woman staring a digital content strategy on laptop

Your digital content strategy is the key to driving some of your biggest success factors: organic web traffic, brand awareness, lead generation, and ultimately sales. The thing is, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to actually creating your strategy.

Content, audience, schedules, channels, KPIs — where do you even start?

Our advice: take it one step at a time. Start with what’s most important, and build on each step until you’re ready to launch an intentional, strategic plan that will drive ROI for your brand.

We’ve created a step-by-step guide you can follow to create and execute your digital content strategy right away.

Quick Takeaways

  • Audience should be #1 priority for any digital content plan.
  • Setting clear goals and measurable KPIs makes it easier to evaluate progress.
  • An annual content plan forces an always-on marketing approach
  • Test, measure, and focus on the things that work to drive marketing ROI

8 Steps to Launching Your Digital Content Strategy

Think Audience-First

Who are you creating your content for? This should be the first question every marketing team asks themselves when developing a digital content strategy.

Hint: the answer is never for your own executives.

It’s tempting to create content that touts all the really great things about your company, but that’s why you have a sales team.

Content marketing, when it’s done the right way, steers away from over-selling the brand. Instead, it focuses on consistent, quality content that’s relevant to your industry and engaging for your audience.

venn diagram for content marketing showing executive instinct to promote vs customer desire to be entertained

So, back to the original question: Who are you creating content for?

You can use a number of strategies to find the answer to this question. It’s a good idea to spend substantial time researching your audience to be sure you get it right. Customer personas (when they don’t suck) can be a really effective way to understand your different audience segments. Looking at customer demographic data (like web analytics and historical sales data) is another powerful tool for understanding your audience.

You should also think about your audience from the perspective of the problem you’re helping them solve. Why would someone search for your content? What need do they have that would drive them to your website? Considering your audience this way helps you create a content marketing plan that specifically addresses your audience’s needs and thus resonates with them more directly.

When you do your due diligence to know your audience, you are much better equipped to launch a digital content strategy that works.

Set Goals with Measurable KPIs

Now that you know your audience and what your content will do for them, it’s time to think about what you need it to do for your brand. What are your goals for your content marketing strategy? Is it to increase brand awareness at the top of the funnel? Convert leads you can pass along to your sales team? Increase your search engine rankings?

It’s likely you have more than one goal for your content. By spending time outlining each of the goals of your digital content strategy, your team can be more intentional about creating content that hits all of your objectives.

Just as important to knowing your marketing goals is establishing how you will measure your progress. First, think about the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use. Is it the number of people who visit your website? The amount of leads you generate from your blog? The number of people who follow your social media accounts? Whatever your specific KPIs, be clear about them from the start so you can craft your content accordingly.

Second, put a specific number on your KPIs. If you’re aiming to increase your social media following, set a clear numerical goal (for example, increase organic web traffic by 10% in the next 3 months) so your team can objectively measure whether or not your goal is met.

Perform a Current Content Audit

It’s easy to get so focused on the new content you’re going to create that you forget about what you already have. But auditing your existing content is a key part of creating a new digital content strategy. It helps you identify what’s working and what’s not. You can build on content that’s performing well and eliminate content that’s outdated or underperforming.

To perform a current content audit, establish first what you want to accomplish with the exercise. Are you aiming to reorganize your content to create a better system? Update old content to optimize SEO? Eliminate outdated web pages and links? Assess brand voice and messaging? Again, you’re likely to have more than one goal for your audit.

Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, clearly outline which content you’ll include. Are you auditing your website? Your YouTube channel? Your social media content? Maybe you’re planning to audit everything. Either way, decide what’s going to be audited before you start.

Then, think about how you’ll evaluate the content you’re auditing. Decide how you’ll track the content you audit and create consistent rating scales and systems. Once you do, you’re ready to begin the actual auditing.

Want a deeper dive into the process? Check out Laura Creekmore’s content audit talk from a recent Content Marketing World conference.

Decide What Types of Digital Content You’ll Create

People often think blogs right away when they consider digital content strategies. And they’re right — blogs are a huge part of effective content marketing. But they definitely aren’t the only option when it comes to content. By creating different types of content, you can better engage your audience and let your content work together to drive higher rankings and more traffic.

For example, OptinMonster reports that articles with videos get 94% more views than those that are text-only and video content is 50 times more likely to drive organic search traffic than plain text.

Including content like infographics, images, videos, polls, quizzes and more can enhance your text content and create a more interactive, engaging experience for your audience. Creating email newsletters can help drive your subscriber base. Publishing how-to videos can increase your brand authority.

The important thing to know here is that diverse content is effective, and you have options. Decide what fits best with your brand, and work it into your content plan.

Be SEO-Focused

This one’s easy, right? We all know that SEO is important. Your search rankings are essentially the deciding factor for your brand visibility and the number one driver of organic web traffic. In fact, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine.

