content marketing strategy

Early in my digital marketing career, I read something that had a lasting impact on my approach to marketing — an essay published on the Microsoft website by Bill Gates called “Content is King.” Bill Gates is a true visionary. What amazes me is that content marketing has taken many different forms over the last decade or so, but it is still king. Content marketing is a cost-effective way to bring in a steady stream of new leads and keep your customers coming back for more. That essay continues to inspire me to reinvent my content marketing efforts and conquer them like a champ.

One thing that I always make a priority is keeping track of my goals. When I’m not getting the results that I’m looking for, I revisit my original marketing goals so I can reground myself and rework my plan step by step.

Knowing Your Market

Do you know who your company’s audience is? If not, you have some homework to do. Send out a survey, create reader personas, ask for feedback and monitor your content to learn more about who needs your products or services. Use analytical tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights or review the demographics of your current customers. It doesn’t really matter which method you use, as long as you do something to find your target audience, so don’t get bogged down with semantics.

I like to think that I know my company’s audience pretty well, but I’ve also learned that audiences can change over time. Even seasoned marketers need to spend some time conducting market research from time to time to keep their marketing efforts sharp.

There’s another reason I like to reassess who my target audience is. Our current clients are already hooked, but I like to continually challenge myself to expand our customer base. In addition, new products and services call for new analysis of the target market.

Establishing Your Goals And Objectives

Two very important steps follow identifying your target market. First, you need to be clear about what they need. Second, you need to learn how to quench their thirst for information. To sum up, relevant content is a valuable commodity.

Once you’ve acquainted yourself with who your customers are and what they need, you’re ready to establish your marketing goals and objectives. Do you want to spark the interest of your current audience? Do you want to build a new audience? Expand your current audience? Promote a new good or service? Increase brand awareness?

It’s important to establish goals and objectives so you know how to move forward. It’s also essential to define successful marketing campaigns. Have you thought about how you’ll know when you have achieved your goals? Think this through before you put your marketing plans in motion. Will you measure it by increased revenue, lower marketing costs, targeted customers or some combination of benchmarks?

Creating The Content Of Champions

Unless you are at the starting gate of your marketing plan, chances are good that you have some existing content to work with. Take a hard look at the work you’ve already done and decide whether you can reuse any of it. Can you update past articles to make them more relevant? Can you add to existing content so that it better enhances your brand or becomes more engaging? Can you beef it up by embedding links to products or services?

Putting The Plan In Motion

With the basic framework in place, it’s time to build on the cornerstone of your efforts. Determine your main formats and advertising channels and develop an overall marketing strategy.

I’ve found that even when my marketing strategy is complete, it helps to leave a little room for experimentation. I like to experiment with a variety of advertising opportunities like sponsored content, social media advertising, infographics and videos. Your marketing plan might include podcasts, e-books, workshops or webinars. Whichever formats and outlets you use, don’t forget to investigate your competition’s marketing efforts to make sure that you’re differentiating yourself.

There are a few different ways that you can manage your content marketing and publication schedule. I like to use a master calendar of what I’m publishing and on which outlet. You can control all the posting and publishing yourself or use an app on which you can load your ads and articles and schedule them to appear at specific times and dates. If you’re working with a marketing team, develop a plan for who will be responsible for creating, posting and publishing content.

Final Tips For Content Marketing Strategy Success

Keep a pulse on how well your marketing plans are connecting to your goals. If you’re not getting the results you want, review your marketing strategy to make sure that you’re following it exactly as planned. You might find that it only takes a few tweaks to get things moving in a better direction. And don’t fret if you’ve made a mistake or two. Learn from them and make better changes moving forward.

Content Marketing on the blog

This is a fascinating time to be working in the field of marketing. Technology has given us so many interesting options to market our brands and attract our target audiences. One of the things that I love most about my job as digital senior manager for a senior home healthcare company is that the services we provide are very personal. Technology is advancing in ways that help me infuse my company’s message of providing personal care into our digital marketing efforts.

Blogs are a good start toward educating our audience about the benefits of in-home care, but that isn’t enough. We want our customers to get a sense of caring even before they decide to work with us. and infographics, provide a foundation for building that personal relationship.

I have used many different formats of content marketing in my digital marketing strategy, including articles, infographics and videos. Content marketing has helped my company strengthen our brand, earn natural backlinks and increase organic traffic.

Modern content marketing repurposes digital marketing.

When digital marketing became vogue, it was all the rage to maximize keywords to win top SEO rankings. Today’s content marketing approach ties many forms of digital marketing together in a cohesive way. This concept requires bringing people with many different skill sets together.

