Content-Marketing

How to Plan Effective Content Marketing Strategy

In today’s fast paced and competitive online world, it’s paramount for online businesses to come up with better and newer ways to attract more visitors to their websites, retain & convert those visitors and to improve their website’s page rankings. Content marketing is one tool which can help you achieve these objectives. It is not only cost effective marketing strategy but also a very important arm of digital marketing. If you observe, you absorb it everywhere – social media, advertisements, announcements, emails, blogs, search engines and so on. It is an art of story telling.  

Why it is Important?

The  points mentioned below are just the tip of the ice berg. Anyone can use content marketing to their advantage to:  

  • Give relevant information that your customers are seeking
  • Build a community of loyal leads 
  • Improve SEO and hence Google ranking 
  • Increase brand visibility and popularity 
  • Position your business as an industry expert and leader 
  • And hence add brand value to your product or service 

Ways to Plan Content Strategy Effectively

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Identifying your goals

Identify what is your aim for developing a content marketing plan? Ask yourself why are you creating it? For whom is it? What will it give your business in return? Also, know what your customers are looking for? Answering these questions will make your marketing strategy all the more stronger and relevant. Once you know what you actually want to achieve with the content, measuring your success against which metrics will become easy.  

Research 

With a strong content marketing plan comes a lot of research. Knowing your target audience (TA) is extremely important, as you will be strategizing, creating and marketing it according to the TA you choose. However, your research shouldn’t be limited, it should include:  

Target Audience: Depending on the categorization mentioned below you can zero down what and who are you looking out for and how do you want to target them best. 

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Online Market: Which sites are your audience viewing? For how long? What kind of content is your competitor marketing to draw users? What are people consuming online? What are they sharing? What is trending online? Where do the gaps exist?   

Keyword Search: SEO is one of the most vital part of online content marketing. Which is the most used keyword in the market? Out that list, which keywords will work best for your business for maximum search engine optimization?

Brainstorming: Picking the Best Idea 

Once you know what is your content marketing agenda and to whom you are selling it to, it’s time to come up with a stream of new and creative ideas. Consider making use of some online tools like Feedly (a popular RSS feed used to track popular trendy topics and ideas), Buzzsumo (discover popular ideas), headline creator and so on.  Another way you can freeze on a particular idea or topic is by following the content funnel. This  funnel comprises of four stages:  

  1. Discovery: In the first stage if the funnel you address the people who have just begun their search for something relevant to their business concept or idea.  
  2. Consideration: In this stage, your audience is trying to figure out the value in your content and others.  
  3. Intent: Here, they have derived to a particular decision. “I want. Choose this” stage.  
  4. Purchase: This is the completion stage. They finally complete their action of buying your content.  

More often than not,  you think or rather assume your audience will like it, but the results derived from these sites reveal the actual searches which may or may not match with your assumptions.

Choosing the Type of Content 

There are a various types of content you can create and include in your marketing strategy and these types are listed below along with the channels.

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Content Management System (CMS) 

If you are putting in so much of efforts to produce relevant content, then make sure you maintain and manage it systematically. Create an editorial calendar,  

  1. Date: Your timelines, by when you need what? (creatives, reports, information, etc.) 
  2. Theme: Decide on what topic you are going to write your blogposts. This can be decided on the basis of the keyword search on search engines or current news. You can monthly or weekly or bi-weekly themes for smooth work functioning.  
  3. Campaign: Once your theme is decided, venture deeper and finalize your campaign. What is the end message you are looking forward to convey?  
  4. Content: Now it’s a ‘go ahead’ for unleashing your creativity! Keeping the date of delivery and the central idea or the blue print on the basis of which you have to draft your content, it becomes easier to let ideas flow in.  
  5. Tags: Alt tags for images and here’s how to optimize your images. Meta tags are small description which are not visible on the search, but they are present in the code. These tags help Google crawlers to understand its relevance thus helping your blog to score and rank high. 
  6. Preferred Channels: Once the content is ready, publicize in your own way. Share it on your personal social media profile or your company’s. The more you create awareness about it, the more readership you will receive.  

