If you own a business, manage a brand, or want to establish an influential voice in your field, developing a thoughtful and skillful blog strategy should be a top priority.
According to the Content Marketing Institute's B2B Content Marketing 2022 Report, 70-75% of B2B marketers used content marketing to build credibility and educate their audience in the past year. Even better, when coupled with other digital marketing tools, content marketing can help boost website traffic and improve search engine rankings.
So, let's dive deeper into how you can develop a successful content marketing blog strategy.
Step One: Create a Detailed Record Throughout Strategy Planning
You’ll need a detailed record of your strategic planning to ensure your efforts are effective and constantly improving. Here's why: this process gives you a tangible reference to your steps, decisions, the resources used, and the outcomes you've achieved. It allows you to recognize which strategies have worked best, allowing you to commit to them and replicate their success in future efforts.
Now, let's explore some ways you can keep a record of your content marketing strategy:
- Chronicle your strategy planning. This means documenting everything from your initial brainstorming sessions, audience research, goal setting, and content theme development to creating your content calendar. This record should ideally include the 'why' behind each decision, providing a comprehensive picture of your strategic approach.
- Take note of all the resources you use in the process. Doing so helps you identify which tools are most effective and worthy of future investment.
- Conduct regular content audits. This assesses how your content is performing. Utilize tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console or other performance-tracking software to measure key metrics.
- Maintain a progress journal. This journal should show any changes or adjustments you've made to your strategy, challenges encountered, and how you addressed them.
- Periodically review your detailed record to reflect on your progress. Look for patterns of success or areas of improvement.
Maintaining a detailed record isn't a one-time effort but an ongoing process.
Step Two: Define a Target Audience
Understanding your audience guides every aspect of your business, from product development to marketing strategy to content creation. A target audience is a specific group most likely to be interested in your products or services. These people share characteristics like demographics, psychographics, needs, interests, and behaviors.
Here are a few steps to help identify your target audience:
- Analyze your current customers: Look at who is already buying from you. What do they have in common? You can find this data from customer records, surveys, or tools like Google Analytics.
- Conduct market research: Use surveys, focus groups, or interviews to gather information about potential customers. Ask about their age, gender, location, income, hobbies, preferences, and other relevant characteristics.
- Study your competitors: Look at who your competitors are targeting. You might find a niche market that they've overlooked, or you might decide to target the same audience differently, more effectively.
- Create buyer personas: Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. This makes it easier to tailor your strategy to meet their needs.
Creating content for your audience should focus on providing value for them directly, engaging them, and building trust. A few tips to keep in mind include:
- Write about topics that interest them.
- Speak directly to them, addressing their wants and needs.
- Focus on topics that won't become outdated quickly. This will help increase your content's longevity and chances of long-term success.
- Use consistent messaging, tone, format, and quality.
- Use relevant keywords and include links to your other content pieces.
- Test and experiment with different types of content and evaluate what’s most effective.
- Ensure your content is easy to share on social media. Add creative and high-quality visuals and relevant hashtags.
While every strategy will be different, these foundational tips will help guide your process.
Step Three: Establish a Clear Blog Objective
A clear blog objective is knowing why you're creating content and what you aim to achieve.
Common goals are:
- Driving more traffic to your website.
- Generating leads.
- Educating your audience.
- Establishing your brand as a thought leader.
- Boosting customer engagement.
Often, you’ll have different goals depending on your content. It’s important to set a goal before creation, and then measure the success of your content against the primary goal. Having a clear objective helps you measure the effectiveness, allowing you to adjust as needed.
When your content is focused, it's more likely to be in-depth, useful, and applicable — all factors contributing to better SEO performance.
Here's how you can establish a clear blog objective and build a solid content strategy foundation:
- Identify your overall business goals. Your blog objectives should support these goals. For instance, if your business goal is to increase sales, your blog objective could be to generate qualified leads.
- Take a look at your competition. What do they do well? What gaps can you fill with your content? Knowing where you fit in the market will help you create content that resonates and stands out.
- Create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals. Instead of a vague objective like "increase website traffic," a SMART objective could be "increase website traffic by 20% in the next six months."
A clear objective guides your efforts and enables you to create meaningful, impactful content.
Step Four: Determine the Type of Content Needed To Achieve Your Goals
Content marketing should be a dynamic process. Determine what content types you should work with and how often you’ll publish to maximize their effectiveness.
