Content Marketing Strategy: When Is A Blog Article Much More Than A Blog Article?
You’ve been blogging three or four times a week and you just don’t see major improvement in your KPIs. Visitors are not up, leads are not up and you certainly don’t see more sales opportunities, new customers or revenue from your content marketing efforts.
Blogging for blogging’s sake is never the right approach. If you haven’t spent the time to build your content marketing strategy as an underpinning for your blogging efforts, then you shouldn’t be surprised to see limited results from your blog writing effort.
But there is good news. This is fixable, and in no time, you should see improvement in your metrics. Depending on your sales cycle, you should see improvement in revenue, too.
Let’s get started fixing this.
Content Marketing Strategy Is Much More Than Content
The more you blog, the more visitors you’ll get to your website. This is a myth that was promoted three or four years ago. It might have been true for a short period of time, but changes in the Google search algorithm have made this wildly inaccurate going into 2020.
What is true is that you need to publish fresh, educational and engaging content as part of your marketing strategy.
You need to blog (the correct way), you need to add long-form content to your site, you need pillar pages, you need a website with pages that convert visitors, you need video to keep visitors on your site and engaged, and you need to present content in a way that helps prospects progress in their own buyer journey.
Yes, this is a big ask, and it’s difficult to plan, deliver, measure and optimize. But it has to be done if you want leads, sales opportunities and new customers.
When we look at content at Square 2, we don’t just see content but rather how content is connected to helping clients rank on Google.
We look at how content will help prospects convert on their website and turn into leads. We look at how we’ll use content to nurture leads and move them to sales opportunities. We look at content from a sales perspective. What tools do sales reps need?
And, maybe most importantly, we look at the content creation process and design a plan that makes creating content highly efficient.
When you have a solid content marketing strategy, all of this can be done simultaneously.
Content And Getting Found
Want to be on the first page of Google? Start looking at your content — all of your content, including the content on your website pages. It’s impossible today to separate content marketing from organic search engine optimization. Everything you publish is contributing to your rankings.
But it gets even more intertwined. All of the following are signals to Google:
- How well your pages convert visitors
- How long your visitors stay on your pages and your site
- How many pages people view on your site
- Your site’s technical architecture
- How well your site works on mobile
- How many links and the location of those links sending people to your site
The content you publish, the keywords and phrases you use, the visitor experience, your conversion strategy and your influencer (off-site publication) strategy are all contributing to how well you rank.
You can’t think content marketing strategy without also thinking organic search engine optimization.
Content And The Buyer Journey
Understanding the questions and concerns people have as they work through their buyer journey allows you to create content and all forms of content all along the way.
This arms your website and your sales team with content in context to the issues and challenges facing your prospects.
This shows you the holes in your current content marketing strategy and allows you to fill them with the right content in the right format.
For example, prospects in the early buyer journey might want to read an e-book or spend time on a pillar page. In the middle of their buyer journey, they might be open to watching a video or attending a webinar. Late in the buyer journey, they may want to schedule a call with a salesperson.
Understanding all the stages in the journey, mapping content and resources to those stages and then presenting the content in context drives up conversion rates, improves the prospect’s experience with your company, increases rankings and moves the needle aggressively up and to the right on many KPIs important to you and your CEO.
Content And Sales
Content is not just for marketing, not just for your website and not just to help you get found. Content has a very important role in sales, too.
Once prospects move from marketing to sales, their need for content and their questions don’t stop. Salespeople need to listen for those contextual cues and deliver content in context.
The questions prospects ask salespeople are different from the questions they have when they visit your website for the first time.
Your sales team needs to be armed with content to answer those questions. Sales needs to be armed with other content to proactively help prospects with their unique challenges.
Content in the sales process can be leveraged to drive significant improvements in the areas of close rate and sales cycle length.
Here are a few examples.
If your proposal is all about you, it might be sending the wrong message. If your contract is legal heavy, it might be scaring your prospects away. If your prospects are asking for references and it takes you two weeks to connect them with customers, you’re extending your sales cycle dramatically.
Content can help cure all of these common situations.
Your proposal should be 90% about the customer and how you’ll be helping them. It should be only 10% about you at the end.
I know contracts help protect you, but do they need to be so legal? We turned our agreement into a two-page document that is written in easy-to-understand English.
Instead of handling references in the traditional way, consider offering a reference reel, a video that includes a handful of current customers talking about their experiences. They would be the same people you’d give as references, but now no one needs to be bothered with a live call.
We’ve seen this cut two to three weeks off the back end of a company’s sales process about 50% of the time. That is dramatic.
Efficient Content Creation
You can follow Ann Handley’s advice and get everyone in your company to start writing, or you can take a more strategic approach to content creation. There are ways to streamline the process, if you’re smart about it.
A few years back we created the hub-and-spoke approach to content creation. Let’s look at it again.
Start with the hub. If you’re a HubSpot fan, I believe they refer to this as topic clusters. What do you want to write about? What question do you need answered? Where does this fall in the prospect’s buyer journey? What format is best suited for this content? What keywords or phrases do you want to be found for?
Here is an example: Our prospects have trouble deciding how to select a digital marketing agency to help them. Do they pick a big one? A little one? A local one? A national one? One that specializes? One that does it all? What criteria is important? What process should they use? These are very common questions.
To help, we created a hub around this simple question: How Should I Select My Digital Marketing Agency?
Here’s what we created to help us answer that question, rank for that keyword phrase, convert visitors on our site and create the long-form, short-form and micro-form content that ties it all together with a bow.
First, we created a pillar page on our website. Then we created a long-form e-book posted on that page to drive conversions. A video is on the page to drive clicks and make the page sticky. We wrote several blog articles that feature the e-book as an offer. We created a set of micro content, conversation starters for use on social media that promote the pillar page, the long-form content landing page and our various blog articles.
The result is we rank on page two for this keyword phrase, and this page delivers thousands of visitors a year and hundreds of leads. These leads are all people looking for agencies, which makes them late-stage buyer journey and generally highly qualified.
You can do something similar for your company, too.
Doing content marketing isn’t easy, but it’s a must-have for any digital marketing program. Anyone can write a few blog articles each month, but if you want your investment in content to pay off, you have to also invest in the strategy that goes into your content marketing plan.
Square 2 — Building The Agency You’ll LOVE!