Within the first year, approximately 20% of small businesses will fail.
By the end of five years, half will fail. After 10 years, 70% of small business owners will have failed.
If you’re an entrepreneur, how are you going to break free of the small business failure statistic and stay within the 30% success rate?
You might think passion, dedication, plus hard work is the only special formula you need. If you just put in the time and effort, surely you’ll be successful. Right?
But do you honestly believe that only 30% of entrepreneurs had enough drive to make it? Or is there a missing ingredient in that formula beyond the blood, sweat, and tears?
The sad truth is, most of those small business owners who failed in the end had plenty of passion. They invested every spare minute into their work. They were dedicated and ready to succeed, just like you.
So, what went wrong?
Chances are, they didn’t have a successful website content strategy in place.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What content marketing is and why it’s important for businesses
- How to create a winning content marketing strategy
- The 6 must-have pillars that will form the foundation of your content strategy framework
Sign up for our FREE masterclass to learn all the skills you need to build a 7-figure business with a winning content strategy.
What Is a Content Strategy & Why Should Businesses Have One?
A content strategy is the marketing technique of setting business goals and then creating a long-term content plan to drive traffic and establish yourself as an expert authority.
For example, maybe one of your business goals is to drive more brand trust. Your content strategy should be focused on search engine optimization (SEO) with content that is well written, authentic, relevant, valuable, and contains credible links.
What do I mean by “content”? Is that just a professional way of saying “blog”?
Yes and no:
Yes – business blogging is the most effective SEO initiative for your website and overall content strategy. An active SEO business blog brings in an average of 434% more indexed pages and 97% more inbound links, so… yeah. It’s an important piece.
No – the content in your content strategy doesn’t have to be 100% focused on blogging. It can also include social media posts, images, videos, infographics, case studies, templates, ebooks, digital presentations, podcasts, etc.
This is where YOU decide what kind of content marketing strategy is going to work best for your business and your audience.
I can’t hand you a carbon-copy blueprint that will work for every single B2B and B2C company on the market. There is no one-size-fits-all. Every business has its own unique market niche and specific audience demographics.
But I CAN tell you there’s a good reason why 92% of marketers and businesses believe content is a valuable asset and 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing.
- SEO drives 1,000% more traffic than social media.
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing. It also generates approximately 3x as many leads.
- By 2024, the content marketing industry is predicted to be worth more than $600 billion.
- Content creation is already the top outsourced activity among B2C organizations.
The key benefit to a content strategy is that it’s a long-term investment. If you’re going to be in the 30% of successful entrepreneurs 10 years from now, you need to be setting those foundations NOW.
Are you ready to make that investment? Watch my masterclass video for FREE to learn how to leverage content marketing to build your brand.
How to Create a Content Strategy Framework in 6 Steps
I can personally attest that content marketing works. I built my writing agency, Express Writers, from the ground up using content as my base.
You don’t need to pour tons of money into content marketing. I started with less than nothing. I had $75 to my name. At the time, I couldn’t even afford to buy a domain for my website.
I learned a lot of business lessons along the way, and now, my agency is worth more than $5 million.
How did I turn a $75 company into a $5 million company without running a single ad?
Short answer: I published an article on our agency’s Write Blog every week for 10 years.
Long answer: I created a sustainable content marketing strategy based on long-form content that was optimized for search engines, appealed to the base within my market niche, and cemented my agency as an established expert in the industry.
I’ve been in the content game for more than a decade, and I teach an intensive course on this very process.
Here are the 6 pillars I use in my SEO-driven content strategy framework:
1. Know Your Foundations: What Is Your Content Differentiation Factor (CDF)?
Content marketing is a targeted approach, which means you can’t dive in blind.
Before you start creating your first piece of content or even researching keywords, you need to answer some questions first:
What are my business goals?
This answer will drive your entire content strategy based on the goals you want to accomplish. Are you striving to get more leads? Create brand awareness? Publish data, studies, and infographics for backlinks? Educate people?
What is my market niche?
You should already know your home base, or at least have a pretty good idea. A B2B content strategy is going to take a different approach than a B2C strategy. Are you focusing on local SEO, or will you be taking a more widescale approach, such as a SaaS business that services clients all around the country or globe?
Who is my audience?
It may feel like you’ll be sending your content out into the void of the internet, but that doesn’t mean you should be creating generic content for anyone and everyone.
Think about who specifically is going to be seeking out and reading your content. If you’re writing for people over 60, you’ll be using different language than you would be if you’re targeting Gen Z. Think about demographics such as age, gender, income, etc. so you can speak directly to the people you’re trying to connect with.
