Your Content Strategy Matters

Having a documented content marketing strategy impacts your content performance and ROI:

37%

Just 37% of B2B content marketers (38% for B2C) have a documented content marketing strategy.

62%

The majority of the most successful B2B content marketers, at 62% (59% for B2C), have a documented strategy.

16%

Only 16% of the least successful B2B content marketers (18% for B2C) have a documented strategy.

Sources: B2B Content Marketing: 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America 
and B2C Content Marketing: 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America


What is Content Strategy?

Content strategy is the high-level planning, execution, promotion and on-going management of all brand media assets. Essentially, it’s your brand’s game plan for driving leads.

But it takes time and money to create great content. So whether you outsource blog posts or develop videos in-house, it’s critical to have a well-organized plan to get the outcomes you want.

Your strategy is a playbook that drives action and insight. And like a playbook, it covers a lot. But don’t worry, we’ll explain exactly how to create a content strategy that’s powered by SEO.

Set Your Content Strategy Goals

Before you launch any new content marketing efforts, it’s vital to establish clear business goals and KPIs. In fact, goals are one of the most important elements of content strategy. After all, without goals you can’t develop a strategy, measure program success or communicate ROI to company stakeholders.

Goals compel action and drive your content strategy, so build your goals around the outcomes you want to achieve.

Determine the right goals for your brand

Are you looking to drive rankings?

If so, to what extent?

Looking to drive traffic?

How much traffic?

Are you looking to reach a specific audience segment?

Which segment and how will you measure your reach?

Looking to drive conversions?

How will you measure conversions, how many do you need to see, and by when?

Looking to drive engagement?

What kind of engagement?

When setting goals, experts agree that you’ll achieve more by following a two-tier structure: stretch goals and S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Stretch Goals vs. S.M.A.R.T. Goals

What are S.M.A.R.T. goals?

S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-constrained (having a clear deadline). Consider these your process goals to ensure that you do the necessary tasks to achieve your stretch goals.

What are stretch goals?

Stretch goals are aspirational. These are usually major quarterly or annual milestones designed to push your team to achieve more ambitious outcomes.

These two types of goals support each other and help to define your digital content strategy. For example, imagine that your stretch goal is to increase organic search traffic from your content by 100% within a year. Here are a few S.M.A.R.T. goals that might support that initiative:

  • Publish 25 blog posts each month
  • Record a weekly podcast and accompanying SlideShare
  • Engage with 100 third-party publications and influencers

As you can see, it would be hard to achieve a stretch goal without a structured marketing plan in place. Similarly, the S.M.A.R.T. goals would be random without the focus of a larger stretch goal.

Define Your Audience and Personas

With goals in place, it’s time to research your audience. This step is critical if you hope to drive qualified traffic and conversions. That’s because a website content strategy that targets the wrong audience wastes time and money.


Fortunately there are plenty of places to glean audience insights, including:

  • Search data
  • Social media data
  • Email marketing data
  • Google Analytics data
  • Behavioral intelligence
  • Survey data
  • Analyst reports
  • Customer interviews
  • Interviews with salespeople
  • Interviews with support teams
  • Etc.

Use that data to define your target audience segments and then create buyer personas within each segment.

While developing content strategy personas, think about your customers’ core problems as well as the outcomes they want to achieve. You’ll be much more successful if you align the right content with clear customer objectives.

But don’t just focus on solutions. If you find a gap in the market, why not produce content that entertains your audience? You may be able to cut through the noise with something that tugs at the heartstrings.

While building your personas, think about the core problems customers want to solve as well as the outcomes they’re looking to achieve.

Map the Customer Journey Throughout the Funnel

The Buyer’s Funnel

Once you define your audience segments and buyer personas, map the customer journey of each persona within the buyer’s funnel, including:

What do potential customers do? Where do they go online? What information do they want? How is the content presented?

Additionally, what questions do they ask themselves as they conduct their searches? Alfred L. Yarbus, a Russian psychologist, conducted a study on eye movements. Participants were asked to look at paintings. Yarbus asked a certain question, then he tracked the eye movements of each participant.

What he found was that participants looked at completely different parts of the painting depending on the question they were asked beforehand.

Essentially, our brains are hardwired to find solutions to specific questions we ask ourselves. So it’s critical to develop an SEO content strategy that answers your audience’s burning questions at each stage throughout the funnel.

For example, a blog post may target a generic head-term in your industry to capture those just beginning the buyer’s journey. The post may answer key questions and offer potential solutions. Or, it may be an entertaining or intriguing piece meant to expand reach and capture attention.

Another blog post may target the middle of the funnel when the prospect has done their initial research and begins to engage with various brands or vendors. At this point, the prospect may want more detailed and customized content focused on specific products, services, solutions, features and benefits.

At the bottom of the funnel, prospects want to compare options and make a final decision. To turn their curiosity into a conversion, provide an ROI calculator, detailed case studies or offer a free trial or coupon. For example, Terakeet has an entire page of SEO and content strategy case studies to explore.

