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Guide to Content Marketing in 2021

Jan 04, 2021   |   Content Marketing
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Guide to Content Marketing

Content marketing is a potent marketing technique for engaging audiences and generating sales.

The important thing to remember is that every written element of a campaign can count and help advance the consumer on the customer journey, whether it’s for business-to-business (B2B) interaction, or business-to-customer (B2C) lead conversion. Each piece is designed to create an action, emotion, or re-action that will positively impact your brand.

Statistics from Review42 demonstrate how an impressive 92% of companies have found value in focusing their marketing efforts on content for online channels. And, 72% of companies have confirmed better lead generation in their campaigns after ensuring their content marketing workflow better connects consumers and campaigns. Aberdeen found that traffic growth is 7.8X higher for content market leaders than laggards.

This guide focuses on the key features of content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) so you can begin to piece together your own content marketing strategy for a better return on investment (ROI) in the 2021 market.

Here’s what we’ll be covering in this ultimate guide to content marketing:

  1. The definition behind a content marketing strategy
  2. Understanding the basic objective to drive content marketing success
  3. Finding a basic content marketing workflow for your business
  4. Milestone’s top tips for SEO content marketing success
  5. A debrief on some of the best platforms for managing SEO prospects
  6. Using the best methods to track, report and adapt your content performance
  7. 5 most common mistakes businesses make with content marketing
  8. Companies doing everything right with their content marketing strategy
  9. The Milestone list of content marketing and SEO FAQs

As we continue, we wanted to clear something up; in order to create effective and engaging copy for a content marketing strategy, you don’t need to be a wording wizard. Freelancing ghostwriters and proofreaders across the globe are ready and waiting to help you venture into content marketing success.

Platforms such as Fiverr, Freelancer, and UpWork can provide an array of content specialists ready to go at their keyboards. So, whether you write the content to have it proofread and optimized for SEO or ask the writer to create something new for audiences to marvel upon, help can be found.

The definition behind a content marketing strategy

In the content marketing era, brands have become publishers. Blogs have replaced magazines and newspapers, video channels have replaced TV shows, podcasts have replaced radio stations.

Content marketing is the strategic placement of content in order to create a desired response from an audience, most likely to increase brand awareness, funding, or general sales for a company.

The content is most often written for a target audience tailored to be exhibited through a specific medium, such as blog, website, social media, email.

A content marketing strategy is a compilation of copy planned to be drip-fed through a pre-designated set of channels in order to reach a target audience and maintain this customer response.

For example: a hotel might want to regularly post a blog about sites and activities in your area on your website to keep potential visitors updated with news, events, and interesting information about the world of travel

While content marketing itself is an old concept, having been used throughout business campaigns for decades on the streets, in newspapers, and in journals from the time of Benjamin Franklin’s Almanack, it has evolved to fit a modern community of online consumers.

Understanding the basic objective to drive content marketing success

Motivations for content strategy success typically sit within the online spheres in a 2021 consumer world. While it may have once been a common theme to see the written word throughout print-media, driving content marketing and SEO strategies now also require knowledge of social media marketing.

Marketers need to understand your core goals in order to tailor your approach and writing for the purpose of filling beds; even if it means incorporating multiple languages to communicate with potential offshore clients.

The core benefits most see from the use of an effective content marketing strategy include:

  • Engaging new prospects and existing customers
  • Decreased or more efficient media expenditure
  • Heightened response from loyal customers
  • Better SEO ranking opportunities
  • Global reach to audiences
  • Increased leads
  • Increased sales
  • Supporting audiences’ questions
  • Having a shortened customer journey
  • 130% increased ROI chance
  • Opportunities to establish expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T)

Finding a basic content marketing workflow for your business

There are two types of content marketing workflow you need to focus on as a business looking for content marketing success.

The first is the workflow of production and the second is the workflow of publishing or distirbution.

The workflow of production refers to the way your business will create the right copy and pieces for your audiences. This should be a tailored approach that accounts for the platform on which the content will be published, the goal of the campaign, the target audience and the current events.

This involves creating an idea, thinking about how the content will target your audiences, thinking about how the correct hashtags will incorporate into the copy, finding and implementing keywords, sourcing the writers, drafting, reviewing, proofreading, publishing and – finally – reviewing the performance of the content marketing success.

