1996, you think that’s when Content Marketing was born? Think again, the first successful example experts like to point to, dates from the late 1890s! If you are interested in the origins of Content Marketing you should read about John Deere and his news magazine called The Furrow.
When you are looking to actively grow your business, and you are leveraging the 3 pillars of Growth, the Client Acquisition pillar usually requires the most resources. Why?
Because nowadays there are so many ways to get new clients for your products or services. Most importantly there are 2 main approaches businesses can use Inbound and Outbound.
This article is all about the key component to a good Inbound Strategy: Content Marketing.
You are reading this article because you understand that you need to provide value to your audience with your marketing efforts.
Inbound Marketing is a great complement to business development and cold outreach. These are “Push” methods where you are pushing your solution to targets you’ve identified. Inbound marketing is a “Pull” strategy. You are convincing leads that your solution fit their need by educating them and demonstrating your expertise in an organic manner.
So, if Content is King, how do you become the best at Content Creation?
Creating great content is easier said than done, You might have the Blank Page Syndrome, or maybe you are not confident in your writing skills.
Anytime you start something new, it can be quite daunting, but don’t worry we are here to help!
That’s why we wrote this article, to provide you an ultimate step-by-step guide on how to create good content that will drive results.
Create a relevant content marketing strategy
Do not create content just for the sake of creating content. It’s not worth it, the internet is crowded with billions of blog articles from millions of websites. If you want your content to have a chance of being read, you have to stand out and create content that provide value to your audience. In the end your ability to succeed depends on the quality of your content strategy.
You have to be methodical in your work and proceed step by step: define your target audience, find topics that interests them and the type of content most likely to get their attention.
Develop personas: the foundation of a good strategy!
The first step of developing a successful content marketing strategy is to clearly outline the goal of the content you are planning to write. And it all starts with this question: Who is it for?
You don’t get to choose what is relevant to your target audience and you can’t focus on what you want to write about.
You must put yourself in your target’s shoes to understand its context. Think about your target’s needs & motivations.
Persona Development enables you to better understand your target.
Who is your target? What are their needs, concerns and pain points?
Leverage these Personas to get precise content ideas, and to design the right kind of content for your audience.
If you haven’t worked on your personas yet, or if you want to go deeper into the subject, I recommend you to consult our guide.
Let me show you what I mean, let’s take an example:
Case Study for a Sales Training Consultant
Picture this, you are a Sales Training Consultant. You are looking to get more clients and you would like to showcase your expertise online. You just created a blog for your company, now you “just” have to fill your blog with awesome articles!
What should you do?
First answer this question: who are you writing these articles for?
Salespersons, Sales Managers and Training Managers.
That’s 3 Personas, with their different Motivations & Needs you should explore.
A good piece of content is precise and tailored to a Persona.
Let’s say that you choose to write an article that is specifically for salespersons.
Answer the following questions:
What drives him/her?
- Meeting & Exceeding Sales Goals
- Finding New Leads
- Converting Opportunities at a better rate
- Becoming Manager
Now dig deeper into these motivations and explore what your target may be thinking.
How can I achieve my sales goals?
How can I increase my conversion rate?
How can I prospect better?
How can I find new leads?
How can I get promoted?
There are many topics you can find that relate to these questions. Pick the ones that seem the most relevant to you and that you genuinely believe will help your readers.
You don’t have to be creative to find topics. You just need to be empathetic towards your target audience and focus on the issues they face.
Find the right Keywords for your article
Ok, now let’s assume you have a few topics you’d like to write about.
Before you start writing away you should do more research. Why? Because this first step was all about your assumptions, now you need to confront these assumptions to real world data and figure out what really matters to your target audience.
The point of this step is to find the exact queries your persona type on search engines.
Here are some free tools you can use to find these queries:
Answer The Public: this tool provides you all the queries made by Internet users related to a keyword of your choice.
Ubersuggest: this tool gives you all the keywords and groups of words related to your topic as well as the most frequently used queries in Search Engines.