Our marketing team consists of people who are skilled in production, content distribution, branding, optimization, advertising, social media and analytics. Their combined talents create a synergy that unites our message across content marketing channels. These efforts work together not just to attract our target market, but to actively engage them and interact with them in a personal way.

Content marketing involves telling stories that help people relate.

Some people within our target audience are looking for information about our services. Scheduling in-home care is new territory for many of our first-time customers. That’s why we post blogs on informative topics, like health concerns, costs and more, to help them reach a comfort level with our services.

Our audience also wants to read facts about senior in-home care on the fly and in a succinct format, so I added colorful, well-designed infographics to our content marketing plan. Infographics are eye-catching and jam-packed with useful statistics that keep potential clients engaged and wanting to learn more.

One of the hottest new trends in content marketing is short, informative videos. This is one of the best ways to establish a personal connection with your audience. Through our videos, potential customers see people who are the same age and in the same stage of life. Our videos demonstrate to them that they are not alone in needing a little help or in asking for help for a loved one. Videos engage our audience because they get to see the types of services that we provide in action and how they provide a sense of comfort, help and relief to our customers. Our goal is to create a beautiful picture of how helpful our services could be for them. Video is also a good format for sharing testimonials. If your existing customers are willing to share the positive experiences they’ve had, include their testimonials on your blog, infographics and website.

Content marketing successfully delivers our message of caring for people across multiple digital marketing channels. Through collective and consistent messaging, our clients learn that they can trust us to deliver the personal care that our branding projects.

Content marketing is getting smarter.

As a digital marketer, keep a pulse on new trends in marketing, especially regarding artificial intelligence, Siri advancements, virtual assistants and the Internet of Things. The future of content marketing is sure to be even more interactive. I’m continually seeking new and innovative ways to use technology to enhance my company’s branding efforts.

Content is a base that marketers use as inspiration for other marketing vehicles.

Content in a written format is no longer our company’s entire platform. It’s an integral part of our expanded platform. I consider written content a springboard for developing other forms of digital marketing media. The challenge is taking the best parts of written content and learning what other media formats can take it to the next level. For example, we use much of the same content in our free, educational blog posts as we use in our ebooks. We may highlight the value that our service brings in other formats like infographics and video. The overall results bring the highest level of communication and engagement to our brand.

Moving from digital marketing to content marketing is only the first stage in marketing strategy. Advancements in technology will guide the direction of the next phase of content marketing. As a dedicated marketer, I’ll be on the lookout for the skills that our agency needs to keep our marketing efforts fresh and relevant. One thing that won’t change is my commitment to content marketing that keeps our target market connected in personal, caring ways.

Topic Clusters Top Rankings

Marketers are always looking for strategies to gain top rankings in search engines. Just when you think you’ve tried every keyword and linking strategy known to man, the search engines change their algorithms. You find yourself going back to the drawing board to beat your competitors with a new strategy.

The latest algorithm updates put a new spin on SEO ranking. Keywords and linking are still relevant, but SEO is evolving and favoring a new model called topic clusters. Using topic clusters requires new ways of thinking about SEO. It also requires changing the architecture of your content.

Why Search Engines Keep Changing

Search engines keep changing because consumer behavior keeps changing. Technology is evolving, and consumers are evolving with it. They’re learning how to use it, which also means they are expecting more from it. For example, people are no longer putting the word “housekeeper” into the search box. They’re more likely to input a sophisticated phrase, such as “find me a reputable and reasonably priced housekeeper in Boston.” The customer will be looking for results that are accurate and relevant.

Every time there’s a change in consumer behavior, search engine developers get busy redesigning their algorithms to match consumer behavior. The Google Panda update in 2011 forced digital marketers to stop overusing keywords and start producing quality content. Some marketers thought that the Hummingbird update was the official switch to changing SEO patterns because it focuses on phrases rather than keywords.

In 2015, the RankBrain update broke the mold with a machine-learning algorithm that could understand phrases in search queries and put them together with the customer’s intended context. Google picks up multiple phrases and keywords from past searches on similar topics. In this way, the search engine “sees” what the consumer is looking for within the intended context. According to HubSpot research, after the RankBrain update, websites that had greater numbers of interlinks got better placements in search results. Sites with a lot of interlinks also got more impressions. 

Using topic clusters creates many interlinks. This new marketing strategy tells the search engine that you’re an authority on the subject because you have the highest quality of content, and it links to many other pages of high-quality content on the same topic. I like to think of topic clusters as spokes on a wheel. A single pillar page acts as the main hub.

