A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing

Recently while thinking through how to explain content marketing to others I decided I need a little help so I reached out to an expert who I know locally, Ashlie Cornelius. She has worked in a university setting, for Fortune 500 companies and for the past several years has worked as a consultant for high end markets helping businesses with their marketing strategy and brand awareness.

I was lucky enough to get a little of her time on a Thursday afternoon recently. As soon as we started talking about content marketing she told me about a Dilbert cartoon she often cites.

She laughed and said although, “the cartoon is funny, it is not the case. With Content Marketing being the backbone of any SEO strategy, there is a lot of thought and preparation that goes into developing the perfect content marketing strategy.”

I needed to push in just a little. I feel like I know the importance of content marketing, what I think we miss sometimes are the steps to understand and execute a strategy. So I asked Ashlie what is the first thing we need to think about when creating our content strategy? Turns out, she didn’t have a lot of time to talk, she is really busy! But she asked if she could write something and send it along, and now I am lucky enough to pass it along to you.

So here is the gold, a few simple rules to creating your content strategy from Ashlie Cornelius.

The first thing you need to think about is what is your purpose for putting out content? Some companies want to generate greater brand awareness, while others are looking to increase leads. Experts say not to put out more than 30% of content and social media posts that are
“salesy”. When developing your purpose it’s important to have several goals to align your
content with.

Know Your Audience

The second thing is researching and knowing your audience. Review the Google Analytics on
your website and write content according to your most clicked pages when first starting out.
Another good strategy is writing about trending topics either in your industry, or how they
could relate to your industry. Being newsworthy is important when SEO and clicks are
concerned. Who knows, you could go viral!

Develop Your Personas

Next, you’ll want to define your audience with personas. For instance, many businesses have
numerous audiences such as B2B and B2C. By identifying each group you can appropriately
determine content that relates to them. An easy way to keep this organized is using a
management tool such as Trello.

While you are brainstorming for your different audiences, also align this with the different
types of content you can use. Some of my favorites are how-to articles, case studies,
infographics, industry news and expert interviews. I also like to throw in personal touches about
the brand when possible like employee spotlights, video announcements, and photos of the
culture and staff working on projects.

Keyword Research

After jotting down some ideas and getting a good start on a content calendar, do some SEO
keyword research and make sure as you are writing you are optimizing your content. Have an
engaging title that not only makes people want to click, but has your keyword. Write a meta
description that is also engaging, includes your keyword and drives clicks, and expand on your
keyword in the content and include secondary keywords throughout the piece.

Stick to a Schedule

Determine a distribution plan and stick to a schedule. When your audience
starts engaging in your content, they will begin expecting content. You should stick to a
schedule, not only does this keep fresh content on your website for SEO, but also drives traffic
and can grow your audience in your distribution channels, such as social media.
So, just like the Dilbert cartoon, you’ll probably need some liquor after the first few months of comparing your content analytics to the benchmarks you set. That’s the fun part: problem solving and making adjustments as necessary.

One Final Tip

One suggestion when creating content, NEVER write about anything controversial. They say any press is good press, but as we have seen from Uber, that hasn’t exactly been a positive thing for that company. Stick to non-controversial trends, don’t take a stance on topics and stay neutral. Have a little fun and write conversational in some pieces, your audience will appreciate seeing the culture of your business.

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