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In the first part of our content marketing series, we discussed the what and how of content marketing. In this article, we’ll bring you through 5 easy steps to build a personalised content marketing strategy that works for your brand.  

By now, you already know that content marketing is essential to take your business to new heights. 

This method of attracting and nurturing leads has been proven to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways of establishing brand awareness, build trust with your target audience and even acquiring new customers.

When planned and executed strategically, content marketing can boost web traffic to your business site, increase social following and establish yourself as an industry leader.

An effective content marketing plan is strategic in both its production and delivery. Without a well-developed execution plan, your content would lose all its meaning. 

The difference between content marketing and having a content strategy

Content marketingContent marketing strategy
Content marketing is all about using relevant and valuable content to attract and retain visitors, eventually turning them into paying customers.Content marketing strategy is an overview plan you have for every piece of content related to your business. In other words,  it is the blueprint that maps out the production and delivery of content for your brand.

If you’re unsure of how you can start your content marketing strategy, look no further. In this guide, we will walk you through 5 simple steps that will help you develop a content marketing strategy that’ll drive results and grow your business.

5 Essential Steps to Help you Develop an Effective Content Marketing Strategy:

Step 1. Set Your Goals Strategically

Step 2. Understand Your Audience

Step 3. Streamline Content Process

Step 4. Distribute Content Effectively

Step 5. Optimize Content for SEO

1.     Set Your Goals Strategically

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible to the visible.” This inspirational quote from Tony Robbins, an American author and public speaker is what you need to remember when you kick-start your content plan.

To know what content pieces work for your brand, you need to first map out an overview of your strategy (setting clear and defined objectives), establish ROI targets and outline a clear direction for your business’ growth.

Here are some goals to help you get started:

  • Increase website traffic
  • Attract new prospects
  • Convert leads to customers
  • Gain influence and authority
  • Increase visibility in search engines

These are measurable and quantifiable goals which will help you measure the effectiveness of your content strategy in the long run.

Using tools such as Google Analytics will help you measure key metrics such as web traffic and top viewed pages. With these data, you’ll know what content works and what doesn’t. This will help you make informed revisions to improve your strategy progressively.

2.   Understand Your Audience

After setting your goals, the next crucial step would be to identify and understand your target audience.

This is important because a customer’s purchase decision is highly dependent on whether they find your content valuable and helpful. Therefore, content marketers have to keep in mind their target audience in order to create content that sells. Otherwise, you might fail at creating content that your customers care about.

If your content resonates well with your customers or you helped them understand what to buy, they’re likely to purchase from you.

Using data to segment your target audience

One way to can create the right content that reaches your customers is by collecting demographic data. Web analytics and social media sites are a reliable source of audience data. They often provide customer insights such as audience demographics, interests, education, income, and so on.

Here’s an example of how you can use Google Analytics to collect audience data to plan topics and create content that suits their interests.

To obtain these sets of data, go to Audience » Interests » Overview. In that page, you will see the market segments of your site visitors. Under overview, take note of the affinity categories (that are grouped by interest) with a greater reach (higher percentage). These are topic categories that most of your audience are interested in and topics that you should be creating.

Google Analytics can help you identify your audiences’ interests

Social networks also offer similar data. For example, you can get demographic information on your Facebook fans via Facebook Page Insights.

Facebook insights allows you to understand the
demographic of your audience such as age and gender

From these data, you can move on to categorise your audience into broader categories and create customer personas. Customer personas are extremely useful to help you identify the needs and wants of your customer. Knowing who your customer is will also will help you craft the right message that speaks to them directly, thus humanizing your marketing communication.

3.     Streamline Content Process

Once you’re done with the first two steps, you may begin planning your content production. This is where you will streamline your content marketing efforts to produce fast and efficient content.

Start your plan by defining the buyer’s journey. In most cases, you can base your strategy around these funnels: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.

The first one is the awareness stage, where people seek answers to their questions through research. The middle funnel is known as the evaluation stage, where people conduct extensive research on whether your product or service is a perfect fit for them. Lastly, the bottom funnel or purchase stage is where people figure out what it would take to become your customer.

You should take these funnels into account when creating content. There should be content pieces (i.e. product guides, blogs, social posts, research studies, etc.) specifically designed for each stage of the funnel.

Next, you must plan an editorial calendar. Brainstorm content topics with your team and assign writing and editorial tasks to your key team members.

It’s ideal to keep all your content ideas in a spreadsheet. However, spreadsheets have their downside. They lack automation and commenting functionality. If you want to see everything in place and avoid missing deadlines, you can opt for content calendar tools such as Google Calendar, Kanban Flow, Trello, Contently, and more.

