Content marketing has been around as a "buzz term" for a couple of years now and it should really be no surprise to you that in 2017 having a proper content marketing strategy could be the difference between success and failure.
Content marketing is all about creating a unified message across every piece of content that that you put out there in the wild, to be devoured.
Tweets, Facebook, blogging, downloads, landing pages - it should all mesh tightly together so that no matter what the entry point is, people can be converted to a sale by following the same path.
Content marketing is about information. It's using the power of information provision to build trust, build relationships and overcome objections.
At the heart of your content marketing strategy should be a solid plan for regular blogging.
The reason for this is simple. Blogging works.
It works for several reasons:
So the net result of a solid blogging strategy will be an increase in sales. However, a word of caution.
This will only happen if you have a highly refined sales funnel and warm people up within it to the point where they are confident to make that sale.
To Blog Successfully You Need To Have Something Great To Say
Before you start blogging, before you start planning to blog, you need to find your voice and you need to find your angle.
The quickest way to fail in blogging for business is to not publish content in a joined up fashion. If you just pick a topic that is in the area of your business, research it and write it in isolation, it will feel like it takes for ever to do each piece.
The whole thing will feel disjointed and every time you write a new blog post it will take longer and longer as your enthusiasm drains and you desperately try to link it to your existing content.
The first step to overcoming this problem is have something to say.
This means finding your voice. Your voice should be informal, honest and consistently compelling.
People will get to know your character through your writing in time, so it's important that you build your character in the right way from day one.
It also means finding your angle. Regardless of the topic, you need to approach it from a certain way every single time. If you do not deliver a consistent message then you will confuse your readers and send them elsewhere.
The truth is that when somebody finds an angle they agree with, respect, or associate with, they are more likely to subscribe and read it repeatedly. It's like finding a TV series you like. If you like the style, pitch and content then you're more likely to stick with it...even when the odd episode sucks!
Always Create A Complete Content Marketing Strategy
You will find your blogging laborious and disjointed if it's not part of unified content marketing strategy. Once you've found your voice and your angle, it will be easier to put together a plan.
You are not just somebody writing a blog. You are a publisher of information.
How can you hope to keep people interested if none of your blog content, site content and social media content delivers the same message consistently, or leads people down different paths?
So a content marketing strategy is putting together a plan to deliver a unified information message across everything you do to a timetable.
However, we are going to discuss in detail how you will implement blogging as part of your content marketing strategy. Once you understand the process, you can do the same thing for the other parts of your content publishing strategy.
Always Start With Keyword Research
You now know your angle and your voice, so the next step is to find the keywords you want to rank for in search engines.
There are tons of resources online to help you with keyword research that will be able to explain the process to you far better than I can in the short space I have here. A great starting place is going to be the chapter on keyword research in "The Beginners Guide To SEO" from moz.com.
But to give you an idea, rather than you rushing off halfway through reading this, let's go through it really quickly right now.
Because you know your angle and your business, you will already know the broad topic areas you going to cover.
The goal of keyword research is to find buyers keywords that searchers are going to put into Google to look for information prior to making a purchase.
So you are looking for keywords that you can potentially rank for, that are not ridiculously competitive, and that are the sort of things people would search for prior to making a purchase.
So put your initial broad topic descriptive term into Google. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see related terms of people are also searching for. This will start the process of you drilling down to find the exact keywords people are using.
For each broad topic, find a handful of good search terms that explicitly reflect the topic you want to cover, and where you can see that the sites ranking for that search term are:
Go One Better Than Your Competitors To Make Your Blogging Successful
When you are doing your keyword research and looking at the other sites ranking for the search terms you want to rank for, note down the content topics they are writing about.
Once you found the keywords, under each of these you can then start planning in topics you want to hit with your blog postings. You can even print off the competitive blog posts to compare.
The objective here is to look at what is on offer and then to go one step further in terms of providing value to the searcher.
As with anything, if you provide more value than the competition then you will build and retain loyalty.
Create A Detailed Blogging Timeline
So now you have a voice, an angle, exact keywords you want to rank for and several relevant topics for each keyword that you're going to create content around.
The next decision you have to make is how often you will blog.
This decision will partly be based on the time you have available, and the complexity of the topics you need to discuss.
I would suggest that if you are going to have to cover topics in more than 1000 words then you should start by writing one blog post each week. What you're comfortable with that, you can then move onto creating two blog posts per week.
And remember, once you're comfortable with the process, you can always outsource creation to a competent writer who can do this for you.
Once you have your blog posting frequency then you can create a blogging calendar.
Just as I do, I highly recommend you post your blog on the same day and same time each week. This will allow people to get used to viewing your content at the same time each week, putting you in the forefront of their mind even before they receive your email or tweet telling them you have posted new content.
Once you know when you're going to post, you can then start planning the topics you going to cover.
You can either mix it up, or take on a topic at a time over a number of posts. From your keyword research, you will know the topic, and you will have ideas for handful of posts around that topic. So plan them in one per week the first month or so.
A good reason to have a strategy that covers a certain topic entirely before moving on, is that you might put people off by jumping around on your topics, especially if they are looking only for a specific piece of information.
You're more likely to keep your reader and convert them if I know that the next piece will be linked to the one they have just read.
Another benefit of structuring your blogging strategy this way is that you can then create topic landing pages.
A topic landing page is often also called a hub page. This is where you have some general writing, video and other resources around the topic with links to pages to explore further. So by blogging on one topic, you can then create a hub page that gives another opportunity for you to rank, and acts as a central resource link page for you to market.
You've Put It Off But Now It's Time To Do Some Writing
Everything is in place, so now it's time to write your first blog post.
The important point to make here is that you are never, ever, going to get it right first time, in one hit.
