This post was sponsored by Express Writers.
A personal how-to on content strategy from a CEO who has sold over $4 million worth of content services.
I know the value that a great content marketing strategy, and consistent comprehensive content creation, can bring. The path isn’t easy, but the effort can return 100x what you put into it.
I’ve just launched a certification course (15% off for SEJ members!) that I’ve created to answer an industry need. Here’s the backstory.
A Success Story Fueled Completely By Content
We’ve managed to outrank competitors in Google that have $9+ million in outside funding with our little self-funded, 40-person content creation agency, by an immense 3 percent. We rank organically for more than 11,000 key terms, with organic search visibility worth $57,000+ monthly.
And we haven’t paid a penny in ads — across six years — to gain the majority of our leads and clientele. They’ve come straight from these rankings.
How well do they convert?
After optimizing my strategy and increasing my content investment, we had the best sales month we’ve ever had and now my agency is on track to break our first seven figure year.
99 percent of our leads come through organic content marketing.
I’ve never invested a single dollar in PPC.
It’s all about your strategy and your commitment. It’s a steady, slow, but sure process. It can feel like hard, low-return work in the beginning, but in the long run, content is the best marketing you’ll have ever done.
The Secret Is in the Strategy: 6 Keys to Success
Your content strategy is everything in achieving high-performing, high-ROI content. Follow these critical steps, in order, for a baseline sense of how to navigate through and set up your strategy.
1. Know your position of authority and differentiation in your field.
Know where your expertise lies, own it, and then find your Content Differentiation Factor so you can officially stand out in your industry. Ask yourself, “what would make a customer choose me over my competitor?” Your answer is your CDF. Condense it to one or two key sentences (you may need a conversion copywriter).
- Uber: ”Get there: Your day belongs to you”
- Moz: “5 billion searches are performed every day. Be found.”
- Zuke’s Dog Blog: “Live life off leash”
- Better Bites Bakery: “All joy, no worries”
- My agency: “Better content in your marketing.”
2. Know your content goals.
What do you want to get out of content? Bucket in three key areas:
- Organic search rankings (you’ll define your terms later in the strategy).
- Sales and connections.
- Brand awareness.
This narrows down the chances of you creating undirected, low-ROI content.
3. Know your audience.
Get to know your audience, their language, the conferences they attend, and the publications they read. Find out persona data by doing surveys on your audience (invest in a paid Google Survey if you don’t have an audience yet).
4. Build a persona and style guidelines for your brand.
Once you have surveys and have profiled your ideal client, build a persona. Then, create a style guidelines for your brand. Include your audience persona, specify how to use your company brand name, style and tone of voice, linking and content rules. This document is invaluable when you start investing in content creators.
Skype says: “If your mum couldn’t understand what is being written, then it’s not the Skype voice. Humour is an important part of the Skype voice.”
5. Know keywords, content topics, and investments to make.
Keyword discovery should be a part of every brand’s content strategy. Go for long-tail keywords and use tools like KWFinder and SEMrush to find your best keywords according to how well they’re scored. Look for relevant, low competition keywords.
Your topics can and should branch outside of SEO terms. Use tools like BuzzSumo and question/answer platforms like Quora to discover trending topics in your industry you can write on with authority.
Commitment is key, and can guide your investment. It takes 12-24 months of consistent content creation to see results. If you can’t write a consistent stream of content yourself, invest in an industry copywriter. We’ve seen our clients 10x their rankings and results when they invested in an authoritative copywriter.
6. Build your editorial calendar.
Keep this part simple so you focus on the other cores more (research, publishing, promoting). Guide your topics by the keywords you find and your brand awareness focused topics. Use Google Sheets or Trello to store your editorial topics in one place, month after month.
7. Promote, maintain, and audit.
A content promotion strategy should be in your mind from the moment you create content. Tie topics to holidays, seasonal launches to guest publication dates, and more. Content maintenance and auditing should be part of your strategy. The content you published years ago might not reflect your skills today, and some may be seasonally outdated.
Get a Visualized, Step-for-Step, 6-Week Content Strategy Certification & Training
One of my biggest goals this year was to turn what I know into a comprehensive training course.
I’d taken a few courses, and the ones I experienced all lacked one thing: the practical how-to of “what do I do next?”
I learned content creation ROI the hard way, through trial and error. And after training dozens of writers with content I wrote for internal education at my agency, I’ve seen firsthand how this industry is lacking in a practical, hands-on education.
Over the last three months, I put hundreds of hours into creating an ultimate Content Strategy Certification Course.
In the course, my students learn how to build a brand content strategy: and my team and I personally review and mentor their results before they progress to certification.
Here’s to changing the industry — one high-ROI content strategy at a time!
Just for Search Engine Journal readers, get 15% off now until the course closes on July 11 using code SEJ15OFF.
Have an agency and want to certify and train your staff? Get in touch with me to discuss seat discounts.
Featured Image: Image by Express Writers. Used with permission.
In-post Images: All screenshots by Express Writers. Used with permission.
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Author: Express Writers