Easy Steps For Sustainable Content Marketing Success
If you talk to 10 digital marketing agencies, you’ll get 10 different ideas on how to create a blog strategy.
Unfortunately, many provide their clients with “cookie-cutter” strategies.
You can’t create the same blogging plan for an enterprise tire company as you would for a pest company that serves a 50-mile radius or an author marketing cookbooks.
First and foremost, the discussion must focus on the end goals of each business or personal brand.
Is the client’s mission to build value over a 10-year period and retain customers (think of a plastic surgeon or investment company), or is the mission to highlight its products to one-time buyers (think of a DNA test business)?
The above examples would require extremely different strategies.
Although all businesses are different, one approach does work for most cases, a strategy that my agency has developed while working with clients from niche wellness product businesses to luxury rehabs to enterprise tire companies.
The process weaves three tactics together that run simultaneously. The first is what I call “Intentional Storytelling SEO,” basically creating keyword-optimized content for user intent that’s based on storytelling. The other tactics focus on Unique Selling Points (USP) and sales blending.
If it sounds complicated, don’t worry – it’s far from it.
Remember, also, as a business grows, its content focus will also grow. And with growth naturally arrives change.
When businesses scale, their products and/or services, along with core values, continuously evolve. This should be reflected in the direction of the blogs.
What also makes this three-step blog strategy approach ideal is that it can be used over and over as a business evolves.
Step 1: ‘Intentional Storytelling SEO’ Tactic
SEO combined with intentional storytelling is the base of any blogging strategy.
Many only focus on the SEO side of things – creating content based on keywords and the searcher’s intent.
The latter simply means creating content around the searcher’s intended outcome.
There are three main types of searcher intent:
- Information (e.g., “What is the history of Blue Widgets”)
- Navigational (e.g., “Blue Widget groups on Facebook”)
- Transactional (e.g., “Blue Widgets for sale”)
For respected digital marketing agencies, designing blog topics around keyword and searcher intent is an absolute given.
But most forget about storytelling. This element is vital for sticking out among the noise – a concept I’ll use frequently here.
When keyword research/searcher intent combines with storytelling, the blog’s power grows.
Here’s a quick rundown that my agency uses.
Keyword research is first. Blogs are the optimal foundation for targeting super long-tail keywords – not the broader keywords typically mapped to main service/product pages.
Regardless of the client, we typically end up with a list of 100 or so long-tail keywords to initially focus on.
We then break those keywords out to main themes based on a searcher’s intent, using the three types of searches as guidelines.
These long-tail keywords typically have lower search volumes, making it much easier for ranking efforts.
Many SEOs I’ve worked with would ignore those keywords under say a search volume of 70 or so – but, depending on how lucrative the outcome would be to get a click on a search query, we sometimes go as low as 10.
Next – we talk to the client and focus on the top ROI services/products for that moment, and whether they are planning any launches of new services/products or promotions.
This information can guide some blog topics.
For example, if a promotion is set for the future you’ll want to start seeding the audience about new launches or promotions. A blog is a perfect platform to do so.
Once you have generated these terms and list of topics about the top ROI services/products, launches and/or promotions, you Google them and analyze.
We also check Reddit, Quora, and the typical social media channels like Facebook and Instagram to see what questions people are asking about subjects related to those terms.
And never forget about the snippet box of questions on Google.
With that information listed on a clean spreadsheet, categories under those four searcher intent categories, we began competitive research by looking at competitor’s rankings for those keywords using tools like SEMrush.
This helps us find other keyword opportunities related to the list of keyword we have already generated and deeper topic opportunities.
Note here – never simply analyze the spots on Google and simply attempt to write a better article.
Even if it’s in your subconscious, you may simply mimic what the others are saying, adding the digital noise.
Only check competitors for keyword and topic opportunities – never mimic their actual content.
When the blog writing begins, turn on the storytelling element. This is why traditional writers trained in SEO are a vital part of my blogging strategies.
For example, the storyline here is how drastically different every agency creates its blog strategy, and how many forget this vital element of, um, storytelling.
Step 2: USP-Focus Tactic
With the above strategy complete, it’s time to focus on what makes your services or products truly stand out among the endless noises within any industry.
The more niche the easier to focus on your unique selling position – what makes you remarkable.
If you’re creating an SEO strategy for a client who only sells Ducati motorcycle parts for a specific model, exposing your USP should arrive simply.
If you’re marketing all Ducati parts, you have a much tougher job.
A USP can’t be simply “100-percent guarantee” or “quickest delivery” or “cheapest prices.”
That’s what everyone will do, and it doesn’t show one spec of uniqueness.
