Sitting down and mapping out a killer content marketing strategy can seem as unrealistic as getting five musicians to agree on a practice time and style of music.
But if the band has a shared vision, egos can start to melt. Each member of the band becomes driven to consistently deliver their unique sound, to achieve their goal.
Your content marketing strategy can also become that harmonious when it’s executed by the right team. A team that has a thorough understanding of all the steps of content creation — from setting objectives and competitive research to writing, optimizing, publishing, promoting, and performance tracking.
If you want to establish your business as an authority in your niche, a clear content plan is a must. It’s also the key to an authentic and impressive brand identity.
At Digital Commerce Partners (DCP), the SEO and content marketing division of Copyblogger, we help drive meaningful traffic to your website.
So, what’s our proven method for developing the right content marketing strategy?
Read on to find out how we balance all the elements of content creation to help achieve our clients’ goals of organic growth for their businesses.
Content Marketing Strategy Defined
A content marketing strategy is a plan for attracting your ideal customers and moving them through your sales process. You do this by publishing and promoting helpful content (think: videos, blog posts, LinkedIn posts, etc.).
Creating a content strategy for your business has evolved since Copyblogger started teaching tips for content marketing and copywriting in 2006 …
But the melody has remained the same: Successful content marketing is all about brand awareness and trust.
“You’ve got to pay your dues before you pay the rent.” – Pavement, “Range Life”
The best content marketing strategy builds up your business as an authority in your space — a brand voice people trust because of your expertise. To get your content in front of the right people at the right time, SEO leverages organic traffic to help customers discover you.
Before your SEO and content marketing efforts “pay the rent” for your business, you have to “put in your dues” with a sharp focus, data-driven strategy, and proven set of processes.
The DCP team and I do this by designing and implementing a strong, customized content marketing strategy for each individual client.
Not just a custom strategy, though, a better strategy.
Which leads us to …
11 Elements of a Successful Content Marketing Strategy
Last month, the content Digital Commerce Partners produced enabled our clients to make $450k+ in course sales, drive 800k site visits, and get 45,426 email subscribers …
And we used the same content marketing strategy for all of them.
Our organic growth strategy is simple:
We start by gaining an in-depth understanding of your customers and analyzing and assessing the competitive landscape.
“How can we expect anyone to listen if we are using the same old voice? We need new noise. New art for real people!” – Refused, “New Noise”
We need to understand the unique factors surrounding your particular business. We do this by asking the following questions:
- Who is your audience?
- What resonates with them the most?
- What does the buying process look like for your product or service?
Then, we design a customized content marketing strategy for your business.
Let’s take a detailed look at 11 main elements of our process.
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For the first time, The Copyblogger methodology is now available to a select few clients. We know it works. We’ve been doing it since 2006.
1. Start with Goals: What Do You Want to Achieve?
Since we work in a space that is notorious for overpromising, we go the opposite direction and temper expectations.
This filters out clients who want everything now, and attracts clients who think long term.
Great things take time …
The entire point of creating a content marketing strategy for your business is to achieve some sort of goal or goals. But like every other goal you set for yourself — if it’s not explicit, it won’t get accomplished.
It’s not good enough to have a vague idea or put off this step until later in the process. The goals you set now will frame and guide your entire content marketing strategy.
To help you narrow down your goals, we typically focus on these three categories:
- Business objectives that specify revenue increases and general growth. You want to set goals that align with your overall business strategy.
- Marketing objectives that increase brand awareness and lead generation. You can use key performance indicators (KPIs) like click-through-rate (CTR) and conversion rates to measure success.
- SEO objectives that note search engine rankings and organic traffic. You can focus on long-tail keywords and quality backlinks.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Defining the target audience for the content we produce enables us to really understand our clients and their products.
We develop an introductory roadmap consisting of a series of interviews and in-depth research reports using the most effective analytics tools available.
This enables us to lay the groundwork for the plan we develop and create an extremely detailed content marketing strategy unique to our client, all before we’ve written a single word of content.
Some of the key details we gather include:
- The current health of the client’s website, including backlink analysis and performance of current content
- The client’s preferred branding and tone of voice
- The client’s key competitors
- The goals of the client’s websites
- The client’s marketing goals and expectations
The more information we can gather at this stage, the easier it becomes to make effective, data-driven decisions about the type of content that will best serve their product, service, or business goals.
3. Kick Off Competitor Research
It’s impossible to put together a comprehensive content marketing strategy without understanding a client’s competitors.
Our competitor research starts by identifying the most relevant competitors (typically three) in our client’s niche and compiling a list of the top keywords they rank for. We use tools like Semrush and Ahrefs for this.
This step helps us both determine the useful keywords our client already ranks for and discover new, relevant keywords that we think they should rank for.
