Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to drive traffic to your website. But, let’s be frank here. It isn’t as easy as it used to be in the 2000s—or even in the 2010s, for that matter. Today, getting your content across and read is more and more difficult due to the explosion of low-quality, generic content, and our decreasing attention span.
But does this mean that content marketing is dead?
According to DemandMetrics, content marketing produces 3 times as many leads and costs 62% less than other traditional forms of marketing.
The question is, how can you create engaging content and market it so you get the best results?
In this article, we will share 6 highly actionable tips you can use to make content marketing work for your business, and as a result, get more traffic, sales, and customers.
1. Outline Your General Topic And Then Solve a Problem
First of all, you‘ll want to make sure that all the content you create (or your writers create) is of high quality.
How do you do that?
a) Focus On a Specific Topic/Scenario
The biggest problem with most content nowadays is that it’s too generic and only provides the obvious (and already well-known) advice.
Here’s how you can avoid creating content that doesn’t work:
Let’s say you have an online store where you sell fitness equipment. Given the industry, you’ll want to create content that attracts health-conscious people, newbies who just started their 2020 weight-loss journey, and fitness enthusiasts. As such, you might want to tackle topics like:
- How to build more muscle at the gym.
- Top 5 workouts to build a better body.
- Three ways you can quickly lose weight.
Now, all these topics are way too broad to get covered in a blog post. Entire books have already been written about them.
What you’ll have to do is create an outline for each general topic and split it into smaller, more specific ideas. Let’s take a topic like “How to build more muscle at the gym” and create an outline for it:
|Outline: How To Build More Muscle At The Gym|
-Prepare for your first day at the gym
-Build more muscle: How your body works
-5 exercises you can do to build muscle (and how)
-What to eat/not eat for maximum muscle
-How to maintain motivation for bodybuilding
Once you have created an outline, take a point from it and turn it into a blog post.
For example, “How to prepare for your first day at the gym” is a great blog post idea because it can provide actionable value and insights that your reader can apply right away.
Use this strategy to create content that isn’t too generic and focuses more on a specific problem/scenario. This way, your content will be more engaging and more likely to be read, shared and acted upon—which is what content marketing is all about!
b) Create Long-Form Content That Goes In-Depth
According to research by BuzzSumo and OkDork, long-form content gets shared more than short-form content. But at the same time, creating high-quality long-form content takes more time and money, as it is usually longer — from 3000 to10000 words.
And since long-form content is a heavier investment, how do you make sure people read it?
Well, here are some tips:
- Pay special attention to structure: Adding headings and subheadings to your content is always a good idea. But in long-form content, this is doubly important because it helps readers navigate your long article with ease and quickly scroll to the parts which interest them. Bear in mind that headings, as well as subheadings, visually show the reader the level of importance of the following paragraphs, as they highlight key concepts and your supporting ideas.
- Add media elements: Adding blocks and blocks of paragraphs is the best way to make sure very few (if no one) reads your long-form article. To make it more interesting, add charts, quotation blocks, tables, images or embed videos—and if you have the budget, fancy illustrations. They go a long way to make your articles more readable.
- Focus on making it credible: If people are to invest time in reading your long articles, make sure you have the data to back things up. This can either be studies or research that support your claims, data that gives weight to your opinions and statistics that reinforce the importance of your topic and its conclusion. Don’t forget to link to the research source.
- Interview experts: Quoting authority sources in your articles can do wonders. Going back to the fitness equipment online store example above, you could invite a nutritionist and a fitness trainer to share their recommendations on “What to eat/not eat for maximum muscle” in a blog post on your website. You’ll link to them and they’ll surely share your content on social media.
2. Use Keyword Research to Find Great Topics to Write About
You should optimize your articles for SEO (but that’s a topic for another day). And, as part of SEO, you should do keyword research, which is what we’ll focus on in this section.
Keyword research is an important part of content marketing for two main reasons. It helps you:
- Find trendy topics people are interested in learning more about, providing the insights you need to create more engaging content.
