For many startup founders, it can feel overwhelming to develop and implement a content marketing strategy. Everyone knows that content is essential, but where should you begin? What content will help your company establish credibility, drive traffic, and catch people’s attention?
In this article, we’ll show you how to create a successful content marketing strategy from scratch.
Content marketing strategy determines what kind of content you will create, where you will publish it, and who will see it. When I say “content marketing strategy,” I don’t mean creating a blog post here and there. Rather, effective content marketing requires that you put a long-term strategy in place before you begin working on any content. The writing itself comes later — your first step should always be creating a content marketing strategy!
Why do most startups fail at content marketing?
The answer might surprise you: lousy planning.
If you want to create great content and see great results from your content marketing strategy, proper planning is critical. First, you need to know your target audience and what kind of problems they are trying to solve.
Once you have the answers to all these questions, writing great blog posts or making compelling videos becomes that much easier — now you know exactly who your target audience is and how they think about finding solutions.
Content marketing for startups can be especially tricky if you start from scratch.
All startups are founded on a secret — a sliver of insight around a market or pain point. Therefore, your content should focus on this insight and knowledge.
Your content marketing strategy should always lead with your company’s mission, vision, and values. These are the guiding principles that help you find success in both business and life, and they will ideally inspire others to do the same.
At a baseline, your content should help customers understand why you started your company and why they should join you in your journey.
A great way to explain these things is by sharing the story of how or why you started your company. Was it inspired by an experience from your own life? A social issue you feel strongly about? Talk about it!
To effectively sell your product or service, you need to know who you’re selling it to. If you don’t know your target audience, how can you possibly create content that will resonate with them?
By conducting market research and creating buyer personas, you’ll be able to focus on the types of people who are most likely to buy from your business. This insight will allow you to create great content specifically geared toward these people, their interests, and their lives.
Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers based on market research and accurate data about your existing customers. When creating a persona, consider what motivates them, their goals, the challenges they might face, and any objections they might have to purchasing from your business.
When it comes to content marketing, the first thing you should focus on is building pillar content — this is a long-form piece that answers the most common questions around your topic. I’s the content you’re going to rank for in search engines like Google and Bing, so it’s essential to create this before anything else. If you have a series of blog posts that answer common questions related to your chosen topic, then you can use them to create this piece of pillar content.
Creating pillar content can sound daunting, but it becomes much more manageable once you get started.
The best way to begin building pillar content is by researching common questions people ask about your chosen topic. This will also help with future SEO!
Once you have an idea of those questions, try writing out everything you know about each question (as well as any tangential or related topics) until you have a few solid paragraphs on each one.
You can then turn these paragraphs into blog posts or combine them into one mega-blog post that covers all the typical questions at once! You can even make a YouTube video or an infographic on solving some of these problems for people who don’t want to read through lots of text.
Now that you have a foundational content strategy in place, it’s time to expand your content efforts. You’ve already identified the core topics and themes for your brand, but now you need to investigate the different angles within those topics. Follow these steps to expand your content production:
1. Identify all the topics your pillar content covers and create a list of related topics you could cover as well. For example, if you have pillar content on creating a marketing strategy for startups, consider making other pieces of content that are closely related, such as creating a marketing strategy for agencies or developing a marketing strategy for SMBs.
2. Map out all the stages of the buyer’s journey (whether they are top-of-funnel or bottom-of-funnel) and brainstorm ideas for each step that align with your target audience persona and the topics in your topic cluster. For example, a great top-of-funnel post may be a how-to guide, while bottom-of-funnel content might be case studies.
3. Create a defined process for creating new pieces of content so you can consistently develop new material without overwhelming yourself or others on your team.
4. Scale up your content creation. A great way to do this is by creating a content calendar where you plan and schedule your content. You can even assign different team members to various pieces of content so it can be completed at a faster pace. Consistency is key with content marketing, so developing a smooth workflow for content creation will be a critical piece of the puzzle.
5. Experiment with new formats like videos or podcasts that target different formats preferred by different demographics (e.g., older people often prefer blogs, while younger people may prefer video content).
Now that you’ve devised your content strategy, it’s time to start measuring your results. This will help you understand what’s working and what isn’t and give you a better idea of how to improve your content strategy moving forward.
Start by looking at your content marketing goals, and work backward from there. If you want more people to read your latest blog post, take a look at the metrics in Google Analytics to see how people are interacting with that page.
Is the bounce rate for that page higher than for the site overall? Is the average time spent on that page lower than other pages? How does this compare with similar posts?
The answers will give you some clues as to why people aren’t reading your post, or if they are, why they aren’t staying on it very long or coming back later.
Run a content audit every few months that asks these same questions across all of your blogs. Use the answers as feedback to help you plan new content and refresh your older blogs, ensuring long-term, high-quality content.
NerdWallet is a personal finance startup that helps people make informed financial decisions. For example, if a consumer is looking for the best credit card or comparing their options for a debt consolidation loan, NerdWallet’s content provides resources and tools to help them learn about and evaluate financial products. Their content marketing strategy is built around their mission to provide unbiased, transparent, and accurate information so consumers can make financial decisions with confidence.
The team has created a series of content pillars in the form of “guides” to managing your finances in different aspects of your life, from insurance to travel. Each guide is a hub for hundreds of other articles that dive deeper into specific topics related to the hub.
This all-encompassing strategy allows NerdWallet to rank near the top of the search results for every topic, and it drove “16 million unique users per month last year”.
A B2B SaaS brand that has done a great job with content marketing is ProfitWell.
ProfitWell’s target audience is B2B SaaS companies, so their content revolves around helping these companies get better at pricing, growth, and retention. The great thing about ProfitWell’s content strategy is that, while it is exceptionally beneficial, it doesn’t require its readers to be experts to understand and implement the advice they give.
ProfitWell has also invested time in creating ebook pillar content, which means they have multiple blog posts and guides on topics that matter to their target audience. Their strategy has enabled them to own the top spot for search terms like “MRR,” “pricing strategies,” and “SaaS pricing,” among others.
Check out our guide on how to drive growth with a SaaS content marketing strategy!
A successful content marketing strategy for startups can have a significant impact on growth.
By clearly defining your target reader, crafting content that solves a problem, and being intentional with your content strategy, you can build a strong brand that generates traffic and cultivates mutually beneficial relationships with its customers.
Want to learn more? Check out our full guide on content marketing for startups!
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