Content marketing has become a staple marketing strategy for businesses interested in generating leads or closing business while keeping CAC (customer acquisition costs) down. When done properly, content marketing can provide businesses with a scalable marketing solution that can impact all stages of a buyer’s journey.
This marketing strategy has become so effective, that according to a recent study by the Content Marketing Institute, 89% of marketers use some form of content marketing today. For those interested in starting a content marketing strategy, or for those looking to improve success and ROI, there are a number of different tactics to start testing.
Afterall, content marketing can be one of the more sophisticated marketing strategies out there. It requires the creation of high-quality content that is coupled with a well thought out distribution plan. Content marketers also need to also think about how they are optimizing the on-page experience to improve reader engagement and conversion rates.
This article will show readers fifteen growth marketing strategies to implement in order to maximize content marketing ROI.
1. Write Content with a Distribution Strategy in Mind
A rookie mistake many content marketers make is writing content without a distribution strategy in mind. This is not Field of Dreams, if you write something outstanding, your audience may never discover it.
Consider this, in just one minute nearly 350 new blog posts are published on WordPress and two million searches are conducted via Google. Content is being produced and indexed at an incredibly fast rate. In order for your content to stand out, you and your team must write content with a distribution plan already in mind
The easiest way to think about this is to divide distribution types into two categories, viral social media, or organic search. Buzzsumo is a brand that creates content optimized for social media sharing. Take the headline of this article about content and ai, The Future is More Content: Jeff Bezos, Robots, and High Volume Publishing. This title is clearly optimized to generate some level of virality via social media. It’s unlikely that someone will search for many of the keywords used in the title.
Hubspot, on the other hand, is a brand that uses organic search as a primary vehicle to distribute content. Their article about marketing personas is clearly optimized for search with the title, How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business.
Before even writing a piece of content, think about how you will use various channels to promote it. Once you have a specific channel in mind, you can then think about how to optimize this content specifically for that channel. Content written for social media tends to use certain phrases that encourage readers to share. Some of these phrases according to a recent study include:
- Will make you
- This is why
- Can we guess
- The reason is
On the other hand, content written with organic search in mind needs to include a target keyword or keyword phrase in various parts of the content. Some of the areas to the target keyword or keyword phrase include:
- Title tag
- H1 tag
- Alt txt
- Body of the content
- Meta description (to improve search click through rates)
2. Invest in 10X Content
The founder of SEO software and marketing guru, Rand Fishkin, is known for espousing the idea that content marketers should focus on creating content that is ten times better than the content that is already out there related to a particular topic. He argues that content that is remarkable will be easier to distribute than content that is simply mediocre.
The content that Fishkin and co. produce at Moz is a testament to the power of 10x content. The brand has developed a weekly video series about SEO and marketing called “Whiteboard Friday.” This marketing initiative has become so popular because of the high-quality content, that there is clear positive month over month organic search growth for the term Whiteboard Friday according to data from Google Trends.
3. Build a Content Syndication Workflow
A great way to squeeze more value from existing content is to create a syndication workflow through which you or a member of your team re-publishes content on content platforms like Medium and LinkedIn to increase reach. Brands like Slack and Hubspot are already using platforms like Medium to increase reach.
When syndicating content be sure to consider what calls to action you can use in the content to drive readers back to your main website. Afterall, content marketing is intended to create brand awareness that then eventually compels readers to take an additional action.
4. Optimize Content for Google AMP
AMP stands for accelerated mobile page, and it is a new site architecture released by Google. The intention of this framework is to make the search experience more enjoyable for people using smartphones. With AMP web pages load almost instantly on a mobile device.
Last year, Google indicated that the company would start favoring pages built with AMP in search engine results. Content marketers interested in improving organic search ranking, or who simply want to provide a better experience for mobile visitors, should consider creating mobile blog posts with the AMP framework.
5. Make an Automated Subscriber Newsletter
What better way to improve content visibility than by re-engaging readers who subscribed for email updates? Creating an email newsletter based on your blog’s RSS feed can help you to automatically amplify content whenever a new article is published.
To get started, you’ll need to have a marketing automation or email automation platform like Hubspot, Marketo or MailChimp (among many others). Most providers should offer the option to create an automated email workflow that sends people who have already subscribed to your blog a notification whenever a new article is published.
An added benefit of sharing content via an automated newsletter is that you can use the email analytics to determine what articles resonate most with existing contacts.
6. Ensure Social Media Metadata is Optimized
Metadata is information encoded within a web page that helps technologies and people understand what the web page is about. Some metadata, like a meta description, is used in search engines to help searchers understand what listing is worth clicking on. But web pages also have social media metadata that automatically populates whenever a piece of content is shared on various social media platforms.
By optimizing this social media metadata, you are helping to increase the chances that the content will be shared and clicked on once shared. Make sure a compelling visual and brief description is associated with each piece of content to maximize social media reach.