Our pillar is in-home care for seniors. I set up several subtopics, such as senior care costs, quality senior care, care for Alzheimer’s and memory loss, etc. These topics form the center of the hub. Then, I expand on each topic with many more articles, linking each one to the center hub and to the others. A content hub about in-home costs for seniors might include interlinked articles about how much in-home care costs, how families fund it, how to blend family caregiving and professional care, and more. I then do the same with the other subtopics to create cleaner, more streamlined content architecture.

These topic clusters signal to the search engine that my company’s website covers our industry with a wide lens. It tells them that we’re a leading authority on in-home care. The result is that they’ll reward my efforts with a higher ranking.

Tips And Tricks For Topic Clustering

Try to keep the subtopic broad enough that you could easily add 30-40 posts on topics related to it. The topics that you add to the subtopic hub must have some type of connection. Each subtopic should cover one area of knowledge related to your industry. The interlinking topics connected by spokes (links) take your audience into greater detail.

Put solid thought into your subtopics. Are there any topics that you need to compete with other companies over? What do your customers need to know more about? Map out the problems that you know your customers have, and create subtopics around problems that you can help solve with your solutions. Take a look at your frequently asked questions to spark your imagination for even more topics. If your customers are asking the same questions, you need to create content to answer them.

Using topic clusters doesn’t mean that you should forget about other marketing strategies like keywords. I still use them in the content of the articles I create and add to the subtopic hub.

Looking Toward The Future Of Topic Clustering

Give yourself time to create new clusters for topics. A helpful resource for creating your new content architecture is to repurpose and revamp existing content. After it’s been on the web for a while, you can measure the results and restrategize if necessary.

Developers are also taking a look at how new tools can help website owners analyze and master cluster topic strategies. As a marketer, I look forward to these resources.

User Intent For Online Searches

Each new Google update sends me and every other digital marketer back to the drawing board to re-strategize on how to use keywords and content to get the best traffic. The sophistication of Google’s algorithm rises to new levels with each update, which presents interesting challenges for marketers. I’m always up for the challenge, and the latest update was no different.

Some things at Google haven’t changed much at all. Its algorithms are still interested in SEO and keywords. Numbers, which have always held a crucial place in my marketing plans, are also still an important part of its algorithms. My strategy places a unique focus on SEO as it relates to user intent. “User intent” is a term that gets the strategic wheels turning in my head. So, what is user intent?

Defining User Intent

User intent is changing how search engines see content and has made it more difficult for marketers to decipher and build new strategies. Essentially, Google isn’t just taking the words in the search box literally. It wants to know and understand, “What is the user’s intent?”

Obviously Google’s algorithms aren’t smart enough to read a user’s mind. The search engine is smart enough, however, to figure out how to get behind the categories of user intent. I recognized two categories of user intent and SEO that helped me revise my marketing plans accordingly.

User Intent And SEO

Thinking about some of the idiosyncrasies of the English language helped me understand user intent and SEO. We can’t always take words at face value unless we know the proper context. For example, what do you think of when you hear the word “jam”? Were you thinking of this morning’s traffic jam? Maybe you jammed your toe in the door, and you’re still feeling the pain. Perhaps you packed a delicious sandwich for lunch with peanut butter and strawberry jam.

If a user puts the word “jam” in the search box, Google wants to know which context the user intended. Typically, users are looking for information based on the keyword, or they’re just looking for general information on the topic.

When the word “jam” appears by itself, Google has to find a rating in terms of how it meets the needs of the user. That rating falls somewhere between “fails to meet” and “fully meets.” The search engine would likely pull up queries regarding all three meanings because“jam” is an ambiguous word with multiple meanings. Google’s rules won’t allow this word to be “fully met” under these circumstances.

User Intent Vs. Query

Google doesn’t respond well to words with unclear meanings. The new algorithm looks for clues regarding user intent vs. query words. User intent usually goes along the lines of:

• Something they want to do

• Something they want to know

• Someplace they want to go

Do, know, go is the user intent that Google tries to uncode. Search words can indicate that a user wants to make a transaction or do something — book a hotel, buy a book, find a job or buy a jar of that amazing strawberry jam.

In my experience, users who search for something they want or need use their mobile devices about half the time. It’s common for them to do some online searching and finalize the transaction later on a desktop or laptop. Google picks up on the idea that a lot of mobile users are just doing preliminary browsing.

Other words tell the search engine that users want to know something in real time. They are information words. For example, what time is it in another time zone? When does the store close? What time will the train arrive? When will that traffic jam lighten up?

Google often puts know-something posts at the top of the page in position zero, giving users some of the information they’re seeking without giving it all away. Position-zero posts might give you an idea of traffic flow at a certain destination, but you have to click through to find the state of the traffic in real time.