What problems will I be solving?
Most content is designed to entertain or educate consumers. Ideally, your product or service already exists to solve a problem. Your content should play to that same effect. Not only should it work to help people figure out their challenges, but it should also provide value in the form of a solution – i.e. your product.
What are my qualifications?
Think about your experience and expertise. Why should people trust you? What makes you qualified to speak as an authority figure?
Keep in mind that you don’t need a college degree or bestselling book to be qualified. Simply speaking from your own personal experiences as an entrepreneur can go a long way, as long as you have a valid connection point.
What can I offer that is unique (my CDF)?
Your content differentiation factor is what will set you apart. What can you offer to your consumers that your competitors can’t? What is your unique angle?
2. Audience Discovery & Brand Position: Who Will Be Engaging with Your Content?
By the time you’ve answered the questions from the first step, you should know your:
- Business goals
- Market niche
- Target audience
- Personal qualifications
- Content differentiation factor
Now, we’re going to zero in even further on your audience.
Identifying them is just the first step.
Understanding what they want and how to convert them is a separate matter. This is where creating an audience persona is beneficial.
Let’s look at an example.
Say your business is focused on selling running shoes. If every single piece of content you publish is essentially focused on BUY MY SHOES, THEY’RE GREAT!!!, how engaged do you think your audience is going to be?
Instead, consider relevant topics that could be tied into your expertise, such as health and fitness apps, staying hydrated, warm-up exercises, knee health, marathons, training, etc.
Imagine how many articles you could write, all with highly relevant information your consumers are actively searching for (and all ending with a call-to-action highlighting your shoes in relation to solving a problem presented in the content).
How do you identify the needs and interests of your audience?
- Review online comments
- Research synonymous keywords to see what people are searching for (we’ll examine that closer in the next section.)
- Study your competition
- Send out customer surveys
- Create audience personas
In addition, you should conduct brand awareness research to understand how customers currently perceive your business. Your content marketing strategy can help to change your image if it’s negative or enhance it if you’re on the right track and just need to amplify your reach.
3. Understanding Keywords: Search Intent & Low-Competition Opportunities
Keywords are the bread and butter of an SEO content marketing strategy.
What exactly is a keyword?
Also sometimes referred to as a focus keyword, it’s a word or group of words that describe the topic of your post or page. It’s the search term that Google and other search engines use to rank websites and pages when someone types a query into the search bar and Google finds the best matches.
A long-tail keyword is a highly specific search term that has low search volume (and therefore lower competition). You can see where the name comes from when you see how it’s laid out on the search demand curve:
I know what you’re thinking – why would I want to focus on a keyword that has low search volume? Shouldn’t I be targeting popular keywords instead?
If you go after the high-demand search traffic, you’re going to be competing with hundreds, even thousands of other websites, all fighting for that same keyword. Which means your website, especially if it’s brand new, will end up WAAAAAY in the back of the search results. Do you think anyone is going to click past page two, let alone page 80, and actually find your content?
With a long-tail keyword, you have a much better chance of landing on page one.
People who search for highly specific keywords are also much more likely to convert because they have a clear search intent.
If someone types “how to bake a birthday cake from scratch” into Google, it’s easy to see exactly what kind of information they’re looking for.
Compare that to someone who just typed “birthday cake” into the search bar. Are they looking for a local bakery where they can buy a cake? Searching for ingredients? Instructions? Design ideas? Cake flavors? A picture for an elementary school art project? It’s harder to convert visitors when you don’t know what they need.
In order to find the keyword “sweet spot,” you’ll want to research long-tail keywords that are relevant to your niche.
Keyword research tools are available to help you.
While it’s tempting to go for a free keyword research tool, I personally don’t recommend it. After researching paid and free tools in my SEO content writing course, I discovered the free tools were much less reliable and provided misleading insights.
My top 3 recommendations for keyword research tools are Semrush, KWFinder, and Ahrefs.
But here’s a pro tip: You can actually do a lot of keyword research for free with Google to find synonymous keywords.
After you type your primary keyword into the search bar, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Google will provide you with similar keywords that people have been searching for.
4. Building Authority Through Content Cores: Establish Yourself as an Expert
Here’s the thing about content – “fake it ’til you make it” doesn’t work.
If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it won’t take long for your audience to call BS.
This is true now more than ever before. 2020’s misinformation epidemic put consumer trust at an all-time low, according to the Edelman 2021 Trust Barometer.
As people lost faith in their elected officials and traditional media sources, they turned to businesses for information instead. This put companies in a unique content authority position. While consumer trust as a whole is at record lows, confidence in businesses actually increased.