Here are some common types of content along with their intent, purpose, and goals:
- News and updates: Share company news, industry developments, or other relevant news stories. This content keeps readers up-to-date with the brand and industry.
- How-to guides and tutorials: Help readers learn something new or master a skill. This content provides immense value and can help you build an engaged following.
- Thought leadership pieces: Share insights, innovations, controversial positions, and expert opinions to establish yourself as a reliable source in your industry.
- Videos: Videos are highly engaging and can add variety to your blog posts.
- Stories/case studies: Share stories and case studies to illustrate how your product or service has made an impact.
- Listicles: an easy-to-digest format of top advice, opinions, features, industry events, etc.
- Interviews: a great way to build relationships across your industry, interviews feature an in-depth conversation about a topic your audience cares about, that’s relevant to your own business. Great to build unique content and relationships.
- Definitional content: this content defines a jargon, product, or technical term within your industry to help those learning more about your business better understand the nuances.
- Comparison content: great to help build the mid-funnel, this breaks down a comparison of two features, products, services, etc., within your industry, helping consumers better understand and contrast the differences between similar products.
- Presentation, webinar, event recaps: attending an industry event? Or even better, hosting an event yourself? Your blog is an excellent place to post a recap!
- And many, many more: HubSpot, Optinmonster, Bloggingwizard.
To determine the kind of content to publish:
- Brainstorm relevant topics for your target audience.
- Publish content that is well-researched and high-quality. Your readers will appreciate it, and search engines will reward you.
- Don't focus on one type of content; instead, diversify the content you create.
You may also wonder if you can you have too much blog content. The answer largely depends on your ability to maintain quality. Quality trumps quantity when it comes to content marketing. And while it's beneficial to update your blog regularly, overloading it with subpar content may harm your SEO efforts and turn off your readers. Therefore, focus on creating the best possible content, even if it means publishing less frequently.
Step Five: Identify and Analyze Competitors
If you want to keep up or outpace your competitors — study them! Analyzing your competitors provides valuable insights into what’s working for others in your industry, current market trends, and potential opportunities for you to differentiate yourself.
Conducting a competitive analysis allows you to learn from others' mistakes and successes and use that information to your advantage. When analyzing competitors, it's crucial to understand that there are different types to consider:
- Content Competitors — the businesses or individuals who produce similar content to your business, even if they aren't directly competing with you regarding products or services. By studying their content, you can discover successful topics, formats, or promotional strategies you might incorporate into your own.
- Industry Competitors — competitors that operate in the same industry but may not offer the same products or services. Analyzing their content can help you stay on top of industry trends, gain insights into audience needs and interests, and identify content gaps your business can fill.
- Direct Competitors — offer the same products or services as your business and target the same audience. Analyze their content to understand how they communicate their value proposition, engage their audience, and promote their offerings.
Don’t copy what your competitors are doing — take what you've observed and make it even better.
Step Six: Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is a critical component of content marketing.
Conducting thorough keyword research will allow you to understand the language, words, phrases, and primary words your potential customers use when searching for the products, services, or information related to your business. By identifying and using these keywords in your content, you can bring more value to your website, gain visibility, and drive more organic traffic.
Here are some basic principles for conducting keyword research:
- Create a list of topics related to your business. Then, come up with keyword ideas for each topic. Think about what your potential customers might type into a search engine when looking for your products, services, or information related to your industry.
- Tools like Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, or Ahrefs can provide valuable data about your keyword ideas, including their search volume, difficulty, and competitiveness.
- It's not just about the keywords themselves but also understanding their intent. For example, someone searching for "how to fix a faucet" is likely looking for a tutorial or guide, while someone searching for "gardener near me" is likely ready to hire a professional. Tailor your content to match the intent behind your target keywords.
- Longtail keywords are longer, more specific keyword phrases. While they may have lower search volumes, they often have higher conversion rates because they target users further along in the buyer's journey.
- Look at which keywords your competitors are ranking for. You may find that you can fill a content gap where your competitors aren’t ranking. Additionally, you may discover an opportunity to create content that is better than the competition.
Keyword research services can also be beneficial, especially if you're new to SEO or working on a large site with many pages.
