May 2, 2018
You’re on board.
You’ve seen the stats and heard the success stories.
Content marketing is a go.
You’re ready to join 91% of B2Bs and 86% of B2Cs already giving content their best shot.
More than that, you’re ready to join the ranks of the truly successful.
If you’re a newbie and you’re ready to dive into content marketing, listen up.
You probably have limited resources, time, and knowledge about how to begin. No worries: this guide is for you.
The following are the most vital tasks for getting started in one day.
Grab a pen and paper, and roll up your sleeves.
Get the ball rolling on ROI and begin right here.
6 Day-One Tasks to Get Started with Content Marketing
1. Set Goals
You want to succeed at content marketing, but what will that success look like for you?
According to Content Marketing Institute, setting and understanding your goals are key actions for getting started on a positive note.
Goal-setting will also shape the direction your content takes – and which directions you should avoid.
For example, if your business is fairly new, a big goal of yours could be to raise brand awareness with content marketing.
- How will you measure that goal?
- Where are you starting?
- Where do you want to end up?
- How will you get there?
Once you decide on these factors, all your content marketing efforts should serve them in some way.
Next, remember to keep your goals realistic. For example, if you decide your brand awareness needs to be at the same level as Coca-Cola within a year, you’re being a bit delusional.
Instead, maybe you’ll set a refined goal for brand awareness, like increasing searches of your brand name as well as direct traffic from people who type in your URL.
Pssst… You can check out this type of data if you use Google Analytics:
Finally, remember your goals are not set in stone. If you find they need some refining as time goes on, that’s totally okay.
2. Identify Your Audience Persona
Once you have a direction for your content marketing, it’s time to figure out who you’re going to market to.
According to Inc., “No one can afford to target everyone.”
Truth. It’s just not possible or feasible. To succeed in a crowded market, you have to find a niche.
It’s your job to determine your niche and tailor your content just for them.
Luckily, an audience persona can help you with the tailoring.
A persona is just an imaginary person who possesses the qualities of your ideal target customer. It’s incredibly helpful to have one for content creation.
Why? Because it’s easier to write for your persona rather than a faceless, nameless audience of random people.
You can develop one based on what you know about your audience right now. (You can always refine it later if you need to .)
- Gather the data you already have on your existing customers. What are major trends?
- Go ahead and make some assumptions about your targets. Who do you think your brand appeals to?
- Get specific. Identify gender, age, occupation, marital status, location, salary, and level of education for your persona.
- Get psychological. What is their personality? What do they love/hate? What are their goals/personal challenges?
Here’s a good example of a buyer persona from Neil Patel:
3. Do Initial Keyword Research
To drive organic (i.e. non-paid) traffic to your brand website, you need search engine optimization.
To get the best results with SEO, you need the right keywords. These should be:
- Targeted for user intent
Think about the keywords your audience persona might use to search for what you offer. Don’t forget: Your target will use different sets of keywords depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey. The longer the keyword phrase, the closer they are to whipping out their credit card.
- Strategically chosen for ranking opportunity
You’ll never rank for a broad keyword that has a humongous search volume. Instead, look for long tail keywords with a low keyword difficulty. Don’t enter a keyword race where you can’t compete.
Here’s an example using the Moz Keyword Explorer. Let’s say my business sells ice cream.
I definitely can’t rank for “ice cream”:
What’s another keyword my target persona might use?
As I continue to search for variations of this keyword, I could probably find even better terms to use that hit the right balance between difficulty and monthly search volume.
4. Research Your Competition
Once you have some solid keywords in hand, it’s the perfect opportunity to check out your competition.
To see who’s ranking for a specific keyword, do a basic Google search and click on a few of the top links. Look at:
- Their website
- Their blog
- How often they’re blogging
- Which topics they’re blogging about
- The blog that’s ranking for your particular keyword, including its quality, comprehensiveness, and usefulness
For example, upon deeper inspection, the top-ranking content for the keyword “popular ice cream flavors” is nothing more than a list (I smell an opportunity!):
You can also check BuzzSumo to look at the top-shared content for your keywords. Then, look at those sites and analyze why their content is performing well.
5. Brainstorm Content Topics
After you’ve checked out a few doable keywords and looked at the competition, you can brainstorm some topics for content!
- What topics can you write about using your keywords in the headline?
- What gaps in information did you notice during your research? Can you fill them?
- Think about what your customers need/want to know about your industry, products, or services.
- Does a particular keyword have sub-par blog posts ranking right now in Google (like the one we found for “popular ice cream flavors”)? Can you do better?
6. Set Up an Editorial Calendar
With your newly-acquired research, strategic keywords and blog topics, you can start planning for content creation and publication.
- Set up an editorial calendar to help you keep everything straight.
- Determine how consistently you’ll publish content.
- List all your solid blog topics and create a timeline for having them produced, edited, and ready to go.
- Set up initial publication dates for content pieces (you can always tweak these later).
If you need help formatting your editorial calendar, here is an ultimate list of templates from Curata.
Content Marketing Is a Go
You’re probably jazzed about the prospect of diving into content marketing.
You’ve read the stats, seen others’ success, and want it for your brand.
To make sure you’re starting out as advantageously as possible, don’t jump in blindly. Follow these initial steps on day one.
If you hunker down with this guide, you’ll already have a ton of awesome prep work and strategy under your belt. That means you’ll be raring to go for day two.
So, will today be your day one?
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.