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- What if you not only sold the part but had educational resources on how to install those parts via video or from an official technical manual?
- What if you had service technicians on hand to answer questions or affiliates with the client’s closest and most reputable Ducati techs?
That’s something unique.
And that needs to be exploited throughout your blogging efforts.
Though you’re a parts-selling business, you can now blog about the top qualities of a Ducati service rep.
What questions you should ask?
Do they use OEM or aftermarket parts, and which are better?
This strategy will also help you become a strong valuable source for the do-it-yourselfers.
They may not be searching for a part at that moment, but you will be, as author John Hall says “Top of Mind” when the sale opp arrives later on.
And this will also allow you to rank for longer-tail keywords related to your products or services that you wouldn’t have initially focused on if you didn’t first create your USP, and then exploit it through blogging.
This will help your overall rankings and brand authority.
One of my agency’s USPs is helping clients define and refine their USPs, and then creating SEO and content strategies that help exploit those USPs through storytelling.
Step 3: Sales Blending Tactic
With the above two blog strategy tactics in mind, it’s time to think about creating a content calendar.
This is where sales come into play.
Yes, bloggers should be super close to the sales team.
This is a crucial process to understand a business’s true audience.
First, understand that the idea of a “sales funnel” is dead.
Rather, transform your thinking to think of it as a cyclone – the creation of Eric Keiles and Mike Lieberman and exposed in “Smash the Funnel: The Cyclonic Buyer Journey.”
Read that book.
It’ll change your perspective on sales.
For now, know that eight “cyclones” are present in the customer-centric model that revolves around customer service, marketing, and sales:
- Decision Making
- Ongoing Delivery
The goal is to create content that educates the audience across these various cyclones.
Most of my agency’s blog campaigns follow the following for clients:
- 50% written for newbies: They are just learning about your business, industry products or services. These are the types you want to continually feed valuable information so they remember you when they’re ready to purchase your product, need services or become a patient. These are the types that are researching from scratch.
- 25% for intermediate: They are educated, but seek more granular info. Here’s where you can provide more expert-level information to show your knowledge and open doors for future clients.
- 25% for experts: Extremely knowledgeable. These are the readers who are looking for only expert opinion to scale their knowledge. These types are also always looking for the optimal partner to help scale their businesses.
Here’s a quick example from my agency blog:
- 50% of the blogs are for those just learning about content creation and SEO.
- 25% for those who understand content creation and SEO but are searching for reputable help.
- 25% for the experts, who are typically CMOs or SEO managers that are looking for immediate partners.
The advantage here is obvious – you can add value to anyone within any portion of the sales cyclone.
This tactic doesn’t work for everyone – a doctor peer-to-peer publication for example, where you’d be writing only expert content.
But for a majority of businesses, practices and self-promoting websites (authors, musicians), this sales blend is optimal.
I witnessed a few clients that basically nurtured customers from the very beginning when those respective customers were asking simple questions through reading intermediate through expert before becoming a client.
Content creation is the focus of every one of our SEO strategies.
And blogging is the main focus of our content marketing efforts for sustained growth of both brand and stronger SEO.
Blogs are the main pillar for a successful digital campaign:
- Stronger SEO due to stronger content and numerous qualified keywords.
- Newsletter content for building loyalty from existing clients on the email list and educating prospects.
- Fuel for social media to provide value to audience/followers.
- Link building purposes by natural shares of strong content and campaigns of personally reaching out to websites for quality links.
The three tactics have worked to create blog strategies for multiple clients.
Remember: the “cookie-cutter” blog strategies are BS.
Every client has a unique audience and unique services or products – two direct competitors require different content strategies regarding their positioning within their market.
There are hundreds of ways to create a blog strategy.
Every strategy should first focus on the target audience, then move to what would work best for that audience.
Does the audience require more education, or is that audience easily influenced by promotions or a brand’s dominance over a market vs everything else?
Regardless of the situation, the above three-blended blog strategy will work.
My agency typically uses the above strategy as a starting point for every client, and after a few months or quarters of testing, we always find extensions to these steps and add a fourth, fifth, or sixth tactic, such as:
- Focusing on a CEO who has a huge brand.
- Capitalizing on it by making him or her the focus of content or author of the content.
Or create a series of super-short Seth-Godin type content for audiences that push them directly to a promotion for a product.
Test. Evaluate. Remain the course or pivot, whether that pivot is huge or small.
Optimizing a blog strategy is a lifelong process that’s cyclical – this is one reason why the successful content marketers work so hard.
And the sustainable ones never forget to tell a story.