Content marketing can be extremely effective for businesses of all sizes. It is a wonderful tool in a marketer’s arsenal that helps educate your audience, build trust and generate sales. However, if you want your content to achieve all of those things, you must have a strategic plan. I’ve created this content creation checklist to help you do just that!
53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.
(HubSpot, 2017; Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
The Ultimate Content Creation Checklist
Keyword Research Tools for Content Creation
Content marketing is all about answering questions and solving problems that potential customers have. So, it’s well worth taking the time to research what they are specifically looking for help with.
There are a few free places to look for topics and find keyword search volume:
Once you find a few keywords that are relevant to your brand, you want to take a look at what sites are ranking on the first page for them and see how difficult it would be to bump them from their position.
One significant factor in getting ranking for keywords is your site’s authority. I recommend installing the Moz Bar if you have Google Chrome. It’s a free extension that will allow you to see any site’s score (according to Moz’s calculations). The closer their score is to 100, the harder it will be to knock them out of their prime spot.
Now that your tools are in place, let’s start researching.
Generating Topics for Content Creation
To show you how to use these tools, I’ll be researching the term “content marketing.” I started with a simple Google Search and waited for the list of autocomplete keywords to load.
Right away I can see that people are searching for topics I can write about, including content marketing trends, strategy, conferences and more!
From here I’ll turn to Answer the Public, which delivers search terms in a very different way than standard search engines. Once I type in the keywords, I’m presented with all of the questions surrounding content marketing. This gives me tons of long-tail keyword ideas to consider.
Once you have Keywords Everywhere installed, you’ll start seeing search info on keywords right away in your browser.
Additionally, you’ll also see a list of similar words with their search volume to the right of the results.
If you right-click on a page, Keywords Everywhere will give you a report. I can see their article contains just over 1,000 words with a heavy keyword saturation. They also included some long-tail versions of their main keyword, as well.
The remaining results on the page had really high domain authority that I can’t compete with. So now I’ll start looking at long-tail keywords to see where I have a chance of ranking.
When I searched for “content creation checklist” the Moz bar showed me there were sites with lower domain authority that I could potentially knock out of their spots.
Choose your keywords carefully. You don’t want to go through all the hard work of optimizing your content to not be able to rank for them because you didn’t look a who was currently ranking.
Narrow it down to one main keyword and one secondary keyword that complement each other. Adding in some long-tail versions to add to the copy is a good idea, too.
Now that you have your keywords picked out, let’s set some goals around them!
47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
(Demand Gen Report, 2016; Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Setting Content Goals
Each piece that you create should have specific goals with predetermined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). You don’t want to just write something and hope for the best. You should be able to answer these questions before you begin writing:
Who is the Content Intended for?
What demographics make them a good fit?
What stage of the funnel are they in?
Type of Content
What type of content are you building (blog post, video, checklist, ebook, etc.)?
Are there content upgrade possibilities?
What message are you trying to send?
What do you want the user to get out of it?
What action do you want them to take afterwards?
Where will you promote it?
When are your target audience members likely to view/use it?
When you know who you’re creating content for, you can tailor the piece specifically for them. You can use the type of media that has gotten response in the past and direct the reader to one specific call to action.
Now it’s time to put all the pieces together!
Titles with 6-13 words attract the highest and most consistent amount of traffic.
(HubSpot, 2016) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Creating Your Content Masterpiece
You are armed with keyword data and goals, let’s assemble your piece. Make sure your content includes the following elements:
- Catchy Headline
Create a headline that instantly draws the reader in that clearly tells you what the piece is about. Make sure you keywords is included and as close to the front as possible.
- Problem/Pain Point
Identify the pain point your reader is experiencing while relating to the problem.
- Valuable Solution
Offer a solution to the problem - even if it’s not your product or service. The point is to give the reader a “win” so you can build trust. Content doesn't always sell.
- Call to Action
Make sure there is a clear call to action on the page, such as sign up for our newsletter, read related articles, get a free consultation, etc.
43% of people admit to skimming blog posts.
(HubSpot, 2016; Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Once you’re finished with your piece ask yourself these questions:
- Is it easy to read?
When writing for the general public, write for an 8th grade level. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable handing your post to a 13-year-old kid, then it’s too difficult.
- Is it skimmable?
Many people are reading on the go and will skim posts looking for highlights. You can give them information to absorb by bolding important points, adding bullet points, and using subheads. Make sure your selected keyword is in one or two subheadings.
- Does it have a long shelf life?
Of course not all content can be evergreen (lasting a lifetime), however, you want people that come across it years from now to find value and act on your CTA.
- Does it align with the tone of the company?
Every piece you create should have the same feel. I prefer to have a laid back brand, and my writing style reflects that. What tone does your company have?
- Would you click on it?
If you wouldn’t want to click on your post title, then it’s likely that others wouldn’t want to either.
- Are there any content upgrades that could make this piece even more valuable?
Can you offer any kind of supplemental tool/download to that would benefit the reader?
Distributing Your Content
Now that you have some great content created, how will you get it into the hands of your audience? Social media is great for sharing content. You can simply post your pieces to each of your platforms or allocate a budget for promoting the content.
And lastly, always include your great content in your e-blasts.
55% of B2B marketers say they are unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like.
(Content Marketing Institute, 2015; Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Tracking Your Content
I always recommend tracking everything so you know what marketing efforts are working best for your brand. Google Analytics is free and easy to set up. When sharing your content on social media or with content distribution companies, you need to make sure you’re tracking each link’s movements.
I recommend using UTM tracking. Your template for tracking paid Facebook ads may look something like this:
Create your own system so you can track like a pro.
Using this checklist will help you plan and create valuable content for your current and future customers and streamline your production process. If you listen to what your customers need and help them solve problems, they will be far more likely to spend their money with you. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, so create pieces that will hold up over the next 5+ years.
Until next week...
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