Content marketing has grown so popular, I might even go as far as to say that the majority of companies out there have managed to commoditize it. There’s more low-quality content, noise, and copycat content than ever.
And when looking at businesses running marketing with little to no success, it’s clear that they tie increased spend with an expectation of greater output which – unfortunately – often ends up falling flat due to a lack of an actual long-term content marketing strategy.
SEO & content are highly scalable customer acquisition channels, but as a result (as with all good things in life) it also takes time for them to pay off. It takes months at a minimum to start building any significant momentum so if you’re going to start investing in content – you absolutely need a strategy.
How To Develop A Content Marketing Strategy
So, now that you know a proper strategy isn’t optional – here are the key questions we re-evaluate every time we onboard a new client (as well as frequently throughout client engagements).
- Who are we writing for?
- What are we going to write about?
- How frequently will we publish?
- How are we going to build momentum?
- What are we using to define success?
These are all essential to earning relevant traffic and getting a suitable return on your company’s investment.
1. Who are we writing for?
With every post I’ve ever personally written for our blog here or we’ve worked with clients to publish, we write for real people. Not some fake persona or profile we create based on arbitrary data.
Every article, every piece of content is produced with a specific person in mind that is going to directly benefit from it. Because where there’s one person at a SaaS company, be it a CFO, CMO, or CEO for the ScaleMath blog – if there’s a real person benefiting, we can be sure others will too. As opposed to just writing to rank for a specific keyword because our competitors are ranking for something…
The added benefit of this actually comes in during the writing process which is when you’re writing for your friend Jesse Hanley of Bento or Bhanu of Rank Math – as opposed to a random persona – you’ll inherently be able to produce a far better piece of content knowing that what you’re writing actually has the ability to have a real impact on someone & their business.
Remember: The ideal reader is the person who has the ultimate purchase decision on your product. So above all don’t fall victim to chasing views and newsletter subscribers alone. The goal with all SEO & Marketing is to drive real, measurable business growth.
However, beyond this no buying/purchase decision is single-touch. For many SaaS businesses, multiple people are involved in making a purchase decision. For some of the businesses we work with, when they consider changing out software – such as their email marketing software from some software to Customer.io or a similar solution, the decision goes through lots of due diligence.
First their CMO loops in their agency (i.e. us) and asks us for our experience with all the available options, then based on this they put us in touch with their engineering team so we can collectively work with the company to see if achieving everything we’d have in mind is in fact possible. Then the decision comes back to everyone at C-Level for another discussion with us about whether it is the right way forward to make sure that we’re making a lasting decision we aren’t going to invest significant resources in now only to have to make another change 4-12 months down the line.
(Of course, there are always cases and specific situations where this isn’t the case and the process is far simpler with only a single or a handful of people involved.)
2. What are we going to write about?
This is the second most common place we see businesses go wrong.
Your blog isn’t a place to dump any and all information that might be relevant to your ideal customers. Topic research is something each business needs its own tailored process & framework for. And, don’t make the mistake of treating your website & blog like a news feed – they’re an academy. A growing resource for people in your industry (many of which will be ideal, great-fit customers) to come learn stuff that’s related to your product & what your business does…
This strategy is that the vast majority of content ideas should be led by keyword research in addition to feedback from sales & questions from support. Keyword research is for the new readers, from the very “top of the funnel” all the way to the “bottom of the funnel”, what is the content that your product’s prospective buyers and users would ask or expect to come across in search as they’re on their journey of finding a solution to the problem you’re solving.
Creating content based on what your sales & support teams communicate serves a different goal. It helps users of your product which are likely also users of a competitor’s product experiencing the same problems. This means, it addressed the whole lifecycle – retention (since it’s helping current users) as well as awareness during the purchase process and other people who are not yet users that also have this same question.
|Awareness||Use keyword research to identify topics where there is opportunity to address general topics relevant to your business.|
|Attention||This is where keyword research (as well as the sales & support feedback) comes in to help solve problems that the software solution you sell helps with/solves entirely.|
|Acquisition||All content that serves the final purchasing decision, including the types of questions that sales and support are asked right before people convert (not necessarily high search volumes here, but this is where the money is).|
3. How frequently will we publish?
There’s a fine line between prioritizing content quality over publishing frequency and not allocating the right amount of resources to drive results.
That line depends on a couple of things, primarily the industry in which you operate and the competition that you’re up against. Worrying about not publishing enough is a good place to be, because it tends to mean you’re putting out really good content that’s resonating and want to put out more of it to have a bigger impact. While, on the other hand – publishing too much is a dangerous trap to fall into.
Going back to the idea of not treating your blog like a newsroom and instead think of it as an academy – this is something that also helps get out of the idea that publishing too often and being on this hamster wheel of publishing for the sake of it is necessary.
You can safely ditch any part of your strategy that results in more content that’s less valuable right now…
A good content marketing strategy relies on compound growth. 1 article per week might not seem like much but that’s 52 articles in just a single year.
Some of the most popular blogs grow to 100,000 monthly visitors with less than 40 posts.
There are countless examples of some of the most popular blogs growing to over 100,000 monthly visitors with less than 40 posts. The number is arbitrary, no amount of posts is going to guarantee traffic, so the answer here is simple – don’t publish more if the additional resources (time/money) spent could risk a standard of keyword research and content distribution.
4. How are we going to build momentum?
When people think content marketing – there are tons of variations of this. Some include social media and getting on the hamster wheel of consistently publishing content there. We find this to be a common mistake among companies that misallocate their marketing budgets.
Not to say that social media is not important and shouldn’t form a part of your marketing strategy, but it shouldn’t be confused with SEO & content marketing – a strategy which itself should be entirely built around scale.
No significant time or money should be invested in customer acquisition channels that yield non-scalable, and non-repeatable returns. Anything you dump $5k into that can bring in a whole bunch of customers seems great for the short-term but to drive real results in the long term you need a scalable, repeatable customer acquisition system.
And this is as a result why we recommend primarily focusing efforts on organic search and your email list because they’re two channels that you can own, control, and scale…
5. What are we using to define success?
Achieving true ROI on marketing spend is far more realistic when you have clarity, let alone a good idea of what the ideal outcome is.
Most marketers can’t turn work/output (think content, etc.) into extra digits on a company’s bottom line. And, this is really the first half of the equation, the second half primarily if you’re an agency is communicating this value to clients and people that are more distant from the process.
Without reporting or measurement of any kind – whether that’s traffic, keyword rankings, email opt-ins, and conversions – you’ll never know what’s working and what you can double down on to see even greater results.
In other words, don’t be that marketer that worries about looking at the numbers because that’s very shortsighted. Looking at data with your client as an agency (or employer), isn’t to figure out if they’re going to keep you – it’s so you can get what you need to do even better work.
Because at the end of the day, even the best work might not lead to a desirable outcome in every case (especially when the product isn’t there to follow suit)…
That being said, it is widely known that attributing any sort of reliable revenue figures/growth to content marketing alone is difficult – which is why the most meaningful way to measure is using a few select key performance indicators in addition to the most reliable metric – revenue.
Summary – Bringing It All Home, To Your Product
And to wrap things up – you can’t forget the most important piece of the puzzle. Tying everything back to your product and bringing it home. Build your content marketing strategy to feed product-led growth by getting more eyes on a product that’s always getting better that leads to genuine recognition and revenue.
This is a long-term effort, there are no hacks, gimmicks, or tips that are going to get you there faster – building a business you can be proud of is always a work in progress.
Any other questions about content marketing strategy? Seriously, I want to hear them – sign up & hit reply to the first email you get! 📧