The thing to keep in mind here is that Google ranking factors are constantly evolving. A decade ago, you could stuff your blogs with keywords to your heart’s content and expect results. Today Google can assess quality and sentiment (among many other things) to eliminate spammy content and push the best stuff to the top of their SERPs. In other words: you can’t cheat the system.

And that’s a good thing! It means the hard work you put into creating great content won’t go unrewarded. But it also means you have to keep up with trends, algorithm changes, and best practices.

screenshot shows Oberer Homes online growth

Brainstorm Fresh Content Ideas

Okay — you know your audience, you’ve set your goals, you audited your content. You know what kinds of content you want to create, and you’ve done your research on SEO’s latest trends. Now you just need a ton of great ideas.

No big deal, right?

Actually, right! Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of coming up with topics to cover with your content. First and foremost, know that there are keyword tools out there to do most of this work for you. SEMRush is one of my favorites. Their keyword research tool can generate millions (yes, millions) of ideas from just one seed keyword. Pretty awesome.

That’s not the only place to get ideas, either. Stay up to date on news and trends to provide commentary on what’s happening in your industry. This can help establish brand authority and build your brand personality by offering unique opinions.

You can also check out what your competitors are doing and cover the same topics. It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s actually a proven content marketing strategy called the skyscraper technique. Basically, you reverse-engineer the SEO system by finding topics that are already ranking high and being covered frequently. Then, you publish your own content on those topics and put your own spin on it.

That last part is important. Skyscraper content is not duplicate content. It’s content that adds something new and novel to the existing library of content that already exists on a topic.

Finally, you can ask your team and your customers for ideas. What are the people in your organization finding important? What do your customers want to know more about? Going directly to the source can be an easy and effective way to find content ideas. You can send surveys and emails to large groups at once to make the process even easier.

The key takeaways here: coming up with fresh content ideas is important and it’s an ongoing process. Build time in your plan for sourcing ideas and do it periodically — not just at the launch of your plan.

Create (and stick to) a Publishing Schedule

Creating a publishing schedule and sticking to it is one of the big keys to digital content strategy success. Content calendars keep you organized and accountable, help you identify opportunities and gaps in your content plan, and ultimately lead to better content and stronger results.

There are many tools out there that can help you maintain your content schedule. Using a dynamic content calendar that lives online and comes with automatic alerts to help you manage the process is an ideal option. But there are also free tools and content calendar templates you can download and start using right away. Creating your own calendar using Excel or Google Sheets is a simple starter option that many brands find effective, too.

Have a Multichannel Digital Content Strategy

Did you know you have the opportunity to be your own best brand promoter? A multichannel digital content strategy can exponentially increase your views and web traffic. Think about ways you can share your own content across channels. For example, share your blog posts on social media platforms, or highlight your newest article as the headline of your email newsletter.

Optimizing Content Promotion Channels To Increase Conversion Rates -  Marketing Insider Group

From: Optimizing Content Promotion Channels To Increase Conversion Rates

Another way to drive your multichannel strategy is to create highly shareable content. Seemingly small details like social media share buttons on your blog or encouraging followers to share something in your caption can go a long way in increasing your brand visibility.

Some of the most shareable types of content include:

  • Facts and statistics
  • Infographics
  • Commentary on current events and news
  • Listicles
  • How-to Guides
  • Videos

Launch Your Digital Content Strategy Now

Hiring a content strategy agency is one of the smartest ways you can ensure your digital content strategy launch is successful, Marketing Insider Group has the right tools and people to help you do it. Content Builder Services include a full content audit and customized editorial plan. Our writers can deliver you SEO-optimized, publish-ready blogs every week.

If you’re interested in learning more, set up a free consultation with me today!

The post How to Create & Execute a Digital Content Strategy appeared first on Marketing Insider Group.

a man kidding his keys that hold the answers ot an effective seo and content strategy

Content still reigns as an essential method for attracting and retaining your ideal customers, but determining what to publish is challenging. How can SEO and content strategy work together for improved marketing?

our own recent research (report coming soon!) show that SEO content generates 8x more traffic than organic social media and all paid media COMBINED.

So yeah, SEO still has a vital role in contemporary content strategies!

We are helping to drive millions of website views every month for our clients and want to share what works with you. So let’s dig into how SEO should influence your content strategy and what actionable steps you can take now to start getting better traction with your content marketing.

Key Takeaways:

  • You must meet your audience’s needs by targeting your ideal customers, publishing information on the correct topics, and using effective long-tail keywords.
  • Your SEO and content strategy requires that articles have attractive and helpful layouts.
  • Attention to practical considerations, such as link building, optimizing old content, and paying attention to metrics, help direct your content marketing.

SEO and Content Should Work Together To Meet Your Audience’s Needs

SEO is not just about tinkering with technical website operations behind the scenes. What you present to your audience can make or break your rankings. Since almost everyone knows about SEO and content strategy, you have to create a solid plan to compete. These steps are a good place to start. .

Define Your Ideal Customer Persona

You need to know who your target audience is before you can discern its needs. Identify one or two ideal customer personas who are of high value to your business. Give your ICP a name to make the persona live in your mind. You need to create content with this individual in mind.

