As content marketers, we can sometimes feel like broken records. We are constantly advising businesses to create relevant, helpful content and then optimize that content so that it can be found online, ultimately bringing in new prospects and customers. Though content marketing has been a term that's been around since the mid-2000s, it can sometimes seem unbelievable for those of us in the industry that some businesses haven't yet adopted the methodology.
But that is indeed still the case.
SPROUT Content's Co-founder and Chief Content Officer Debbie Williams recently presented a content marketing workshop in Pensacola (where our Florida branch is located) hosted by the Studer Community Institute.
A pre-event survey showed only 31% of the registrants had a documented content marketing strategy.
You may think that low average could be related to the size or economic level of a small city in the Florida Panhandle, but it's actually right on par with national statistics. The Content Marketing Institute reveals that just last year, only 32% of B2B marketers had a documented content marketing strategy.
There's obviously still a need for content marketing education, especially surrounding small businesses. Knowing this, Debbie set out to make a difference in our community with her presentation. She started with a basic overview of content marketing, but then delved right into to how to create a strategy, giving examples relating to our business and clients along the way.
She explained to these business owners, employees and non-profit professionals that content marketing has leveled the playing field between large and small businesses. Google rewards businesses that have content people seek and website pages that are properly optimized. The good news is that you don't have to be a multi-million dollar business with a big marketing budget to achieve this. Gilmore Services, a document imaging, storing, shredding and moving company in Pensacola, ranks just as high for relevant keywords in Google as a big national competitor, thanks to their content marketing strategy.
Debbie emphasized the importance of having a website that can be used as your company's 24-hour, #1 salesperson. She posed the question: If the only thing that your sales team could use in a sales presentation was your website, would it be enough?
Content Marketing Strategy
Perhaps the most important aspect of Debbie's workshop was providing the attendees actionable steps to increase that statistic and create their own content marketing strategy. Here are the steps:
1. Outline content marketing goals: This is a can't-skip first step. You can't have a plan unless you know what you want to achieve out of it.
2. Establish KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): There’s no one magic metric that will give you a complete picture of your content success, so you'll need to use a combination of benchmarks to assess performance.
3. Measure Success: From Google Analytics to HubSpot to Buzzsumo, there are a multitude of tools available to track analytics. Having this data is essential to know what's working and what's not. After all, what gets measured, gets improved.
A key part of a documented content marketing strategy is Buyer Personas, one of Debbie's favorite subjects. She provided an example then quickly put the group to work answering questions that would help them hone in on their target prospects.
Debbie touched on SEO and how it relates to content creation and the importance of thinking like the person who will be searching for your products and services online, not necessarily your CEO, who already knows your industry's language. Ditch the tech-lish!
A content marketing strategy comes together when you create a content roadmap for each persona that addresses their major pain points while executing the SEO strategy. This is accomplished with a content funnel strategy targeting each stage of the buyer’s journey (Awareness, Consideration, Decision) with relevant topics and keyword phrases.
It was a lot of information to take in over the course of a couple of hours, but the attendees I spoke with found a lot of value in the presentation, and they were inspired to get to work on all of the actionable takeaways provided. A post-workshop survey revealed the same feedback: attendees rated the value of Debbie's workshop as 9.9 out of 10. There is an obvious need for this type of education in our area and many others, and we're looking forward to seeing that number of businesses with content marketing strategies grow!
In addition to the homework Debbie assigned the attendees (she's tough!), they all took home a copy of Debbie and SPROUT Content Co-founder Dechay Watt's book, Brands in Glass Houses which is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Want to check out a chapter for free?