The Simplified Guide to Content Marketing
Don’t overcomplicate your content marketing. It will lead to burnout and loss of productivity. In this guide, I’ll show you how to benefit from keeping it simple.
How often do you feel overwhelmed when trying to develop a content marketing plan?
I know it happens to me what seems like every couple of months.
I’ll be doing great, setting something up, and suddenly this new hip method comes along and it’s like… hang on? Should I switch to that? How can I include this?
It is easy to feel swamped with ideas, methods, tricks, tactics and so on.
And suddenly you go from being motivated to feeling stuck.
So the solution I have come up with is to simplify and visualize a strategy that will keep you on track and productive.
But remember, marketing is not a set and forget activit. You have to be constantly updating, interating and reinventing. Just learn to do it with the correct core foundation behind it.
Let’s take a look at how to do this.
A content marketing funnel in its most basic form is:
So with that we can break it down in to best ways to:
- Generate traffic, while also keeping a focus on the quality of traffic
- Nurture leads based on your core offer
- Finally, convert those leads in to customers i.e generate sales.
After that, there is another step: retention – which is hugely important, but for the purpose of this guide I am focusing on the first three.
Then we need to have a framework for piecing these three elements together to build a fully functioning content marketing funnel.
There’s an important reason to separate our content: 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
The bottom line is, it takes time to develop relationships through content. So let’s dive deeper in to this framework now.
Generating website traffic has become substantially harder.
There’s no easy way to generate traffic anymore with quick SEO tricks or spamming social media groups. Those days are gone – and that’s a good thing.
However, we still need to utilize your common SEO and social media methods together.
Search engines and social media remain the best sources of traffic, so let’s take a look at some traffic generation ideas for the top of a content marketing funnel.
Find blogs to comment on, answer questions on Reddit, help people on Facebook and LinkedIn groups. But don’t be spammy. Make sure you are adding true value. Otherwise you will be ignored.
- PPC (Pay-per-click)
Facebook and Google ads require a lot of planning and set up. But you get complete control over your metrics. It can take a while to generate a return, but once you do you can scale at your own pace which is a great advantage to have when growing.
Video is taking over because content gets harder to consume over time. People have short attention spans and they need something that will engage them in a matter of seconds. Long-form articles still work, and are great value, but if they can watch a 10 minute video instead of reading a 30 minute blog post, they will prefer that. If you can get on camera and be enthusiastic, it’s great for any stage of the funnel.
- Influencer outreach
Start to build relationships with suitable influencers in your field or industry. Over time these people will help promote your business in one way or another. It’s not something to rush and be fake at. Peoples’ BS detectors have never been better. Be authentic and helpful, and great things will come from this.
Get out and about. It sounds counter-intuitive to online traffic generation, but getting known in your location will drive referrals and interest in your business. You can even travel to different cities for conferences, conventions and other events to expand your network.
These are just a few ideas to start with. There are many more and advanced ideas out there.
Keep in mind you need something to send traffic to. At first it will be your homepage. But the next step is to send that traffic to an offer so they can become a lead.
Remember, you’re not selling anything yet. So that brings us to the next step.
You don’t have to have a huge amount of traffic to start generating leads. But you do need an offer that is relevant.
It has to be something that speaks to a problem that they have – one that you can potentially or eventually solve.
If you have a course or service, don’t be afraid to give away all your secrets in this stage. People who are looking for a solution, are also people who are going to pay for it to be done for them.
Let’s take a look at some lead generation content ideas to fit within our funnel:
- Cheat Sheet
- Webinar/Workshop/Live Training
Notice that each of this involves slightly more trust required for them to want to join.
The cheat sheet is a minor commitment, but the live training involves them taking out a portion of their time for you.
That’s a lot to ask from someone who doesn’t know you at all.
This means we actually need to break down this stage in to sub-sections, depending on how well they know us, and therefore what sort of commitment they are prepared to make:
- Newbie – someone discovering us for the first time
- Interested – someone who possibly has the problem we can solve
- Engaged – someone who has the problem, and is looking for a solution from us
If we can break down our leads we bring in into one of these categories, we can serve them more appropriately.
How do we do this?
We need to understand our potential customer and create content based on their mindset as shown above.
We do keyword and search term research to identify what our ideal customers are looking for online.
Then we create that content, publish it on our website or social media profiles and target those people.
Some useful tools:
We can identify interested people by the actions they have taken. Generally this means they have subscribed to our list, downloaded a lead magnet or opted in in some form.
Even interactions on social media can be used or incomplete interactions on our website because we can still retarget them.
Once they are interested, we educate.
This is not necessarily educating them about our product or service. In fact if you have a guide, challenge or webinar where we can delight them with relevant information, that will drive them to the next step.
Engaged people are true leads, meaning we give them priority with our time – phone calls, email, customer support, etc. (without neglecting existing customers).
They are actively seeking a solution. So this stage requires us to give them an easy path to becoming a customer.
This means we create content to show off our service, case studies, testimonials, examples and most importantly results.
Ultimately, they are basically ready to become a customer if we give them a reason to in that moment.
Once you have your engaged leads from above, it’s just a matter of having an irresistible offer to get started. This might be a:
- Strategy call
- Limited-time offers
Find what works best and tailor it over time to get better results.
It’s also a good idea to include guarantees.
Doing this is simple: show confidence that you can deliver what you say, but also make it clear that you won’t screw them over. Have a fair money-back guarantee to remove the risk factor from the transaction.
That is normally the last objection to overcome.
Then it’s a matter of saying “Let’s get started!” and direct them to the right page or outline the next steps.
And boom! New customer!
The best part about content marketing is the process allows us to develop a system that automatically brings people through a funnel, naturally.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to building one.
You need to start. And test, modify, test again at each stage until your metrics are positive at each stage.
From here it’s keeping our eye on the ball, keeping up to date with new directions and shifts in what’s working, what’s losing and gaining traction.
This is easy to do – and fun as well. You’ll discover many brands that themselves create great content and put on incredible events for people like you. Get involved and reap the benefits.
Good luck! Let me know what ideas you have about building a kickass content marketing system.