Discover the pain points of your ICP and what these individuals want most. Determine how you can solve their needs with practical information to understand how to craft pieces that provide immediate value.

Find the Right Topics

Once you understand who your preferred customers are, uncover the topics that interest them with SEO tools that show the search volume for popular short-tail keywords. While keywords are still a useful part of your SEO and content strategy, don’t tailor your article around a bland discussion of the keyword.

Discuss subjects that people want to read and that relate to those keywords and variations. Once you have attractive topics, you can sprinkle in the correct keywords as your secret ingredient that helps boost SEO.

Use Tailored Long-Tail Keywords

A company that sells bicycles will struggle to compete for rankings by only focusing on the broad keyword of “bicycles.” However, relevant articles that discuss specific types of bike repair, recent innovations for electric bikes, or bike rides in a specific location can target the kind of clients the shop wants in the desired areas.

Utilizing these tailored long-tail keywords focuses your content toward your ICP. We use this strategy to great effect with our clients.

Your competition can enlighten you as well. Discover the kind of content that ranks on the first page for keywords that relate to your offerings. Use the ideas as inspiration for how to present your own spin on the subject and improve on what’s already out there.

Long-tail keywords are great for SEO and content strategy because they have higher conversion rates

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Devise an SEO and Content Strategy That Looks Good

What you write is not the only consideration in your SEO and content strategy. Your presentation matters a great deal, so don’t forget an attractive layout.

You wouldn’t eat a four-star meal that someone served to you on a garbage can lid, no matter how well the server cleaned it. Pay attention to your site’s design, how you craft your content, and how often you offer new content.

Make Information Easy To Read

Readers and search engine bots are seeking efficiency and readability. Your audience wants concise and easy-to-understand answers. Thus, well-organized content ranks well. Breaking up content with headings and lists makes your articles more palatable to the public.

Use keywords naturally and periodically throughout a piece to show what your content is about and boost rankings. However, don’t stuff keywords randomly, or you risk search engines and readers flagging you as untrustworthy. This can kill your rankings and ruin your SEO and content strategy.

Avoid long, unwieldy sentences. Remember that more searching occurs on mobile than on other devices. Your pages should be accessible to all types of traffic, especially those that people use most.

Use Various Formats

Yes, you still need a blog. Blog posts are one of the best ways to provide value that your target audience can repeatedly reference. Still, you cannot neglect other formats where you can spread your content and repurpose it.

Add videos, images, and infographics to your blogs to offer additional value to your readers. These visual aids can dramatically increase the number of shares your content receives.

When you build up a substantial amount of content, consider compiling it and editing it into an e-book, which is not just a fantastic way to boost your credibility and authority online. It is also a great ways to get leads from your content marketing traffic.

Adding a few images to a blog as part of your SEO and content strategy can double or triple shares by readers

Image Source: Niel Patel

Publish Content Regularly

Remember to post consistently. A content scheduler can help you stay on track. With our SEO and content strategy, we find that clients get a substantial boost from at least one article a week and even better results from two articles a week. Train your audience to expect regular beneficial information from you as a reliable resource.

Make Continual Adjustments

You can’t simply publish post after post and expect positive results. Continue to monitor your performance to improve and gain ground on your competitors.

Set and Review Your Metrics

Set goals for your content marketing and implement a process and methodology that tracks your progress. Monitor the results to determine what works and why. Similarly, figure out what does not work and adjust. Keep up with your analytics tools to stay in tune with your audience and provide what they want through your SEO and content strategy.

Refine and Optimize Old Content

You can apply many of these suggestions to your old content for a “facelift.” This strategy is another one we use that offers a quick return on investment. Take an old blog post and do the following:

  • Add videos and images
  • Insert high-authority and internal links
  • Include current high-conversion long-tail keywords naturally
  • Edit and improve the writing
  • Add a “Last updated” tag

A few adjustments can freshen an older page and help it rank higher.

Focus on Link Building

Link building remains a vital part of a successful SEO and content strategy. Linking to other trustworthy websites with relevant content can boost your reputation as a reliable source. Proper link-building techniques make it easier for readers and search engines to find and navigate your website.

Another strategy we use effectively is internal linking. Doing so improves engagement, enhances the user experience, and drives conversions. This method is another way to get the most out of constant content and older pages.

An SEO and content strategy that includes internal links increases search engine rankings in over 75% of instances

Image Source: Niche Pursuits

Find a Partner To Help With Your SEO and Content Strategy

Content marketing works best when partnered with intelligent SEO strategies. If you lack the time and energy to reap the full ROI on these efforts, let’s chat! Our team here at Marketing Insider Group is ready to collaborate on a winning SEO and content strategy for your business.

The post 9 Keys to an Effective SEO and Content Strategy appeared first on Marketing Insider Group.

content strategy

In today’s crowded and increasingly digital marketing landscape, you need a strong content strategy in order to reach your audience.

