Four Steps to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

February 1st, 2019 by Ann Wanserski

How much content have you consumed today? Probably more than you realize. The American Marketing Association estimates that the average consumer is exposed to upwards of 10,000 brand messages a day. As consumers, we have no shortage of options for anything our hearts desire, from where to get our teeth cleaned to who we call when the A/C breaks. And as marketers, we have no shortage of ways to reach those consumers. With these four steps, you can evaluate and enhance your content marketing strategy to help stop the endless scroll and capture the eyes of your target audience. Take note and let’s make this one piece of content worth your consumption today.

A person scanning content on a website at Search Influence in New Orleans, LA

Evaluate your Current Content Strategy

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 benchmark report, 38 percent of B2B marketers say they have a content strategy, but they don’t actually have it documented anywhere. If you don’t write down your plan, do you really have a plan at all? Whether it is lack of time or lack of people, many businesses understand the value of content marketing but don’t have the capacity to fully implement a fleshed-out strategy.

By performing an audit of your current content strategies, you can document your successes and areas of opportunity, determine the key metrics that align with your business goals, and get your whole team on board with a plan.

A content audit should record the following details in one organized place:

  • Who is creating your content (all stakeholders/departments involved)
  • Where content is being published
  • How frequently new content is getting implemented
  • What types of content you are creating (i.e. videos, blog posts, social posts, etc.)
  • What measurable results you are achieving (i.e. page views, rankings, likes/shares, etc.)

Once you understand the current state of your content strategy, you can then set goals moving forward. Your content marketing goals should align with overarching company goals, and they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T). For more tips on how to set goals for your marketing strategy, check out our recent blog about S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Woo the Right Audience

When optimizing your content strategy, it’s important to not only think about your company’s goals, but also to frame your content around your target audience’s goals and pain points. You’ll first want to define your audience by creating up-to-date buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a fictional “character” that represents a focused and clearly defined target audience based on actual customer behaviors and demographic research. By gathering insights from recent customers about their motivations, concerns, and decision-making processes, you can better understand how to appeal to a similar audience and nurture the right leads. You will also want to survey stakeholders within your company who interact firsthand with your customers in order to reveal any inconsistencies and better examine how prospects are converted.

Your persona should include details like age range, gender, income, education level, and location, as well as what platforms they use regularly, their interests and hobbies, and any barriers that prevent them from making a decision. For B2B companies, you will also want to consider the persona’s job title, industry, company size, and career goals. Put all of these factors together into one organized document that you can share with your marketing team and content creators.

Once you build buyer personas, you will be better able to deliver consistent content to reach your audience in all stages of their journey. You can map different content types, like blog posts vs. paid ads, to different stages of their journey in order to give your content creators more guidance. For example, an awareness level blog post will likely share more general industry-specific information, while a consideration level post will weigh the pros and cons of two possible solutions to a pain point. Buyer personas allow you to create intentional, cohesive content that can help you, in time, build a community of loyal brand advocates.

Improve the Quality of Your Content

Gone are the days of stuffing in your keywords to optimize content or sneaking in internal links to your product pages without the proper context. It may seem obvious that everyone wants to create quality content, but what does that actually look like these days?

Stephen Colbert tapping on his watch

Well, it starts by making the right first impression. And you have less than three minutes to do that. According to Harvard Business Review, the average viewing time for content is 2 minutes and 27 seconds. By optimizing your content titles and subheadings around what your prospects are actually searching for, you can answer their questions and eliminate their doubts more quickly. Skimmers can see immediately if your content is worthy of their time. Bulleted lists can also break up content, while a multimedia approach that incorporates a mix of text, video, and custom graphics can enhance engagement.

Of course, the old adage “show don’t tell” still plays a major role in determining quality. Show the value of your services and products by featuring customer testimonials and case studies as part of your content strategy. Include any accreditations or awards naturally in your content, and promote mentions you get in local publications. Check out how we showcase our client success stories or read our testimonials at Search Influence for more ideas on how you can prove your value through firsthand accounts and reviews.

Finally, quality is not just in the eyes of the consumer. You also have to impress the search engines. You’ll want to consider Google’s guidelines for quality, specifically the Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the content. According to Google, high E-A-T content should contain factually accurate information that is sourced from accredited experts in that field.

There are a couple of quick ways to improve your E-A-T quality right away. First, rather than publishing blogs from a generic company author, create individual authors and corresponding bios for your content creators so they can publish content in their name. Additionally, you can improve the trustworthiness of your content by citing reputable sources and accredited experts in the industry.

Build a Distribution & Publishing Schedule

Now that you have taken stock of your current strategy, honed in on the right audience, and improved your quality, you’re ready to share this beautiful content with the world. Remember that documented plan we talked about earlier? Time to make that a reality. Build out a schedule for publication, including the number of posts or pieces of content you will publish monthly, when they will go live, who will author them, and how they will be promoted.

You should consider any of the following types of content to publish:

  • Website and blog content
  • Advertising on Google Ads or Bing
  • Social media posts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.)
  • E-books, digital downloads, or case studies
  • Infographics or custom graphics
  • PDFs of brochures or product manuals
  • Video tutorials, product spotlights, or podcasts

Remember to focus on the platforms that matter most to your buyer personas, and determine what metrics you will track for each platform. For a Facebook post, for example, you may want to focus on shares, while you may look at conversion rates or cost-per-click for your online advertising campaigns. Success should always tie back to your S.M.A.R.T. goals and target a specific aspect of your buyer persona’s customer journey.  

Ultimately, content marketing is a cycle of continuous improvement. As you start out, don’t worry about trying to get your content on every possible platform. Remember that, as your library grows, it will become easier to start creating new types of content. For instance, you can turn a series of blog posts into a robust digital download, or you can break up a custom infographic into several small, focused graphics for social media.  

Even if you start small, building and maintaining a content marketing strategy takes time and a dedicated team. At Search Influence, we aim to serve as an extension of your team by offering content marketing services built around your brand goals. From idea creation to distribution and reporting, we’ve got your back. Request a free analysis with one of our strategists today.