When examining competitor content, we try to determine:
- High-quality keywords they currently ranking for
- Which of their pages are getting the most organic traffic
- Which topics they’re covering
- The type of pages they’re ranking with
- The different types of content they produce
Once we have this information, we have a clearer picture of what type of content we have to create to compete with competitors for relevant keywords.
It also provides valuable information about what kinds of content we need to produce to capitalize on new or under-explored keywords that’ll take your marketing plan to 11.
4. Focus on Your Content Conversion Funnel
If you’re speaking to everyone, you’re speaking to no one. You need to know your audience — for your product or service and, more specifically, for this particular content strategy.
To effectively create a content marketing strategy, we need to understand the buyer’s journey of our client’s customer — their journey from discovery to purchase.
At its most basic, a content conversion funnel is an intentional, multi-step path that turns a website visitor into a paying customer.
When it comes to selling on a blog, it’s helpful to think of the customer journey in stages of awareness. Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz outlined these stages in his book Breakthrough Advertising.
Here are the three stages that are most relevant for our clients:
- Problem-Aware: Your prospect knows they have a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.
- Solution-Aware: Your prospect knows the result they want, but isn’t sure your product provides it.
- Comparing & Converting: Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s the right solution.
One of the essential roles of content is to aid the customer journey by moving the prospect from one stage to the next, but conversion funnels can get unnecessarily complex. We prefer to keep it simple.
Once we understand the client’s funnel, we can create content for each stage of awareness and move our prospect through the buyer journey.
Here are examples of content types for each stage:
- Problem-Aware: Educate your audience with blog posts and webinars.
- Solution-Aware: Use case studies and testimonials to build trust as you present your solution.
- Comparing & Converting: Highlight your USPs (unique selling positions) in comparison pages and reviews to give prospects reasons to choose you over competitors.
5. Run a Content Audit: Keep, Tweak, or Delete
With your conversion funnel mapped out, it’s time to look at your existing content — this includes everything from blog posts to product pages.
This process aims to determine a specific next step or “action” for each page on your website.
Content audits can be as comprehensive as you’d like, but for our purposes — the creation of a content marketing strategy — we can keep this fairly simple.
First, use analytics to measure engagement and conversions for each page and post.
These are the three basic steps:
- Crawl your site with either Sitebulb or Screaming Frog.
- Use a Google Sheet to sort and tag pages.
- Look at rankings, traffic, and article quality.
Next, determine the right action for each page: keep, tweak, or delete.
Keep: These are pages and posts that meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Ranks well for valuable keywords
- Important business pages: landing pages, testimonials, and case studies
Tweak: These are pages that could rank well but need improvement or they could potentially be valuable to the business for other reasons.
Delete: These pages hold no value to the business and should be deleted at this stage. Every website tends to have pages that fit into this action:
- Thin content pages (articles written with no focus and aren’t worth rewriting)
- Old or expired events, sales, and offers
- Duplicate pages
Finally, in your Google Sheet, you can map content to your funnel stages and tag each piece of content with an action.
This step is where you’ll begin to uncover the holes in your conversion funnel. Most websites at this stage will notice that the bulk of their content is “problem-aware.”
To fill in those holes, let’s move on to keyword research.
6. Perform Keyword Research for Your Content Marketing Strategy
You don’t want to get stuck on keywords and data, but keywords are typically a good starting place for a piece of content.
We don’t think of keywords and search volumes as just numbers; they’re real people looking for solutions to their problems.
We always start with a list of high-value keywords compiled during the information gathering, competitor research, and goal-setting stages of our content marketing strategy process.
This list of keywords forms the backbone of the content we plan to create in the next stages of your customized plan.
Put simply, keywords help us achieve our clients’ goals.
How an Improved Content Marketing Strategy Tripled Revenue for This Online Course Creator
“You helped us zero in on the low hanging fruits, the keywords that would make a difference. Before then, we just wrote whatever came to mind.”Nathan Liao
Founder and CEO, CMA Exam Academy
We also factor in other metrics such as search volume and keyword difficulty, but these are measured against the value they provide in regard to achieving those goals.
In terms of keyword difficulty, we take into consideration the chances of ranking for that keyword, the strength of the client’s site, as well as which keywords competitors use, among other factors.
During our three-competitor gap analysis, we uncover opportunities. This includes identifying gaps where competitors are weak, but our client can excel.
7. Map Out Topics, Pillars, and Clusters
Once you have a list of topics, you want to organize them into clusters. Mind-mapping tools come in handy here, so it’s easy to visual how they’re all related.
You’ll want to anchor your content marketing strategy with pillar pages. These are comprehensive guides that will link out to topic clusters.
Topic clusters are your opportunity to do deep-dives of subjects and cover details that are beyond the scope of your pillar pages.