Here’s why:

Your content strategy is what makes your brand visible on search engines. It helps the right customers find you at the right time and provides the best possible user experience once they’re on your website.

In this guide, we’ll cover the specific steps you should take to develop your content strategy, plus real-world content strategy examples from brands who are doing it right.

Let’s get started!

Quick Takeaways

  • A content strategy is a holistic approach to delivering information to customers. It is different from content marketing, which is the execution of your strategy.
  • Clearly-defined goals and performance metrics are foundational components of your content strategy. They keep your strategy focused and help you measure its success.
  • Buyer personas are a valuable tool for defining your target audience prior to launching your content strategy.
  • Strong keyword research is essential to successful SEO for your content strategy.
  • Amplifying your content on your own platforms and making it shareable for users will increase your brand visibility and reach.

Shushing Face on Noto Color Emoji, Animated 14.0 PS – I put together these 10 tips for optimizing your content marketing. Watch Now!

What is a content strategy and why is it important?

A content strategy is a holistic approach to delivering the information your customers need across channels and at every stage of the buyer journey. It makes content a strategic asset for your company — one you can leverage to drive traffic, leads, engagement, sales, and other business objectives.

As you can see below, companies can choose from a wide range of content to deliver at each phase of the buyer journey. Potential customers at each stage have different needs and require different kinds of information, meaning companies must be intentional about what, how, and when they deliver the various content they create. Having a defined content strategy is critical to this effort and one of the surest ways to maximize content ROI.

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Content strategy vs. content marketing

It’s important to note that a content strategy is not the same as content marketing.

Think of it this way: your content strategy defines the overall mindset, culture, and style for communicating with your customers through content. Content marketing covers the execution of that strategy — your techniques, tools, channels, and of course actual content.

This distinction is crucial. Any company can publish content with fairly minimal effort. But to create consistent, high-value, relevant content that both helps your customers and drives your larger business goals is a much more complex undertaking. This is demonstrated in a startling statistic from SEMRush that found that while 91% of companies use content marketing, only 9% would rate the results of their performance as excellent.

So where’s the missing link? I’d venture to guess that almost all of those companies feeling dissatisfied with their content’s performance are missing a strong content strategy behind it. But you don’t have to be one of them. Let’s dive into how you can develop a content strategy that connects the actual content you create with the goals you want to accomplish for your business.

10 steps to a killer content strategy for your brand

Set your goals

The first critical step to a content strategy that will deliver is to set well-defined goals that can guide your strategy and help you measure its ultimate success. I recommend using the SMART goal framework, which helps you set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Setting clear goals and knowing what you want to achieve better positions you to outline the rest of your content strategy.

SMART analysis

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Define buyer personas

Buyer personas are representations of your customers that help you determine needs, pain points, motivations, and behavior. Ultimately, they should help you understand what your customers are trying to accomplish and how your offerings can help them do it. That’s why you should always keep your personas focused on actionability rather than arbitrary traits.

When you’re developing personas, aim to define:

  • Content your target customers use
  • Topics they are interested in
  • Types or formats of content they prefer
  • Channels they use
  • Stage of the buyer journey
  • Keywords they use to search and
  • Questions they ask

These insights can help inform the content pillars you should focus on (more on that next), what topics to cover, and what types of content will best engage your audience.

Determine content pillars and types

Content pillars are the main categories from which all your content ideas originate. Think of them as the “buckets” or “themes” under which all of your content can be organized. They’re central to your content strategy because they determine what matters to your audience and serve as a guide for your creators, keeping them focused on creating pieces that align with your larger goals.

To really use pillars to drive results, you should keep them somewhat broad, allowing you to come up with a range of topics and content ideas to fall under them. Tag every piece of content you create under the appropriate pillar(s) so that you have visibility into the volume and types of content being created for each. Finally, stick with your content pillars for an extended period of time to give your content a chance to drive SEO results.

Establish your brand voice

Your brand voice defines the overall personality you put forth when you communicate with customers. It’s an important component of how brands make connections with their audience and plays a central role in the customer experience. Your brand voice, like your pillars, also serves as a guide for content creators and ensures your content is an accurate reflection of your company.

To develop a strong brand voice, you’ll want to set parameters around language and tone. For example, should your blog posts be casual and conversational or formal and strictly informative? Which words or phrases should be used consistently to refer to specific products or buyers and which should always be avoided (like cliches or outdated terms)?

It’s a good idea to put together a documented guide with dos and don’ts around brand voice to help content creators stay consistent and on the mark.

Conduct keyword research and develop your SEO strategy

Did you know that 93% of all online experiences start with a search engine? If you don’t rank on search engine results pages (SERPs) for keywords and phrases that your customers are searching for, you’re essentially invisible to your audience.

One of the keys to ranking on SERPs is effective keyword research. You can conduct it using tools like the Keyword Magic Tool from Semrush. Once you have keyword ideas, you can develop your SEO strategy by aligning keywords with the buyer funnel and your content pillars. These steps ensure your content gets to the right customers at the right time.