The content marketing workflow of publishing, on the other hand, is the act of creating a backlog of content that is due to be released throughout the campaign at decided intervals.

Both workflows operate in synergy to produce overall content marketing success by ensuring the copy is optimized for your audience and published at the right times through the correct channels of communication.

As a B2C you’ll want to capture a wide-net audience who dream about travelling and exploring something new. Instagram found 64% of polled users will turn to in-platform adverts for new ways to spend their money. Instagram is a very visually orientated platform that drives high engagement with stunning images and videos that can spark wanderlust in audiences. Creating the right visual content for that channel is an example of effectively matching the production and distribution workflows and output.

You may want to use Later (an Instagram scheduling app) to release daily content with short, snappy copy accompanied by captivating imagery of your hotel.

Milestone’s top tips for SEO content marketing success

Ensuring content marketing success is not as simple as writing a blog about anything and getting it published, there are some key tips you should follow to increase your content’s chances of ranking, reaching your audience, and engaging your customer.

According to studies published on NeilPatel.com, content marketing is around 62% less in costs but 300% higher in effectiveness of reaching an audience. Therefore, ensuring you’re making use of content marketing strategies to their fullest can be pivotal to the campaign’s success.

Statista found 91% of all companies worldwide making use of content marketing strategies to reach their campaign goals. With some of the best strategies finding passive content such as website blogging generating 61% of sales.

Here are Milestone’s top tips for ensuring quality content:

  • Research the keywords which represent the search intent you seek
  • Develop a good content marketing workflow
  • Set a publishing cadence of more than 2 times per week
  • Create a grammar and style guide and make sure writers use it
  • Create new copy instead of recycling or curating others’
  • Offer clear value, answer questions, solve problems through your content
  • Use data and statistics in your pieces
  • Track engagement and performance
  • Repurpose content across platforms
  • Use frequently asked questions (FAQs) in each piece
  • Generate backlinks from reputable sources
  • Train and cultivate a smaller group of writers
  • Always direct a call-of-action (CTA)

A debrief on some resources and platforms for managing content

When it comes to getting the right words out there, there are two types of platforms that you should use; this includes the specific software that will help you optimize your content for algorithms (depending on your audience) and platforms your content will be published on in order to thrive in an online community of readers.

We’ve got some long-time favorites of each we’d like to share with you. When it comes to production, some of the best third-party sites to use are Surfer SEO and Hemingway Editor.

However, when you’re ready to publish your content marketing and SEO work, look towards the likes of WordPress, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Medium to cumulatively create an effective omnichannel campaign.

To learn more about why using omnichannel reach is important to your 2021 online marketing campaign, have a look at our article: “The Guide to Social Media Marketing in 2021”.

Hemingway Editor is a free online app allowing you to write (or paste) copy into the site to analyze for optimized writing and flow. This software is best used when trying to comply with the Google algorithm for ranking in SEO. However, it requires the copy to be at around reading grade 6 or 7 with few adverbs, passive words, or difficult to read sentences. At the same time, this is not always suitable when targeting audiences in a technical subject.

Surfer SEO is a fantastic content-aiding platform with the ability to advise on gaps in your content. For example: as a hotel, you’re able to search for relevant keywords, finding longtail keywords such as ‘five-star beachside hotel’. It will also indicate a list of other important keywords that should also be sewn into the content to aid with ranking for content marketing success.

A 2021 content marketing strategy should always implement an omnichannel approach featuring the most popular social media platform whereby you are most likely to reach the widest demographic of your target audience at once. As a platform allowing for written, image, video, GIF, hashtag, and structured profile content, Facebook provides space to communicate with targeted audiences in their native online tongue and increase lead convergence.

It’s important to allow your business to penetrate the B2B markets atop the B2C markets in order to increase brand recognition among potential stakeholders, partners, funders, angels, and business event participant. Content marketing success in this realm is most likely to be had on professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn. And, according to research, 80% of successful B2B leads derive from LinkedIn.