Google’s Suggestions: Google automatically suggests queries best on the first words you type. These suggestions are based on what is most frequently searched by users.
Case Study for a Sales Training Consultant
Let’s go back to our example. You are a Sales Training Consultant, and you decided to write an article for salespeople. You decided to write this article on the topic of “How to prospect better?”
Answer The Public gives you the following queries about prospecting.
By carefully observing this screenshot (which only shows a section of the tool’s results), we can see that Internet users have very specific queries on the subject of prospecting.
Ubersuggest lists all the keyword ideas related to prospecting to complete your starting topic.
Example: “How to improve your prospecting” would become “How to improve your telephone prospecting”. Your topic is much more precise.
Related searches suggested by google will give you other approaches to your topic. They will also allow you to identify other concerns of your persona that you hadn’t thought of.
Take advantage of this search phase to identify the contents present on the first page on search engines.
This is an opportunity to observe what is being said about your topic and the issues that emerge.
Think about it this way. We are all fighting to get a better ranking on Google. Since these topics are relevant to you, chances are you want to rank high on these searches.
To do that the Google Algorithm needs to rate your article better than these ones.
In a nutshell you need to view these pages as your competition, these are the articles you need to beat!
Article, Podcast, Video ... Which format to choose for your content marketing?
Choosing the type of content marketing is an important step. Just like your subject, it must be adapted to your target.
Once again, you will call upon your persona and study your target:
- What is his typical day
- What type of content do they usually consume?
- At what time of day?
- On what media(s)? Why ?
After answering these questions, you will be able to choose the right media for your content.
Take into account that the creation of content is not limited to a blog article. Depending on your persona you can create content such as podcasts, videos, white papers or even computer graphics. Each of these types of content have their own strengths and weaknesses. Bear in mind that even though some the thought process may be similar, blogging and video marketing require different skill sets to be successful.
Let’s go back to our example:
What's his typical day?
A salesperson’s day is divided between prospecting and customer appointments.
He will start by taking stock of his appointments for the day, and prepare a list of people he will contact to obtain an appointment. He will go to his CRM to track current opportunities and analyze his key prospecting statistics. He will have a short coffee break at 10:30 am before taking a quick lunch break and will leave on an afternoon where he will make a series of appointments, prospect follow-ups and cold calls to obtain physical appointments.
What comes out of his typical day:
Apart from the lunch break, he doesn’t necessarily have time to read a blog article (as long as this one for example 🙄) during his working hours.
He has very little time, so what kind of content will you offer him?
Podcasts or video content.
Your sales representative can watch your video during his lunch break or simply listen to your podcast between tasks or on his way to his next customer appointment. By consuming your content in these formats, he will save time and will be able to consume it in all circumstances.
By choosing the right type of content, you will gain relevance to your audience. Don’t neglect this step because it can allow your content to make a difference to your target audience.
How to write high-performing articles
It’s time to move on to the operational phase 😨.
In this part, I focused on writing a blog article. A written article is a good base to get you started in content marketing and requires less tools to be well done. Still, many of the following tips apply to ALL content formats.
Let’s see together how to do it right!
The state of mind of content marketing
What is high-performance content?
Little pre-requisite required. What is high-performance content? It sounds like a basic question, but how will you evaluate the impact of an article if you have not previously defined what is its performance?
There are a lot of metrics (KPIs) to follow, but none of them are exhaustive and it is impossible to universally decree whether a given number is good or not. It’s very relative and it won’t help you in your current approach to creating an article.
On the other hand, there is one absolutely universal thing that will allow you to say whether you are on the right track. It’s not a question of traffic, it’s not a question of number of leads, it’s not a question of sharing. Did your reader find what they were looking for when they read your article?
Whether you have one reader, 10 readers, 1,000,000 readers… The only thing that matters is whether you helped your readers. The rest is just a matter of leverage. You can use all the growth hacking techniques in the world, it would have no impact if your article doesn’t bring anything.
Focus on the User Experience of your readers in everything that you do.
