When it comes to driving results with organic marketing, a digital content strategy is your bread and butter. This documented and targeted plan ensures that you see a high ROI on all content marketing efforts. According to CMI’s 2020 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, 69 percent of the most successful B2B marketers have a documented digital content strategy.
What’s more, because of that success, nearly half of marketers (46 percent) plan to increase their budget on content marketing this year.
If you don’t want to spend more on paid advertising, but still want to drive targeted traffic, build your brand, and see conversions on your site, use the following steps to develop your digital content strategy.
Determine Your Content Goal(s)
Before you spend any time, effort, or resources on organic content marketing, you have to identify your objectives, which accomplishes many goals, which we can see from CMI’s report findings.
Most importantly, it helps you answer one important question: What do you hope to accomplish with your digital content strategy? Don’t forget to get specific. When looking at data at the end of the month, quarter, or year, you want to be able to see if what you’re doing is in fact working.
Here are some examples of potential goals:
- Generating 10% more sales in Q2.
- Driving 25 more leads from the blog in March.
- Increase site traffic by 15% in Q3.
Once you get focused, you can ensure that every step of your digital content strategy is in alignment to help you reach those results.
Do Your Marketing Research
Research is invaluable for organic marketing. It tells you what type of content to curate, how to optimize that content, what your competitors are doing, and most importantly, how you can meet the needs of potential customers. For example, research might tell you that investing in video, rather than long-form blog content, is critical to reaching your audience.
Break your research into three steps to lay the foundation for a successful digital content strategy.
1. Audience research
Who are you writing for? Audience research can be detailed and nuanced. While you want to understand the ideal customer or client for your product or service, you also need to dive a little deeper. To create content that your audience will enjoy and interact with, you need to understand what they like, what they want to know, and how you can fill those needs for them.
Get it right: How to Do Audience Research and Analysis for Your Blog
2. Competitor research
Researching what similar brands or businesses are doing with their digital marketing ensures that you create unique content while still understanding the topics your audience wants to learn about. While researching competitors, pay attention to high-quality digital content, as well as what gets the most engagement on social media. Use this research as inspiration when developing your digital content strategy.
Get it right: Content Marketing Competitor Analysis [Free Download]
3. Keyword research
Keyword research ensures that the content you create shows up when customers are searching for what you have to offer. When you choose the right keywords (high search volume, low competition), and use them as your guide when creating content, you create content that’s not only more effective, but is also SEO-optimized.
Follow SEO Best Practices
Keyword research is an important part of your organic SEO strategy when creating a digital content strategy, but there are many other points to consider if you want to drive organic traffic to your site.
Use the following practices to make sure your strategy—and all the content you create—is based on best SEO practices, which, in turn, will factor into your ranking on Google.
- External linking: Search engines want to see that you’re linking to high-quality websites to bring in outside sources and data to support your content. These external links help substantiate your claims, as well as provide further resources to your reader. Read more about this in Yoast’s outbound linking guide.
- Internal linking: Beyond including external links, you also need to link to relevant pages or posts on your site. This not only gives site visitors a reason to click around and stay longer, but it also helps Google understand which pages and topics you should be ranking for in search.
- Guest posting: Posting articles on external high-authority websites that link back to your site (either in the text or author’s bio), helps your SEO by passing valuable “link juice” through the backlink that points to your site. On a macro level, it also increases your E-A-T value—Google’s quality standards that evaluate your brand’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Learn more about boosting your backlink strategy with guest posting if you’ve never used this strategy before.
- Anchor text: The anchor text for links (both external and internal) play an integral role in SEO. It needs to be natural and—Google wants to see what visitors know what page they’re clicking through to in an effort to avoid spam or harmful linking. You’ll notice how with every link in this post, the anchor text not only accurately describes the page it leads to, but uses a keyword, that’s already been optimized, further building SEO for that page. Make sure to use this tactic for both your own site and guest posts.
Determine Content Types for Your Business
Now that you’ve done your research and understand the essential SEO factors, the next step in your digital content strategy is to actually plan and create content. To make the most of your time and resources, focus on the most relevant content types for your industry, brand, and audience.
According to that same CMI report, behind social media, blog posts and short articles are the second most popular content type, with 89 percent of marketers using them. To understand which content is most popular with other marketers use, see the full break down below:
Remember to focus on content types that are most relevant for your audience and applicable to your business. While some formats like blog posts, social media, or email newsletters make sense for most organizations, others are more focused and niche, which may dictate something more specific like meme-based articles (Think: Buzzfeed) or long-form video.
Consider a few of the most common types of content and who they best serve:
- Videos: Works for B2C or B2B businesses where product demonstrations, influencer partnerships, YouTube influencers and how-to videos makes sense. Here are 8 reasons to use video content.
- Case studies: B2B companies can create content based on proven success with previous clients to show clients they talk the talk and walk the walk.
- Infographics: Graphic representations of data and content that can be applicable for many B2B and B2C businesses—create an infographic if you need to distill complicated data down into a digestible format.
- White papers: B2C and B2B businesses with proprietary data to share (I.E., research, quantifiable data, or reports) can drive customer interest and branding with white papers intended to educate.
Create a Content Plan
After you know what type of content you want to create, you need to create a production schedule. Your content plan will help you organize due dates, publishing goals, as well as your social media promotion schedule, all of which holds you accountable to doing the work.
Keep in mind your available bandwidth and resources, and set realistic goals for how much content you can produce. It’s always better to create fewer, high-quality pieces than more, low-quality pieces.
Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch. Download our Quarterly Content Calendar Bundle for a plug-and-play spreadsheet as well as a checklist to keep you on track.
Develop a Content Distribution Plan
Your distribution plan includes how you plan to drive visitors to your newly published content. To make the most of your time, distribute to all of your channels. Introduce a new blog post to customers in your email newsletter and then promote to a wider range of people via social media platforms.
The key to content distribution is creatively repurposing. You spend a lot of time and resources creating a blog post, you want to make sure you get the proper mileage out of it—all without being redundant with your message. Here are four ways you can share the same blog post:
- Share the link with a one-sentence caption describing the unique selling point of the piece. Bonus, if you can include the keyword.
- Highlight a quote from the blog author, or another expert within the article, attributed with a mention on social media.
- Share an interesting piece of data or stat from the article.
- Grab an image or visual from the content and share that (instead of the link preview) with a shortened link in the caption.
For even more tactics on content repurposing, check out my Udemy course.
Revisit Your Content Strategy Regularly
Get out of the “set it and forget it” mindset if you want to develop and maintain a high-performing digital content strategy. For your organic reach and traffic to continually grow, you need to revisit your efforts regularly. Look at the metrics for your content marketing and schedule a monthly reporting session to both collect and analyze valuable data.
Based on the CMI 2020 report, here are the top eight metrics that B2B marketers tracked to measure content performance:
- Email engagement: opens, clicks, downloads
- Website traffic: page views, backlinks
- Website engagement: time spent, bounce rate, form completion
- Social media analytics: shares, followers, views, likes
- Conversions: traffic to subscribers, leads to sales
- Email subscriber numbers: growth, unsubscribes
- Search rankings
- Marketing qualified lead metrics: e.g., MQLs, SQLs
With your goals as the benchmarks and KPIs for your content, you can measure your success and adapt future strategy based on past performance. A digital content strategy is a living, breathing entity—don’t worry if you have to test and adjust your tactics to move the needle.
Develop a Digital Content Strategy
Organic marketing is a long-term strategy, but the traffic and conversions don’t stop when you finish your ad campaign. If you do the work now, and create a digital content strategy based on SEO best practices and what your customers want, you’ll be seeing the benefits for many years to come.