Entering the world of entrepreneurship is a challenging venture.
There are different aspects of running a business that you have to handle – attracting your target audience, delivering on your promise to your customers, keeping an eye on your competitors, managing your cash flow, and a number of other demanding tasks.
That leaves very little time and money for marketing, but if you want your startup to grow and thrive, you have to invest in advertising and branding.
Traditional marketing methods such as TV commercials, billboards, or radio ads are expensive, and yet they’re not always the best channels to reach your audience.
But, did you know that you can connect with your potential customers on a more personal level and organically attract them to your website using a relatively affordable digital strategy that content marketing is?
This marketing practice comes with a double blessing – it costs 62% less than traditional marketing while generating three times as many leads.
However, as many startups struggle to get the most out of their content marketing efforts, we’ll discuss this strategy in detail and offer some tips to help you consistently produce high-quality content relevant to your audience.
Why Does Your Startup Need a Content Marketing Strategy?
Despite the fact that content marketing is very effective in terms of lead generation and more affordable than other marketing practices, 63% % of businesses don’t have documented strategy.
That puts them in an unfavorable position to rely on the guesswork without understanding what works and what doesn’t.
Therefore, if you don’t create a content marketing strategy, you risk wasting your resources because you won’t have a way to measure your results and establish the best practices that you can implement and repeat.
Besides the obvious reasons for implementing a content marketing strategy, such as the affordability and measurability of your efforts, there are others that you should take into consideration.
1. It will boost your brand’s presence
In a crowded and saturated marketplace, it’s essential to find a way to differentiate yourself from the pack and catch the attention of your target audience.
By regularly producing high-quality content, your website will be a valuable resource that your potential customers will visit when they need information about the subject matter you’re discussing. The more content you have, the longer and more frequently they will stop by until they finally decide to purchase from you.
At the same time, you’ll have a lot of material to share on your social media channels and additionally boost your online presence and expand your reach.
Finally, if you have plenty of superb content that’s relevant to particular searches, Google will improve your rankings and show you among the top results, which will additionally improve your online visibility.
It’s worth mentioning that this is a viable method for beating your competitors, even if they’re big players in your industry because successful content marketing won’t break the bank, and you can still get your way to the top of the search engine results page despite being on a modest budget.
2. It will help you establish yourself as an industry expert
People want to purchase from companies that know what they’re doing, and that can solve their problems and pain points.
But, apart from promoting your products or services as helpful solutions, you need to create educational content that your potential customers can use to better understand their challenges and constructively approach them.
Being an authority in your niche will inspire trust and credibility in your audience, and they will be naturally drawn to doing business with you.
To achieve this goal and become a subject-matter expert, your prospects will turn to whenever they need an answer from your field of expertise, you need to create comprehensive blog posts, host webinars, speak at conferences, and pitch yourself as a guest in different industry podcasts.
3. It will help you increase brand loyalty
60% of loyal customers will repeatedly purchase from their preferred brands, which makes them a valuable source of income.
In addition to that, it’s much easier to market to your existing, loyal customers than to the new ones who still don’t know your brand.
With relevant content tailored to your loyal audience’s needs, you’ll be able to position your website as a great source of information.
4. It will propel the growth of your startup
A well-planned and executed content marketing strategy can spur the growth of your startup.
Namely, content doesn’t refer only to blog posts, videos, or infographics that you create for your website for visitors to read or watch.
There are numerous ways to implement content in other digital marketing strategies and grow your customer base.
Some notable examples of this include:
- Email marketing. Offer your website visitors to sign up for your newsletter, and if they like your content, they will accept it. Besides, creating engaging email copy is also content marketing.
- SEO. Search engine optimization heavily relies on superb content as the most important factor for boosting Google rankings. The search engine frowns upon thin content, filled with fluff that doesn’t add any value to searchers. So, if you want to optimize your content and increase its online visibility, the first step is creating content that Google and your audience will approve of and consider relevant and helpful.