Launched by Twitter’s founder Evan Williams, Medium has climbed to be in the top 200 websites across America. It provides key space to amplify content to an array of audiences in both a B2B and B2C context. You can create a ‘Medium Publication’ for your businesses blog or submit a guest blog in order to reap the benefits of their 100 million active monthly users and high domain authority for recycled content within your omnichannel campaign.

Using the best methods to track, report, and adapt your content performance

Much like with any campaign, be it through social media, YouTube, or just through website reach, you’ll need to be able to use monitoring techniques in order to determine the performance of your content.

When you’re looking at statistics, metrics, and success rates, it’s important you see them as actionable points to adapt and conform your campaign to expand the reach possibilities. For example: if you’re a hotel finding more rooms being booked after going through a third-party site from your guest post, you need to either see this as an opportunity to place a larger focus on this medium or improving and optimizing the content marketing strategy for the other platforms in your omnichannel solution.

The best metrics to consider when tracking your content marketing and SEO strategy include:

  1. SEO rank
  2. Impressions
  3. Visits
  4. Bounce rate
  5. Pages per visit
  6. Dwell time
  7. Conversion rate
  8. First-time visitors and repeat visitors
  9. Likes
  10. Follows
  11. Shares
  12. Comments
  13. Subscriber counts
  14. PR Mentions
  15. Backlink numbers
  16. Revenue
  17. Profit
  18. ROI performance

It is possible to automate this data collection by using a platform, such as Milestone Presence Cloud with Milestone Analytics and Milestone Insights, Google Analytics, Surfer SEO, Salesforce, and more.

4 most common mistakes businesses make with content marketing

As with anything, there is the right way and the wrong way. And, while content marketing allows for a large margin of flexibility, content marketing success will always be stunted when some malpractice mistakes are thrown into the campaign.

Here’s a look at the five most common mistakes businesses make in their content marketing workflow:

1. Not identifying or understanding your consumer

Of course, having a buyer persona is key to understanding how to tailor your campaign and generate leads. However, many businesses create the person they think is going to engage with their brand without doing any core consumer research. To avoid this, conduct surveys, ask individuals, use competitor research and find out the statistics on demographics.

2. Expecting results instantaneously

One of the first things you should know about a content marketing strategy is that it takes time. Nothing is done overnight and achieving organic social trust and reach revolves around your audiences. A business looking to achieve a content marketing end goal within anything short of a year is a business looking for failure.

3. Content that is too ‘salesy’ and not engaging

If your content is always a “selfie” about your products and company, it runs the risk of alienating your readers. While they should include a call-to-action, they should give free value and information useful to the reader in order to boost your reputation as a brand. Having content that only sells will reduce this effect and cause an inadvertent lack of sales. For more about humanizing your content, read: “The Guide to Social Media Marketing in 2021”.

4. Thinking content marketing is just about cranking out blogs

As we’ve mentioned throughout this ultimate guide, the key to scoring a successful content marketing campaign is being able to tap into omnichannel modes of communication to engage your audiences in their native environment while improving your SEO. Uploading blogs to your website (even when highly optimized) is just one cog in the campaign and isolation will result in a slow ROI.

Companies doing everything right with their content marketing strategy

73% of companies say they have a dedicated marketing employee to monitor and create the copy used for content marketing success. There are some companies whose dedicated marketing employee has excelled in their job and deserves a raise.

For one: HubSpot. An ongoing content marketing team provides consistent and relevant data for marketers, software engineers, social media fanatics, and businesses of all sizes looking to make use of the world wide web. Since launching in 2006, they have become the ranked hub for new statistics, research, and knowledge about how businesses should perform online.

Another: The Mayo Clinic. From being a Minnesota-based health clinic, they have grown their online libraries of content that rival the likes of The Health Line, the UK’s NHS website and more. They also build patient communities by embracing sharing and promoting user generated content (UGC) through social media platforms.

Have a look at these other content marketing campaigns that have stood out over time:

  • Washington Post’s list-based articles
  • Content Marketing Institute’s ‘Click to Tweet’
  • Colgate’s search bar
  • Tesla’s humanized approach to personal Twitter
  • US Bank’s personal customer update system

The Milestone list of content marketing FAQs

When it comes down to generating content marketing success, there are a few points of consideration. From understanding exactly what makes good content in a 2021 consumer market to understanding how your audiences can directly benefit your content marketing strategy with UGC.