Hence the importance of feedback. Take into account the feedback from your target and improve your articles accordingly.
Ban Self-promotion from your content
Forget self-promotion, it’s never been appreciated!
There was a time when it brought results, but customers have changed and they have evolved, as has their buying journey.
By practicing self-promotion you will :
- Don’t go meeting the needs of your people.
- Will not bring value to the reader of your content
- You’re going to discredit your offer and put the reader on the defensive.
Especially since it would be counterproductive, good content that helps your clients will promote your expertise better than you would with the best advertising agencies in the world.
The best content you will write
Gone are the days when you could content yourself with a 300-word blog post, 150 of which were presenting your offer.
Nowadays the amount of content available on the internet is huge.
Some people see it as a discouragement whereas it is an opportunity. Most of the content remains of poor quality. You can and must do better than the existing content. Your expertise will only appear greater and you will be the champion of your readers.
So for every article you write, I want you to strive for excellence. You must want to create the best content available for your target audience on the topic chosen at the time of publication.
Maintain this mindset and you will soon drown in leads!
Do your homework, Get your facts straight!
During this documentation phase you can get overwhelmed by the amount of information you will find.
Too much information can quickly lead to confusion or easily lead you to irrelevant information. Proceed step by step and don’t lose the focus of your content:
Step 1: Review existing content
In the first step, you have listed a set of queries related to the problems of your targets. Type them on your search engine and study the best articles returned by it.
Limit yourself to the first 3-4 results of your search engine. Don’t get lost on the sites on the second and third pages. The idea is to reference the best content available on the subject.
This allows you to define the target to shoot 💪! Your goal: to surpass them.
Step 2: Take Notes
Whatever your media (books, blog articles, videos, podcasts…), take notes of the information that interests you.
Don’t hesitate to reconstruct the outline of certain articles and summarize the main ideas of each part. This will give you a clearer vision and inspiration.
It will also help you to better structure your own ideas when writing your content.
Step 3: Sort through your information
Make sure you sort through this extra information! Keep only the information that is relevant to your topic. Some information may be off-topic, or may not add any value to your content. The personas of the authors may not be yours.
Also, don’t make a simple summary. These articles may be the best, but that’s not necessarily why they cover all the topics and hold the absolute truth.
Write your article like a pro!
This is the stage where you turn to your inner Shakespeare to write beautiful articles.
Make a detailed plan of your blog post
The task may seem academic but there is no good content without structure!
The structure of your content will allow you to keep a good thread and to be able to animate your writing. Your ideas will flow more easily and your content will become more relevant.
In addition, you will make your reader’s reading more comfortable and more rhythmic. Search engines, on the other hand, love content with a very detailed structure! Don’t forget that Google has an absolute love for title tags (Hn).
How do you go about it? Nothing could be simpler!
Start from the problems of your target and get the big ideas. Take your big parts and flesh them out with the intermediate ideas.
Let's take the example of this article:
I want to help my readers to start writing their first content. I’ve done my homework and identified three main topics to address:
Then if we take the example of the first part, at the end of my research work I defined a set of ideas that I wanted to address in Part I: Content Strategy.
I then grouped these ideas into sub-sections and gathered my ideas for each of them.
And so on for each section and subsection.
You’ll see it’s simpler than it looks!
The detailed plan gives you an overview of your future content and it will make your writing easier.
Bring your marketing content to life: use storytelling
Nobody likes monotonous and emotionless articles: they are boring to write and even more boring to read. Your readers don’t like it, you write for them, so don’t do that. When you’re about to move on to writing your content, use storytelling.
The purpose of storytelling is to capture attention and get a message across to your target audience by arousing emotion. You will give life to your content by bringing rhythm and emotion to it. The practice of storytelling requires a good knowledge of its target and training. Your personas will once again play a key role.
During their elaboration, you have identified different elements: their centres of interest, their points of pain, their brakes, their typical day… Take all these elements and ask yourself the following questions: What vocabulary will my target audience be sensitive to? What tone should I use?