For more on how to conduct keyword research with the SEMRush tool, watch a quick overview on each below:

Brainstorm content ideas

This is the fun part! Now that you’ve outlined buyer personas, content pillars, and brand voice and conducted keyword research, you have the information you need to begin coming up with your content ideas. This means outlining topics, titles, and types of content you’ll create to engage your audience.

Think creatively about how to communicate each of your topic ideas. For example, a how-to for using one of your products might be best published as a video, while a top ten list of resources on a particular topic might be better as a listicle blog post.

The Content Marketing Institute recently created this helpful content brainstorming guide with techniques to help you feel inspired and get more creative with your teams.

Create a content calendar

Your content calendar is a critical part of the execution plan for your content strategy. It determines how and when you’ll publish your content and keeps you on track and accountable. Check out our previous article on content calendars and templates for more on how to create one, or download our own template (linked here and shown below) to get started now!

Winking Face PS – Check out our weekly blog content service to grow your website traffic and leads!

Outline key metrics

How will you determine if your content strategy is a success? First and foremost, you’ll need to outline which key metrics you’ll measure. Many of these metrics will come from your original SMART goals, but now that the rest of your content strategy has been developed, you can get even more specific.

The five most important key metrics I recommend using to assess content performance are:

  • Traffic – Traffic is the one metric you must measure. If no one is landing on your website, no one is reading your content, and your strategy will not be successful.
  • Conversions – Conversions measure the rate at which your web visitors are taking action (such as subscribing to your newsletter or making an ecommerce purchase) after interacting with your content.
  • Engagement – You can track engagement by looking at data points such as time spent on your site and number of pages visited per session
  • SEO Performance – Track SERP rankings and how they are changing over time.
  • Authority – High authority drives better SEO and more traffic. Authority is not quite as cut-and-dry as the other metrics, but you can use this guide from Moz to help you determine yours.

Create awesome content

Content creation is no small undertaking, and publishing consistently is one of the most important drivers of content marketing success. Part of developing a strong content strategy is thinking thoroughly and realistically about who is going to create and publish your content.

Your two primary options are to create content internally or to outsource to an agency. Both have pros and cons, but I will say this: if you don’t have an internal team that is experienced with creating optimized content and has the bandwidth to do it, outsourcing is almost certainly your best option.

The biggest concerns companies typically have about outsourcing content are cost and loss of control over content, so let’s address those here.

There’s no denying that outsourcing comes with costs. But if you don’t already have an established content team, outsourcing is actually more cost-effective than building a team internally. When you outsource, you don’t have to worry about costs like salaries, benefits, or office space. You don’t have to worry about the time or additional human resources needed to manage a new team.

Outsourcing also allows your existing team to focus more on strategic work related to your core business initiatives.

As for control over your content, know this: a good content marketing agency will take time to get to know you, your goals, your brand voice, and much more. They will have ways to maintain ongoing communication with you built into their processes that allows you to see and provide feedback on all of your brand’s new content.

Explore outsourcing more in our article about the 11 Benefits of Outsourcing Content Creation.

Amplify your content

This one’s a no brainer! Don’t just publish content and hope it does well on it’s own. Amplify your content by making it as shareable as possible and sharing it yourself in other places. Share your content on social media, include it in newsletters and emails, and ask employees to share content, too! In short: the more your content is shared, the more it’s seen, and the higher your ROI on it will be.

Fire on Noto Color Emoji, Animated 14.0PS – Check out our latest case study that shows how we helped one company double their leads!

Content strategy examples to inspire you!

While we don’t have access to other brands’ internal documents and strategy development meetings, we can see great strategy when it’s reflected in content. To help you get inspired, check out these 7 real-world examples of high-quality content strategy execution.

Hubspot’s inbound marketing strategy

When Hubspot launched in the early 2000s, founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah were pioneers of inbound marketing with online content. Realizing that traditional sales methods were becoming less effective as people were inundated with more media and information, they quickly began building a blog covering topics relevant to their customer base.

Over time, they established strong brand authority and online presence for a wide range of marketing topics. Today marketing professionals know them as a go-to resource for inbound and content marketing information. Their success lies heavily in their ability to pinpoint customer needs and create high-volume, high-quality content — blogs, videos, infographics, original research and more — that addresses those needs.

Spend a few minutes scrolling through their blog and other content libraries and it’s clear how the customer is at the center of everything they create. You can see it, too, in Hubspot’s customer code — a guide by which the entire company operates. Dharmesh Shah’s deep dives into how you can grow your brand using their customer code are valuable reads.

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Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” videos

Blendtec’s marketing team launched their “Will it Blend?” video series in 2007. It featured founder Tom Dickson blending extremely non-blendable items to show just how powerful their product was. The series was a hit — it increased their sales by 1000% and now has hundreds of millions of views.

The reason I like it as a content strategy example is for their clear brand voice in the videos. Blendtec decided that selling a practical household product didn’t need to be boring. They created a relatable, funny brand voice that connected with customers and made their brand recognizable to consumers.