7. Improve Page Speed When Possible
According to data reported by Kissmetrics, 47% of website visitors expect pages to load within two seconds or less. Another study found that 40% of website visitors abandon a page if it takes three seconds or more to load.
The last thing any content marketer wants is bounced website visitors. Bounces can hurt organic search ranking and are an indication that the content you created is not actually being consumed as intended. First, check to benchmark page speed performance using Google’s free PageSpeed tool. Then read through the recommended fixes to see if anything can be done to improve performance. Remember, even fractions of a second can impact how people engage with your content.
8. Try Popups, CTAs and Embedded Forms
Popups, in-line blog CTAs and embedded forms are all good ways to increase ROI from content marketing. Free or inexpensive tools like SumoMe and Unbounce provide content marketers with highly customizable pop ups that can effectively convert anonymous visitors into contacts. Calls to action (CTAs) and embedded forms provide content marketers with another way to turn blog posts and other pieces of content into effective lead generation tools.
When experimenting with lead capture tools, it’s a good idea to ensure that the lead magnate shared on the page is highly relevant to the content the visitor is reading in the first place.
9. Leverage Guest Posting to Increase Reach
Content marketers interested in driving more organic search traffic to a specific article should embrace the power of guest posting. How does one thing have to do with another? Guest posting is a great way to build links that will, in turn, improve organic search ranking. Typically, outlets that publish contributed content are happy to include one or two links back to your website.
Guest posting has the added benefit of increasing brand reach, valuable contributed content shared on a topically related website to your brand can help you reach new readers while also improving SEO rankings of existing content.
10. Monitor User Behavior
There are a number of different website metrics that content marketers should consider analyzing in order to optimize content. Fortunately, tools like Google Analytics and Hot Jar make it easy for marketers to understand how website visitors are engaging with content.
Particular metrics to pay attention to include “user behavior flow”, specifically the most common entrance and exit pages on the website. If you can identify the pages that bring in the most visitors in order to further amplify them and can reduce the number of visitors leaving from the biggest exit pages, this optimization alone can dramatically improve content ROI.
Another important metric to review is the percent of returning visitors. Remember that content marketing is most effective when it impacts the full funnel. That means that if content marketing is working, there should be a good mix of new and returning visitors on your website. If you notice that a vast majority of visitors are either returning or new visitors, it means that you need to start developing meaningful content for the other group in order to build a healthy marketing funnel.
11. Experiment with Content Types and New Media
Sure written content is a critical component of content marketing, and it will likely continue to be important in the years to come. But remember that website visitors are also interested in visual content as well. According to data reported by Wordstream, 85% of internet users in the United States stream video content. Furthermore, Outbrain reported that 87% of marketers are already using video as part of their content strategy.
Including compelling visual and video content within written content can be a great way to encourage readers to learn more about your company’s offering.
12. Consider Personalizing Content
The marketing world already knows that personalized email content performs dramatically better than non-personalized content. Some sophisticated marketers have already developed content designed to personalize the website experience.
To increase the ROI from content marketing, consider investing in content personalization. This new marketing technique uses information collected from Ip addresses and cookies to present each website visitor with a unique content journey depending on the company, location, and stage in the buyer’s journey.
Through tools like Optimizely, it is now possible for content marketers to display totally different pieces of content to different website visitors. Doing this will likely have the same positive results marketers have realized through email personalization.
13. Get Inspiration from the Best Blogs in Your Industry
Marketing tactics and strategies are always changing. It is a good idea to identify a few leading companies in your industry that are already employing a content marketing strategy to good effect. Set a recurring calendar invite for yourself to regularly research how these companies have altered their content marketing strategies. Based on your research implement the activities that are most aligned with your own content marketing strategy.
14. Increase Understanding of the Customer with a Persona
It is considerably easier to write and optimize content when you understand your customer. To get a better understanding of your customer or customers, develop marketing personas. Think of personas as an archetypal representation of your customer based on the demographic and psychographic information.
15. Keep Mobile in Mind
Over 229 million Americans use a smartphone as of this year. By 2021, that number is expected to grow 15% to 264 million. The majority of internet searches are now down from a mobile device as opposed to a desktop device.
In short, we are moving to a mobile-first world in which content consumers will prefer to interact with your website via a mobile device. Be sure that your website is optimized for mobile, you can receive a mobile friendliness website grade here.
There are a number of different ways marketing can improve ROI from content, it all depends on how the content is currently performing and what your overall content strategy is. If visits are down, consider revising the content distribution plan. If lead generation is the issue, consider implementing popups, forms, and CTAs to drive visitors to take an additional step.
To improve content in general, it might be a good time to begin personalizing content with a piece of marketing technology. Alternatively, simply creating a rich marketing persona can be a good way to create more engaging content.