- Social media. Content is an excellent way of fueling your startup’s social media channel. You can post your own content or share other people’s and brand’s pieces. That way, you can increase the number of your followers and engage them in conversations.
- Influencer marketing. This relatively new marketing tactic can bring you a lot of new customers. Namely, you can either mention or quote influencers from your industry in your content or reach out to them directly and offer them a guest post. If you connect with a popular blogger or content creator, you’ll have an opportunity to tap into their audience and grab their attention.
- Customer onboarding. After you’ve successfully landed a new customer, it’s crucial to keep them, especially if you’re running a subscription-based SaaS that makes a profit from renewals. Create videos, how-to guides, and blog posts that you can send to your every new customer and get them up to speed on how to best use your product or service. Given that 90% of people think that companies could do better when it comes to onboarding new customers, it’s clear that leveraging highly targeted content and walking the extra mile could give you a significant competitive advantage.
All these use cases of content across other marketing channels can yield great results and support your overall marketing efforts.
How to Build an Effective Content Marketing Strategy for Your Startup?
Before you can start creating your first content pieces, you should first set up your content marketing strategy.
Here are a couple of useful tips that will help you kick start the process.
1. Set a direction
What do you want to achieve with your content?
What are your goals?
You should ask yourself and your marketing team these questions if you don’t want your content strategy to fall apart and fail.
Establishing a direction is a crucial step because you can’t succeed unless you define what success means for you.
Your content marketing goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
2. Research your audience
Identifying your audience and doing research about their interests, needs, and pain points is the next step.
Remember that you need to find out as much as possible about those who are supposed to purchase your products or services. Your content marketing will only be effective if it attracts and engages the right leads that have the potential to convert and become your paying customers.
To be able to create the content that will resonate with them, you need to analyze your target audience on the following levels:
- Demographics. Establish their age, gender, income, location, job title, and similar details
- Psychographics. Learn more about their hobbies, interests, habits, and beliefs.
- Challenges. What makes them look for your product or service?
- Pain points. What problems does your product or service help them solve?
- Resources. What channels do they use to find a solution to their problems?
- Preferred content type. Do they prefer videos, shorter blog posts, or long-form content?
All this information will help you structure your content better, pick the right topics, create pieces that will speak to your target audience using their language, and address their frustrations.
But how do you uncover all this and create content that will answer all the questions they might have about a specific topic?
3. Research relevant topics
When you’re just starting out with your content marketing strategy, it’s only logical that you’re not sure what topics to pick. Luckily, you can simply turn to the existing successful content others have created for inspiration.
Start by researching your competitors – check out their blog posts and social media channels. You’ll get an idea what some of the recurrent topics they discuss, as well as what their audience needs, based on their comments on social media and blogs.
If you want to scoop out the competition and identify the most popular topics from your niche, try using content research tools. BuzzSumo, for example, helps you easily discover the hottest and most popular topics based on keywords.
It displays trending blog posts that have been shared the most on different social media networks, and you can even sort the results according to their reach on each separate channel.
This way, you’ll get an accurate insight into what your audience wants to read and how to pique their interest.
Q &A websites such as Quora or Reddit can also be great sources of information about what your potential customers are interested in.
Finally, social listening tools like Awario lets you eavesdrop on your audience’s conversations on social media and monitor them.
Asking your audience for feedback is an effective way to learn more about the problems they struggle with and questions they have about solving those problems. It’s an obvious and straightforward method to come up with relevant content topics, so create a questionnaire, post it on your website, and send it to your prospects in an email campaign.
4. Decide on your content types
Long gone are the days when blog posts and written materials were the only effective content type.
That’s why you need to adopt a versatile approach and create different types of content that you can publish on various platforms. Think about videos, newsletters, white papers, industry reports, e-books, magazines, brochures, flyers, case studies, social media content, or visual content.
