Foremost among the varied responsibilities of a marketing team is "filling the funnel" with new, qualified prospects. The biggest mistake they can make is to assume potential buyers want to receive a steady diet of advertisements and product promotions. Buyers across all industries are more interested in learning about the most effective solutions for their problems first.
The principal objective in content marketing is to drive qualified traffic to your site. Some consumer-focused brands have succeeded in generating high traffic volumes. Niche, B2B brands historically achieve more modest traffic numbers but meet their objective by building a highly targeted audience.
After engagement with relevant content, visitors are asked to supply information that will later be used to market more directly to them. It's at this point that content marketing and marketing automation technology come together. Content marketing attracts prospects; marketing automation moves them through the buying process.
How do you get started building a solid content marketing strategy? Below is a "quick guide" of things you need to know in order to start developing a lead-generating content strategy.
1. Know Your Audience
It may sound like a given, but you’d be surprised how often buyer personas are missing when it comes to content. Developing your buyer personas (or ideal customer profiles), and documenting the typical buyer’s journey will help you develop a content map that corresponds to the journey and the personas. Basically, you document your target audience and the questions/concerns they have when purchasing your product/service.
2. Know Your Content
Now that you have identified your target audience, their profiles, buying questions, concerns related to your product/service, take inventory of your current content that addresses those concerns/questions.
Though the audit process can be tedious, it will empower your contributors to create more targeted, more valuable, and more effective content. Getting a handle on your current content makes you aware of your content gaps—the important answers to your buyers' questions. What is your audience looking for that you’re not currently providing?
3. Know Your Schedule
What is the first thing you do when you schedule a meeting with someone? You create a calendar invite. Calendars keep you on track and ensure you don't miss an important meeting or opportunity.
Similarly, a content calendar is one of the most important pieces of your content marketing strategy. The problem with content marketing calendars is that one size does not fit all and what works for one team may not work for another.
There are plenty of templates you can download, or simply use a Google Doc. My suggestion is start simple—don't over complicate it. What you really need to get your head around is the content you have planned for release, the format, and the author. At first, start with 90 days out. Once you've got a handle on that, plan out your content 6 months to a year in advance.
Quality content not only shows your customers that you know your business, it also creates a sense of trustworthiness, increases your rank in search engines, and if done right helps "fill the funnel."
Though there are other factors involved in a content marketing strategy like budget, seo audit, goals/metrics, I always say "take baby steps." Tackle the three areas above and you'll be on your way to developing a solid content marketing strategy.