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A high-quality, frequently updated blog catches more than just the eye of Google. In fact, the purpose behind blogging is more than SEO.
Effective blogging campaigns attract prospective customers in the throes of researching their problems and possible solutions. The blog posts themselves provide valuable information and insight, and -- most important of all -- establish trust and credibility with your prospective clients.
Sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to put “blog writing” on your weekly to-do list. To attract new clients, your blogging plan needs to be well-researched and thoughtfully executed. Here are five distinctive phases of a powerful six-month content marketing blueprint:
1. Set clear, measurable goals.
Successful plans require clear, measurable goals. Not only will these goals inform changes to your strategy as you go, but you can monitor your progress to stay motivated along the way.
In this case, how will know that you’ve succeeded? What numbers will you be able to tie to your content marketing efforts? These are your performance metrics. Here are a few you might want to make note of:
- Organic, referral & social media visits
- Call to action (CTA) click-through rate
- New Leads generated
- Quality of lead generated
- Leads marked as “opportunities” by sales.
- Opportunities converted to customers
Have a few final, ultimate goals for six months and twelve months out, but also monthly or quarterly goals to monitor as you go. You’ll reassess at six months and decide whether or not to tweak your approach.
2. Identify relevant triggers.
What causes your prospective customers to search for information online about your industry?
These are marketing triggers -- realizations that they need to do something or find out information about something. You can also do keyword research to find out what these triggers might be. After all, people don't sit down at a computer and Google things for no reason.
Brainstorm a list of these triggers -- as many as you can -- and write them down. You'll probably start to see a pattern emerge, or see that several can be rolled up into a larger goal. When you start to slow down, turn to other strategies to identify relevant topics.
Use these topics as your keywords and as your topics for content you plan to develop.
3. Brainstorm and develop content assets.
Once you have identified a set of marketing triggers, it’s time to turn it into clickable content.
Next, write down several questions your prospective customer asks you and group them under the corresponding trigger. These will be your blog topics.
You’ll want to blog at least once a week with well-written, 400-600 word blog posts that speak to your buyer’s questions and awareness.
Create an editorial calendar based on how often you need to update your blog and begin filling out topics.
There are several ways you can develop this calendar. You can base it by season, on your own product releases, or on popular events in your industry. Or you can build your calendar in monthly sets according to topic depth (increasingly more specific on a topic) or timeliness (increasingly more acute to an event).
4. Optimize each piece of the content.
Optimization refers to the process of making your content more digestible to search engines. When you’re developing a content marketing blueprint, both the headline and the content itself needs to be optimized.
There's no rule that says you can't make your blog post's title the actual question your customer asks you.
If you're stuck, though, use tools like Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator or Portent’s Title Maker to fill out titles for your editorial calendar. Or, create titles using a formula that is sure to interest your prospective audience.
Make sure that your marketing trigger keywords are included in both the title and in the content of your blog post. If you mention your product or service, be sure to link people to it in the body of the blog post. Optimizing your content could take up a whole post, so start there.
One last tip on organizing thoughts as you write. We're experimenting with Trello to organize topics. When we think of blog ideas, we write the post title in a "Submitted Ideas" bucket. Here, we can research the topics and make notes on them. When they are being written, they move into an "In Production" bucket, then in an "Under Review" bucket. We've found this helpful in blog post development because it gives us a central place to organize ideas.
5. Execute and promote.
Once you’ve set deadlines and implemented your editorial calendar, zero in on promoting your content. On social media platforms, link to other people in your updates and use hashtags and topic tags, especially on Twitter and Google Plus. Include recent blog posts and content releases in your company newsletter and use your personal network to get the word out.
For a twist, keep an eye out for other people’s social media, too. Set up social media monitoring for competitors and partners. If a certain topic in your industry gains popularity because of a recent news update, review your content assets and move your schedule around to catch the news cycle. To automate this process more, look into tools like SocialEars and Social Mention. We use HubSpot's social monitoring tool to monitor industry topics and news sources for clients. Aim to capitalize on trends whenever possible.
Developing an effective content marketing blueprint requires advanced planning, but the payoff might astonish you. Invest time and energy in these five phases to turn your target audience into happy customers.
Do you need help with content planning?
If all of this seems too daunting, we offer a service where we work with you to develop a 6-month content marketing blueprint for your business based on your ideal customer profiles. If you are having a hard time thinking of blog topics, or think that your industry is "too boring" to sustain a blog, we can develop this for you. Find out if it's right for you here.