For content marketing to work – generate leads, yield positive ROI and grow your brand – you need to be strategic. It’s no good simply blogging about the topics you’re interested in, or the ones you think your target audience is interested in. It also isn’t enough to blog about topics that interest your audience. You’ve got to give them a bit more than that. Sounds like a lot of work? It actually isn’t – as long as you set out a content marketing plan before getting stuck in with your content creation. Read on to find out how to do this.
Before you can create content you need to know who it is you’re creating content for
First, you’ve got to create your buyer personas. We’ve harped on about buyer personas many times over the course of our blogs – and that’s because they form the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy. Inbound marketing is customer-centric – one of the reasons why it works so well – which means you need buyer personas. These personas are detailed representations of the people you want as customers. Your personas should include information about their job, work life, family life, hobbies, dreams, hopes, aspirations, worries, frustrations and pain points. They’ll also include where they look for information (trade publications, websites, colleagues) and which social networks they use. When it comes to personas, there’s no such things as too much information.
Your current customer base, market research and data provide the information you need to create personas
So where do you go to look for the information that’ll sculpt your buyer personas? Hopefully you’ll already have customers on which you can base your personas. You’ll have insights into their needs and requirements. Use this as a starting point, and then combine further market research with data to create a more detailed picture of this ideal customer. Repeat this process for each category of customer you want to attract.
At the top of the funnel your personas are still trying to identify their problem
The next step is identifying the buyer journey for each of your personas. You need to create content for the top, middle and bottom of funnel stages of the journey, and before you can do this you need to discern what the objectives, priorities and pain points are for each persona at each stage of the funnel. At the top of the funnel (awareness) stage, your personas won’t be looking to a buy a product yet. They’ll be identifying the problem they have, and therefore won’t be interested in reading a blog expounding the benefits of your product. To create fantastic content marketing that’ll truly resonate with them, imagine yourself in their position – what would they be interested in reading about? Do the same for each of your personas.
At the middle of the funnel, your personas are looking for solutions, not products
During the middle of funnel (consideration) stage, your audience will have figured out what problem they have, and will be looking for solutions (not products) to these issues. Content you create should be solutions-focused, and should never mention your brand – your personas are in the evaluation stage, and are still not ready to buy. Again, come up with the topics and subject matter that each of your personas will be interested in at this stage of the funnel.
Only at the bottom of the funnel can you begin talking about your product
Finally, we get to the bottom of the funnel (decision) phase. Your personas are ready to buy – they just need to figure out whether they want to buy from you. Bottom of funnel content can and should reference your product and brand, but must, of course, be tailored to the needs of each of your personas.
Keep a repository of content ideas for each stage of the funnel for each persona
A great way to keep track of all your content ideas is to create a folder for each persona, divided into top, middle and bottom of funnel. At each content calendar meeting – we suggest having these every few months – refer back to your personas and populate the top, middle and bottom of funnel sections with fresh ideas, based around keywords relevant to your personas. The bulk of your content will be top of funnel (70%), followed by middle (20%) and then bottom (10%).
Content format is just as important as subject matter
As well as the subject matter, also consider what content format each persona would be most inclined to digest. Videos might be more of a hit with millennials, while high-level managers would value a long-form blog. Remember, that your personas are not static, and must be updated at least once a year based on information about the new customers you acquire and data you collect about them.
Content marketing is an integral part of inbound marketing, and can help ensure the long term growth of your business. To find out how this works in detail, download the guide: