You must have heard the mantra, “Content is King”.
If you thought for a moment that was no longer the case, think again.
As more and more businesses become web-centric, digital disruptions are taking place in virtually all sectors that you can think about – even traditional brick and mortar businesses are no longer safe from this.
While marketing activities like cold calls and emailing, as well as visits from company sales representatives still have an essential place in the marketing budget, not giving prominence to audience building using content marketing is suicidal.
A recent study done by WebDAM shows just how important content marketing has become, especially for B2B audiences. The research found that B2B companies who prioritised content marketing acquired 64% more qualified leads than their competitors without a similar focus.
Still of interest was the fact that the study participants revealed that they had finalised plans to increase their content marketing investments by an average of 50%.
Discerning business owners have seen that potential leads are becoming increasingly adept at using the internet to make research before making a buying decision. Frequently, also, is the fact that web users have become more conscious of advertisements and able to zone them out while online, which places downward pressure on Return on Ad Spends (ROAS).
Smart businesses see these trends and are positioning by creating content assets that not help them only build their audience, but also convert such audiences into paid customers.
In the rest of this post, I will show you how you can get your toes wet in the content marketing game while establishing your expertise online as an authority in your industry and winning the trust of your audience whose questions you answer.
1. Create an Ideal Customer Avatar
The spray gun approach to content marketing doesn’t cut it.
Before putting a word down, you must know who you are writing for and why the content you are creating will resonate with them.
One common mistake first-time content marketers make is trying to write for everyone. No content piece will resonate with everybody. If you set out to create content that satisfies everyone out there, you end up creating an unremarkable piece that is neither here nor there.
Content marketing is effective when your ideal customers nod along as they go, finding solutions to their challenges as they move from one paragraph to the next. Something on the page should be making your reader say, “this article is just what I was looking for.”
That is how to create a bond with your audience that will move them from being just readers to buying from you down the road.
One of the first things you need is a customer avatar. Don’t let the playful moniker fool you. An avatar is not a fictional character. A real customer avatar, while embellished with fiction to form a story, is based on solid data.
Here are some questions to consider as you form your customer avatar:
- Who currently buys from me?
- Who is happiest with my product and services and will likely buy from me for the long-term?
- Why would they spend their hard-earned money to buy from me?
- What are the anxieties that keep them up at night?
- What are their goals and dreams?
- What emotions will they feel after buying my product?
It is not out of place to have more than one customer avatar. If you have more than one customer segment, then you should, by extension, have more than one customer avatar. To ensure that the avatars that you create are consistent with the customer segments that they represent, create them in turns.
2. Create a Content Calendar
With your avatars in place, you now know who your customers are. You also know who you are trying to attract.
It is now time to create a content calendar to constrain your content marketing efforts and ensure that you are not all over the place. Something important to keep in mind is that just as you have different audience segments, you must have content that speaks to those different segments.
A rule of thumb would be to move from segment to segment, ensuring that, at all times, there is current content that appeals to all your avatar types.
When a piece of content is targeted at an avatar, write as if you are talking to a particular customer who fits that avatar profile. Lock out everyone else who may also read your blog and really deliver value for this one customer type.
If you need to add examples, make sure that you select scenarios or examples that the customer avatar would identify with. The idea here is to satisfy this customer type in that post.
Others can wait.
Afterall, you have content lined up for them in the calendar.
Something else to consider while you are it is what content formats customers in that segment would more readily consume.
Do they watch a lot of online videos? Then make sure you add a generous mix of videos in the content calendar. If they don’t have the patience to read long content, keep it simple and actionable. You will have an opportunity to editorialise when you are writing content for the other segment that loves to read.
By catering to the needs of each segment of your audience as if they were your only customer, your readers will invest trust in you and your brand. Trust is the foundation for financial transactions. When you have earned the trust of your audience, you will find that buying from you becomes natural whenever they are purchasing in your category.
3. Research and Identify Highly Relevant Keywords
Those questions you asked to help you identify your customer avatars and their pains, fears and aspirations, also serve another important function – identifying topics of interests.
However, while topics are broad areas that overlap with the interest of your customers, keywords refer to the exact wordings potential customers use to search into areas of interest online.
For example, a topic area could be personal finance. A keyword extending from that topic would be How to Develop a Saving Culture.
Don’t just write on a keyword because you can correctly determine that your audience would be interested in it.
To maximise the SEO bang that you receive for your efforts, you have to make sure that you are writing on the keyword that will interest a significant number of persons. What search volume does the keyword receive every month? Search volume is a weighted average that shows the level of interest that people have in the information a keyword provides.
You want to identify keywords that have a high search volume, low competition, and as low a difficulty metric as possible.
To clarify, a “low competition keyword” is one that has not been written on by too many relevant websites. Keyword difficulty, though, is a metric that indicates how challenging it would be to rank for a keyword, considering the calibre of sites that have already written on it.
This is no doubt a painstaking process.
However, taking the time to do this will give you the advantage of not going after futile topics and keywords where you do not stand a chance.
Do you want to give this a try? Head over to Google Keyword Planning Tool and enter a seed keyword like “hotels in Abuja”. Apart from showing you valuable metrics on the keywords, it will also give you suggestions of adjacent keywords that you could target, which will help your article rank for multiple keywords.
Another way to uncover high-value keyword ideas would be from researching the most successful topics that your competitors are publishing. Then, invest in content that targets the same keywords, but make sure that your content provides far more value than what is already ranking for the same search term.
A tool that you can leverage to perform stealth competitor research is BuzzSumo. With just a keyword or domain name you enter as a prompt, BuzzSumo will show you the top pages for that search term that have made a buzz online. By this, I mean pages related to your search term that received the most engagement on social media.
What this helps you to achieve is come up with content ideas that your competitors have already tested for you.
4. Create Highly Relevant Content
So far, you have created customer avatars that describe your ideal customers and have identified high-value keywords that your customers use to research online.
The next step is to create content that goes after those keywords.
How sad it would be if, after all the efforts, you cap it up with low-value content. To make a mark, you want to make sure that the content that you create provides more value than what is already out there targeting the same keywords.
Content marketing is not a lottery where a lucky person wins. It is a bidding process where the content that comes to the top of the pile needs to receive the most quality signals from readers. Quality is indicated in the number of persons who read the article, share it with their friends on social media, or even link to it from their websites.
The idea here is, for every given keyword, go out and create content that will be so complete that if someone is researching on that topic, there will be a gap in their research that only your content will fill.
How do you write remarkable content?
The key is to start with a goal of what your content is supposed to accomplish. Subheadings in your content can serve as markers that move the reader from clueless to knowledgeable on the topic matter.
As an example, let’s say you want to create content on how to start an accounting company in Nigeria, and the content is targeting a beginner level audience. At the end of writing, objectively review your content to determine whether a beginner can come on that content and have all the information needed to start an accounting service business.
A second review step would be to ask: ‘how much better is my content as compared to what has already been written on the keyword within my industry category?’
Ideally, your content has to be better than what your competitors are offering – that is how to win the content marketing game.
If you consistently provide value to your audience through highly relevant content, they get used to taking advice from you, they subscribe to your newsletters, allowing you to capture them as leads. And more importantly, they buy from you when you have offers that are relevant to their needs. That is where you want to be.