying power do they have at the company?
- What publications do they read?
- What other tech products are they already using?
- What are their preferred social networks where they are likely to hang out (during both work and free time)?
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Once you’ve answered these questions and created detailed profiles of your ideal customers, you can start to think about what sort of content will appeal to them – which means you can now move onto the next step.
3. Identify Topics that Will Appeal to Your Personas
One of the keys to a successful content marketing strategy is being able to think like the people you are marketing to.
Content marketing is all about providing answers to question that your customers or prospects have. These questions may be about your tech product or service in particular, or about the wider industry or market in general – and your content (be it blogs, videos, eBooks, infographics or anything else) is designed to answer them.
So, take a look at your inbound digital marketing personas. What questions might CEO Jo have if he were considering making a purchase from you?
Well, for one thing, Jo would want to know whether or not your product/service could solve his company’s pain points. Jo would also want to know how well you understand his industry, as well as your own. Jo would also be interested to learn what your existing clients are saying about you.
As such, your content marketing strategy would include a number of blogs, white papers and case studies that would provide the answers that Jo needs to support his decision to make a purchase.
Now take a look at your other inbound marketing personas. Some of these may be further up the funnel – so think about the questions that they might have, and identify the topics that will appeal to them.
4. Create the Content and Promote
Now you have finally reached the stage where you can start creating the content that will draw in your target audience, convert them into leads, and then those leads into customers.
Again, we emphasise the point that it’s not just blogs and written content that will need to be created. The importance of visual marketing in 2017 and beyond cannot be underemphasised – so be sure that you’re making use of infographics, video, webinars, and other visual formats as well. Indeed, this applies no matter if you’re in B2C or B2B.
The main purpose of such variety is to keep your target audience interested and entertained while you gently educate them about the benefits of doing business with you.
However, no amount of engagement will be achieved without adequate promotion of the content. This will happen via email, search engine marketing, influencer marketing, employee promotion, re-targeting, paid advertising, and of course on social media.
Here’s what the Content Marketing Institute Report revealed about the effectiveness of distribution channels for content.
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5. Analyse Results and Optimise
A content marketing strategy is perpetual. It matures over time, and becomes more effective the more you experiment and learn.
So, now you have deployed a number of content marketing tactics and have let them run for a time, you can start to analyse the results.
Have you achieved the goals you documented at the beginning? If so – great! You’re doing something right, so it’s time to replicate the tactic, and set some new goals.
If you haven’t achieved them – why not? What went wrong? What isn’t working that you thought would?
In the short term, it’s not the end of the world if you find that some of your tactics are struggling – just so long as you keep experimenting and learning from any mistakes or misassumptions.
You may find, for instance, that your eBook isn’t generating the leads you were expecting it to. In which case, have you experimented with different titles? Was your CTA strong enough? Could your landing page design be altered?
In short – mistakes are fine, and in fact they should be expected. The important thing is that you learn from what’s going wrong, and adjust your strategy accordingly. You may indeed find that you need to revisit your persona list and update the details, since you’ve learned that CEO Jo spends more time on Facebook than you were expecting (for example).
Continue to experiment, analysing and re-analysing your results as you go along, and from there optimise your future output.
Over to You
Developing a strong content marketing strategy is no easy task, and indeed takes time to get right. It will rarely be perfect the first time around – but that’s not a bad thing. You only learn what works well by first eliminating what you have learned does not. Follow this simple five step guide, documenting your tactics and results all the way, and with continuous analysis and optimisation, you’ll soon have a content marketing strategy that’s firing on all cylinders.