John Deere’s The Furrow publication

Did content marketing exist in the 1800s? If you read original issues of John Deere’s ‘The Furrow’ magazine, the answer is a clear yes. John Deere has been publishing The Furrow for well over a century — since 1895 — to help farmers solve common problems they encounter. John Deere products are the secondary message, although they are woven into stories and articles to demonstrate how they can make farmers’ lives better and easier.

A lot has obviously changed since 1895. But the team at John Deere has smartly stuck to the content strategy roots established by The Furrow. It is still a premiere brand for farming equipment known for their long-standing focus on customer needs first, brand second.

As for The Furrow itself? More than 500,000 customers still receive it every year.

The lesson here: when potential customers recognize you as a thought leader in your industry, a brand they can turn to for important information, they’ll also turn to you when it comes time to make a purchase.

American Express’s OPEN Forum

American Express has always shared their commitment to supporting small business customers. Their OPEN forum has been one of the smartest ways they do it. OPEN forum aims to be a hub of thought leadership that small business owners can utilize to grow their businesses. It features content around finances, marketing, management and other topics important to small business owners. The catch? The content comes from other American Express customers, not the brand itself.

Hosting a place where small business owners can share ideas and learn from peers has proven valuable to their customers. Today, the OPEN forum is a core part of their content strategy. It has helped build community among customers and allowed American Express to create content on a larger scale.

Here’s a recent OPEN Forum feature from Inc. Magazine columnist Norm Brodsky and serial entrepreneur Brian Hecht on how to write business plans:

Moz’s Whiteboard Friday series

Moz’s Whiteboard Friday series is another example of a brand providing real value by covering topics that address customer needs and challenges. The Whiteboard Friday series, started by Moz founder Rand Fishkin, launched when Moz itself was a very young company. Rand used the videos to address common and complex industry topics in a visual, engaging way.

The series quickly gained momentum. The content was valuable and SaaS professionals responded, subscribing to their channel in droves. Rand is no longer with Moz today, but the series still publishes every Friday. It’s now one of the longest-running B2B video series.

Check out this Whiteboard Friday episode on optimizing competitors’ branded keywords:

Patagonia’s focus on shareability

Remember we said how important it is to amplify your content? Well, the team at outdoor apparel and gear brand Patagonia are pros. They create highly shareable content that’s lean on the hard sell and heavy on meaning. Their messages focus what their customers care about: sustainability, helping the environment, and knowing your impact as a consumer.

Ads like the one below — part of Patagonia’s now-famous “Don’t Buy this Jacket” ad in the New York Times  — was also published in blog articles and on social media platforms, making it easy to share and thus spreading awareness and increasing Patagonia’s reputation as an authority on sustainable products and purchases.

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Patagonia also operates several targeted blogs on platforms like Tumblr, like their Worn Wear blog, where customers share their own stories of wearing their Patagonia gear. Crowdsourcing this kind of content on platforms where sharing is the primary activity? It’s about as smart a content strategy as you can get. It has high shareability, brand presence on the platforms where their customers already are, and built-in social proof with every new post.

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Red Bull’s experiential content

The world knows Red Bull today as a content marketing guru brand, and for good reason. Their brand personality explodes with every piece of content they create, and they utilize many different content types across channels.

The key to Red Bull’s content marketing success is their focus on selling an experience. They showcase an entire Red Bull culture rather than just talking about their products themselves. People now associate the Red Bull brand directly with high-adrenaline, extreme sports. They have capitalized on this niche to build a loyal customer base with their content.

A quick look at their YouTube video channel homepage (which has more than 10 million subscribers!) shows exactly who their target audience is. That’s effective target marketing!

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Ready to build a content strategy that works?

Start with the resources you have. Create a strategy and commit to a high level of quality and a focused brand message. Keep growing your content strategy as you learn more about your customers. Then, engage with them and build the bridge between your brand and the people your business exists for.

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The post How to Develop a Content Strategy (with Examples) appeared first on Marketing Insider Group.

How to Inform Your B2B Content Strategy with Real-Time Buyer-Level Insights

In their most recent report, CMI shared that 77% of marketers reported their organization has a content marketing strategy. 

That sounds nice and all but here’s the truth: What many marketers are calling a “content marketing strategy” is merely a collection of topics and a list of random acts of content stored on a page. That is not a content marketing strategy!

If 77% have a strategy, most of them aren’t very good and today I’m going to tell you exactly why. Most content marketing strategies aren’t up to snuff, but yours doesn’t have to be one of them.

The overwhelming majority of content is so poorly constructed that it’s simply bad and therefore accomplishes nothing—for you or your audience.

Not All Content Marketing Strategies Are Created Equal

Marcus Sheridan has long discussed his They Ask, You Answer philosophy to Marketing. 

The premise is beyond simple, as it’s spelled out right there in the title of his book. Inside its pages, you come to realize that, ultimately, what buyers want is information on seven types of questions:

Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, and How Much?

