At Sales BQ® we strongly believe in creating revenue engines. This means that marketing, sales, revenue operations, and customer success teams work in tandem with each other in a holistic way to generate revenue. The marketing department is in charge of attracting leads to the website, engaging the prospects, and delighting the customers. An important aspect of the inbound marketing methodology is creating an engaging content strategy that communicates directly to your target audience to attract new leads and engage prospects. Content delivers the message of your inbound marketing strategy.
Learn more about our inbound marketing methodology by reading Don’t Just Build A Sales Team; Build A Revenue Engine With This Inbound TOFU Strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
First, let’s start with the basics: What is content? Content is the information you’re trying to deliver to your visitors, leads, customers, and promoters. There are many different ways you can deliver content:
- Blog posts
- Website pages
- Social media
- Print collateral
- ...and beyond.
However, if you don’t have a message, there is no content to deliver. You must determine the message that you want to deliver to your audience. Your message could be lessons on how to grow revenue, guides to staying HR compliant, interior design hacks, or any other message that makes sense for your brand.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Content marketing is a major part of the buyer’s journey, all the way to the end. The content that your company produces should attract the right people to your website, convert them into leads, and nurture them into customers. Once they are customers, your content should continue to delight them, which will turn them into promoters of your brand. Content marketing really is about communicating with your prospects and customers and giving them valuable educational information—without having to sell them.
How does a long-term content marketing plan help your business?
Without a map or sense of direction, you won’t have much of an idea of where you are going or how you are going to get there. Similarly, without a roadmap, your content will likely be sparse and lacking purpose. Creating a roadmap for your content produces a more strategic and organized approach. Content can be time-consuming to create, so it's critical to have an established purpose for each piece of content that is released.
In order to achieve ROI on your content efforts, you need to be consistent in your approach, so you can grow an expansive library of content that establishes your brand’s authority within your market.
A long-term content plan also helps your company stay organized. It is inevitable that there will be roadblocks and delays, but having a content plan in place allows your organization to get back on track faster.
Marketing teams often are focused on many different marketing initiatives at any given time. Creating a content calendar and long-term content strategy holds the team accountable while making the content creation process more efficient.
How to build a long term content plan.
There are three main components of a content plan to help you develop and keep track of your content initiatives:
- Setting Goals
- Identifying Your Buyer’s Journey
- Creating a Content Library
Think about the results you want from your content marketing strategy, and set short-term and long-term goals to fuel motivation. Developing goals helps you organize your time and resources so that you can be efficient in your content creation efforts.
A short-term goal is something that you can accomplish within a few months. To start, your short-term goal might be to identify the first 3-5 long tail keywords that you want to build your content strategy around. These long tail keywords should be used to create topic clusters and pillar pages around. Check out our Sales BQ® Guides for an example of a topic cluster and pillar page. Our Guides are our long tail keywords and main topics, then we have sub-topics that further support the main topic.
A long-term goal is something you want to achieve within the next 1-5 years. A great long term goal is to build out a content team of 3-6 people. When there is only one person producing content it can get overwhelming and you may not be able to produce as much content as you would like. As you begin to define your content strategy, you can invite other people to join your team. These could be internal co-workers that specialize in different areas of the business, or contract copywriters. You want to aim to produce 20 pieces of content per month to really maximize your SEO and content strategy.
Working backwards from the goals you’ve set, you can create content that directly relates and contributes to reaching your goals. This establishes a laser-focused approach to all content creation and gives all of your content true purpose.
Identifying Your Buyers Journey
A strong content strategy will include content that is relevant to your buyer throughout their entire journey. Your content needs to attract the buyer to your website, lead them through the consideration stage with educational resources, and guide them to the decision stage with confidence. After the prospect has become a customer, your content should continue to delight them and provide value, so they become spokespeople for your brand and refer you to others.
Knowing your buyer persona you can develop content that you know they will find valuable.
During the awareness stage, you may want to offer a downloadable ebook that lists out the problems your ideal customer might have and provide some value on how they may be able to solve those problems. Remember—this is not the time to pitch your product or service. You need to guide them through the actions they can take to solve their problems. For example, if your company is in the field of HR, you may create an ebook on how to make new employee onboarding seamless. This can be a major pain point for companies, and they may be seeking information on improving the employee onboarding process. Your ebook will list out all of the things that the company needs to do in order to have a successful onboarding process. This is when they might decide that they need to enlist your company’s help—and now, they’ve entered the consideration stage of the buyer's journey.
During the consideration stage, your prospect is going to need more detailed information. Consider offering a webinar that delves into further detail on improving onboarding and employee retention. Then, explain some of the benefits of outsourcing HR, where your company can step in. With all this information, the prospect can move into the decision stage, and get in contact with your organization.
The more that you learn about your buyer personas and their unique paths through the buyer's journey, the more specific and personalized you can get with your content strategy.
Developing Your Content Library & Content Calendar
Once you have determined which content will benefit your buyer personas, it’s time to look at all the content you currently have and conduct a gap analysis. Find out what current content could be refreshed and identify content opportunities for the future.
You will want to develop a content library that consists of all your existing content. A content library can be an Excel spreadsheet that lists out the title of the content, the type of content, the buyer persona it is geared towards, which stage in the buyer's journey it falls under, and a link to the content. This creates a convenient place to access all of your content when you want to send out a resource or backlink it.
Once you have created your content library, it’s time to plan out the content you will release next. The content plan should revolve around a theme that leads you to your overall goals. Your themes can change monthly or quarterly.
Based on the theme you’ve chosen, you can plan out related blog topics. Some of your blogs should include high-quality gated content that visitors can download. Gated content not only provides your prospect with valuable information, but also provides you with their contact information, which allows you to nurture your relationship with them and eventually turn them into a marketing qualified lead to pass to the sales team.
Next, you should identify what kind of inbound marketing campaigns need to be created. These marketing campaigns should be relevant to the overall theme of the month or quarter, while also bringing value to your buyer persona as they move through the buyer's journey. The blog posts should directly align with the inbound marketing campaign, which will allow you to save time by recycling or repurposing your blog content.
Webinars are another great source of content that allow you to interact directly with your prospects and build stronger relationships. Your prospects can sign up for the webinar, ask you live questions, and interact on a more personal level with your organization. Like every piece of content, the webinars should also directly correlate with the theme you have chosen.
You’ll want to plan your email communication as well. You should have a variety of emails planned out that promote the month’s initiatives. These could take the form of a monthly newsletter that links to all of your new resources, or in the form of shorter weekly emails sharing the blog that was just released, or the webinar that’s coming up.
Last but not least, you will see the social media communication broken down by channel on the far-right side of the content calendar. Here, you will plan out all of the social media communication that promotes your content and the month’s initiatives.
Developing a strong content library and content calendar will keep you aligned with your ultimate goals for the long term. It can be easy to push content back from one week to the next, but by creating a detailed content calendar, you know exactly what needs to be executed on and when. When you hold yourself accountable to a consistent content strategy, you’ll start seeing consistent results.