- Improve your ranking on search engines so that your article shows up when people search using the keyword that you’ve optimized your article for.
Of course, the second point should be taken with a pinch of salt. Keyword research isn’t enough on its own. You should also go check other SEO boxes, like backlinking, and even optimize your content for voice search.
With that in mind, let’s look at how you can do keyword research to find great topics:
a) Start keyword research with SEO tools
There are many tools available that will show you the search volume for a particular keyword and other keywords related to it. For example:
- Google’s Keyword Planner Tool: This tool is by far the most trusted one for keyword research. However, for it to work properly, you need to be an active ad-spender. Otherwise, it will only show you a very wide range of numbers that won’t be too useful.
- Ahrefs: This is another great SEO tool for finding out how popular a certain keyword is and other keywords related to it.
- Moz Keyword Explorer: Moz is a very well known website recognized for great SEO tips and tools. And one tool is the Moz keyword explorer that shows you the performance of a keyword and other related keywords.
b) Find trending topics on forum sites
Another way to go to find trending keywords is by using forum sites to find trending topics. Sites like Reddit and Quora usually get a lot of questions that are popular among different core audiences. By browsing these sites (or other forums), you can find popular topics to write on, depending on your industry. And if you’re willing to invest a bit of money, we recommend subscribing to BuzzSumo. It’s a service that shows you popular articles for a particular keyword.
c) Use search engines to find trending terms
Type in a keyword into Google, YouTube, Bing or Amazon and you’ll find a wealth of keyword suggestions. It’s a great way to quickly find trending topics related to long-tail keywords (keywords that have three or more words) you can write on.
Once you find a particular keyword, don’t stuff it into your article. Rather, only sprinkle it thoughtfully in places where it makes sense, like:
- The article URL
- The meta tag and meta description
- Any ‘H1’ heading
- Inside the article itself (where it makes sense)
- In backlinks linking to that article
This will help you rank your article for your chosen keyword, giving it more exposure on search engines, and consequently, more traffic.
3. Build an Email List to Retain Your Audience And Get Returning Visitors
More often than not, people will forget visiting your site again, no matter how great the content within it is. Email marketing is one of the ways to retain the people who visit your site and love its content.
Starting with email marketing is quite easy to do.
Add a subscription form to your website asking visitors who like its content to enter their name and email address. In return, they will receive a newsletter with relevant high-quality content. The benefit of doing email marketing combined with content marketing is simple.
Content marketing attracts people to your website. Email marketing retains those people. Then, using a series of drip campaigns, you can turn your email subscribers into actual paying customers.
And it works.
According to a report by eTail, the majority of small businesses use email marketing as a channel for customer acquisition and retention.
To add an email subscription form, you can use a free tool like Sumo or a fully-fledged form builder like Optinmonster. Once the form is live on your website, you’ll need an email marketing tool to manage your subscribers and create email drip campaigns.
For that purpose, there are three great options:
- ConvertKit (Paid)
- Mailchimp (Free and Paid Plans)
- Activecampaign (Paid)
You can connect either of these email marketing tools to the form on your website and start collecting email subscribers. Don’t forget about GDPR, if you’re targeting EU visitors.
Once done, you can send them a weekly/monthly email with your latest content. This will drive a steady flow of visitors to any new content you post on your website.
4. Turn Your Articles Into Social Media Posts, Audio Podcasts, and Infographics
Sharing a link to an article on its own isn’t very powerful—and won’t get many people to click on it—especially since today’s internet users are more and more wary of clickbait content and spam.
Thankfully, you aren’t only limited to sharing the ‘link’ to your article.
Instead, you can repurpose the content within your article and share it in many ways. You can, for example, create:
- Infographics: People love looking at images more than text. For this reason, you should create an infographic of your article, outlining its most important points (such as tips and information, statistics and data, and advice). Under your infographic, you can add a link to the original article from which the infographic was created.
