During their first few years running a business, most entrepreneurs are trying to keep their heads above water. When you’re busy landing your first clients, learning ropes, and making seemingly endless mistakes, you may not have much time to focus on your content marketing plan.
Now that your business is a little more stable, take a deep breath and take a good long look at your blog. You have some work to do, and the following six tips can help sharpen your sensibilities.
1. Treat Your Blog Like a Client
Image via Flickr by Christian Schnettleker
One of the biggest challenges that beginning businesses face out of the starting gate is consistency, and you’ll see this in startup blogs all across the Internet. You might see a period with weekly or daily blog posts over the span of a few months, but then the site will seemingly go dark.
We get it. When you have to choose between blogging or client work, paying the rent wins. However, now that your business is reaching a better degree of stability, you need to set some realistic calendar goals.
If you treat your blog like a client, you will set aside the right amount of time each week to write, share, and respond to comments on your articles. Even if you post only a few times a month, start following a calendar to set specific dates and times to post. If you don’t respect your internal deadlines, you’ll never succeed in content marketing for more than a few months.
2. Become an Expert in One Area Instead of Average in Many Areas
Has a client ever asked for something completely outlandish that you’ve agreed to because you wanted to impress or feared you’d lose that client? Why would you apply that same level of anxiety and fear to your content marketing?
Reaching a “close enough” state of mind when you try to come up with content ideas in a hurry is not enough. You might pick a topic that’s in the same ballpark as your company, but not something you actually offer. Two dangers exist when following this idea:
- You position yourself as an expert in a topic you don’t fully grasp and damage your reputation by broadcasting incorrect information.
- You seem to offer that product or service, and you alienate potential customers who ask about it.
To avoid this syndrome, create a main topic for your blog and then four to five subtopics that you will focus on during ideation. If the idea doesn’t fit under one of the subtopics, toss it and hone in on your knowledge instead.
3. The Best Way to Become an A-Lister Is to Play With the A-Listers
If you’re struggling to stand out with other big names in your industry, consider engaging with your competition instead of fighting against it. Connect with some of the big names among your peers — or the average-sized names if the big names ignore you — and suggest collaborating on a piece of content. This collaboration could be as simple as emailing a few interview questions or meeting up at the office to record a podcast.
Talking shop will form a bond with your peers, and the interaction might help with lead generation. Vendors who handle major clients often suggest trusted names for smaller clients.
4. Gated Content Is So 2013
Many news organizations and marketing agencies lobby for gated content, one of the more contested ideas within the industry. Many believe that gating your content will do more harm than good: The leads you generate from email submissions will outweigh the bounces of visitors who won’t come back.
Want proof? David Meerman Scott has proven that people will download gated content 20 to 50 percent less than open content. Unless you’re The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, keep your content free. Create a positive content experience with a CTA at the end instead of angering potential leads with an immediate demand for personal information.
5. Play With Paid Promotions
In the same way that your site visitors won’t immediately surrender their email addresses, these visitors might not immediately know that you have new blog posts live. Clients tell us that they share links to content a few times on their social media channels, but they don’t see the traffic they want. The message isn’t showing on Facebook, and the message is getting lost in the chaos of Twitter. If you’re brand is starting out, you might need some paid placements.
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SEO isn’t a game of build and expect traffic. New businesses often express frustration that their brand traffic isn’t taking off like they expected when the demand simply isn’t there. You can’t expect a few thousand brand searches when only a few hundred people know that you exist.
Consider paying for sponsored post features to share your blog content across sites your target audience is known to visit. You could test Google’s Display Network, GDN, to reach thousands through banner advertising. In both cases, you’re able to stay within a set budget and share your brand with thousands of potential visitors.
6. Track What Works and What Doesn’t
We tend to be self-absorbed with marketing. We watch our email open rate tick up throughout the day and praise our highest-performing posts to no end. But what about the content that didn’t do well?
Depending on your posting frequency, use WordPress or Google Analytics to conduct a monthly or quarterly post-mortem on your content:
- What topics generated the most views, shares, or comments?
- What content formats had the most shares, the longest page view time, or the lowest bounce rate?
- What marketing channels generated the most leads, engagement, and ROI?
By gathering and evaluating this data, you should start painting a picture of what content your audience likes and what will generate the most leads. You may find that your audience hates long-form content but will share almost any chart that you post. When you understand how your audience reacts, you can market to that audience more effectively.
The best advice we can give to entrepreneurs looking to improve their content marketing is to make it a priority. If you don’t commit to high quality creation, dedicated curation, and tracking conversions, you many not realize the full benefits that your peers enjoy.