by Thomas Smale
Have you created a documented strategy for your content-marketing efforts? Are you already executing against it? Are you rolling out new content on a predictable schedule? If so, you're already miles ahead of where many entrepreneurs and businesses are with their content marketing.
But there are always ways to tighten your focus, convert more leads and enhance the effectiveness of your content.
If you're looking to take things to the next level, here are three ways to improve your content marketing.
1. Know your analytics.
As a business owner, you have to know the score at all times. And the score that matters -- for most business owners -- is revenue and profit numbers. These metrics tell you whether you're winning the game, or losing, and whether you need to make some adjustments.
Content marketing is the same way. Either you're employing strategies that are helping you to reach your goals, or you need to make tweaks to your approach. But you might be wondering what metrics to track. This depends largely on the nature of your business and the outcomes you're looking to achieve. SaaS metrics are going to be different from ecommerce metrics, for example.
But here are four general items that most would consider important:
Traffic or reads. The number of people that view your content, and the number of people that actually read to the end.
Social shares. The number of people that share your content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and so on. This data is sexy, but not necessarily as important as many people make it out to be.
Lead generation or email subscribers. Signups for a trial version of your software or opt-ins for your email list. One of the most important content marketing metrics to track.
Sales. The number of content consumers who buy your service or product. This is where the rubber really meets the road.
By tracking and analyzing your stats, you should be able to create more content that leads to conversions.
2. Use email automation.
It is quite likely that email will play a key role in your content-marketing strategy. Some content consumers instantly convert into buyers, but they are few and far between. Many others will need to be nurtured and persuaded through more value-added content.
This is where email automation comes in. You can prepare customized messages that will go out to your subscribers on a schedule, and also segment your user base so that those customers receive only relevant messages.
Automation does, however, require some planning, because different visitors will opt-in on different parts of your site. Your subscribers might have distinct interests based on what content they were viewing when they opted in.
It's important, then, to segment your list based on these different interests and to map out a customer journey for each. This will inform the kinds of emails you need to send to each group. For example, if you're running a guitar site, you might have visitors who are interested in lessons, and a separate group interested in reading reviews.
In that type of scenario, you'd want to offer free lessons to the people who want to learn more about how to play guitar; your end goal would be selling a course or an e-book. For those who only want to read reviews, you could send product updates, with guitar sales as your goal.
When it comes to email automation, using the right tool is key, because some platforms make segmentation very difficult. Unless you have a dedicated email marketing person, the best strategy is to use software that allows you to easily tag or segment visitors upon signup.
3. Build your backlinks.
If you're serious about content marketing, you can't ignore search engine optimization. Researching keywords, creating targeted content and building your backlink profile are tasks that should be high on your priority list.
Unfortunately, you can't just ask random website owners to link to you and expect to earn valuable links. You need to be far more strategic. Here are several ways to build your backlinks:
Guest post. Contribute high-value content to other publications and ask whether they allow contextual links. If not, you can usually get a link in the author's byline.
Use the “skyscraper technique.” Create a piece of content that is better than anything else out there for your target keyword, and contact website owners with resource lists on the same topic. Ask those website owners to replace a broken link on their list using your new resource.
Create a course. Links coming from sites like Udemy are quite valuable. Plus, creating a course can help you to increase revenue, build your authority and grow your online presence.
Issue press releases. Press releases aren't as valuable as they used to be, but they can still help you rank for your search terms and create backlinks to your site.
These strategies are just a starting point, and it's worth exploring other link-building practices to strengthen your backlink profile.
Also don't forget to check your SEO regularly. Keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy, and you may not see results immediately. You'll need to stay on top of things over the long haul.
Always remember that content marketing doesn't pay off overnight. You must have a long-term mindset to get the most from your efforts. To summarize, then:
Determine what metrics are important to you, and meticulously track them in analytics. Optimize the performance of your content based on your findings.
Take advantage of email automation technology to make sure that the right message is being delivered to the right audience at the right time.
Build your backlink profile by leveraging other people's platforms. Keep an eye on your search engine performance.