Don’t just build a great product.
Set out to build the magical content that will entice consumers and make them part with their cash.
Your company isn’t Apple, Google, or Amazon. These web companies are known.
People have become accustomed to them. Their names are everywhere.
Any product released by any popular company can become successful even with little marketing efforts.
For you, your startup doesn’t have that luxury. You need to market it.
The best way to do that?
What is content marketing?
According to Forbes:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
It is a smart way to attract prospects to your website. When prospects visit your site, your chance of converting them into customers is high.
You’ve got to start driving real people who need your product or service to your site.
Content marketing is a smart way to achieve that.
Fieldbloom built their blog from zero to 50,000 monthly visits. That is content marketing.
Matt Duczeminski, who is a content contributor at Fieldbloom writes:
“The day we started building our product, we also started to invest in content marketing (blogging, guides, etc) so we could attract potential customers to our web site and start building our brand. Today our blog gets almost 50,000 visitors per month, but we only had 1,431 people visit our web site in the first month.”
Today, they have 100 paying customers and a wait list of 1,300 waiting for them to launch their SaaS product, which helps marketers create beautiful forms, surveys and quizzes.
Their pre-launch sign-ups are growing. In February 2018 alone, 323 people signed up to try their product.
They accomplished that with content marketing. Nothing else.
Any startup or business can use content marketing.
Through content marketing, CoSchedule, a marketing calendar startup scaled from zero to 1.3 million monthly page views.
From zero email subscribers to nearly 300,000 (and growing).
From zero customers to 9,000 in 100 countries around the world.
Now, Garrett Moon, the CEO and Co-Founder at CoSchedule has written a book about content marketing.
I’ve seen small startups use content marketing to grow big.
What is a content marketing plan
You can use content marketing to compete with established competitors in your niche.
However, to succeed with content marketing, you need a plan.
Content marketing involves lots of actions and processes.
A plan helps you set goals and identify and target the right audience.
This article will help you create a solid content marketing plan.
A great content marketing plan is not just a plan. It’s filled with actions.
As Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher said, “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.”
What do you want to achieve with content marketing?
I assume that you’re ready to start doing content marketing. I also assume that you’re ready to begin creating your plan.
So where do you start from?
First, you should know your goal for doing content marketing.
When you know your content marketing goals, and work towards them, you build momentum and make progress.
Near the very top of your plan, write out your content marketing goals.
For some marketers, their goal is to collect visitors’ email addresses on their sites.
For some, their goal is to retain existing customers.
For most marketers, their goal is to build brand awareness for their product or service.
Make sure your goal is clear to you before you start doing content marketing. A man coach like Karen Brody maintains an active blog on her site, where she educates men on how to open up their partners and become better men.
Prioritize actions in your content marketing plan
After listing all your content marketing goals, I’m sure you know the specific steps you must take to achieve them.
For example, if you want higher engagement with your brand, you need to create more engaging content.
Prioritizing will help you focus your time, effort and investment on actions that drive positive results.
Taking every action will make content marketing complicated and difficult for you.
Prioritization is hard. I know. But when you prioritize, you become an effective and efficient content marketer.
Content marketing isn’t easy. It’s becoming more competitive than ever before.
Even with that, content marketing still produces better ROI than paid search.
The positive returns you get from content marketing will continue to increase for many months to come.
When you put the same investment into paid search, it will continue to produce the same results. No growth.
Understand your target audience
Your target audience is the ideal customer you want to attract to your product or service.
Michelle Rødgaard-Jesse built a successful location-independent company right out of college.
She narrowed her target audience and understood them.
The more you know about your audience, the easier it is to sell them your product.
Inside your content marketing plan, write everything you know about your target audience.
Visit forums, social media platforms and Quora to see questions your audience is asking.
Find out the words they use.
If you have a few best existing customers, you can learn from them to know your target audience.
What qualities do your customers share?
For example, here at Growth Funnel, our target audience are growth hackers, digital marketers, founders and small-to-medium businesses.
We target our audience through the content we publish on this blog.
The clearer your target audience is to you, the better your content will resonate with them.
Inside your plan, list everything you’ve learned about your target audience. You’ll need that information when you start creating content.
Create a buyer persona
According to Hiten Shah, they created two different versions of KISSmetrics and both of them failed.
When they finally define their main buyer persona and learn everything they needed to know about their ideal customers, they created a product that became successful.
Buyer personas are so important to creating a successful content marketing campaign as much as they are to developing a successful product.
This point builds on the last point above.
A buyer persona is where you organize the information you have about your ideal customers. It looks like the image below:
As you can see, details about the prospect are organized. Create something similar for your startup.
Create two or more buyer personas for your business. Each content you create should target, at least, one buyer persona.