These seven questions are the things your content needs to be addressing at each and every turn. The brands doing it most successfully are not only dominating search rankings but likely experiencing the fruits of their labor. 

Discovering What Makes Your Audience Tick

Productive content strategies are data-driven strategies. But simply relying on our own historical data sets us up to fail in the future. What was true yesterday may be true tomorrow, but for how long?

To truly find what your audience and prospects need, you need to combine your own data (ICP, CRM, and other audience data) with valid, third-party sources that leverage first-party buyer behaviors. Doing so allows you to compare and contrast how your audience differs from larger pockets of users. 

Here are a few ways you can use buyer-level insights and your own audience data to build a dynamite content strategy.

How Real-Time Consumption Insights Reveal Actionable Behaviors 

Accomplishing all of this requires quite a bit of information, both from a historical and an active perspective. Ideally, you’d be able to leverage your own customer and legacy data to find many of these answers to help set the table but you won’t be able to find everything.

Since Amazon doesn’t sell a Marketing Crystal Ball, we have to be strategic in how we go about filling in the gaps…however, there is a tool called Audience Explorer.

NetLine’s Audience Explorer tool is powered by millions of first-party registrations from across the web. The site shows what users are and have requested in real-time over a rolling 180-day average. Essentially, if a B2B audience exists on the web, Audience Explorer will have information on what a given group is searching for. 

For our purposes, we’re going to focus on B2B professionals working in a Marketing job area—specifically content marketers across a wide swath of industries.

Setting the Table

Audience Explorer allows you to filter consumption with five sub-categories. For the Marketing Job Area consumptions, here’s how we’ve filtered to best reflect the Convince & Convert audience:

  • Job Function: Content Marketing
  • Job Level: C-Level, Managers, Sr. Managers, Directors, Sr. Directors, Owners
  • Region: United States
  • Employee Size: N/A
  • Industry: N/A

I chose to leave the Employee Size and Industry filters untouched considering the myriad of folks who use Convince and Convert.

Total Buyer Content Recommendations

What you’ll see now is a Total Buyer Content Recommendations count of 49,244 – meaning that in the last six months, NetLine has suggested nearly 50,000 assets to B2B users. While this is a good number to understand, it’s not the juicy bit marketers can sink their teeth into.

Who’s Most Active

The first thing that should pop out to you is just how active Content Managers, Directors, and Senior Managers are when it comes to content consumption. In this grouping, they account for 93.3% of all requests (Directors and Managers represent 81.6%), with C-Level professionals making up less than 1% of registrations. 

Takeaway: No matter which industry you reside in, mid-level employees are the best group to target with your content. Yes, you need to make sure you have something for each Job Level, but these professionals are the bell cow in every business you’re trying to gain influence in.

Topic Level Interests

Topic Level Interests

The next slice of information worth noting is the Top 10 Trending Topics; an aggregate accumulation of the most popular topics from the past 180 days. The first two are Marketing and Marketing Strategy; a pretty predictable outcome given this Job Area. Healthcare Services in third also aligns given the nearly 12% audience share from professionals in the healthcare space (6% – Biotech and Pharmaceuticals, 5.7% – Healthcare/Medical). The one I’ll focus on, however, is B2B Marketing in the fourth spot.

Since the start of the pandemic, interest in B2B Marketing has grown steadily; Google Trends confirms this, as well, with search volume peaking twice in the past year. While conferences and in-person events have returned, B2B Marketers have realized they can get a sizable ROI for their hybrid or strictly digital efforts. 

b2b marketing interest over time

Takeaway: B2B Marketers are constantly looking to educate themselves, especially on the basics. Six of the top seven trending topics are related to foundational pieces of building a strategy—a sign that everyone simply wants to better themselves and/or their employer.

Most Consumed Content Formats

In NetLine’s annual Content Consumption Report, we shared that eBooks were the dominant content format, accounting for 43.3% of all registrations. Here, we see a similar outcome, albeit not as drastic. eBooks represented 31.6% of consumption with Guides trailing at 23.06%. What we also shared in our annual report was that eBooks were uber popular, Report, White Paper, and Webinar registrations all indicated greater purchase intent. 

Marketing Most Consumed Content Format

Takeaway: While the majority of this group of B2B Marketers are browsing at the top of the funnel, nearly half of them (45.3%) are beginning to invest significant time in formats that would signal their intent to make a purchase decision. Considering that NetLine expects roughly 31% of B2B buyers to be in market over the next 12 months, the behavior of these B2B Marketers could mean investment is coming.

Getting More Granular

Understanding what’s happening at a macro level can be quite helpful when shaping the direction of your content calendar. But of course, you’re going to eventually need to come back to the audience that butter’s your bread. 