4.     Distribute Content Effectively

Content marketing isn’t only about developing high-quality content for your target audience. It also deals with the process of promoting and distributing your content through different channels.

If you fail to distribute your content effectively, it would be impossible to reach the widest audience possible. You’re also likely to fail your ROI targets such as driving traffic to your website, attracting new prospects and customers, gain authority, and more.

2 Common ways to distribute content.

1. Building an email list.

It’s important to have a mailing list because reaching out to people via email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.

But how do you build an email list? Here are a few tips on how to encourage visitors to subscribe to your email list:

  • Include CTA buttons on every landing page on your website
  • Add pop-up images or slider on all your landing pages
  • Send out pop-up surveys while visitors are browsing
  • Add email captures at the end of your blog posts
  • Re-engage contacts inactive subscribers

To learn more about creating a mailing list for your business, click here.

Once you created your email list, you may proceed with content distribution. You can create a paid subscription model for premium content, send weekly newsletters and exclusive content (i.e. How-to videos, invitation, etc.), offer exclusive coupons or discounts, and more.

This will help you engage and connect with potential and existing customers at a lower cost (compared to paid ads to boost sales). Due to its greater outreach, conversion rates are also likely to improve.

2. Social media is another powerful platform for distributing content.

Globally, around 3.8 billion people use social networks including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This means you should establish your presence on at least some of these channels in order to attract a greater pool of customers.

Here are some tips to curate content for your social media accounts:

  • Repurpose and curate your own content
  • Be consistent with your updates
  • Share your blog articles and other content on social media
  • Post engaging visual content such as videos, infographics, slide presentations, and more
  • Create content based on the latest trends or news and share it across your social networks (increasing “shareability”)
  • Create dynamic content or dynamic paid social media ads

5.     Optimise Content for SEO

Content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are intertwined. The two might be different in concept but they are an essential combination for content marketing to generate results.

While the former focuses on creating and distributing content for a targeted audience, the latter helps to make your content visible in search engines. This combination is also known as SEO optimised content which will result in 2 main benefits for your business.

First, it will help your site rank higher on Google.

Quality content is what engages your target audience. As more readers pick up your content and shares it with their network, it creates greater engagement and traffic to your site.

With more engagement and clicks on your content, Google recognises your site to be relevant and valuable to users. That is because Google thinks online users are searching and liking your content, therefore prioritizing your page over others. Consequently, Google rewards your page with a higher position in their search results page (SERP).

After building a strong web presence with a higher site ranking, you will start to attract more targeted traffic and increase your customer base.

Over time, your brand can establish a strong brand presence online and become a reputable source of information when users search for content you posted about.

Secondly, SEO-optimised content like landing pages can prompt higher conversions.

SEO optimization is important to decrease loading speed of a page in order to provide a pleasant user experience for your audience.

When your webpages load fast, are easy to navigate, and optimized for desktop and mobile, site visitors may stay for a while and continue browsing for a longer time. In this case, you have a better chance of holding their attention and turning them into paying customers.

Optimizing content for SEO requires both the technical and content writing skills to ensure you enhance the effectiveness of your content for the search engines.

Search engine optimization typically involves the following procedures:

  • Perform keyword research
  • Write content based on keywords
  • Optimize content for main keywords
  • Build backlinks
  • Update links and keywords
  • Analyse rankings and traffic

To bring in more traffic to your website and achieve better results, hire a competent SEO specialist or SEO agency. SEO experts can help you to facilitate web results and monitor your campaigns.

The Takeaway

It will require some time before your content marketing strategy takes effect.

Nevertheless, you should still make your content marketing strategy the heart of your marketing initiatives. It’s crucial for building your brand identity and winning the confidence of your target audience.

Whether you’re new to building a content marketing strategy or you’ve been using the same approach for a while, it’s important to constantly revise your strategy to ensure it stays up-to-date, innovative, and engaging for your customers.

Make use of our 5 steps guide we’ve provided, and you’ll be able to develop a strategic approach to drive online visibility and growth for your business.

If you’d prefer an agency to help you manage your company’s content marketing, feel free to contact us.

Many companies have started developing an online presence for themselves. However, most still fail to unlock the numerous digital opportunities for their businesses. Why is this? The main culprit is poor persuasive copywriting techniques.

Your business website isn’t what builds your brand on the Internet. You can potentially reach millions of customers to visit your website, but once on your website, your profitable actions are driven by something else altogether.

Your compelling content. This is what builds your brand, keeps visitors engaged on your website, gets them interested in your products or services and ultimately drives them to buy from you.

The most successful businesses acknowledge the importance of high-quality web copy. Apple, for example, hires a large team of talented copywriters who continuously produce excellent copywriting.

The hype and craze around Apple’s products are a result of both high-quality products AND good marketing that is supported by effective copywriting. Apple copywriters know exactly how to generate hype for their products and convert visitors into buyers.