If people aren’t looking to do something or know something, they know right where they want to go — online, that is. They know enough to tell Google almost exactly the type of site they’re looking for. The user with an aching toe is going to tell Google they need to go to a site that tells them how to make it feel better.

Voice activation is starting to play a big role in go searches. The general public is just getting acquainted with Siri and Alexa. As more people gain familiarity with voice activation, and as voice activation becomes more sophisticated and translates more accurately, technology will make it easier for Google to identify go searches in addition to do and know searches.

Moving forward, be strategic about ambiguous words and words with multiple meanings. I’ll still be optimizing my content for keywords and SEO. I’ll just be selecting my keywords from the perspective of user intent and considering the impact of do, know, go. Google updates and data analysis will tell me when I need to modify my strategy.

local reviews can help local seo

Many facets go into a marketing strategy, and that’s what makes it so interesting. Marketers need to think about who their clients are and what their online search and shopping habits are. They also have to keep a keen eye on the competition, create similar angles that are better than the competition or break out of the box and do something completely different.

Factoring all of those issues and more, marketers have to accomplish their marketing strategies using the funds and resources that are available to them.

For smaller companies, the term “marketer” is often loosely applied to a company owner, employee or intern because of budgetary constraints. Some companies don’t even have the funds or technical wherewithal to put up a company website. Others create a simple, no-frills website and spend little or no time updating it.

A basic website is better than no website at all. Small companies with small budgets don’t need to break the bank to advertise online. A few great reviews, written and posted by local customers, go a long way towards helping new customers find your business among the local pack.

Get acquainted with Google My Business.

Your business can get some attention online, even if you don’t have a website, as long as you’re willing to take a few minutes to complete a Google My Business page. Google has done you the favor of setting up a blank template of a page that you can easily customize for your business — for free.

Google My Business is a user-friendly template that lets you add your company’s name, address, phone number, fax number, email address or other contact information. Your Google My Business page will enable your customers to call you right from the site and give them directions to find you in person.

When you’ve got new and exciting information or events to share with your customers, you can easily edit the page and let your customers know about it with a few short paragraphs and some images.

Business owners that have any amount of marketing know-how can also take advantage of linking, keywords, alt tags, meta descriptions and other search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most importantly, your customers can leave a review on your Google My Business page. Whether the review is positive or negative, it gives you the chance to connect with them to thank them or offer to turn a negative experience around.

Google My Business has an easy-to-understand section called “Insights,” which tells you how your customers found you.
The platform can increase your business’s ranking, even if you don’t have a website or have one without many bells and whistles.

Reviews mean a lot to business owners — and Google loves them, too.

Local SEO Guide conducted its annual study of local SEO ranking factors and found that customer reviews were big players in search engine ranking for local search. The study analyzed more than 200 factors as they related to 100,000 businesses. 

The study also looked at other factors that help local businesses rank well. It found that local ranking factors are highly connected with organic ranking factors. Businesses that ranked well in organic searches also showed high in Google’s local pack. This leads me to believe that businesses can rank well in local packs even when website owners or marketers aren’t taking advantage of SEO strategies, like keywords and linking.

Exactly how do reviews correlate to local search?

What we can learn from this is that smaller companies may think that they can’t have a huge presence online, but a Google My Business page with lots of positive reviews on it can change all that quite nicely. Google will see lots of reviews on a Google My Business page, indicating that it is a local business that does well and has a great reputation with local customers.

Essentially, Google uses crowdsourcing to tell it whether a site is a company with a strong reputation. Google has a specified format for reviews, so that customers know how their review will appear. The tools for Google My Business make it hard for spammers to get in on the action and damage the customer’s reputation. If they get through, Google will crack down on unscrupulous spammers and hackers.

Quality and quantity matter equally in reviews.

The Google search engine takes a look at what reviewers are saying before making a judgment on rank. Google gives special attention in the local pack to reviewers who mention any of the keywords or the name of the city where the business is located.

I’ve noticed that websites that have high-quality link profiles nearly always rank well in local search. I’ve also noticed that sites with few or no links, and those that have poor-quality links, also rank well in the local search pack if the business has good reviews on Google My Business.

Here are a few final clues about local reviews.

Creating a website should be the highest priority for companies that don’t already have one. Website platforms are relatively easy to set up. Many templates have automatic updates, so some of them require little or no maintenance if that’s what you’re looking for.

With or without a website, ask your best customers to rate and review you on your Google My Business page. Encourage them to mention your services and your city.

With Google picking up the cost for the site and you putting forth some effort of your own, new clientele may be clicking and calling because they loved what other locals said about you.