However, you shouldn’t try to create every possible content type at all costs – your audience’s preferences matter when it comes to this too. There’s no need to spread yourself too thin and spend resources on the content types that your prospects will skip or ignore.
For example, if your target audience loves reading and needs educational content, then long-form pieces such as e-books or case studies can be a great way to engage them. On the other hand, if they spend a lot of time on social media, short videos, infographics, and other visually-oriented content will grab their attention.
The trick is to find the best performing competitors’ pieces, explore the topic in more detail, and put your own twist on them.
5. Pick your distribution channels
No matter how superb, well-written, and informative your content is, it won’t get your startup very far in terms of visibility and brand awareness if nobody reads it.
And, you can’t wait for a random visitor to stumble upon your website and accidentally discover all the great blog posts that you keep on churning out.
Therefore, you need to promote your content and make sure it reaches your target audience.
There are various promotional channels, and they can be roughly divided into paid and free. Even in case your budget is limited, you still have to use both if you want to succeed and get your content in front of the right eyes.
- Email marketing. With an ROI of $42, this marketing strategy is among the most cost-efficient ones. Besides that, it’s a great channel for promoting your content in the form of a regular newsletter. It’s worth mentioning that cold email outreach can help you populate your email list very quickly.
- Organic search. By approaching your content strategically and building it around relevant topics and keywords that your target audience searches for in Google, you can attract high-quality traffic to your website organically. Unlike using paid ads, this tactic leverages optimizing your content for search engines.
- Social media. If you’re in the B2B industry, the obvious channels for promoting your content would be LinkedIn, Medium, GrowthHackers, Twitter, and relevant Facebook groups and communities. B2C startups that offer products can experience great success on visually-oriented platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Besides these organic options, using paid ads on social media can help you reach a wider audience. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn boast very granular targeting options, which means that you can pick which segments of your audience you want to target with every particular ad.
- Third-party sources. This tactic refers to influencers or third-party sources that repost and share your content. Although this can happen without your intervention, it’s still a good idea to reach out to and ask them to add your content to their newsletters or share it on their websites and social media channels.
6. Create a content calendar
Planning is critical to the success of every marketing strategy, and the lack of it can lead to project failure.
With a content calendar, you won’t have to worry whether you’ll have something to publish on your website and social media. Namely, being consistent is the key to running a successful blog because if your audience knows that you add a new blog post every Monday and Thursday, it will become somewhat of a habit for them to check it out.
In a similar vein, if your publishing schedule is inconsistent and if you go silent all of a sudden, your readership will start to dissipate.
Another reason for having a posting schedule and sticking with it lies in the fact that Google favors fresh content. By updating your website consistently, you’ll make sure that it’s crawled on a regular basis, which is great for your SEO.
If you don’t have too much content, you can simply use a Google calendar and mark deadlines for every single content piece.
However, as your scale your content marketing strategy, there will be more and more blog posts, articles, and other pieces to publish. If you don’t want to miss a posting deadline or try to memorize everything, it’s best to use some content management tools and editorial calendars such as Asana, Basecamp, or CoShedule.
This will allow you to streamline your content creation process and stay on top of things.
How to Create Great Content for Your Startup?
Now that you know the technical nitty-gritty of researching and setting up your content, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start with the actual content creation process.
1. Identify your tone of voice
This part of the content creation process starts with understanding who your audience is and how they communicate.
If you’re addressing young people, you should use a more relaxed and informal style, while a B2B audience prefers a more serious approach.
Another ingredient is the personality of your brand.
Your tone of voice and the language you use should reflect your core values, beliefs, and the message you want to communicate.
Make sure to keep the tone consistent across different communication channels and outlets because a change in this department could confuse and even alienate your audience.
If you aren’t sure how to choose your tone of voice, come up with a couple of adjectives that best describe your brand and its personality. Think about how you would like customers to perceive your brand – is it humorous and funny, caring, or respectful and serious.
You don’t want to sound off, so it’s important for all your employees to understand how they should communicate with prospects and customers.
