Finding success with content marketing doesn't have to feel like rocket science. Sure, it's a complex discipline, and making it work takes time. But that doesn't mean content marketing success is beyond your reach, even if you have limited resources.
So, what's the key to getting it right? It comes down to consistently delivering more value than your competition and creating content that delivers big results for your business.
This means spending your time creating pieces that can drive traffic and leads for months (or even years) after they're published or launched. And the tactics and channels that can get those kinds of results might be simpler than you think.
Here's what's worked for my team at CoSchedule to attract 17 million website visitors and more than one million email subscribers over five years.
1. Optimize your content for search engines.
Search engine optimization (the practice of increasing search engine rankings to drive website traffic) isn't new, and it isn't dead either. Consistently publishing the best blog posts we can that answer the questions our market cares about most has proven to be a winning strategy. Best of all, it doesn't have to be expensive.
Invest in SEO software. Consider options like Ahrefs, Moz, or Serpstat.
Never publish a blog post without focused keywords. Build lists of highly-searched terms around a topic before you start writing.
Track results. Make sure you're ranking, driving traffic, and converting leads.
2. Include content upgrades.
Gated content (meaning content locked behind an email opt-in form) has gotten somewhat of a bad rep recently.
There's some reason for that, too. Sometimes gated content doesn't deliver what was promised. Or people just might get tired of handing out their email to access your information.
Whatever the case may be, content upgrades (downloadable assets included behind an email signup form on a blog or landing page) still work wonders when they're strategically planned.
As long as your content upgrades are something people want that help solve a problem they actually have, they can be the secret sauce that turns your blog into a lead generation machine.
3. Publish original research.
People are naturally drawn to statistics. They help us know when we're on the right track and feel confident in our decision-making. Here's an example my team created earlier this year. Conducting your own research is much more powerful than summarizing it from someone else. You don't necessarily need the power of a large research firm to provide findings people find valuable, either. Survey-building tools like SurveyMonkey and Crowdsignal make it easy to create surveys you can share with your audience and quickly extract data-backed insights.
Your team can do this too without too much effort. Before planning a survey, figure out the following:
Which problems or topic areas will your questions focus on?
What hypothesis around that topic will your questions attempt to prove or disprove?
How will you distribute the findings?
4. Write blog posts for other websites.
Sometimes the best way to build an audience for your brand is to get in front of someone else's. Guest blogging is a great way to do just that. Plus, there are more benefits (even if you don't consider yourself much of a writer):
Building relationships with peers in your industry.
Growing your personal brand.
Bringing more exposure to your company.
You can even have multiple people in your company appearing on blogs related to their particular skill or trade. Are your developers rockstars? Is your HR department doing fantastic recruiting work? Have them write about it. Everyone has knowledge to share.
5. Build interactive tools.
Building web-based tools like data bases, calculators or interactive graphs for your audience requires time and money up front. But, the long-term benefits are almost unmatched by any other type of content.
Before you put resources into building a tool like this, ask a few questions:
Will people use this tool often? If it's "sticky" (meaning they'll come back to it multiple times), it'll be more likely to become part of their routine.
Is it tied directly to your product? If so, they'll be more likely to buy when they see the value.
Do your developers have the capability to execute your vision? You might be surprised by what they can do.
Which Tactics Will You Try Next?
Growing a business from scratch (or even helping to grow a business that's established) is no small task. However, I can say that using the tactics described above can get you there, and that's coming from personal experience.
You don't need to be in the software business like I am to make these tactics work, either. Content marketing is the cost-effective way forward, and now that you know where to start, all that's left is to get started.
CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, COSCHEDULE