What does all of this mean for building your content marketing strategy?
Content creators are in a fragile position. Your audience is looking to businesses for guidance, but they’re wary of misinformation. You have the chance to win them over with trustworthy content or turn them away for good by failing to meet their expectations.
If your brand is going to be perceived as an authority, it must:
- Provide relevant and accurate information
- Cite sources with links to credible websites
- Speak from a position of experience
- Offer unique insights into your market niche
- Be optimized for search engines (don’t forget to download my free SEO content writer cheat sheet for tips!)
One of many reasons content marketing is successful is its ability to show rather than tell. You aren’t swindling your consumers by saying, “I’m an expert. Take my word for it.”
Instead, you’re showing them. There’s no need to boast you’re an expert because people will understand that all on their own, based on the authority of your content. It makes you authentic, credible, and trustworthy.
You also need to have a home for your content. Think of it as your content house. This is the place where you lay all of your groundwork and build your authority with a bottom-up approach.
You absolutely need to have your own website to do this. If you use a third-party platform such as Facebook for your home base, you run the risk of losing all of your hard work in the blink of an eye if that platform were to pull the plug.
Just like an actual house, you’ll need to keep up with maintenance. That means publishing regularly, updating old content, and staying true to your roots (niche and audience).
5. Practical Content Creation: Delegation & Consistency
A common rookie mistake that many new content creators make is to think that quantity is more important than quality.
It’s easy to fall into that trap, especially when the data seems to back it up. For example, HubSpot surveyed 7,000 businesses and found that companies with 1,000+ pages bring in 9.5x more traffic compared to businesses that had less than 50 pages.
Better start cranking out as much content as possible to get 1,000 pages, right?
Those businesses have been creating content for a long time. They’re doing well not because they have a lot of content (although that is part of it since they’ve built up a large reservoir), but because they have GOOD content.
Search engines and content quality are intimately linked. Google has openly said that content could “likely matter more than any other factor.”
High-quality content is a serious time commitment. Publishing one great article a week is infinitely better than pumping out ten low-quality, poorly researched pieces.
For small business owners, that time needed for research and writing can be a tall order. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to a professional content marketing writer. You can’t be expected to juggle every single task for your business – that’s not sustainable.
Content strategy work you SHOULD delegate:
- Keyword and search intent research (post-ideation)
- The majority of the writing
- Image brainstorming, design, and creation
- Formatting, optimizing, and scheduling the post
- Social media content promotion
Work you should NOT delegate:
- The ideation process
- Your business and content goals
- Key research points
- Proofreading and editing
- Adding personal touches and stories into the content
When you find a good balance for delegating, it will be easier to publish on a consistent basis while still giving your content the time and attention it needs to stand out and perform well.
I know… this is a LOT! Need more resources? These books deserve a shelf spot in your library of references.
6. Editorial Calendar & Post-Publishing: Your Brand Ecosystem
We’re almost there! You know who you’re writing for, what kinds of topics you’re writing about, how to research long-tail keywords, which tasks should be delegated, and where to build your content house.
Now, it’s time to put it all together.
Building a brand is only half of the equation for success. The other half is fostering the right environment to let it flourish. Consistent publishing as well as maintenance is crucial.
You should be:
- Using a calendar: Have your content planned and scheduled ahead of time so you don’t find yourself scrambling for a topic at the last minute.
- Auditing old blog posts: When done correctly, your content should have a long lifespan. Keeping your posts relevant and up-to-date with new links, statistics, and information will ensure that they continue to perform long after they’ve been published.
- Budgeting your time and expenses: Don’t lose track of your outsourcing costs. If you choose to delegate (and you should), make sure every dollar invested is going into high-quality content creation.
- Promoting your content: Share your content across multiple platforms and channels to boost its reach and increase its lead potential.
- Monitoring analytical data: Use tools such as Google Analytics to keep track of how your content is performing. Pay close attention to both your highest performing and lowest performing articles. Why are certain topics doing well while others seem to fall flat? Which types of content are best engaging your audience? How can you use this data when planning your future content?
Content marketing isn’t something you can publish and forget. The ROI is incredible, but only if you invest the time and effort to maximize your content strategy.
Set Up Your Content Strategy Framework for Long-Term Success
How do you know if your content strategy is working?
It all depends on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you set in your initial business goals.
Two businesses could have the exact same content strategy, but one is a success and the other is a failure. Why? Because their goals were different.
This is what I mean when I say there’s no one single path to take when it comes to building a successful content strategy. If Company A’s goal is to increase their leads, and Company B’s main objective is to improve brand awareness, and Company C wants to reduce their bounce rate, all three content strategies are going to be different.
