A successful content marketing strategy is guaranteed to help you drive traffic, increase conversions, and really establish your brand online. We evaluated the most successful content marketing strategies to come up with five essential elements that you can apply to yours. 

Today, content marketing is everything.

Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing but generates more than three times as many leads. Once you master your content marketing strategy, you could experience up to 7.8 times more website traffic and higher conversion rates.

I’ve been in the business a while and in my experience, successful content marketing strategies have certain elements in common that make them so powerful. This article outlines five essential elements inspired by the best content marketing strategies. You can learn from the experts and apply these lessons to your own content marketing strategy.

1. Have a Clearly Defined Audience

Before outlining your content marketing strategy, you need to have a clear picture of your target audience.

Just saying that your audience is anyone who is interested in your business is way too general. On the other hand, trying to target everyone will get you nowhere. Instead, try to narrow your audience down to a very specific group of people. Targeting a niche market will help you to keep up with your competitors, especially if you are a relatively small business.

Targeting a specific group of people makes it easier for you to align your branding and marketing budget with an effective market. This will make your efforts and resources pay off as you will reach potential clients and generate business more efficiently.

If you are just starting off or want to up your content marketing ante, you need to begin by defining your niche. All you need to do is a little bit of market research.

Here’s how:

#1 Dig Deeper Into Your Current Customer Base

Before you go any further, re-evaluate what you already know about your customers. Figure out the basics like who are your customers? And why do they buy from you? Being able to answer these questions will make it easier for you to show potential new customers that they could also benefit from your product or service.

#2 Evaluate Your Competitors

Checking out who your competitors are targeting could help you to figure out your niche audience. Find out who their current competitors are and what potential customers they have overlooked. Their loss could be your gain.

#3 Match Your Demographics

To run a successful content marketing strategy, you need to know your audience’s demographics. This will help you to match your product with the people who could benefit from it and who are most likely to be interested. Take the following factors into consideration:

  • Age Group
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Income level
  • Education

Knowing something as simple as the average age of your customers could make a massive difference in the long run.

#4 Get Personal

Once you have figured out the basic demographics, you need to get one step closer to your audience.

Next, you need to familiarize yourself with the personal characteristics of your target audience. These are often referred to in the business as psychographics.

Here’s the psychographics you should take a look at;

  • Values and beliefs
  • Personality/ attitude
  • Behavior and online activity
  • Lifestyle
  • Interests

These characteristics are all clues as to how you should go about launching your content marketing strategy.

At this point, you’re probably wondering: how do I find this information?

Getting to know how your audience thinks is easier than it sounds. Don’t worry, there’s no spying, snooping, or mind-reading necessary. Figuring out your audience’s psychographics just takes a little bit of research.

There are bound to be others who have written articles and blog posts on targeting similar audiences, learn from their experience. Forums will also provide you with other marketers genuine opinions.

Surveys and interacting directly with current customers will also help you to figure out what your audience needs (and up your user engagement). Keyword research will also give you insight into what exactly your niche is looking for and what questions they are asking.

2. A Content Marketing Strategy with SMART Goals

Before you launch your marketing campaign, you need to set goals. These will help you to monitor your success and progress.

Whether you want to generate leads, nurture leads, or enhance user engagement, targets give you something to measure the effectiveness of your actions. Having clearly defined goals will give you something to aim towards, keep you motivated, and make sure every action you take is a step towards your desired outcome.

Setting vague or unrealistic goals just for the sake of it is a complete waste of time. In most cases saying you want to have 3 million viewers in three months just isn’t going to work. You’re setting yourself up to fail before you’ve even tried which will probably work against you. Instead, you need to get specific. Goals need to be SMART.

What do I mean by SMART goals?

SMART goals are goals that are;

 Specific

  • Avoid ambiguous terminology like ‘increase engagement’, or ‘grow traffic’.
  • Make your content marketing goals detailed. Break down your goals into details. If your goal is ‘grow traffic’, get specific with facts and figures. Set a number of daily visitors, likes, and shares per article. Forge out a clear image of what successfully obtaining this goal will look like.
  • For example, if you want to ‘increase engagement’, what will the outcome of this look like? The outcome of this goal might be an active comments section or making sure to reply to every customer’s query, comment, and complaint promptly.

