Ever wonder how some companies like HubSpot, for instance, crank out so much content so fast and so consistently?
I did. So I Googled, and I quickly stumbled upon a few ebooks – two in particular – that outlined exactly what companies like HubSpot and Kapost do to generate loads of amazing content so quickly and regularly.
This post will explain the seven secrets behind creating and operating a content marketing machine that outputs stellar content and converts leads consistently. I’ll use a small, marketing consulting agency as an example to help solidify the seven steps I am about to explain.
1. Put a Clear Plan In Place
The plan is your baseline. It is your content marketing strategy. To begin, your strategy will include:
- Detailed buyer personas - Your buyer personas are your real customers represented as fictional characters, which allow you to bucket your clients into different segments based on specifics, such as demographics, profession, title, etc.
View an example of a buyer persona template from Buffer.
- Content map - Content marketers create content maps for each buyer persona at each stage of their journey through the sales cycle, i.e. awareness, consideration and decision-making
These two documents are “living” meaning you need to consistently update them with the latest information, and they are going to help you decide which topics you’re writing about. You need to find your company’s sweet spot at the intersection of your customers’ interests and needs and your company’s expertise or speciality.
After completing this process, you will have the framework that drives your machine.
2. Build a Solid Team
What good is your plan if you don’t have anyone to execute it? Not very good.
In order to produce a decent amount of content that is needed to fuel a content marketing machine, you’ll need to begin hiring. The ideal team might look something like this:
- Managing editor
- SEO specialist
- Social media manager
- Internal content creators
- External freelance writers
- Guest bloggers
The most important role of all is that of the managing editor, and she is really the only one who needs to be internal because all of the other roles can be easily outsourced to high caliber freelancers or agencies.
It would also be smart of you to recruit guest bloggers in order to get some free, quality content on your blog as well. Create a page on your website that allows writers to apply to guest post on your site. You’ll be surprised how many people are interested.
3. Come Up With Stellar Ideas
Ideation seems to be the biggest challenge for marketers today. The best thing you can do to solve this problem is study your customers more because your blog is all about what they want to read – not what you want to promote.
Here’s three ideas for generating blog post ideas:
- Talk to the sales team. They know exactly what questions customers are asking so include them in the editorial process. Create a seamless process for anyone in the organization to submit ideas.
- Creep on your clients. Go online, and follow your customers. Listen to what they have to say. What are they sharing? What are they liking or tweeting? Whatever that is – that’s your speciality – steal their ideas.
- Interview your customers. Go straight to the source – in a non-spammy way of course. These are not sales interviews but rather idea-generating interviews.
Now that you have a few ideas, what should you take into consideration before writing these posts?
- SEO. Is anyone searching for this query or blog post? Or is there too high of a competition rate for this search? Would you be better off targeting a lesser competitive keyword?
Tip: Use Google Keyword Planner to perform SEO research during ideation.
- Trends and data. What’s the latest study you could write about or create an infographic about in your industry? Are there any hot trends you can write about in your field?
4. Develop Effective Production and Distribution Processes
Production and distribution may make ideation look like a breeze. If you’re managing a big team then logistics among key stakeholders can get tiresome. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough help, you’ll be drowning in a sea of bad content, or worse: you’ll produce no content.
Regardless of which size team you have, it’s vital that you have production and distribution processes in place. Document everything so you can streamline these processes and become more and more efficient as time progresses.
Workflowy is a fantastic tool for documenting processes. I highly recommend giving it a try.
5. Spend Time Actually Promoting Your Content
You’ve created the content and hit publish, but now, you need to get people actually reading that content. How do you do this? By utilizing four distribution or channels otherwise known as Audience Development. Here are the four big categories:
- Influencers: Influencers are bloggers and companies or publications that have influence over your audience. You want to gain links on these individuals' and business' sites for two reasons. First, you want backlinks to your website. Second you want to generate brand awareness for your company.
- Tip: Use Buzzsumo to find and reach out to influencers who might be likely to share your content.
- Search: To optimize your organic search results, you need to search engine optimize (SEO) your site for keywords, specifically, long-tail keywords. Here is a link to an article on how to conduct keyword research.
- Paid: Whether you’re using search engine marketing, Facebook ads, sponsored Tweets or other paid tactics to drive traffic to your site, make sure you are driving traffic to the right pages on your website. For instance, direct searchers to content pages instead of promotional landing pages.
- Syndication: This means you are supplying content for multiple publications simultaneously. You publish on one big website, and then that website gets syndicated by others.
6. Don’t Forget About Conversion and Nurturing
We’ve reached the two final steps in our content marketing machine:
- Converting website visitors into leads
- Nurturing leads into customers
This is the exciting stage. Searchers are clicking-through to your site now so all you have left to do is convert them into a lead, which can mean they submit their email address, follow you on social media or subscribe to your blog.
All of the above is valuable because this means you’ll be on their mind as long as you keep publishing killer content consistently.
The next stage is nurturing. How do you nurture leads once they complete an email optin form? By setting up marketing automation software, such as HubSpot, which automatically sends your leads quality emails once certain actions are completed, which triggers these campaigns.
7. Measure and Optimize
So we have some bad news. Remember that plan we created in step one? Well, it was actually just a hypothesis, and hypotheses are usually wrong.
Before you freak out: don’t. It’s actually totally okay because we have metrics in place to tell us which hypotheses were wrong and which were accurate.
As long as you keep reiterating based on your findings, your content marketing machine will be cranking.
In the end, your success will ultimately depend on your ability to be consistent in everything you do — from planning and ideation, to the management of your team and your ability to nurture leads and pay attention to the metrics. Consistency is key. It’s the only way you can keep your machine running. You have to stay committed to your goals, and you have to be in it for the long run.
Building your content marketing machine takes time but the ROI is well worth it in the end. Start with a plan, and end with analysis. Keep reiterating, and you’ll kill it.
Do you have any lingering questions for me? Ask them in them in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer them.