- Social Media Posts: Similar to infographics, you can create three to four graphical posts that show the most important points in your article—and share them on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This increases your chances for people to like, comment and visit the article which expands on the ideas mentioned in the social media images.
- Audio Notes/Podcast: You don’t have to create a podcast from scratch. You can instead speak out the content in your articles and post them as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and more.
And that’s not all. You can also turn your blog posts into slides for SlideShare, pins for Pinterest and whatever you fancy. Doing this, instead of sharing a simple link, is more likely to get you new visitors.
If you can’t hire a graphics designer, you can simply create your own illustrations using easy-to-use tools like Canva. They have many available templates but try to always keep in mind your brand image and color palette.
5. Curate Your Most Popular Posts Into an Ebook And Distribute It
Another great way to repurpose your blog posts is to turn them into an ebook. How you repurpose your content depends on you, but here are some strategies we suggest:
- Top Blog Posts: Look at your Google Analytics dashboard and notice which of your posts have the best engagement. See if you can find an overarching topic and compile the blog posts into one PDF. There you have it. An ebook packed with valuable insights that your previous visitors have already shown interest in—and a great way to attract other visits.
- Long-Form Blog Post: If you’ve created a very long blog post, you can turn it into an ebook, with each main subsection acting as a chapter on its own. This is useful for people who don’t have time to read such a long post at once, and want to save it securely for future reading.
- Case Study/Research Guide: If you write data-backed articles or case studies, you can compile your most surprising (and valuable) findings into an ebook that people can refer back to.
Once you create an ebook, you can share it on social media and add it as a lead magnet in your email subscription forms. People who want to download the ebook can simply enter their email to receive the file in their inbox. Plus, you can add a call to action to your ebook encouraging people to share the link to it on social media.
This way, your content will spread much further than a single blog post would.
And even more important, a good ebook will also help position you as an industry expert, increasing your brand credibility.
6. Pitch Articles to Websites and Journalists
Guest posting is a great content marketing strategy to drive traffic to your own website’s content.
Here’s how it works:
- Chances are, if you do a bit of research, you will find an industry blog or resource, that gets more traffic than you and has a target audience that you want to attract to your website.
- If you do, you can email its owner/editor and pitch them with a topic or article idea that their audience will love. If you can, pitch multiple people who run the website. To find their contact info, you can go to their About Us or Team page – or use LinkedIn or a tool like Hunter.io to directly get in touch with the website owners. Make sure you choose a topic that’s related to the content of your website—and also to the website’s target audience to whom you are pitching. If accepted by the website editors, write the best article you possibly can and submit it for publishing.
Before you submit the article for approval, make sure you get a byline or the ability to link your website to your article. This way, the people that find your content interesting will be able to visit your website for similar content.
Plus, by guest posting, you also improve the domain authority of your website as well, which helps it rank higher on search engines.
But what if you are unable to get your guest post approved?
Well, no worries. You can post the content to your website and contact influencers who have a similar audience to yours (and could be interested in content such as yours) to share it on their social media pages or link to it. Thanks to their large followings, you will get a healthy flow of traffic to your website.
Of course, implementing this tip is very hard, and the chance of success isn’t the highest. But if you keep at it and get a guest post published, the reward (traffic!) will be well worth it.
Another way to go is subscribing to platforms like Help A Reporter and keeping an eye out for media inquiries you could provide answers and expertise to. Once you find one you can pitch your proposal to them. Over 55,000+ journalists and bloggers are there, so a lot of exposure opportunities.
Bonus Tip: Experiment With Paid Advertising
As you can see, content marketing is a long-term game—and one that can bring in results and leads if done right. If you want to jump ahead and directly get in front of an audience, you can try advertising your content—and your website as a whole—on popular marketing channels such as Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.
Of course, paid advertising gets your content in front of people faster, but will require a significant sum of money.
In the end, we recommend you try advertising, but along with a sustained traditional content marketing strategy as, in the long run, it is still one of the cheapest and most effective ways to get traffic to your website.
Have any tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear what worked best for your content marketing strategy.