Measurable

  • Making your content marketing goals clear and measurable will help you to maintain focus. Well-defined goals from the word ‘go’ will guide you toward the results you want
  • Measuring the impact of your marketing strategy can be a challenge. Especially measuring it accurately.

Attainable

  • Begin by asking yourself if you have the resources you need to achieve your content marketing goals.
  • Attainable goals are goals that you have the necessary tools, skills, knowledge, and budget to achieve.
  • If you find you don’t have the necessary skill set, you could take some time to complete some training, call in an expert, or invest in some new software to assist you (like an SEO writer or automated social media posting, for example).
  • If your goals are still unattainable, then it’s time to reevaluate them or narrow them down for the time being.

Read More: 10 Tools to Improve Your Content Creation Process

 Realistic

  • Setting realistic goals means knowing your limits. Ask yourself what constraints you’re working within and answer honestly. Be ambitious but be realistic. More importantly, know the difference between the two.
  • Evaluating the status quo of your business can help you to set realistic goals. Know your current stats in terms of traffic, conversions, leads, etc. inside out.

Timely

  • When it comes to goals, deadlines are your best friend. This means making a schedule and sticking to it. This will help you to avoid procrastinating and hold your team (and yourself!) accountable.

Read More: A Guide to Long-term Content Planning and Content Creation

Every time you set a goal you should measure it up to these characteristics. If it doesn’t tick every box, you should reconsider. By coming up with goals that satisfy the SMART criteria, your content marketing strategy will be far more powerful and effective.

3. Clear Value Proposition

Content marketing is a competitive place. With so much business done online these days, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.

Maximise your chances by clearly defining what you’re offering to your customers that other people are not. This means highlighting what are you doing differently, better, and what makes your business unique.

You’re probably wondering how you can prove your value to your customers. In order to effectively showcase the benefits, you need to provide them with a clear value proposition.

A clear value proposition is a statement that explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation, delivers specific benefits, and tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from your competition.

You can’t score a bullseye if you have no target. Without a clear value proposition, it’ll be very difficult to reach your marketing goals.

Here’s an infographic from HubSpot that will show you exactly how to do this right.

How to write a value proposition for your content marketing strategy.
Image by Hubspot

4. Branding

Establishing a strong brand identity will play a major part in your content marketing goals. Even if you are a small business you should make an effort to establish a digital identity with a clear brand message. Establishing an identity online means taking visuals, tagline, logo, web design, and having a unique voice into consideration.

Read More: Why You Should Invest in Personal Branding

Once you have created the image you want your brand to have, you need to position yourself in the larger field. This means becoming part of your niche community. In order to successfully integrate with your target audience, you need to first do some market research.

What social media platforms do they use? If they use Twitter you need to be actively tweeting and interacting here. Twitter is a great place to get your brand’s voice heard.

If they use Instagram the most, you should put more time into visual representations of your brand. If your target audience resides on Reddit, get into those discussions. Take note of how your target audience interacts and follow their lead.

Storytelling is also a major part of establishing your brand. So you’ve outlined your ethics and ethos. Sharing the story of how your brand came to be will help to establish an even stronger identity. Storytelling enables online businesses to put a personal touch on their branding. This will set you miles ahead of the crowd as it is often lacking within online businesses. Storytelling also enhances engagement, interest, and transparency.

Effective storytelling means keeping your branding consistent and credible across all channels.

Check out our article here on how to learn the basics of story-telling for content marketing: How to Create Engaging Marketing Content that Customers Actually Read.

5. Metrics for Success

Metrics are markers of success and alert you to where your efforts are lacking. Measuring metrics may seem like a chore, but it shows you what’s working and what needs to change.

However, many marketers make the common mistake of measuring metrics that don’t give them a clear picture of how their website is really performing.  The metrics you measure must align with your goals. For example, a news blog might measure the number of visitors because that’s what they base advertising revenue on. But, this metric may not be relevant to another business.

For this reason, it is important to research and define metrics that can actually track your performance and not the ones that just look good on paper.

Check out our articles here on how to find out what metrics you should pay attention to:

So, there you have it — 5 elements that all successful content marketing strategies have in common. It will take a little bit of time and effort, but once you take these content marketing hacks and apply them to your own content marketing strategy, you are sure to see immediate results.

What do you think is essential to a successful content marketing strategy?

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