Content marketing has already become sort of a buzzword. Everyone is talking about it, but very few know what it really is and how to use it right. Some even think that all you have to do is write an article or two, post them online and wait for the leads to start flowing right to your website. Well, not even close.
Our team at Chanty has come a long way as a self-funded startup with zero customers but grand ambitions to take over the team chat world. Trying to put our product in front of the prospective users on a shoestring budget was quite a challenge. We surely got a few bumps along the way! But finally, our efforts are paying off.
That’s why we would like to share the invaluable experience we got along the way with you.
#1. The Who
Your audience should be at the core of your marketing strategy. Trying to get content in front of the wrong people will be a massive waste of time and money. Just think about it: you can’t sell dog food to a person who doesn’t have a dog.
Similarly, you can’t expect the teens to take interest in what middle-aged business owners like to read about (and vice versa).
Only the content that focuses on the unique interests of your audience can drive results. Get to know your readers (i.e., prospective customers) better. Learn about their struggles and expectations. Knowing (and, most importantly, understanding) the challenges your “ideal customers” face is crucial to effective marketing. It will help you tailor your content focusing on specific pain points and, eventually, get better results.
I can’t think of a better way to find out who your target audience is than getting to know your existing user base. Run a survey to learn more about your current users — their demographics, professional and personal interests (if you don’t have that information already). Talk to your sales or customer support managers — believe me, they have a lot to say about your clients.
You can also use Albacross, the first ever free B2B Lead Generation Network, which will help you know your audience better. This software enables you to turn website visitors into leads and to get extra information of the companies interested in your business, such as the pages they visit, their chief decision makers and how you can contact them.
If you don’t have any customers yet, conducting an in-depth market and competitors research can give you a headstart. Make an assumption. Create the content with this assumption in mind. Test it out to see if it actually works.
If you’re not sure which information to look for, Hubspot offers handy templates to get you started.
The problem is, sometimes, it’s hard to identify your ideal customer, especially if your product isn’t industry or market-dependent. For example, there is no definite buyer persona for a communication tool like Chanty. We have a wide demographics with cross-industry users from 50+ countries, of different age, position, income, etc.
#2. The What
The second essential element of your content marketing strategy is… well, content. It’s what you share with the audience you’ve identified. And creating the content that really works isn’t as easy as it may seem.
There are only two steps for crafting quality content.
- Find the relevant topics — something your audience will want to read.
- Write unique, thought-provoking copy that will touch the right chord.
When you’re just staring out, finding the right topics to cover might be a challenge. In this case, tools like Google Keyword Planner or Mondovo Keyword Research could be the best place to start. No more guessing games — you can instantly see what your audience is looking for.
We started our search with the most obvious keywords — different variations of “team communication app.”
An example of keyword formula for our blog.
We realized that our chances to get a decent Google search rank with such overused keywords were very poor. How can you possibly beat such a competitor as Slack if it has almost become a synonym for “team chat”?
This was when we decided to dig a little deeper and finally hit gold. It turned out that many people are looking for products to substitute Slack and other popular team messengers.
The “alternative” keywords were quite popular (1,000 – 10,000 searches per months) but not overused. Plus, they clearly conveyed a high buying intent. Bingo!
To test out our assumption we wrote an article comparing different chat apps and created an optimized landing page. The results came quickly.
Our Google Search rank changes since we started focusing on “alternative” keywords.
The traffic that started flowing our way was overwhelming. Plus, the content had a relatively high conversion rate (about 10%). It’s worth mentioning that blog articles performed much better than the landing page, optimized for the same keywords.
Performance report on the article vs. landing page.
At this point, it became clear in which direction we should move with our content marketing. So, the next step was to create more content to keep up the good work. Looking ahead, we can say that it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. Our articles comparing different team chat apps still generate a fair amount of traffic and also convert exceptionally well.
Yet, even the best keywords won’t convince your audience to read a poorly written or zero-value article. That’s why the quality of the produced content is so important.
Judging by our experience, great content is:
Great content doesn’t sell. It offers unique insights and helps the readers solve their problems. That makes educational content so valuable and effective.
All in all, creating quality content isn’t that hard. Just make your articles worth reading and the results will follow naturally.
#3. The Where
The last step of our strategy is to put your content in front of the prospective leads to see it. And where else you can start than the Google Search?
With the tons of content flooding the internet, getting to the page one on Google Search (as well as staying there) can be a lifelong battle. A thorough SEO audit can help you pinpoint and fix the main issue by giving you a headstart to the top.
As soon as you understand your current SEO metrics, you can optimize your content for better ranking. Here are some of the proven tactics to start with:
- Find the right keywords and make sure to use just the right amount of them
- Cross-link the article with other pages on your website as well as other websites to improve its value and credibility
- Earn backlinks from reputable resources
- Use visual and interactive content
One more thing that we’ve learned about SEO is that high click-through rate eventually leads to better website rank. Ironically enough, the studies show that the higher you rank is, the more traffic you will get.
The higher the CTR, the better the rank.
So, regardless of your current rank, you need to make users click on your link. And the best way to do so is to make sure your snippet stands out from the other search results. Using symbols, date, rating, etc. are only some of the tricks you can use to improve your CTR.
An example of a snippet that stands out from the rest of the Google Search results.
It is also important to optimize your title and description to look good on Google search. They should be short and sweet but powerful enough to make the users want to learn more.
One more way to reach your prospective leads is by publishing your content on the resources with the relevant audience. Guest blogging has many benefits, from getting valuable backlinks to building brand awareness and credibility with your content.
As for the specific ways to get your content posted by other websites, we at Chanty used the so-called staircase guest blogging strategy. This basically means starting with smaller, less popular blogs and further “climbing the stairs” to reach the most popular resources.
Of course, it took hundreds of man-hours to find the right resources, pitch the editors, write and polish our articles. Yet, the effort turned out to be well-worth the result. Getting our articles featured on such resources as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Hubspot, etc. helped us grow monthly traffic from 0 to 5-digit numbers in a year.
One more thing…
There’s one more question left unanswered: the when?
And the answer is — ALWAYS.
Content marketing is an ongoing process. You can never have enough content to keep you on the top of Google search results. Articles get outdated. Your competitors can pick up your strategy and beat you at your own game.
That’s why you should also keep a close eye on the results of your marketing efforts to see how different types of content or different keywords perform. This will help you keep yourself from falling into the same trap over and over again. Or, on the contrary, find the key to your success and improve upon it.
Any successful business begins with a well-thought-out plan. Having a solid marketing strategy, you will know what to do, how, when and where to do it. Yet, what works for one person can’t be a foolproof masterplan for the others.
The strategy we shared in this article proved to be extremely effective for us. We got traffic. We got leads. We converted them at a reasonably high rate. We even managed to establish credibility as a brand thanks to our guest posting efforts. So, we hope our experience will inspire you to find your own path and get even better results.
Do you have a content marketing strategy in place? Are there any hacks you would like to share? Or maybe you would like to say thanks for the tips we shared:) Let us know in the comments section below.