One of the most difficult parts to being a startup is the lack of available resources. With most startups focused on perfecting their core competencies, it makes it very difficult to devote time, energy, money, and other resources to areas like digital marketing.
To make matters worse, new verticals like content marketing, which can have a huge impact on the success of a startup, require specific knowledge and expertise that you and your other employees might not have. Don’t worry if this sounds familiar, content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. This article will get you headed into the right direction with 3 basics to starting your content strategy.
If you’ve ever listened to a live soccer match then you have heard the announcers excitement after a goal. After several minutes of players working, following a strategy and executing it perfectly, they finally arrive at their objective (goal). The same process can apply to content marketing, but before you ever get to the execution stage, you need to come up with clear and measurable goals. For the sake of simplicity, try and follow the SMART goals acronym.
Specific: When you implement your content strategy, what is the outcome or action that you want as a result? Make sure to be clear, concise and targeted.
Measurable: You should have goals that can be measured. This will help you decide if your strategy was a success or failure.
Attainable: You want goals to be challenging, but not completely out of reach. Push the boundaries, but make sure that they can be reasonably met.
Realistic: Is is realistic that 100% of visitors who land on your website will become customers? Probably not. So don’t set goals that are unrealistic.
Timely: A defined timeline will set boundaries and accountability.
By keeping the SMART goals in mind, you should outline the goals of your content marketing before you ever begin. An example could be the following: “I want to achieve 30 email signups to my new eBook within the next 30 days.”
2. Start With the Audience
Content marketing might seem scary to a startup because it’s a long-term play, and you want short-term results, but that can’t stop you from investing into it. Content marketing is crucial for startups because it can get visitors to your website, inform them of your unique selling proposition, and even convert them to customers or advocates. The best part is, content marketing is not that hard.
At its core, each and every one of us understands what makes a strong content strategy. Have you ever searched a question online and found the answer in one of the results? Have you ever read an article or watched a video online that you felt compelled to share with your friends? Or, maybe you just saw a funny photo or meme online that made you laugh and that was it. Whatever the case, you have most likely had some favorable experience with content online and that is the core of a good content strategy.
Keeping that in mind, your content marketing plan needs to be molded by your target audience. This is where the strategy can get fun. Whether you realize it or not, your company has some established sales funnel. There can be many stages, but typically speaking they are:
Top of the Funnel: Part of your sales process where you are likely initiating the conversation. People might not be customers now or ever, but there is some dialogue started. At this stage your content is just trying to generate brand recognition and as much traffic as possible. The hope is that by casting a large net, you can move a percentage of this audience further down your funnel.
Middle of the Funnel: Part of the sales process where someone has shown moderate interest. You want to create informative content that answers their questions and emphasizes your benefits and unique value proposition.
Bottom of the Funnel: The stage of the sales process where the individual is highly likely to purchase. Content at this stage needs to be conversion focused and actionable.
With the different stages of the funnel in mind, you should create personas of your target audience at each stage. This will give you a definitive “who” for the content you create. Knowing that, you’ll want to talk directly to that persona and highlight their unique needs. Think back to the content that you found valuable at some point or another, that is the same type of content you need to be creating for these individuals; valuable, informative and relevant.
3. Research. Research. Research.
So now you have your objectives and understand your different target personas. Next, you need to focus on research. This is not researching content ideas, but rather researching the content strategies of your competitors and other publishers in your industry as well as what other companies and publishers outside your industry are doing successfully.
The first place to start the research is inside of your industry. Check out what your competition is doing on their website and social pages to attract and retain visitors. Do they use targeted landing pages? Do they have an engaging blog that is updated regularly? Really take some time to dissect everything that your competition is doing from a content perspective and make notes of the things you like and the things you don’t.
After looking over your direct competition, the next thing to do is look at publishers inside your specific vertical. For instance, take a new headphone startup in the technology space. They shouldn’t just look at what their direct competitors are doing, they need to look at what general technology publishers are doing like Gizmodo or TechCrunch.
Non-commercial publishers can reveal a lot about how you should approach content marketing. Take the screenshot from TechCrunch above, you can see that they emphasize engagement, information, and conversion. They want to drive signups to various newsletters as evident by the large sidebar subscription section. From a content standpoint they are producing high-quality, timely articles that are informative and well-researched. If the startup headphone company took a similar approach to the layout and style of content, they would certainly garner relevant visitors.
The other place that most businesses don’t think to look when conducting research for their content strategy, is outside of their vertical. You will limit yourself if you are only looking at similar publishers and brands. Taking a glimpse at other industries, that you’d never think to consider, might help you to find strategies that are untapped in your vertical. Just because a brand or publisher is not directly competing with you from a business perspective, doesn’t mean they are not competing for the attention of visitors. Open your mind to the possibilities of incorporating unique and untested strategies.
Content marketing as a startup might seem overwhelming and cumbersome. But, content marketing has the power to drive visitors to your website, keep them engaged and coming back, while also helping you inform and convert them into clients. This is one of the most valuable tools any startup can invest in, and it certainly should not be overlooked. If you are interested in getting your content marketing strategy jump-started, keep in mind the tips above or reach out to CopyPress directly!