No amount of content marketing tactics will save your campaign if you don’t create content based on the buyer personas you’ve developed.
Beginners in content marketing tend to miss this, and their campaigns tend to fail as a result.
Every successful content marketing campaign starts with a deep understanding of the audience.
If you don’t know your audience, it’s nearly impossible to create a content that will resonate with them.
A content that isn’t resonating with people won’t help you sell your product.
Content marketing will only work for lead generation when you speak your buyer persona’s language.
Choose the content format and type you want to create
There are different formats of content.
Each format has its own fans.
Some people like watching videos.
Some people like reading text content like articles. Some people like reading illustrations like infographics.
Some people like listening to audio content like podcasts. Some podcasts get tens of thousands of downloads per episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. For example, popular online employee scheduling software 7shifts publishes contents only related to restaurant management.
My favorite content consumption style is reading. I’ve been an ardent reader since childhood.
While I don’t hate videos, infographics and podcasts iTunes, I still read more.
Some people will tell you that they like watching videos.
Some people consume podcasts on iTunes.
Except you have lots of employees who are quite good at creating different formats of content, you should focus on publishing one or two formats of content at the beginning.
Videos may be exploding online, but web users still read.
For example, a reputable news source like the New York Times has 2.23 digital-only subscribers. Over 2 million people who pay to read news on the New York Times site. That is a lot.
Inside your content marketing plan, determine which form of content you want to create.
After deciding on the form of content you want to publish, also determine the type of content you want to create.
Note that content format is different from the type.
For example, if your content format is video, you may want to start a YouTube channel or create daily videos for social channels like Facebook and LinkedIn.
If your content format is text, then you may want to create content types like case studies, in-depth articles or ebooks.
For example, Airtable, an organization app, create ebooks it uses to promote its product.
Mix three to four content types into your content marketing plan.
For example, if your content will be text, you could create long-form content, white papers, guides, opinion posts and lists.
I’m a big fan of text content because it makes it easy to collect prospects’ email addresses.
My advice is, if you’re going to be using videos, you should also invest a bit into text content.
Those visitors’ emails are valuable. They give you the ability to contact prospects after they leave your site.
Our tool, Growth Funnel makes this process even easier. All you have to do is install Growth Funnel on your site. The process is super easy. Anyone can do it.
After installing Growth Funnel, you can start creating smart popups that collect visitors’ emails and remember their visits the next time they come back to your site.
Set a separate budget for content marketing
Many companies are losing out on many potential sales today because they have low budgets for content marketing.
The major cause of this is that most companies believe the budget for content marketing should be part of their general marketing budget.
Funds for content marketing should always be separate.
Content marketing may be a marketing strategy, but there are many processes involved.
If you want to become a top brand in your niche, you have to invest a huge portion of your marketing into content.
In a 2014 survey conducted by LinkedIn, they found that 18% of companies said they allocated 10% of their budget to content marketing.
Considering how fast things change online and 2014 is a long time ago, I can argue that investments in content marketing have increased greatly over the past four years.
Today, forty-two of B2C brands plan to increase their content marketing budget in the next 12 months.
Eighty-eight percent of B2B companies in North America are using content marketing right now, and 51% said they’d increase their content marketing budget in the next 12 months.
That means content marketing is more competitive than ever before.
Map your content depending on which stage of the buying cycle you want to target
There are four stages in the buying cycle.
- Awareness: When a customer realizes that your business exists, and it can fulfil a need they have.
- Consideration: This is when a potential customer evaluates your product in comparison to the competition.
- Purchase: This is when a customer acts to order and buy your product.
- Repurchase: This is the stage where you turn customers into repeat customers.
Each stage requires a different type of content that fits it.
Any content you create should target one or more of these buying cycles.
Create a content distribution plan
Content marketing without content distribution is a waste of time.
You can’t expect people to share your quality content if they do not see it.
Content marketing isn’t just about creating content. It’s also about promoting content.
How do you promote your content?
There are many others to promote your content online.
Outbrain created an image that grouped content distribution tactics into earned, owned and paid media categories.
Below are my favorite content distribution tactics:
- Repurposing your content into an infographic or short video.
- Sending the article to your email list.
- Turning content into slides and sharing on SlideShare.
- Sending outreach emails to influencers asking to share your content.
- Using content to answer questions on Quora.
Each distribution has been proven to be effective.
Each factor outlined above is important to creating a perfect content marketing strategy.
As I emphasized earlier, having a plan before starting your content marketing campaign will help you use your budget effectively and efficiently.
And keep in mind that to really reap the rewards of content marketing, you’ll have to collect emails.
You need Growth Funnel, a powerful popup tool to collect visitors’ emails on your site. Growth Funnel also helps you turn your visitors into fans on social media.