How do we prioritize content? Read on to find out …
8. Set Up Your Content Calendar: ICE Method
Each client requires a different, tailored approach when it comes to strategizing and producing content.
Our repeatable process includes developing a comprehensive content marketing strategy that outlines exactly what content we want to produce, the keywords we intend to use, and an editorial calendar to keep track of when we plan to publish.
We work with six-week editorial calendars for two reasons:
- It’s long enough to plan, create, and publish content consistently — and on schedule.
- Yet it’s short enough to analyze our results and adapt our next batch of content for maximum ROI for the client.
To prioritize each piece of content, we use the ICE method: Impact, Confidence, Ease.
Score each content idea on a scale of 1–10 for ICE.
9. Delegate Content Production: Goals & Keywords
Now it’s time to hand over all of the research we’ve conducted to our writers, and we do this with a brief.
This brief provides the writer with a detailed outline of how the content should look and what keywords should be included.
Their assignment is to produce the best content possible, and content needs to match the search intent of the user. Search engines don’t just favor content with the right keywords — they favor content that provides relevant answers and solutions to the users’ queries.
Our writers always put themselves in the shoes of the reader and craft content that answers search queries in the most accurate and comprehensive way possible.
Search intent also guides the word count and format of the articles we produce, as well as the subsections, headings, and logical progression of the content.
From a technical standpoint, our writers ensure that each piece of written content is SEO optimized and easily readable with:
- H1, H2, and H3 headings
- Bullet points
- Numbered lists
They also maintain a consistent brand voice that’s specific to the client.
Once a piece of content is written, it goes through a rigorous editing process to ensure that it’s free of errors and meets our client’s expectations.
Next, we move on to on-page optimization.
Here we ensure that the content is completely optimized for both readers and search engines.
We want to increase readability, trim the word count, check that we’re using the correct number of keywords in the right places, and ensure that the content is attractive to search engines.
Some of the SEO criteria we optimize for includes on-page elements such as:
- Title length and copy
- Description length
- Internal linking
- Image optimization
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Structured data
We follow this up with additional elements, including videos, images, and tables to enrich the quality of the content.
We also might include downloadable elements such as lead magnets, reports, and ebooks, depending on the product or service the content promotes.
Finally, we include a call to action (CTA) that will prompt the reader to respond to the content and help it achieve the goals we outlined.
A CTA helps eliminate decision fatigue and gives readers direction about what step to take next.
It could be:
- Buy now
- Register for this course
- Sign up for our newsletter
All of these directions help the reader take action, ultimately increasing conversions.
10. Choose Platforms for Content Distribution: Where & When
After publishing, it’s time to promote the content on as many channels as possible to drum up interest and increase visibility.
There are several ways that content can be shared externally, but social media is one of the most effective. Make sure to choose the right platforms and promote your content where your audience hangs out.
Other ways we promote content include republishing platforms, email outreach, and getting it featured on different websites and external publications. This isn’t simply to expose the content to more readers; it also increases the number of backlinks to the content.
The more backlinks a piece of content has, the greater the signal to search engines that the content is valuable — and the more likely it is to rank higher among search results.
It’s worth noting that we never pay for backlinks, and neither should you.
While it’s a frowned-upon way of increasing search visibility, it’s also likely to be hit hard by search engine penalties, which will erase all of the hard work invested in getting the piece of content to this point.
Timing is everything here, so use analytics to find peak engagement times.
11. Measure Results
After publication and promotion, we actively track the performance of the content to ensure that it achieves its desired goals and generates results.
This process consists of two distinct but intersecting processes:
- Auditing existing content and updating it as necessary
- Analyzing and forecasting performance analytics
With advanced analytics tools like Google Search Console and Semrush, we track the performance of the content and make adjustments as needed.
These steps include:
- Updating keywords
- Responding to search engine updates
We also track internal and external publications to determine the most efficient and effective distribution channels, and optimize accordingly.
Do You Need a Content Marketing Strategy?
Content marketing is not just about writing and publishing articles, just like a punk rock drummer doesn’t just keep the beat. You have to have stamina to go the distance. To finish the show.
Great content marketing goes beyond the basics — or needs to — if you want to see meaningful results from your content marketing strategy.
When done well, content creates brand equity, meaning:
Your brand becomes more valuable over time as you continue to produce relevant content.
Well-crafted content provides value to your business through the organic traffic it drives to your website. You need a content marketing strategy to do this consistently.
Organic traffic is fundamentally different from other kinds of traffic for one critical reason — user intent.
Users are looking for solutions. They’re actively searching for relevant information related to your service — that’s how they discovered you in the first place.
The goal of content is to resonate with your ideal clients — at scale — and do it consistently enough to build trust.
This requires sharp focus, consistent execution, and a proven content marketing strategy — a system with a demonstrated track record of success.