By asking yourself these questions you will be able to tell a story that will echo the life of your target. It will project itself into your story and better appropriate the message.
The trick? Imagine yourself talking to this person and writing. We are often much more comfortable with storytelling by talking than by writing. The more articles you write, the easier it will become.
Take the opportunity to affirm the personality and state of mind that is within your company.
Write a first draft of your article
Follow your plan and write! Keep your persona in mind throughout your writing. Your content must be concrete and meet their needs.
The aim of each line is to make the reader want to read the next line. Don’t be afraid to do wrong at first, write, write and write.
Once you have written the first draft of your article, read it again!
Make sure that you were straight to the point and that you communicated in a clear and efficient way.
Submit your article for feedback
Submit your article to a few people to get an outside point of view and highlight areas for improvement. It will be more relevant to submit it to someone who is part of your target audience. If you’ve met his or her need, you’ve achieved your goal!
If you don’t have anyone from your target, submit it to a third party anyway. Don’t be afraid, feedback will help you improve and most people are happy to help when asked nicely. 😉
Based on the feedback, make the necessary changes to improve your article! If there are inconsistencies in parts or a bad paragraph, delete and rewrite.
Don’t take any criticism too seriously, the point is to improve your skills. Only by practicing can you improve your style and, above all, become more effective at writing. 💪
Content optimization for your readers ... and for Google.
In this optimization step, you will work on your content so that it meets search engine requirements and allows your target audience to find your content.
Good titles for SEO
During the definition of your personas and your research phase, you were able to list the concerns and identify the keywords to use. Take this information back and modify the titles and subtitles of your content!
Don’t hesitate to use again Answer The Public , Ubersuggest and Google’s suggestions for your optimization. If you see that you can’t change a title, don’t force it. Your article is good above all if it pleases the reader, search engines will not read it like a human!
Above all, don’t fall into the trap of filling your content with these keywords thinking of further optimizing your content. Your reader will notice it and your content will be less attractive. Stuffing keywords for Google does not guarantee that your content will be more visible to your target, but above all it may affect its quality and therefore its ability to generate leads!
Add visuals to your articles
Take your article back, read it carefully and only add visuals if they add value to your article and your reader.
Adding visuals to your article will boost your SEO. All you have to do is enter the keyword associated with your subject by entering the < alt > tag in your images.
Moreover, you will make your reader’s reading more pleasant and you will help him/her to memorize it. As an example, I invite you to read our article on “How to be successful at B2B Sales Prospecting”.
Share your articles!
Don’t neglect your communication if you want to attract leads.
Just like your content creation, you will proceed step by step.
Step 1: Choose your communication channels
Depending on the profile of your target, the channel used to communicate will not be the same. Your personas will help you choose the most relevant channels to communicate. As a last example, let’s take our sales training consultant who writes an article for sales people:
As we said before, he has very little time during the day and consumes content quickly. So he is not going to take the time to go on social networks except for Linkedin to do social selling. Moreover, he consults his emails very regularly. You have just written an article on new prospecting methods.
How will you communicate your article to this persona?
Simply by sending him the article via a newsletter or writing a post on Linkedin. Don’t hesitate to use your customers’ data to reach your targets to push your content further.
Step 2: Write your post
Everything should be carefully thought out : from the catchphrase, to the core of the post and of course the ending. You have to make your target audience on your post want to know more and consult your content.
Explain in your post what your article will bring them.
Step 3: Choose the right timing
Once again you need to ask yourself the right questions: what time is my target available? What is the best day to publish?
For example, salespeople often prospect on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. And today linkedin is a good prospecting tool, they will probably be on Linkedin on Tuesday and Thursday on the 11am shots.
Out of all the forms of marketing that are out there, content marketing is definitely the most rewarding for you and your audience because it is engaging, valuable and builds brand loyalty.
Yes, it will really bring you customers and meaningful conversations, content marketing efforts truly help generate brand awareness. It can happen very quickly even after your first article if you do it right and share it to the right audience!