However, they’ll all have the same basic 6-pillar foundation behind them.
Brand growth isn’t a miraculous stroke of luck. It’s a meticulous, consistent, dedicated effort, but when done correctly, it’s well worth the time and hard work you put into it.
Are you ready to become an expert content marketer? Enroll in my 6-week to learn all the skills you need.
What are the best 6 tips for content marketing? ›
- Develop a Promotion Strategy for Every Content Piece. ...
- Write for Value, Not Word Count. ...
- Find Easy Keywords to Target for Better Rankings. ...
- Make Sure Each Content Piece Ties Back to a Buyer Persona. ...
- Create Content for All Levels of the Sales Funnel.
- Brainstorm the right concepts. Good content marketing isn't about creating content; it's about providing value. ...
- Know your messaging. ...
- Choose the right format. ...
- Identify your keywords. ...
- Identify your budget. ...
- Don't come on too strong in your content!
A good content strategy considers a KPI, and then works towards reaching it. It is a roadmap that plans out the exact steps that need to be taken in order to reach that goal. But of course, even with all the best planning and execution, sometimes, content campaigns don't meet their KPIs.Why content strategy is important? ›
A content strategy helps you define your marketing goals and set priorities. It allows you to plan your work and ensure that all marketing effort is goal driven. With a documented content strategy, you can ensure that every bit of effort put-in by your team translates into tangible results.What makes content marketing successful? ›
Content marketing success is not only about choosing the right topic for the perfect audience on the best distribution channels — it's also about creating a content schedule on which your audience can rely. Publishing and distributing content on a specific schedule keeps your brand top of mind with your audience.What is content marketing for beginners? ›
Content marketing is a type of marketing that consists of strategically creating, publishing, and promoting content (including blog posts, emails, videos and podcasts).What is content creation example? ›
Examples of content creation include things like blog posts (like the one you are reading now), newsletters, podcasts, videos, posters, and more. Content creating in marketing often combines brand specific messaging with general industry educational material.What is content writing example? ›
Content writing is the process of planning, writing and editing web content, typically for digital marketing purposes. It can include writing blog posts and articles, scripts for videos and podcasts, as well as content for specific platforms, such as tweetstorms on Twitter or text posts on Reddit.What is a content strategy plan? ›
Content strategy is the high-level planning, execution, governance, and on-going management of the content lifecycle to support key business initiatives. Essentially, it's your brand's game plan to drive traffic, leads, engagement, sales, and other business outcomes through content.What is content strategy for social media? ›
A social media content strategy narrates what you post on different social channels while determining how to engage with your audience. All this not only saves you time but also supports your overall social media management efforts.
What are three of the most important elements of a content strategy? ›
Developing a winning content strategy
And, while there's no one size fits all solution, identifying and including the three key elements — brand focus, user experience, and content distribution — will help develop a plan for business' success.
- Step 1: Define Your Path and Goals. ...
- Step 2: Identify Your Audience. ...
- Step 3: Craft Your Voice. ...
- Step 4: Determine Content Channels. ...
- Step 5: Map Out Your Strategy. ...
- Step 6: Implement of Your Strategy. ...
- Step 7: Evaluate Progress. ...
- Step 8: Adapt to Your Results.
Great Content Is Useful: Content users want to know what's in it for them. Make sure you deliver. Useful content earns the right to market, is credible, is interesting and engaging, and provides a great user experience.Why should I be a content strategist? ›
As part of the content strategist job description, it is their job to plan, oversee, and manage the content marketing strategy for a business. So, if you are excited about the possibility of planning and developing content for a brand, the content strategist is the ideal role for you.How would you create an effective content marketing strategy in 2022? ›
Understand your target audience
- help you stay relevant.
- differentiate your brand from the competition.
- prioritize your leads.
- Revenue: This goal is obvious. ...
- Loyalty/retention: Customer relationships are crucial when it comes to content marketing. ...
- Leads: In marketing, leads define a real contact between the company and potential customers. ...
- Number of visitors. ...
- Page Views. ...
- Bounce rate.
The answer is simple: content strategy is the thought and research put into establishing an effective content marketing campaign. Content marketing is the campaign itself, which comes after the strategy.What is content marketing examples? ›
Content marketing examples include media like newsletters, podcasts, social media posts, and videos. All of these forms of content are meant to provide useful and relevant information that delights users and attracts them to your brand.How do you create content for a target audience? ›
- Identify Your Exact Target Demographic.
- Identify Places, Both Real And Virtual Where Your Target Readers Hang Out.