What is good content?

Good content is formulated to answer a question using properly sourced, informative, and actionable content. Good content is written to a high standard and proofread before being published in order to ensure smooth audience engagement.

What is bad content?

Bad content does not solve a problem and does engage its reader. For example: badly written content, copied or duplicate content, unoptimized content, unrelatable content, content without a call-to-action, content without rhetoric, content without a purpose, or content in the wrong place.

What is thin content?

Thin content lacks depth, authority, and utility. It is often less than 300 words on a page.

What is curated content?

Curated content is written copy from an external source. For example: as a hotel, you may have a website with a blog that re-posts and credits content from global advisory websites like TripAdvisor because it houses relevant information to your own audiences.

What is trendjack content?

The act of ‘trendjacking’ is a technique to leverage a breaking and popular topic by associating your brand with it, fro example by commenting on it or criticizing it.

What is content for content’s sake?

Developing content for content’s sake is simply churning out words, blogs, and social media posts just in the hopes of reaching one or two new followers, also know as spam. This content marketing strategy works to a degree but would work better with better, more thoughtful content. A content campaign needs to target audiences, keywords, events, times, platforms, and a specific goal.

What is the pillar or content cluster technique for SEO?

This technique works to enhance your user’s experience by providing internal links and an interesting customer journey for lead hopefuls. A pillar post (or content cluster) will be a very long blog that targets many aspects that relate to each other. Then, each of these aspects will direct the reader into smaller blogs that place a focus on one aspect. This is a good way to establish authority on a topic without covering everything in a cluttered way in one piece, which can confuse the search bots.

How often should I publish my blog?

Looking at how often to publish is going to depend on your business and the current events. With the hotel analogy, a hotel needs to remain up to date with news, events, and upcoming holidays in order to target audiences and sales. Despite this, new content should be made available to your audiences around 2-4 times a week.

How often should I update site content?

According to HubSpot, 70% of their traffic derives from older content rather than content published that month, so it’s important to have content rolling-in at a consistent rate while updating old content, too. Yet, this will entirely depend on current events and the nature of your site content. Ensure the content remains relevant and accurate over the months and quarters.

What role does rich media play?

Go beyond text with engaging, original photos, graphics, and videos. The role of rich media is to enable audiences to engage and interact on a higher level than standard media. The point is to go from a standard JPEG to a high-resolution photo, graphic, video, or interactive feature (think: poll, send to a friend, countdown, donation request, questions, quiz, and so on). The use of rich media helps you to stand-out from the competition and humanize your content. It also create additional visibility in the search engine results pages.

What is user generated content?

UGC is content made by supporters, followers, consumers, and users of a brand. It can be anything from comments, reviews, blog posts, hashtag media, videos, or even shares. This content is often unpaid as it derives from fans, but it promotes your brand.

Does UGC help with SEO?

Yes. Research shows 88% of consumers will buy into a product through the trust of reviews. From the perspective of your buyers, seeing content by other consumers ‘just like me’ shows social proof thus increasing traffic, convergence, and brand recognition. UGC works to promote your SEO as search engine algorithms see you as a relevant source.

What is inbound marketing, and is it the same as content marketing?

Inbound marketing is the act of taking a customer all the way from the first catch through the journey to conversion. No, it is not the same as content marketing. However, content marketing is usually the first step within an inbound marketing strategy.

As we draw a close to this guide to content marketing, it’s important to consider how each segment has sparked inspiration for leading you to content marketing success. Which segment has been of the most value to you as a business and which segment has been the most insightful or ‘new’?

Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C marketer, having a competent content marketing strategy is key to achieving goals in a 2021 online media environment.

The best way to do this is to ensure you’re using the best platform for creating and monitoring your content. So, explore to find out how your business can thrive with content marketing from Milestone.

Read blogs on Milestone’s other digital marketing guides:

Guide to Choosing the Perfect CMS in 2021
Guide to Managing Reviews and Building Business Reputation
Guide to Social Media Marketing in 2021
Local Marketing Guide & Framework
Guide to Video Marketing: Driving Engagement Across Industries

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