Execute a Content Audit & Gap Analysis

It isn’t enough to know your customers, you must also analyze your competitors. However, don’t just look at your direct competitors’ web content strategy. Major e-commerce brands often lose traffic to review sites and blogs with a strong SEO strategy. So take note of all the websites vying for your customers’ attention within the competitive landscape.

Are your SERP competitors publishing content that you aren’t? What type of content does Google seem to favor? What content is driving the most social shares and engagement?

Now scrutinize your own blog content strategy. Do your blog posts perform better than your competitors? Make sure your content fulfills a role at each step of the buyer funnel. Note your strengths as well as any gaps.

Perhaps your current stockpile of content is too product-focused. As a result, you may be missing out on massive opportunities to drive brand awareness through top-of-the-funnel topics.

Finally, identify gaps in the market that nobody is filling. Google has several useful features to mine those insights, including People Also Ask, Related Searches and even Google Trends.


Do Keyword Research

SEO and content strategy are two sides of the same coin. Whether the goal of your content is to capture leads or to sell products, you need traffic. But you won’t attract thousands of visitors to your site with great content alone. If you don’t target any keywords, or if nobody is searching for the terms you do target, then your blog will be a ghost town.

Keyword research is the foundation of content strategy SEO because it guides you to the most valuable topics and keeps you organized. With thorough keyword research, you’ll be able to cover topics thoroughly without writing the same blog post five times. That means more traffic, more engagement and more conversions.

How do you find keywords to power your blog strategy? Use SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush to uncover the topics in which your audience is most interested. You can also use content strategy tools to spot your competitors’ top pages as well as the head terms and long-tail keywords driving most of their traffic.

more traffic,
more engagement,
and more conversions.

How to Find and Use Long-Tail Keywords to Increase SEO Traffic by 300%

Read the Article

Brainstorm New Content Ideas

Armed with a list of keywords you can finally begin to brainstorm new content ideas. But how do you create unique, usable content when there are already billions (trillions?) of web pages competing for attention?

Iterate and improve upon what already exists.

The truth is, the vast majority of indexed web pages are terrible. And that’s great news — as long as you’re up to the task of creating a content strategy that’s massively better than the competition.

What’s the key to 10X content production that will cut through all the noise?

Focus on a content strategy process of iterative ideation. As author Steven Johnson shows us in his book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, the best innovative ideas are typically iterative, take shape over periods of time, and often occur in the realm of the “adjacent possible” (relying directly on previous knowledge).

So rather than spend time looking for the one thing that hasn’t been written, brainstorm new ways to approach an old dusty topic. Not sure where to begin? Tools like Buzzsumo can provide insight into engagement, while Ahrefs and SEMRush are excellent for shedding light on keyword rankings, backlinks and traffic.

After you identify the top performing content for each keyword, figure out how to knock it out of the park with something even better.


Several ways to improve your existing content strategy

  • Leverage proprietary data
  • Visualize boring topics with graphics
  • Simplify or break down a complex topic
  • Combine related content into a comprehensive guide
  • Use explainer videos within your copy


Determine Types of Content and Formats

Make an effort to vary the types of media in your enterprise content strategy. Each demographic consumes content differently, so keep your buyer personas in mind while you brainstorm.

Even if your target audience is relatively the same demographic you should still mix things up. For example, some people are visual learners, some are auditory learners, and others prefer to read text.

Further, if most of your customers shop on smartphones, you might want to consider a content strategy for mobile devices.

To mix things up, use some of the following formats in your content strategy:

  • Blog Post
  • Article
  • Whitepaper
  • Ebook
  • Guide
  • Case Study
  • Interview
  • Checklist
  • Template
  • News
  • Topic Cluster
  • Infographic
  • Data Visualization
  • Survey
  • Presentation
  • Video
  • Podcast
  • Demo
  • Tool
  • Etc.

Although we don’t recommend using them all, you should develop a content creation strategy with different learning types and scalability in mind.

For example, if you need to target multiple verticals, create a base piece of content that you can customize for each vertical. From there, you can shape it into everything from infographics to videos, podcasts, blog posts, social content, presentations, etc.

Think broadly in terms of repurposing content to maximize your ROI.


Think Quality, Not Quantity

If you want to rank well then you must provide valuable content. That advice is straight from the horse’s mouth: Google. In fact, it’s the guiding principle behind most successful content strategies for several reasons:

  • You won’t waste time and money writing thin content that nobody will engage with
  • You’ll focus on actionable content around core topics that drive traffic and leads
  • People will see you as an industry expert which can earn media mentions and natural backlinks

But what is valuable, usable content? For you it could be unique market research, expert advice in a podcast, a listicle of resources, beautiful photos or even emotionally engaging content and videos.

The bottom line? Give your readers something they’ll love and share.


Build Expertise Authority and Trust

Brand trust influences conversions, customer loyalty, SEO and more. That’s why building a content strategy around your brand’s natural expertise is critical.

For example, if your company sells photography supplies, you should stick to topics related to photography rather than optometry.

From a search perspective, however, there’s more to it.

You’ve probably heard of the concept of expertise, authority and trust (E-A-T), which is a set of principles foundational to Google search. E-A-T is not a direct ranking signal. However, many ranking factors within Google’s algorithm are meant to measure it in some way. Therefore, there are many ways improving your expertise, authority and trust can indirectly benefit an enterprise SEO program. For example:

  • People are more likely to link to content they trust. (Google has stated that links are the main way they measure trust, in fact.)
  • Expert authors cover topics more thoroughly, which means they’re more likely to mention relevant topics and co-occurring keyword phrases.
  • Google’s understanding of entities is always improving, and it might be able to recognize a well-known author.

This becomes especially important as you create content for people who may not yet know about your brand or product.

Discover Terakeet’s Enterprise SEO Content Strategy

Sometimes, your eyes can get big when you see the search volume behind a top-of-funnel query. A simple but effective gut-check: does it really make sense for my brand to talk about this? If it doesn’t, you’ll need to either find an angle that connects, or look for a different opportunity.

Evoke an Emotional Response

A smart content strategist understands that the most impactful content works on a subconscious level.

Here’s why:

The human brain subconsciously processes 11 million bits of sensory information each second. Compare that to only 40 bits per second on a conscious level. In fact, Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman estimates that 95% of our decisions are made subconsciously.

So how do you tap into your customers’ subconscious mind?
Emotions.

The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people who couldn’t feel emotions due to brain damage. Those individuals struggled to make decisions because they endlessly waffled between options. In other words, humans need emotions to take action because we base our decisions on feelings.

Emotions also prompt higher engagement. Jonah Berger, a Marketing Professor at the Wharton School, explained that people are more likely to share content that triggers an emotional response.

So an emotional content development strategy draws in users, prompts action and encourages sharing. What’s more, all of those things are a recipe for earning natural backlinks that improve organic visibility.

Content Calendar

A content calendar is much more than a simple schedule. It’s also an organizational structure that aligns your content team with your broader marketing tactics and goals.

An effective content calendar should tie each piece of media back to your S.M.A.R.T. goals so you can track performance. It also helps you prioritize items that are likely to have the greatest impact. Depending upon your organization’s goals, your calendar should include the following types of information:

  • Target Audience Segment or Persona
  • Content Format
  • Author
  • Draft Deadline
  • Editing Deadline
  • Design & Development Deadlines
  • Publication Date
  • Target SEO Keyword(s)
  • Associated Keyword Query Volume
  • Comments or Other Information

Ideally, your editorial calendar will be easily accessible online by your internal team, but make sure it’s password-protected. Keep it clean and skimmable so it’s easy to see what you published, what’s still in process, and what’s on the back burner.

For keyword-focused content, it’s also a good idea to note any search engine optimization scores from SEO tools such as Clearscope, Yoast or others.

Your content calendar keeps you organized and on track to hit your goals, so include as much information as necessary without going overboard.

Content Amplification

Your content strategy doesn’t end when you hit “publish.” Think about it: You’ve invested tons of time and money to produce compelling content that you expect to deliver results. So don’t share it once and move on to the next project.

Instead, build amplification into your enterprise content strategy plan. Share posts multiple times across several social platforms. Reach out to bloggers, online publishers, and even other businesses to promote your blog posts, graphics or videos. Don’t be afraid to run paid ads, either. Just make sure you understand the ROI before you dive in.

Amplification is the key to 10X traffic growth. If you’re smart about content promotion and distribution you’ll see a compound effect from your marketing efforts. One publication may share it with its audience, who in turn then share it with their individual networks, etc.

Measure Content Success

So you’ve mapped out your high-level online content strategy, established goals, identified your audience, planned a pipeline, executed individual pieces, and promoted them to the right audience.

Now it’s time to measure success so you can iterate and improve. Your KPIs should define success in terms of your marketing objective. So, if you care about conversion rates, include them. Don’t make the mistake of reporting against dozens of metrics that don’t support your goals.


A few KPIs to consider

  • Target keyword rankings
  • Overall keyword growth
  • Increased organic visibility percentage
  • Traffic (organic, paid or referral)
  • Engagement (Comments on your site, or social media engagement)
  • Conversions (Contact forms, downloads, registrations, subscriptions, purchases, etc.)

Next, determine how you will capture, analyze and report against those metrics. For example, will you report performance against a baseline each month or against the previous month or previous year? Will you create a live dashboard or pull data from SEO tools like Google Analytics, STAT and SEMRush?

Finally, identify the individual(s) who will monitor and measure performance over time.

Future of Content Marketing

Consumers and individual B2B buyers are bombarded with so much content each day that they experience cognitive overload. As a result, people tend to filter out most of what they encounter.

What this means for your content marketing is that you need to up your game in order to get noticed and to get the click-throughs, engagement, shares and backlinks you desire.

It’s not just about a piece of content. Think experiences moving forward. How do those experiences fit into the purchase funnel and the broader customer journey? The brands that follow these content strategy best practices and offer exceptional experiences will win in the long-term.

Deliver Intelligent Content. At Scale.Reach your customers at all stages of the funnel.Learn More