But there are some things you can do to get your writing stronger, more quickly.
The first thing to do is to understand how to structure a blog post that encourages people to start reading, continue reading and want to read more of when they have finished.
So I recommend you go to copyblogger.com and read everything on their blog. I then recommend you create a free account there and read all the PDF books on copywriting as well.
By doing that you will have an excellent start in understanding all the basics around content marketing, copywriting and reader behaviour.
You need then to plan in some real time to create your first post. You will struggle, pace around, agonise and give up several times before you finish. So removing time pressures will help with the creative process.
Then just write.
That is not meant to be flippant. The best way to get everything down the fastest way possible is to just go for it.
Once you understand the structure you need to follow, and you have planned it on paper, just go for it.
Once it's done you can then start the process of chopping it around and editing it to get a final piece.
Under no circumstances should you edit as you go. This is the path to madness and will potentially double the time it will take you to finish.
Comprehensively Promote Your New Blog Content
This part of blogging is the one that a lot of people actually completely forget about, or do badly.
Often it's because you put in so much effort to creating the content that immediately other things jump in front of you and you have to move on, or do an incomplete job of promoting the new content.
Especially in the beginning, you cannot rely on people from a mailing list sharing the content and building your audience for you.
Even if they are the best blog posts in the world, you are not going to get a large readership unless you do a lot of work to promote them in the beginning.
You can do lots of things around this, and I will only cover the basics here.
A good place to start is Twitter. Use an online tweet scheduler to create tweets about your new blog post. Make each one different, add the link using a URL shortener (that also has tracking and stats options), and always make sure you use hashtags. Schedule those tweets several times a day for the first week, then move to one a day for a second week.
If you have any specific Twitter users who love what you do, tweet to them directly and ask for retweet.
You can do exactly the same with Facebook.
Although this step should be planned then and done immediately before you publish, you should also optimise your post for your main keyword. Make sure the keyword is in the title, within the first few paragraphs, and preferably a subheading.
You should also try and weave in a couple of related keywords to build on the core topicality.
Some other great promotional activities you can do include:
1. Syndicate your content using RSS feeds
2. If you use Wordpress, use a syndication plugin to share your published blog post across social networks and bookmarking sites such as Digg and Reddit
3. Look for opportunities to link to your content on relevant forums and other public spaces where it will not be deemed unacceptable to do so.
4. Network on Twitter. As well as syndicating to your core audience, search Twitter to find conversations relevant to your topic. Then during the conversation, and when appropriate, recommend people take a look at what you've written.
5. Put your latest blog post into your emails. A tool called Wisestamp (wisestamp.com) for example, will pull the title of your latest blog post into the footer of your Gmail account, sending it as a link every time you send an email.
6. Share your latest content with your mailing list.
Measure Results And Build On Blogging Success
When you create your blogging strategy also make sure that you know how to see how successful each post is.
If you are using Wordpress then you could use Jetpack to show you how many views each blog post has had. It will also show you what search traffic has arrived and where it went.
You can also use Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to provide some additional data.
As previously mentioned, you should use tracking with any URLs you share as well.
Put together this will give you a good insight into which blog posts are doing the heavy lifting for you, in terms of bringing traffic and converting.
By tracking results you will also be able to build on success rapidly.
You will over time be able to see which the best performing blog posts are, and more broadly which topics are bringing you most success as well. This will then simplify the job of new content creation because you can use what you learn to rapidly develop new sets of linked articles.
Doing this will also allow you to link between new and old blog posts, drawing traffic further into your site and lowering your bounce rate, as search engine traffic will stay on your blog posts longer.
Don't Make The Mistake That Will Make You Fail Like The Other 99% Do
Unless you already have a very established website, mailing list and social connections then you will not see any immediate results from your blogging, unless you strike it lucky with something going viral.
Search engines can take months to find new content, trust it and rank it. This is before you even factor in the competitiveness of the topic and the links built to that content to help it rank by you and your competitors.
So patience is the key here.
You have to think about the long game. Most people start like a steam train, and then slowly grind to a halt.
By being ruthless and publishing content consistently, you will broaden the topicality in terms of search engine appeal, you will build trust in the eyes of the search engines and the people reading, and in the long term momentum will start to build.
And that's the important point about sticking at it. You may not see any success for months, which is the point at which most people give up. But if you keep going, you build that trust with the search engines by showing you are a trusted resource that is going to be around for the long term.
By sticking at it you also stand more chance of an influential person finding you and sharing your content on social media, or by linking to you in a blog post.
That's all it takes. Just one piece of success. There are many stories out there of how one single blog post, sometimes only found years after it was written, transformed a business's fortunes when it was publicised more widely.
All this should tell you that having a solid blogging plan and sticking at it as part of your marketing strategy for the long-term is the way to do this.
When Are You Going To Start Blogging?
If you have an online business already but are not blogging then you are missing one of the biggest - and easiest - tricks in the book.
Go and have a look at all your competitors sites right now. I bet most of them are blogging. I bet some of them are even creating video content and embedding that in their blogs as well, leading to even higher conversion rates.
You need to be there as well.
And if you don't yet have an online business yet don't think you are getting off the hook!
I'm betting that after the amount of times I have guided and challenged on my blog over the past year that you are starting to get some idea of the area of business you would like to get involved in. You may even be on the verge of taking the dive into creating your own lifestyle online business.
So if you know the area of business you are thinking going into, why aren't you blogging about it now?
By researching to write blog posts you are building up your knowledge of the area of business, building skills in writing about it and developing marketing knowledge and skills.
Whether you have an online business are not, starting to blog as outlined in here will give you a head start both in times of creating your own online infrastructure and building your knowledge and skills.
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