Content marketing is one of the best ways for businesses to generate leads. Creating quality, useful content helps show that your business is the expert in its industry. It also helps people find your business when they have a question related to your industry and search for the answer in search engines. So, we put together a list of everything a business should be doing with its content marketing to generate more customers.
Content Marketing Checklist:
- Generate Useful Ideas
- Structure Your Content
- Promote Your Content
- Measure Your Results
- Repeat & Improve
Generate Useful Ideas
One of the most powerful ways to generate ideas is to use surveys. We actually got this advice from a content marketer at Digital Summit Dallas. We talked to one of the speakers about how to generate ideas and she said to send out a survey asking everyone in the company one question. “What are 5 questions you get asked all the time?” Let’s just say 8 people take the survey. Now you’ve got 40 questions that real customers ask your business. You can then organize them by type, and group similarities. Sometimes you’ll find that multiple people will put the same questions down. Those are the questions you want to create the best content for. Plus, by the end of gathering your survey data you’ll likely wind up with at least a dozen content ideas. That’s content for an entire fiscal quarter (one post per week is the standard). Great job!
No matter what industry you are in, there is a forum somewhere talking about it. The web is a big place and forums are a fair chunk of it. One of the best forums to try out for content ideas is Reddit. Reddit is a massive online forum with content about anything and everything. People ask questions and post/share ideas about a ton of topics. Just go to Reddit, and start by typing in your industry in the search box. If you’ve never done this before, you may be surprised at what you find.
Another way to find forums about your industry is to simply type into Google the topic you’re researching and add the word “forum” at the end. Usually you’ll get a few different forum results and hopefully one or two is actually useful.
Answer The Public
Answer the Public is a fantastic idea generation tool. You type in your industry name or blog category you need another post for, and it does the rest. This tool will usually generate around 100 questions for you depending on what you search for. Plus, each question that appears is actually a hyperlink that inserts that question into Google. That way, you can instantly see what content already exists for that question or topic.
Ask Real People
One thing that’s underutilized is asking real people about your site. It can literally be anybody. Pick a friend. Have them look at your site with you, and ask them if they have any questions about what you do. You not only might find content to write about, but you also might be able to improve the pages on your site. There is also value in having someone ask questions face to face rather than in a survey. Sometimes people are more comfortable asking you questions than writing it down in a survey or form.
Use An Editorial Calendar
With organization comes empowerment. – Lynda Peterson.
An editorial calendar will keep your team organized and accountable. There are different approaches to creating an editorial calendar. Some companies like to get a full year mapped out, but that’s a little crazy. The best thing to do in our opinion is to plan each month’s content at the beginning of the month. Get organized at the beginning of each month, then execute on the plan.
What should you use to create your calendar? Doesn’t matter. This is really just personal preference. As long as you make one, you will automatically be ahead of anyone who doesn’t. That being said, there are calendar excel templates out there that you can use. There is also a plug-in (picture of it above) called “Editorial Calendar” that is pretty popular.
Structure Your Content
Obviously you want to make sure your content has the appropriate markup. You should be using title and header tags, custom meta descriptions, featured images, and etc. Make sure the technical side is sound.
Once that is done, make sure it’s readable. A lot of bloggers break up their content into very small paragraphs in order to enhance usability. People get intimidated when they see a giant wall of text. Break it up, use images, and make it look easy to read.
USE CALLS TO ACTION! You are not writing for your health. Well, in a way you are, but you know what we mean! Calls to action don’t have to seem pushy or invasive. If a user is searching for pool tiling and you write an article about it, offer them a more complete guide in the article in exchange for an email. Or provide a link to a bunch of pictures you have of different types of pool tiling. The user will get what they wanted to know, and learn where and who to purchase from. Remember, you will not convert 100% of the leads you don’t ask for.
Promote Your Content
We could, and likely will, write multiple blog posts for how to promote content. Right now we’ll just cover a few that work really well, and you can dive in later if you’d like. You can’t just write great content and expect people to find it. You’ll need to invest in your content promotion in order to help get it in front of the right people.
Facebook is one of the best places to promote content. The targeting is outstanding for hyper-focusing your promotions. You can target your advertisement based on age, hobbies, interests, gender, location, and etc. It’s also cheap. You can get hundreds of impressions for as little as $7 per post. Of course you probably won’t generate much traffic with that little money, but you can run some decent tests with it.
If your business has really nice aesthetics, like a landscaping or photography company, use that in your posts. Images increase engagement for your posts and also enable you to utilize Pinterest ads. According to Neil Patel (founder of Kiss Metrics and other multi-million dollar software companies), Pinterest ads are really cheap right now and present a great opportunity for content marketing. More and more people are turning to Pinterest to get ideas for projects and purchases.
Pro Tip: Don’t try to utilize all these promotional methods at once. Focus on one at a time. You can also run a small test on each, see which one performs the best, and then focus all your energy on that one. Wait until you get really good at using one promotional tool, then implement more as you go.
If your content is B2B or professional in nature, LinkedIn might be a great place to promote your content. Good types of post to advertise on LinkedIn would be things like case studies, data based articles, or special insights into a specific topic. You can also use Slide Share to promote any particularly insightful presentations at your company. Quality of your content is more important on LinkedIn than other channels, because it’s a professional site. Just keep your audience in mind with both who your customers are and where you’re promoting and you’ll be fine.
Measure Your Results
It cannot be overstated how important it is to measure your results. If you aren’t measuring what you do, then you can’t adjust for what is and what isn’t working. Google Analytics and Search Console should be set up on your site. That’s the first step to great measurement. The second step is to make sure you are measuring what matters. Here’s a list of the most important things to measure:
- Traffic: how many people visited your post
- Bounce Rate: how engaged were they once they got there
- Conversion Rate: how often did they perform a meaningful action on your site
- Avg. Time On Page: how long do users stay
- Social Shares: how shareable is your content
Again, you may only want to work on increasing one or two of these at a time. Every business is different. Prioritize the above list for your business and go from there. A good standard to start with would probably be traffic and bounce rate.
How do you measure your results? Use different URLs for each promotional channel. Google has a service that allows you to set up labeled URLs that all go to the same place, and allow you to analyze the traffic from each source individually. Once you have the URLs set up and you’ve promoted your content, go to Google Analytics. Then, go to Behavior > Site Content > All pages. There you’ll be able to see analytics for each source of traffic. Each advertising channel you use will have analytics as well, but this method provides a bit more insight.
Repeat & Improve
Content Marketing is just like anything else. You get better at it the more you do it. By repeating this process over and over you will discover what works and what doesn’t. Some of it may surprise you.
If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section below!