No Strategy, No Problem
But don’t worry if you’ve been operating without a strategy until now. We’ve all been there.
For three years we published the HTE podcast and wrote articles without any strategic focus or process in place.
Without a real strategy, we struggled to get our business in front of people.
“Well there’s no time like the present
And I’d like to hang out but who doesn’t
I’ve made enough mistakes for this lifetime
Now I’m here to make amends”
– Gorilla Biscuits, “Start Today”
So, we developed a plan to use organic search engine traffic to grow our podcast and blog.
Here’s what happened during the first 10 months we spent focusing on SEO and creating a data-driven content marketing strategy.
And a few years later, our results-driven method enabled us to form Digital Commerce Partners as the SEO and content marketing services division of Copyblogger.
Want us to
scale your traffic?
For the first time, The Copyblogger methodology is now available to a select few clients. We know it works. We’ve been doing it since 2006.
13 Questions to Craft a Simple Content Marketing Strategy
If you’re feeling inspired and want to get started on crafting your own content marketing strategy, we’ve got you covered with 13 helpful questions.
Answering these classic Copyblogger questions will give you insights into how your ideas can be transformed into a plan that will work for your business.
- Who are your users?
- Who are your competitors?
- What do you bring to the table?
- Do you hear people talk about specific aspects of your niche?
- What content do you already have?
- What is the purpose of your content?
- How often should you publish content?
- How will you distribute your content?
- Who’s in charge of your content?
- Who will produce your content?
- Do you have a content manager?
- Who is responsible for the results?
- What’s your primary strategy?
But remember, before you can accurately answer those questions, you probably have to perform some serious research about your ideal customer. Don’t skip that step!
Best Content Marketing Strategies: How to Score in 2024
The best content marketing strategies for 2024 and into the future aren’t necessarily flashy or in vogue. They’re tried and true. Because no matter how much technology advances, your prospects are still people — people with needs and wants.
If you have a great digital product or service, it deserves to get in front of the right prospects who’ll love what you have to offer.
A smart content marketing strategy can help you reach more interested prospects. And Copyblogger doesn’t just teach content marketing. It’s how the business was built.
Since January 2006, Copyblogger has been teaching people how to create killer online content. Not bland corporate crap … valuable information that attracts attention, drives traffic, and builds your business.
Let’s look at three powerful pillars of content marketing.
At Digital Commerce Partners, the SEO and content marketing services division of Copyblogger, we primarily focus on writing articles.
Blogging is the foundation of the content marketing strategies we craft for one simple reason: Google recognizes words. And when you know how to craft the right words, Google rewards your content by showing it at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
But we’re obviously not looking for a prize from Google. We want results for your business. In fact, your success is our business.
Educational blogging turns your individual knowledge and expertise into an unparalleled resource for your prospects. Highlighting your unique experience and points of view in your writing not only helps you build your audience, it also positions you to come up with endless blog post ideas.
For most people, though, writing a blog post takes a lot of time, and consistently doing so is hard for most business owners. Even if you enjoy writing blog posts, and have the time to do it, a well planned content marketing strategy helps ensure that your efforts won’t go to waste.
Building your brand on YouTube isn’t just about growing your following. Videos are assets that enhance your business.
To get started, you can turn blog posts into video scripts. If you make a comprehensive video, it could be repurposed into an evergreen blog post or content series.
Are you ready to transform from consumer to producer? If you like consuming videos online (who doesn’t these days?), get in the game and start producing your own!
Modern email marketing is permission-based, meaning most marketing messages you see in your inbox are a result of you asking to receive them. And done right, marketing emails can actually be welcomed and appreciated.
Whether it’s a newsletter, a product pitch, or a reminder to complete a purchase in a shopping cart, the recipient is interested. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have signed up.
The focus of email marketing should be providing added value. Giving away useful content and resources — rather than constant sales offers — is part of a generous content marketing strategy.
And respectful marketing emails clearly explain how to unsubscribe and stop getting emails.
Unlike social media platforms, when you have an email list, you own your traffic. Super important.
Content Marketing Is an Ongoing Process
The bottom line is that you have to create and publish content consistently.
And you need to do more than create a few pieces of content and wait for results. Your business deserves great content.
That’s why it’s essential to develop a content marketing strategy, map out an iterative six-week calendar, and then stick to it.
Want Us to Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy?
A successful content marketing strategy is dependent on a high-quality and thorough development process. If a content market strategy fails, it’s likely because something was overlooked during development.
If you want to build a truly successful content marketing strategy, let us take the lead as the “songwriter” who crafts your tailor-made content plan.
We work with world-renowned authors, internationally recognized non-profits, and some of the largest music training communities in the world.
Would you like to work with us too?
Get in touch today to discuss how we’ll increase targeted traffic and grow your business.