For SEO, relevance is vital. Relevance means that your content, links, and other SEO elements need to satisfy searcher intent and expectations. Google's algorithms prioritize content most relevant to users' search queries. So, if your content matches or aligns with a user’s search query, the likelier it is to appear in the SERPs — driving more organic traffic to your site.
The experts at Semrush highlight that "Google is making every effort possible to provide the right information to the right person at the right time with each search query." Therefore, the more relevant your content is to your audience, the more successful it will be.
Aim for a balance between evergreen and timely topics so that readers always have something new to read on your website. You can also use data to inform topics — conduct surveys or interviews with customers and analyze the results to uncover interesting stories or insights.
Step Seven: Establish Tone of Voice and Style Guide For Your Blog
A brand voice is a set of standards that guide how you communicate with your audience. Language, tone, format, word choice, color scheme, etc. should be consistent throughout your content so readers can easily recognize your brand. This helps build trust with readers and increases customer loyalty.
When specifying a tone of voice, think about what type of language will best speak to your audience. Are they more casual or professional? Do they prefer straightforward language, or do they like it when you use humor? Figure out what type of voice will connect readers to your brand and stick to it.
Step Eight: Create a Content Calendar
A content calendar is a planning tool to ensure that all deadlines are met and that there is consistency in your output.
Here's how to build one:
- Start by outlining the topics, titles, and post formats you want to publish monthly.
- Create deadlines for each post. Make sure to add extra time for social media promotion or SEO optimization.
- Schedule blog posts several weeks in advance so you can edit and review them before they go live.
- Use tools like Trello or Asana to keep your content calendar organized.
- Review your content calendar at least once a month and adjust it based on insights from analytics or feedback from readers.
It's a visual aid and a reference that can help you stay on track.
Step Nine: Publish Content
It’s time to start publishing your content for the world to see. However, before you do, consider how often you need to publish your blog content. This cadence depends on your marketing goals. For instance, is your goal to create brand awareness? Then you may consider posting weekly or more. Or, are you trying to become a thought leader in your industry? Then you may consider posting monthly, since your main goal is not to drive traffic to your blog.
No matter your goals, you should pick a publishing frequency that is sustainable. To give yourself a head start, you can publish five posts at the start of your blog, giving you substantial time to create more articles.
It’s important to prioritize quality over quantity. Don’t sacrifice high-quality content for the sake of pushing out blog posts. Even if you get out one to two posts per month, ensuring the quality of those articles stays consistent for your readers.
Step Ten: Promote Your Blog
Creating content is only the first step. You also have to market and promote your content – hence “content marketing”.
Link building is a critical component of SEO and something you should include in your blog promotion strategy. Link building involves creating relationships with other websites and asking them to link to your content when it makes sense. This helps Google understand that your website is trustworthy and authoritative, improving your website's visibility in search engine results.
Share links to new posts on all social networks you're active on, and use relevant hashtags so that people outside of your network can find your content. Share your posts with relevant industry groups or forums, and consider writing a press release to get more eyes on your content.
Here’s a short list of best practices for various social channels:
- Facebook: Share multiple updates about the same post over a period of time and create eye-catching visuals.
- Twitter: Retweet your own posts after a few days to keep them on people’s timelines. Add relevant hashtags, and use Twitter Ads when appropriate.
- LinkedIn: Post your link with an engaging summary that encourages readers to click. Join relevant groups and share updates there as well. Keep it as professional as possible but add personal anecdotes as you see fit to give it a touch of “you.”
- Tiktok: Get creative with visuals, sounds, filters, and hashtags to capture attention.
- Instagram: Use visuals and videos to draw attention. Create an Instagram Story or post IGTV content for even more reach.
Remember that link building takes time and requires trust. Build relationships with other websites over multiple interactions before you ask for links back to your site.
Other ways you can promote your content include:
- Email blasts and newsletters;
- Influencers who can share your content;
- Targeted ads;
- Sponsored posts with industry-specific publications;
- Optimize your blog for organic search ;
- Repurpose the content so that it reaches a wider audience.
Developing a well-executed blog strategy is crucial for businesses and brands looking to establish a strong online presence. By creating a detailed record of your strategic planning and regularly assessing the performance of your content, you can continuously improve and achieve greater success. Remember, leveraging content marketing alongside other digital marketing tools can lead to increased website traffic and improved search engine rankings. So, dive deep into your content marketing journey and watch your efforts bear fruit.