Content Marketing Strategies 101

By Tuesday June 11th, 2013

Content marketing has become one of the biggest buzz terms in online marketing for 2013. In an attempt to avoid getting lost in the buzz, I wanted to break content marketing strategies into what they really are.

Content marketing has become one of the biggest buzz terms in online marketing for 2013. In an attempt to avoid getting lost in the buzz, I wanted to break content marketing strategies into what they really are, why companies should invest in a content strategy and some basic advice on how to get started.

What Are Content Marketing Strategies?
Content marketing strategies are plans for developing engaging, entertaining or educational content that is both discoverable and sharable. This usually comes in the form of (but is not limited to) blogs, white papers, videos or infographics. The content must be useful to the ideal end user so they will look for it, come back once it’s discovered and eventually share it with their networks. The most effective content marketing strategies are supported with an editorial calendar to publish content frequently, using consistent themes of related and relevant material.

Why Invest in a Content Strategy?
I understand my definition can be a lot to take in. And if you made it through the definition, you are more than likely asking, “Why does this matter to me?” The answer is: to get discovered. The fact is, all business owners want their businesses to be discovered by people that are ideal for purchasing the products or services offered. A content marketing strategy is a highly effective tool that guides those ideal customers to a website.

There are many other options out there to strengthen online marketing such as black hat SEO, SEM and social media marketing. Two major perks from content marketing strategies over all other tactics are the lack of an ad spend and you won’t be punished later. SEM and social media marketing can both be costly if they are not properly optimized and black hat SEO tactics could get your site blacklisted from popular search engines.

Still not convinced? What if I told you that the average American consumer used 10.4 sources of information to make a purchase decision in 2012, a number that nearly doubled from 5.4 sources in 2011 (the research behind this statistic is from Google’s eBook, Zero Moment of Truth, which I encourage anyone considering online marketing to read). With a content marketing strategy, you can provide at least one of the information sources from the total 10.4 average. With success, your customer will find the information they are looking for while discovering your brand at the same time.

Content Marketing Strategies: Quick Tips
So now you’re sold on content marketing and you know that it is a must have in your online marketing plan. What’s next? The best content strategies begin with meticulous research. Psychographic research will help steer the themes used to connect with your audience and keyword research will teach you the words that your customers use when searching for particular topics or themes.

Psychographic Research
Just because I like craft beer, doesn’t mean I can write about it and be discovered by my ideal target audience. Instead, I must write about something they are looking for. Using tools like Topsy or Klout can be useful in this discovery. The basic idea is to determine what topics are trending on social networks or what prominent individuals in your target audience are currently talking about. Another useful tactic is using the query ‘inurl:blog’ to discover what topics other blogs are currently writing about. For more information on developing your content read Jason Brewer’s blog Content Strategy: Or 5 Ways to be Likable.

Keyword Research
So you now know what your target audience is looking for. The next step is to research keywords they use to find it. For your content marketing to be discovered, you must use the words your target audience uses while searching. The basis for picking keywords should be words with the highest volume of searches and lowest competition. Free tools such as Übersuggest and Google keyword tool can be used to speed up this step. Übersuggest is helpful for brainstorming a wide variety of words related to what you think your audience is using and the Google keyword tool can be used to evaluate the strength from each keyword or phrase. When selecting keywords to use, be sure to pick a variety of related keywords so you don’t get punished by Google for keyword stuffing. Also, long tail keywords (specific, 3-5 word searches) are helpful for more immediate success.

Keyword Usage
As I mentioned above, you want to avoid keyword stuffing. As such, you shouldn’t over populate your pages with keywords when implementing your content strategy. A general agreed upon keyword density in the SEO industry is 2-4%. Because I always learned best from example, I specifically structured this post as an example. For ideal usage guidance, reread this blog post, but this time, watch for usage of the keywords ‘content marketing strategies’ and ‘online marketing,’ as well as related long tail phrases.

Do you have any other tips you use with your content marketing plans? Leave suggestions in comments below!

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About the Author

Bryce is the Senior Marketing Strategist at Brolik, a digital marketing agency based in Philadelphia. Bryce uses his diverse background in marketing and finance to develop marketing campaigns that are both human and data driven. Bryce is also an avid home-brewer, and is working on building an Arduino into his kegerator as we speak.