If you want to grow your business, learn how to sell with words as Apple does. Read on to find out how you can win over clients through persuasive copywriting.

What Is Persuasive Copywriting?

As its name suggests, it is the practice of writing compelling copy that persuades visitors to take the actions you want them to.

Copywriting is almost an art form. It requires creative thinking to enhance the value of a copy, and entice people to take some form of action based on reading it.

However, the truth is that there is also science behind turning words into money.

Brilliant copywriting relies on an important branch of science: psychology. The goal of writing copy is to trigger the brains of your readers and elicit a response to your message.

You should tap into core beliefs and human behaviour to better connect with your audience.

There are many psychological triggers that can help encourage visitors to click and buy, but the most widely used triggers tap into human emotions.

According to Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Business School professor, 95% of our purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. This means people tend to make decisions with their emotions, not their logical brains.

If you are serious about growing sales, combine creative writing with persuasive psychological triggers for a winning combination to influence customers.

Before you integrate emotional triggers into your marketing copy, you should consider mastering the following copywriting techniques first.

1. Rhyme Makes a Copy Shine

We’re all exposed to the melodic beauty of rhymes from a young age. Nursery rhymes like “Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are.” are easier to remember because of the witty rhyming pattern.

The same holds true when writing copy. In the book To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink shares a study where participants are asked to rate two statements with the same meaning but written in different ways:

“Woes unite foes” vs “Woes unite enemies”

While both statements drive the same message, readers find it easier to accept the one that rhymes.

Rhyming statements can make content memorable. This copywriting technique can make your important points stand out, thus helping create a pleasant connection with your readers.

Bonus copywriting tip:

You don’t have to fill every nook and cranny of your website with rhyme-packed poems. A catchy rhyming phrase is best used when selling the benefits of your product or service.

Example:

The thinnest, lightest, fastest iPhone ever. (iPhone 5)

2. Repetition Catches Attention

Nursery rhymes aren’t the only offering from daily life for your copywriting lessons. Aspiring copywriters can also learn from mothers and grandmothers who share the same wisdom-filled lectures so many times that you never forget the words they speak even years later.

Repeating key points in your copywriting is a good thing. (Oops. Rhyme not intended.)

It is a tried and tested method of catching the reader’s attention and driving home certain points.

However, repetition of words or sentences isn’t always welcome. We’re even taught in school to avoid repeating words unnecessarily. Why else do we have the thesaurus?

Repetition becomes bad when it makes the copy redundant and full of fluff. It can tire readers if they have to go through the same thoughts over and over.

And then there’s good repetition. Repetition can be a powerful linguistic tool when used effectively. It can draw more attention to your overall message and form coveted long-term memory links, which is essential to converting a prospect into a paying customer.

If you don’t get what we mean, grab some inspiration from Apple’s watchOS ad copy.

Here, Apple did not repeat the phrase but reframe the idea to stress important points.

Bonus copywriting tip:

Use repetition purposefully. You can use it to emphasize the points in your copy or make the tone more convincing, more emotional, and more dramatic.

3. Sometimes, Less is More

It is true that long-form content converts. An article, for example, with more than 2,000 words, can drive high-quality search engine traffic and encourages a better conversion rate down the funnel due to the brand authority it helps to build.

This is not always the case though. We now live in the “instant age”, where a lot of people have short attention spans. Site visitors rarely read every word on the screen. In fact, they typically spend only 10 to 20 seconds on a website.

If your website copy (i.e. landing pages) does not grab your visitors’ attention, they are unlikely to stay longer. In the right instances, you should, therefore, practice keeping your web copy short, simple, and concise.

Just because long-form content converts does not mean you add filler to your copy. Instead of working with a view towards the length of your copy, focus on providing value in as few sentences as possible.

Check out at how Apple pulled off a concise yet catchy product page copy.

Apple MacBook, Rose gold

The headline can be read and understood in less than a second. With just three words, readers will know what’s good about the MacBook—it’s lightweight and has robust performance that will last for years.

Bonus copywriting tip:

Always break down long sentences. Turn them into short and memorable statements. Combine the text with visual elements to deliver the message effectively.

4. Cut Clichés from Your Copy

Ever wonder why people use clichés? There are two main reasons. First is because oftentimes, they turn out to be true. Second is the coolness factor of using such phrases.

While the latter sounds like a great reason to use clichés in your copy, abusing such phrases can hurt your credibility. Readers may perceive your brand as lazy and lacking careful thought.

Let’s look at a few common clichés that you hear in work settings and can mean many things:

“Breakdown the silos” could mean ‘share information,’ ‘work together,’ or ‘cooperate with each other.’