Content Creation 

Now with all the information you have gathered from the first 5 steps, the possibilities seem endless when it comes to creating exclusive content by making use of a mixture of blog posts, infographics, videos and so. This doesn’t mean that it the first go is the final one. You need to be open to opinions, feedback and re-working your strategy. Also remember that, whatever write-up you produce should reach and be understood by your audience efficiently.  

After you have successfully created your content and are absolutely satisfied with it, go ahead, publish and distribute it via the chosen channels.

Analyze

You need to know which  type worked and which requires improvisation or needs to be pulled down. Also, check whether you have achieved your goals? Did your message reach the audience the way you intended it to? And so on. Analyzing content  and its effects on the market is a routine.

It is very subjective and sensitive to audience, what may seem as evergreen content today, may not be considered as the same a few months later. Flexibility and change are the key here. Keeping the above steps in mind, content marketing definitely takes a lot of time, creative efforts and organization. But it is worth the efforts as you can use it to your advantage for, it doesn’t come with a huge price tag.

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Incorporation of Company Branding and SEO

SEO is not an exact science. This becomes apparent when trying to incorporate both SEO and branding into a strategy. This process is finicky to say the least. On the one side, SEO deals with the placement of keywords and phrases. On the other side, branding deals with company loyalty and culture. Incorporating both sides dilutes the prominence of both. But eliminating one or the other may not meet all strategic and marketing goals.

Once again, it should be emphasized that SEO is a series of guidelines rather than an exact science. Having said that, the following recommendation can be used to satisfy both sides of the equation. In general, keywords and phrases (i.e. SEO) should remain the focus of any early-stage company, while the incorporation of company branding should appear later in the evolution. This is simply a general statement and should not be taken word for word.

The reasoning is pretty straightforward. At first, no-one knows the name of your company, but perhaps they are searching for your products or services. In other words, you want to target keywords and phrases that focus around your offering rather than your company. As you build loyalty and credibility, branding becomes more important. It’s at this point that you may want to incorporate corporate messaging to strengthen the relationship with customers and instill trust in your brand.

One final thought about branding: if a searcher types in the name of your company, they are likely to find your website anyways. This is due mostly to anchor text and back-links. Therefore, optimizing for the company name is rather insignificant in most cases.

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Strategic Use of Images in Search Engine Optimization

When assessing page structure and layout, there is a subtle, yet strategic way to use images in an SEO-friendly manner (beyond ALT tags) that improves your search rank while allowing you to integrate the necessary marketing message(s). Confused? Let’s look at an example:

Suppose you operate a travel site and you want to optimize a given page for the term “Las Vegas hotel”. Suppose that you also want to include an enticing marketing message such as “Book now and save 20%!”. The aforementioned tagline lacks descriptive text, but possesses persuasive characteristics. That being said, you may want to place the tagline in an image and the key phrase (i.e. Las Vegas hotel) in a header tag. This places emphasis on the desired term, yet still provides a marketing opportunity without compromising keyword consistency.

In other words, images are a great place to insert marketing messages that lack the necessary keywords and phrases. Leveraging this technique will ensure that descriptive text is indexed, while less marketing jargon is overlooked. The combination of keyword-rich content and enticing messaging will satisfy both sides of the strategic equation.

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Google now discounts all reciprocal links

For a long time, reciprocal links have remained at the forefront of most inbound linking strategies. This is going to have to change. Google now discounts all reciprocal links. The algorithm has been altered to identify the exchange of links by two parties for the purpose of increasing their number of inbound links.

The concept of reciprocal linking defies Google’s original intention with the algorithm. Quality content should attract links. The exchange of links is nothing more than a mutual agreement to unjustifiably promote others’ content with the end goal of promoting your own. Google doesn’t particularly like this (see Link Schemes).

Some even claim that Google is now able to identify three-way linking schemes (i.e. website A links to website B, who links to website C, who links back to A). Whether this is true or not is hard to say. One thing is for certain though: inbound linking strategies should NOT be centered around reciprocal linking. This manufactured form of link creation is not well-received and is ultimately a waste of time. Instead, focus on creating unique, high-quality content in a given niche. The links will ensue.