- Silently Monitor Or Actively Participate In Discussions.
- Figure Out Exactly What The User Needs To Know.
- Do your research. ...
- Don't overthink: take the first step. ...
- Build an online presence. ...
- Build a strong network. ...
- Find your niche. ...
- Find your first client. ...
- Constantly upskill yourself. ...
- Know your worth, and be cautious.
How do you write quality content? ›
- Write for your readers, not yourself. ...
- Make your content readable and engaging. ...
- Think about search intent and your goal. ...
- Be trustworthy. ...
- Keep your content up to date. ...
- Bonus: Invest time in site structure.
Your words must be powerful and effective as well if you want to captivate as many of your readers as possible. Content writing isn't an easy task. Whether you craft words for B2B or B2C audiences, the challenges can be many.What is a key content? ›
content key (plural content keys) (video games) A downloadable content file that unlocks items, characters, levels, or other content that was included with a video game but not immediately accessible (if at all through normal gameplay).How do I create my own business content? ›
- Set Your Mission and Your Goals.
- Establish Your KPIs.
- Know Your Audience.
- Assess Your Current Position.
- Figure Out the Best Content Channels.
- Decide on Content Types.
- Identify and Allocate Resources.
- Create a Content Calendar.
Do your research to decide which content you should create, get ideas for content styles, understand what the audience wants, and outline the content marketing tactics that you're going to use. In the end, you can consider hiring a personal brand production team to help you put the most outstanding content out there!What are the four keys to content marketing? ›
The four stages of the content marketing funnel are awareness, evaluation, purchase, and delight. Each stage serves a specific purpose in the customer's journey, as should the content presented to the customer in those stages.What are some examples of content? ›
Some examples of content include blogs, emailers, newsletters, social media posts, case studies, and more.What is content writing skills? ›
Content writing skills are the skills that enable you to write clear, consistent and relevant articles to deliver a captivating experience for the company's target audience. This encourages the audience to visit the company's website for some information.How do you develop a content marketing strategy? ›
- Establish Your Goals and Objectives.
- Get to Know Your Target Audience.
- Perform a Competitive Analysis.
- Assess Your Available Resources.
- Conduct Topic and Keyword Research.
- Document Your Strategies and Tactics.
- Inventory and Audit Your Existing Content.
Industry experts will tell you that an effective content strategy must have three core elements to be successful: brand focus, user experience, and content distribution.
How do you develop a content plan? ›
- Set goals & KPIs. Every strategy begins with goals. ...
- Decide on target audiences. ...
- Audit your current content. ...
- Identify the best content channels. ...
- Decide on content types. ...
- Determine budget, tools & resources. ...
- Create a content calendar. ...
- Create content.
- Research your target audience.
- Audit your content.
- Choose your content distribution channels.
- Decide on your content types.
- Set your content distribution KPIs and goals.
- Build an editorial calendar.
- Create your content.
- Distribute and market your content.
- Have a Clearly Defined Audience. Before outlining your content marketing strategy, you need to have a clear picture of your target audience. ...
- A Content Marketing Strategy with SMART Goals. ...
- Clear Value Proposition. ...
- Branding. ...
- Metrics for Success.
A content strategy framework is a blueprint you create that details your goals, audience, funnel stages, and content types. You can also outline the tools you'll use, the people in charge, and the systems and processes you'd like to put in place.What is included in a content plan? ›
A content plan is comprised of all the marketing assets and data-gathering functions needed to achieve the goals set forth in your content strategy. Everything from SEO research and engagement tracking, to blogging and white paper writing, are included in a content plan.What are the 3 categories of content? ›
- Passive content: Web copy, tag lines, or your slogan. Your online presence. ...
- Outbound content: E-mail campaigns, ad copy, or your sales script. ...
- Inbound content: Blog, social media, ebooks, or white papers.
Content marketing examples include media like newsletters, podcasts, social media posts, and videos. All of these forms of content are meant to provide useful and relevant information that delights users and attracts them to your brand.What is the most important element of your content distribution strategy? ›
This element is one of the core components of your content strategy. Discovering your audience's demographics, interests, device types and more can help you make your content more attractive. Every piece of content you have should cater to different audience clusters.
A content distribution strategy is a plan that helps an organization disseminate its content, whether it's promoting the latest blog post or sharing a new ebook. Publishing content can only take you so far; a content distribution strategy makes sure that content is seen by the world.Which is an example of content distribution platform? ›
Platforms like Outbrain, Nativo and Taboola display your content to relevant audiences across some the internet's top websites. Using these platforms let you reach prospects at every stage of their buyer journey to build brand awareness and grow your audience.