“Take it offline” – when put in layman terms, it means ‘let’s continue this discussion at the break,’ or ‘I’ll send a follow-up email with those details ASAP.’

With such phrases, there is always the chance of misinterpretation that hinders effective communication.

A common cliché also makes for a boring copy. Associating familiar or overused clichés with your brand could lead to it seeming unoriginal. Next time you consider clichés, come up with something unique for your brand instead.

Bonus copywriting tip:

Keep your copy fresh and real. Tell the story that only you can tell. Communicate with everyday language. Think creatively and stimulate new ideas.

5. More Active, Less Passive

Writing in an active voice is one of the most common copywriting techniques. Every writer sticks to this for a variety of reasons— make the text more concise, create a faster-moving narrative, and improve search engine rankings.

Here’s the catch: not everyone follows the rule strictly. Most of us use passive speech naturally, which makes it hard to avoid using passive phrases in writing.

There is always an exception to the rule though. You might use a passive voice when you want to be vague. For example, to deflect full responsibility, you would say “mistakes were made” instead of “I made a mistake”.

There are also instances where passive voice can be more concise. For example, Made in Australia. If written in an active tone, it would have more words – “Australia has produced…,” or “Australia produced this…”

The above exceptions are a great defence of the passive voice BUT active voice works better in most cases. Imagine the McDonald’s slogan “I’m lovin’ it.” written in a passive voice as “It’s being loved by me.” Not quite the same impact, is it?

Mcdo logo, i'm lovin' it

Passive writing adds unnecessary words to a sentence. It makes your marketing copy dull, clunky and hard to read, so avoid it when possible.

Bonus copywriting tip:

Almost every passive sentence has an active alternative. Rewrite your sentence and check if the active sentence form makes sense.

6. Forget About Weasel Words

No one bets on or trusts something that seems uncertain. Would you hire an event planner if she says “I think our team can meet your expectations.” You would rather love to hear words of assurance like “We will do our best to meet or exceed your expectations.”

The same thing applies to copywriting. Your copy should reflect your brand as a solid and stable company. In short, avoid using weasel words.

What is a weasel word? It refers to a term used to avoid making a direct statement or promise.

Fun fact:

“Weasel word” originated from weasels, an animal that is believed to suck the yolks from bird’s eggs, leaving only the empty shell. This belief is used to describe statements that have had the life sucked out of them.

Using weasel words can undermine your brand.  If your headline, sub-headings, and body copy consist of words like maybe, try, could, may, hope, it associates your brand with instability in your visitors’ minds.

Let’s say you run a courier service business. If your web copy states “We will try to deliver your parcel as soon as we can,” your customers will assume you are not getting many orders.

The statement is accurate in that certain deliveries might be delayed due to bad weather and calamities. However, the use of weasel words casts doubts about your overall business capability in the eyes of visitors.

Audiences today are sharper and wittier than ever. So shun vague words in your copy.

Bonus copywriting tip:

Establish confidence in your copy. Use specific examples or illustrations to instil confidence in your visitors. Like Nike – Just Do It. (-;

7. Limit the Exclamation Point

How often should you use exclamation points in marketing copy? More often if you want to sound like an overly excited child would be the answer! You will likely ruin the chance of getting prospects to click that buy now button!

Did the excessive use of the exclamation marks in the previous paragraph make you cringe?

We hope it makes clear our point about exclamation points. Adding the punctuation mark in sentences unnecessarily make it seem like you are shouting at your readers.

Back in the 90s, it was the norm to use an exclamation point with a call-to-action (CTA). “Sign up now!” “Order here!” Nowadays, it has been ditched for a more minimalist call-to-action method.

Marketers realize that using exclamation points is akin to adding pepper to a dish. Too much of it will overpower every other flavour and result in no one enjoying the meal.

Use exclamation marks only if they fit your brand voice. Avoid using multiple exclamation marks in sequential sentences—unless it is part of your brand identity.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “using an exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” Keep that in mind whenever you feel like using this particular punctuation to inject excitement in your copy.

Bonus copywriting tip:

There are many ways to draw attention to your marketing message besides adding an exclamation mark. You can underline, italicize, use all caps or highlight words to emphasize them.

Make Your Copywriting Shine

Instead of simply mulling over how to improve your copywriting skills, why don’t you simply get started?

The competition in copywriting is fierce. You cannot just wait for things to happen. Start writing copy and learn from mistakes along the way to online marketing success. Start with the copywriting techniques we have shared in this article.

Need copywriting for your company but can’t afford a bevy of talented copywriters like Apple? No worries. You can outsource your creative writing needs and hire professional content writers or content agencies.

At 2Stallions, we offer content marketing services to help businesses develop a brand voice and reach their target audience through more effective copy and content.

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