Darlyn Herradura is the resident copywriter for Cornerstone Digital, a Sydney-based digital marketing agency. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.
I recommend using a systemized process that you replicate after fixed time to see how your content is performing. This will help you analyze your outcomes over time.
Imagine walking along a street and getting bombarded by offers from businesses. They are all promoting their top products, and it is very clear they want to make a profit.
They are proclaiming how wonderful their products are, but they are not telling you how they help you. You would be turned off, right? You would not be the only one. Statistics say that 71% of buyers are turned off by content that is too salty.
Content marketing is the opposite of sales content. It is no wonder that it’s one of the most effective marketing strategies.
In this blog post, we are going to show you a content marketing checklist. You could use it as a jumping off point for creating and implementing your own content marketing campaign.
Let’s get started.
1. What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the act of creating content to market a product or service. It can come in the form of vlogs, blog posts, podcast, infographics and so much more.
Unlike normal ads that pitch a product directly, you are creating content that educates, inspires or informs people. You are not telling people to buy from you. You are providing value.
You can see why if you take a look at their blog. All their posts are informative and written in an engaging manner, demonstrating their expertise to readers.
If you are a regular reader of their blog, you can easily be convinced to sign up for their paid content marketing courses. You have read their posts and seen they're good at what they do.
Since their free content is so good, then surely their paid content would be even better.
2. Set SMART goals.
When travelling somewhere, you need to have a clear destination in mind. If you do not, you might end up going around in circles and wasting your time.
The same goes for your content marketing strategy. You don’t want to spend a lot of effort into creating content without a goal in mind. How will you be able to measure your progress? How will you know you’re succeeding?
CoSchedule says that marketers who set goals are 466% more successful. Before you even think about creating content, you need to set SMART goals.
S for Specific. Include a number if possible. For example, saying you want to increase traffic isn’t enough. Say that you want to increase by 25%. Other goals could be about increasing email subscribers, generating more leads, etc.
M for Measurable. How are you going to measure success? Let’s say you want to get 100 more newsletter subscribers in three months. You can measure success by the number of subscribers you get each month.
A for Achievable. Are there factors beyond your control that could stop you from achieving your goal? Review your resources and your current situation. Your goals need to be both challenging and feasible.
R for Relevant. Is your goal connected to your overall business vision? If you want to find more potential clients, getting more newsletter subscribers would be a relevant goal.
T for Time-bound. When is the deadline for achieving your goal? Having a deadline in mind would help you measure your progress. For example, if you are halfway to the deadline but have not seen a lot of improvement, it might be time to reexamine your current action plan.
Here are some examples of SMART goals:
- Increase email newsletter subscribers by 30% in six months.
- Generate 10 leads in three weeks.
- Increase conversion rate by 25% in three months.
3. Get to know your target audience.
Author Meg Cabot once said, “You’re not a dollar bill. Not everyone will like you.”
Keep that in mind when working on your content marketing strategy. Don’t aim to cater to everyone, because you will end up catering to no one. Devote your resources and time to being liked by a very specific set of people.
Start by creating your ideal customer persona. You will use it as a guide for your entire content marketing strategy. The voice you use, the brand colours, images and other factors will depend on this persona.
Answer the following questions:
- How old is your ideal customer?
- Where are they located?
- What’s their marital status?
The answers to the above questions define your target audience, not your ideal customer persona. The latter needs to be more specific, resembling a fully-fleshed out person.
For example, your target audience could be twenty-somethings in Sydney, Australia. However, there are a lot of twenty-somethings in the area.
All of them have different personalities and interests. Even if they are in the same location, a twenty-something artist might have different interests from a twenty-something law student.
Define your ideal customer persona further by answering the following questions:
- What do they do for a living?
- How much do they earn monthly?
- What are their interests and hobbies?
- Where do they consume most of their time online?
- What are their goals?
- How can you help them achieve their goals?
- What are their pain points?
- How does your product/service solve those pain points for them?
The above image is an example of an excellent customer persona. It is broken down into different sections like demographics, goals, habits, and frustrations. It also includes a name for the customer persona, a photo, and hashtags she might use.
Your customer persona will then show you how to proceed. What type of brand voice will your ideal customer respond to? How can your content help them with their frustrations?
4. Create 10x content.
Users publish over 70 million blog posts on WordPress alone monthly. Due to the overwhelming content available, it is harder than ever to rank for your target keyword.
This is where 10x content comes in.
According to Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, creating content that’s as good as the top search engine results is not enough. To rank higher, you need to create content that’s 10 times better. This means you are providing more value in the form of information, entertainment and/or inspiration.
Before you even begin creating content, you need to research the competition. Combine SEO with content marketing.
Using the customer persona you created earlier, think of keywords your ideal customer might use. How are they going to look for your product or service online? Will they have a unique way to search for things?
Do a little keyword research, and create a comprehensive list of keywords you want to target. Conduct a quick Google search for each one.
Analyze the top-ranking results. There’s a reason why they are at the top, and you need to find out why. As you review them, ask yourself the following questions:
- How long is this blog post?
- What voice are they using?
- Are there any important points they missed?
- How many images are they using?
- Did they incorporate other media in the blog post like videos and infographics?
If you are inclined to do so, you can even create an Excel file or a Google Sheet. Create separate columns for the keyword, top-ranking results, word counts and other findings.
5. Word Counter Plus
Don’t worry. You won’t have to copy and paste every blog post in a separate document to determine its word count.
You can download a Google Chrome extension called Word Counter Plus. After you install it, you can highlight a portion of text and right click. It will then show you the total word count.
6. Answer the Public
Answer the Public is another tool you might find useful. It is a website that generates related searches for a keyword for free. You can then download its results in CSV or image format.
Not only is it a great tool for finding more keywords, it is also a great way to infuse your content with more value. It can show you related searches that your competitors may have failed to cover or have not written about yet.
You can use the related searches to:
- Find blog post ideas.
- Add more value to what you are currently writing.
The bottom line is, you have to create something better. If your competitors come up with ten tips, you need to come up with fifteen or twenty.
Wells Riley’s Startups, This is How Design Works is an incredible example of 10x content. It is more than three thousand words long. Each paragraph provides helpful information that is explained in a clear, concise manner.
The entire blog post is laid out in a way that is easy to read and pleasing to the eye. The images used are cohesive and heighten your understanding of what is being discussed.
This blog post ticks off every box in the 10x content checklist.
In a nutshell, here are some 10x content requirements:
- It needs to be informative and accurate, backed up by data from experts and reliable sources.
- It needs to be interesting. Your content might contain tons of useful statistics, but it won’t be considered 10x if it puts people to sleep.
- It needs to load quickly so users won’t be turned off.
- It needs a great UX design, providing information in an easy-to-read manner.
Getting your content seen and even read online is harder than ever. People publish a ton of blog posts daily. It would be so easy for yours to get lost in the crowd.
However, content marketing can yield wonderful results...if done right.
Start with a SMART goal. Have a specific number in mind and set a deadline. Regularly measure your progress.
Get to know your ideal customer. Connect with them through your content in an organic manner.
You need to create content that is better than what is already out there. Determine how you can be more informative, interesting and/or inspirational.
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