To highlight just how specific and relevant Audience Explorer can be when it comes to informing your content marketing strategy, let’s switch and focus on the Advertising/Marketing industry rather than the Marketing job area. Again, we’ve filtered to best reflect a segment of the Convince & Convert audience:

  • Sub-Industry: Advertising Agencies, Advertising/Marketing (General), Marketing Services
  • Job Area: Marketing
  • Job Level: Managers, Directors
  • Region: United States
  • Employee Size: 5,000 – 9,999; 10,000 – 19,999; 20,000 – 49,999; 50,000+

There’s a greater number of filters in play here, which will naturally shrink the size of the audience analyzed. The big benefit here, however, is how much more accurate and impactful these findings will likely be.

Total Buyer Content Recommendations

Our learnings from the Job Area analysis showed us that Directors and Managers were the pros most likely to seek out content. In this cohort, Directors (84.2%) requested far more content than their Managerial peers (15.8%). Because their interest was so much greater, we’ll lean further into their consumption habits and remove Managers from the Job Level filters. The Buyer Research Stream also tells a similar story, with five of the eight examples focusing on some variant of Marketing Strategy with each user being a Marketing Director.

Buyer Research Stream


Takeaway: Marketing Directors are often responsible for setting, executing, and overseeing content strategies. If your solution is helpful in assisting content marketers achieving their goals, be sure to start by addressing the needs of the Marketing Director first; content for other Job Areas, Levels, and Functions can follow.

In looking at the Sub-Industries, nearly 66% of consumption came via professionals working in Advertising/Marketing (General). Since this is such a generalized group, let’s get more niche and dive into the habits of professionals working inside Advertising Agencies and Marketing Services. 

top trending topics

Just as we saw with the Marketing Job Area, Marketing Strategy and Marketing are the top two topics, only they’ve swapped places. Healthcare Services also remains in the three-hole with Pharmaceuticals in 4th and Biotech in 10th. Given that Ashfield Health was the most active in-market company in this cohort (and by a wide margin), there’s a sizable influence from the healthcare field here. 

Hiring Strategies and Performance Management are also quite popular in this audience. It’s long been established that vendors are held to lofty standards by their clients, especially at the start of a relationship. Therefore, it’s natural for agencies and service providers to hone in on finding and getting the most out of their talent. 

Takeaway: The best insights are always the ones that exist below the surface. Sure, it might be easier to find the patterns at the top, but the ones that are “buried”? Those are the money beets.

The Most Consumed Content Formats pie chart also tells an interesting story. 63.6% of all registrations came from White Papers, Webinars, and Reports—formats that signal impending purchase decisions. It would be fascinating to see the break out between the types of content being consumed in each format but alas, Audience Explorer doesn’t provide this.

Advertising Marketing Most Consumed Content

Takeaway: Professionals working for agencies and service-oriented businesses are constantly on the hunt for the next big solution. While buyer-level intent data might suggest these registrations should send up the Batsignal of impending purchase decisions, take a moment to pause and remember that these pros must keep tabs on everything occurring in the market. Best to keep context in all situations as the data can’t know everything.

Honestly, there’s enough here to keep going, but let’s frame these findings into how they can best inform your content marketing strategy and propel it forward.

Using Buyer-Level Insights to Your Advantage

Combining first-party behavioral data with your own audience and client data is a recipe for success. By simply mixing these two elements together, here’s what you can begin to piece together.

Addressing the 7 Key Questions

Starting with Google Analytics (or whatever site traffic tool you’re using), you can begin to see what your audience has been glombing onto in recent days, weeks, and months. To make sure you’re not missing anything. Leveraging resources like the Top 10 Trending Topics and Buyer Research Streams are excellent ways to see what the larger market or, better yet, your own niche, is investigating.

Once you know the kinds of information your audiences are seeking inside and outside your world, the easier it will be to answer who is asking questions, what they need to know, how they trying to get it, and when they might be looking to buy.

A Different Kind of Content Gap Analysis

Traditionally, a content gap analysis surveys where you’re missing out on key search keywords, phrases, and topics. In using tools like Audience Explorer and Google Trends in tandem, you can see the kind of macro- and micro-trends occurring within your spheres of relevance.

Anything on strategy will likely be an evergreen topic. But information about performance management in the healthcare field specific to Marketing Directors working inside of companies employing less than 10,000? That’s something SEO tools will never surface.

Uncovering Potential Purchase Intent

eBooks, Guides, and Cheats Sheets are three of the most popular content types on the web currently. It’s crucial to remember, however, that these kinds of registrations are associated with top-of-funnel behavior. 

If you’re noticing that your segmented audiences are consuming Webinars and White Papers elsewhere but you’re only offering a blog and a few PDFs, you could be missing out on some important lead gen opportunities and foregoing some high quality intent signals.

Put Audience Explorer to the Test

The audiences we dove into today are just a teeny, tiny taste of what this tool has inside. With access to more than 300 unique industries and sub-industries, this tool has millions of different audiences to analyze. Hopefully, this tool can give you visibility into consumption behaviors that make your marketing strategy work smarter.


The post How to Inform Your B2B Content Strategy with Real-Time Buyer-Level Insights appeared first on Convince & Convert.