For example, a popular fast-food chain Wendy’s, is known for being hilariously witty and sassy on their social media channels. The company regularly trolls their main competitor McDonald’s but doesn’t spare their customers either.
2. Define your core brand messaging
Besides the tone of voice, another element of your content that should be consistent is brand messaging.
That’s practically what you want your brand to communicate through content and what you want your target audience to know about it.
An essential ingredient of your brand messaging should be your unique value proposition. This is something that sets your brand apart from your competitors. It can be a feature, a pricing model, or anything else that gives you a competitive edge over other brands from your niche.
And you should articulate this value proposition and integrate it into your core brand messaging.
3. Establish your content pillars
A content pillar is an informative piece that covers a particular core topic or theme broadly, and it branches out into a number of related derivative sections and pieces.
Such content offers all the answers your audience might have about a certain topic and directs them towards other blog posts or content pieces that will help them explore that topic comprehensively and in greater detail.
4. Establish the content creation process
Now that you’ve identified your branded guidelines and standards, you can get down to the content creation process.
It’s a good idea to design a process that will allow your writers to streamline content creation and facilitate it.
Start by deciding about a topic, picking a publishing date, researching keywords, creating and approving an outline, preparing and revising a draft, and finally forwarding the final version to the content editor.
Your writers should have their own deadlines and it’s important for them to follow all these steps.
As for the number of content pieces per week, you can start with one or two a week, but it’s good to know that companies that publish more than 16 blog posts a month get 3.5 times more traffic than those with fewer than 4 updates a month.
5. Create versatile content
As we’ve already said, content doesn’t equal blog posts.
It’s much more effective to create multimedia content such as videos, audio content, and infographics.
People prefer watching videos to reading, but and it’s also important to provide transcripts of your videos for visually impaired people since they use screen readers to access the content.
Other types of content include checklists, how-to guides, e-books, opinion pieces, customer testimonials, use cases, research papers, you name it.
6. Understand the purpose of your content
High-quality content is informative, educational, and helpful.
It should add value to your prospects and after reading or watching a content piece, your audience should learn something new that will improve their lives.
Finally, your content needs to have a purpose – ask yourself what you want to achieve with every blog post, infographic, or video you create. Do you want to generate new leads, nurture the existing prospects, sell, build brand awareness, or something else?
The answer to this question will help you monitor the performance of your content and its outcomes.
Tips for Outperforming Your Competitors
Each month, 70 million new blog posts are published on the WordPress platform.
That’s a lot, which means that you need to try hard to make your content stand out and outperform your competitors’ efforts.
After performing an analysis of their content, you will gain valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses as well as identify opportunity gaps that you can use for your own benefit.
Creating high-quality content sounds vague and general, so here are some tips to help you create better pieces than your competition.
- Leverage the Skyscraper framework. This, in other words, means building up on an existing idea or topic, popular with your audience. So, find a blog post with a lot of authority backlinks, create an even better piece of content on the same topic, publish it on your website, and finally, promote this piece to the right people and suggest them to link back to it.
- Fill content gaps. Do content research and identify content gaps that your competition failed to notice and use these topics or keywords to create content around them. This will bring good rankings instantly.
- Create longer content. Longer posts tend to perform better as they contain a lot of valuable information, so extend your existing pieces or create brand new content longer than 2,000 words. If you don’t have the time, you can always outsource this task to a content writing service.
- Add eye-catching visuals. Aesthetics plays an important role when it comes to content. Add visually appealing visuals that will catch your audience’s attention to your content.
- Make your content easy to scan and digest. A wall of text will put many readers off, so make sure that your content is snackable, that is, allow your prospects to easily find the information they’re looking for. You can do this with proper formatting.
Creating content is a time and resource-intensive method, but it can help your startup build and grow an engaged audience. Follow these tips and best practices to create an effective content marketing strategy, attract your prospects to your website, and nurture them into becoming paying customers.