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The Definitive Content Marketing Formula

image0051 The Definitive Content Marketing FormulaContent Marketing has been remarkably exposed over marketers’ activities the last couple of years. However, companies seem to struggle upon the development of profitable content marketing strategies. That specific kind of content which takes into account both users and search engines in order to build high rankings in the search engine result pages and engage buyers with the brand. In my previous post regarding the fundamentals of content marketing I attributed a definitive definition to content marketing.

Content marketing could be defined as a pull rather than push marketing process that resides on owned or earned media which makes people aware of how to solve their problems with ultimate goal to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience.

It is worth saying that the content marketing community has already embraced the social part of this field and shares valuable blog posts and online articles, so everybody can find useful information about strategies and tactics. On the other hand, there are only a few blog posts which have developed a solid concept of the content marketing process in respect to Search Engine Optimization. Throughout this post and based on a content marketing research (questionnaire) that I have personally conducted in the last couple of months I will propound a definitive formula of the content marketing process that online marketers, who deal with content marketing and search engine optimization, should adopt.

Particularly, in this research e-retailers who struggle to find ways to improve their search organic visibility by developing content marketing strategies is the major focus. However, the formula expects to carry invaluable advantages to all B2C companies and to online marketers dealing with the B2C part of online marketing.

I call this formula “Optimized Content Marketing & SEO Formula”, and it is an eight steps process, which assists to develop a new content marketing campaign from the scratch. Now it is time to get into the formula, characteristics and its individual steps.

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Step 1. Research Customer Segments

Getting started from the very first step – Research Customer Segments – online marketers initially have to identify and segment the audience. By saying audience I refer to the existed customers and potentials buyers the company is interested to deal with. Developing buyer personas would be an easy way of addressing the various customer preferences into consolidated buyer personalities. Then, they should address their pain points as well as their information needs during the buying cycle. Particularly, questions like “what they care about, or what are their characteristics” could successfully drive research towards the right identification of customer segments. Of course, such actions require strong efforts and expertise in order to encircle the various segments, personas and their pain points respectively.

Here is a well-written and straightforward guide on how to build personas that they reflect their needs into search queries. Use the same guide for the fourth step – Keyword Research – as well.

Step 2. Determine Objectives

In the second step, communication objectives have to be determined according to brand’s needs. There is a framework called S.M.A.R.T. which helps objectives to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. It is highly significant for marketers to develop SMART objectives and not illusions that can effectively impress the marketing manager or even the CEO, however cannot be accomplished at the end of the day. Personally, I find the framework very useful so I refer you to a source where you can find more information.

Step 3. Identify Topic and Message

Next step in the formula is the topic and message identification which should be developed with definitive aim to attract, provide with a solution, and finally engage the audience with the brand. Topic and message together should educate, entertain and enthrall in order to build relationships and trust. At the same time it can serve as a company’s reflection and assist in promoting the products and services related to the brand. Relevant and valuable content is able to reach out a targeted audience and promote a brand’s solutions regarding on what customers are searching for, and therefore promote the company’s commodities. Customer’s buying cycle seems to be a very important factor that marketers should take into account as well, as different needs expressed in different times by the buyers.

In the particular case of e-retailers, online marketing practitioners seem to prefer segmented content according to the website’s product or service categories as the most appropriate solution.  The translation of the buyer persona, characteristics and the stage of buying cycle into specific content can effectively be attractive and compelling at the same time.

Step 4. Keyword Research

Then, the keyword research is expected to be undertaken. It is, indeed, a painful process as it includes competitive analysis from keywords perspective, and SEO keyword research and examination of key phrases relevant to the buying cycle for the lure of qualitative audience. Particular interest should be attributed in the way the specified targeted audience is likely to search in the search engines. How would the targeted customers articulate their needs in terms of keywords? The queries used by your targeted audience should be used as keywords inside the content in order to drive high volumes of relevant audience into the buying process. Do not forget to use the guide from the first step, Research Customer Segments.

Step 5. Specify Content Marketing Forms

Having transferred in the second half of the framework, online marketers should identify which are the most suitable content marketing forms for manipulation to form their already budding content. The various forms of encapsulating the needs into rich content forms include online articles, blog posts, content creation, customer reviews, digital newsletters, eBooks/whitepapers, emails, images and info-graphics, widgets, Micro-sites, mobile applications, mobile content, news release, surveys, social content, videos, seminars and many others.

The findings from the empirical research recommend that blog posts, customer reviews and social content are the most significant forms for e-retailing websites in order to gain the best results in the search engine battlefield.

Step 6. Content Creation

Therefore, the next step is to tie together the message identified back in the third step and the content form from the previous step. Once again, the final content should be a piece of art, reaching the buyer when and where exactly he/she needs it. Content relevant to what the organisation merchandises which aims to educate people, makes buyers aware about the brand in order to like it and trust it; significant elements for an organisation to achieve customer acquisition.

Online marketers responded to the research specified that professional writing, original content, custom content, and content written for SEO purposes are the most important elements taking under consideration. So try to keep an eye on what you consider as educative and compelling content as readers do not want to come across sloppy content that seems effortless and too branded.

Step 7. Content Promotion

Next in the process comes the promotion of the content. Social media Marketing and Influencer Marketing could play a critical role for achieving this aim. Influencer marketing could help brands to connect with social media influencers that distribute brand-friendly content which is shared by others. Therefore, they could be able to share their content across the web and reach millions of consumers.

There are several social media platforms available to be utilised for the delivery of the content to audiences. Among the several social media platforms online marketers responded that Facebook is the most effective solution for e-retailers, and they rank Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest next in the list. Of course, the option is more or less depending on the e-retailer’s nature.

Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing Institute has written a post regarding 47 Social Media tools for Content Marketers.

Step 8. Measure Results

The measurement of the efforts through particular KPI’s is the final step. Once again, every content marketing effort should be measured in order to identify the degree of success and thus the required changes for improvement. There are several KPI’s that online marketers could use to measure the impact of content. More or less, the metrics depend on the content marketing objectives and should be run in parallel with them. Among these metrics are: web traffic, views / downloads, lead quality, lead quantity, sales / revenue, inquires, customer feedback, search ranking’s performance, social media engagement, inbound links and others.

Based on the key performance indicators online marketers voted for the sales/revenue, the web traffic, the quality, and the customer feedback as the strongest metrics in order to measure the content’s performance of e-retailers. 

Repetition of the Process

Consequently, based on the performance of the content marketing efforts continuous optimization should be attributed to each individual step. Therefore, after the measurement of the results and the identification of the issues, a new cycle of the same process should be repeated getting started from the identification of a new topic and/or message for promotion.

Conclusion

As a result, given the fact that this formula can effectively match to the online marketer’s expectations in order to build successful content marketing strategies, the overall rationale of this process can be absolutely complied with their needs. A combination of content marketing and search engine optimization tactics, all applied to this formula can fill the gap and improve the search organic visibility of particularly e-retailing websites. However, I want again to stress out the need of focusing both to the general image of the process and to each individual step separately, as both of them are equally important for the development of successful content marketing campaigns.

What do you think?

Do you think that such a formula would reflect the content marketing needs of a B2C company into effective and profitable campaigns? I would love to hear your comments, questions, and suggestions in the comments below. I pledge to respond to everyone.image009 The Definitive Content Marketing Formula

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Kostas is an Inbound Marketing enthusiast mostly dealing with Search Engine Optimization and Content Marketing. He is editor in chief of WebMarketer.gr where he is the author of the SEO column.
52899bee69a66dec5e85a2b18cc5b3f5 64 The Definitive Content Marketing Formula

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10 thoughts on “The Definitive Content Marketing Formula

  1. Nice post.

    Would you say that content marketing is vital to the future of SEO? I would personally… However it is very difficult to put a content strategy in place for some industries and sectors… A lot of my clients are in the Building and Construction industry, I find it hard to develop engaging content for these sectors, mainly because the target audience usually isn’t bothered about the Internet, let alone content… They simply want to find a phone number for somebody to come and fix their broken boiler or quote for a garage extension.

    I guess, that publishing content on other sites in this instance will serve to increase rankings with back links, but I am struggling to see how to engage this particular type of audience.

    Any ideas… Or am I talking rubbish…

    :-)

    Andy.

    1. Hi Andy. With the popularity of channels like TLC and DIY networks among women, maybe you can focus your content on Do-It-Yourself fixes, home improvement tips, etc. On a business standpoint you could focus on energy efficient construction, Q&A’s with businesses (and customers as well), reviews, etc. Just a thought!

    2. Great post Kostas! Post Penguin and Panda Content marketing has taken a U turn for the right cause. Quality content and promotion yields quality and engaging traffic. Content strategy for B2B differs from that for B2C. B2B demands content with expertise or insights more than anything where as B2C demands constant engaging content of different types.

  2. Nice work here. The only thing I’d change is have the arrow go right back to the beginning, to researching customer segments and personas. After implementing content, you can learn a lot about your initial personas and if you defined them right or not. The last thing you want to do is continue to optimize for personas that don’t build your business.

  3. I agree with Dan. I think it’s a circular formula and you should always be coming back to your customer segments to re-analyze whether you are communicating to the right audience. Your content should always be optimized for the audiences that are going to build up your brand, especially brand advocates and loyal purchasers.

  4. Thanks you all guys for your comments. It could be a circular formula, indeed! What I wanted to highlight in this article is the fact that some stages in the process need a larger amount of change than the others. I think the first two stages in the formula should be well defined from the beginning and subsequently if amendments need to take place they will be just small ones otherwise the whole content marketing strategy will be a lost opportunity.

  5. The better the content, the more engaging you are. I work in the area of online marketing and I realize every day how important high quality content is in order to make your business successful. Your pieces of advice actually reminded me of an article I’ve recently read about a guy called Lorne Marr who set up his business here in Canada and then decided to penetrate the online insurance market. He found a little company called Foliovision and entrusted its team with that task and after a few years the guy runs a multimillion-dollar business. And as he explains in the article the key to his success right now is the constant search for high quality content regularly presented on his website.

  6. Content marketing (CM), done well, bypasses SEO. Or, to put it another way, CM isn’t based on SEO. SEO is added as an afterthought to CM.

    The audience is researching their issues and problems. They look for information, wherever they can find it. And they’re finding their information at websites, blogs, twitter, company sites, etc. Did you notice that search engines are not in that list? They are finding and researching in other sites four to one over search engines. (This data is based on Google research: See ConsumerBarometer.com)

    SEO, as the name implies, is based on modifying information to get indexing and ranking in search engines. There is very little SEO for Twitter, etc., because you can’t use meta-tags, HTML format, etc. At best, you get one (and only one) keyword in a tweet. No keyword stuffing, three keywords, etc.

    And yes, I’m about to release a major book on content marketing. See andreas.com/content-marketing/

  7. Content marketing needs to be a balance between addressing the immediate needs of your customers and the creation of material that will provide longer term benefits through SEO. Too often businesses target a set of keywords and forget to address the immediate issues of their target audience or else they ignore the SEO and try and focus totally on the day to day issues that concern their target audience. The key is to find the right balance between these long and short term goals.