According to SEMRush, 84% of companies have a content marketing strategy. Which means if you hope to become the “Content Marketing King” of your niche, you’re probably going to face a lot of competition.
But don’t fret. This article will show you how you can stand out from the crowd.
You will find out:
- Where to invest your content marketing dollars.
- How to use our competitors’ content to generate ideas.
- Why branded content is becoming a winner-take-all market.
But first, let’s explore why certain company blogs outperform others.
Three Reasons Why Blogs Succeed (or Fail)
There are a million little things that determine a blog’s performance, but there are three main components:
- Is the company getting their blog in front of their audience?
- Are people finishing the articles?
- Does the content ultimately satisfy readers’ objectives?
Let’s look at these one-by-one:
Is the company getting their blog in front of their audience?
You can have the greatest content in the world, but if you’re not ranking on the first page of Google, good luck getting people to read it (unless you want to pay a pretty penny for paid ads).
The good news is that you don’t have to pay an SEO agency in order to rank on Google (although it’s certainly not a bad idea). By using the right tools and tactics, you can generate a ton of organic traffic without breaking the bank.
Are people finishing the articles?
You got your target audience to click on your content. Congratulations… but you’re not out of the woods yet. There’s still a lot that could go wrong.
What if your introduction is uninspiring? Or your article brings nothing new to the table?
In either case, your readers are likely to bounce before they get to the end. You are competing with dozens of forms of entertainment – yes, even executives that read B2B content use social media – so you need to capture your readers’ attention. And work to keep it.
Does the content ultimately satisfy your readers’ objectives?
You got your target audience to click on your content. And you got them to finish your article.
But what happens if they were thoroughly unimpressed? They are a) not going to click your CTA and b) not going to return.
If, on the other hand, you give your audience exactly what they want, they are much more likely to trust you and follow your lead.
Now that you know why blogs succeed or fail, it’s time to look at how you can win your place in the pantheon of authority websites.
It all revolves around content
Let’s say someone is thinking about starting a restaurant: what do you think is the first thing that he thinks about?
What type of food he’s going to cook and what ingredients he’s going to use, right?
If you’ve been tasked with managing your company’s blog, the content – like food for a future restaurant owner – is the first thing you’re going to think about.
What type of content are you going to cook?
Yes, we’re going to stay with the analogy between a restaurant and content.
So… the prospective restaurant owner has decided that he wants to open a restaurant in his neighborhood. How is he going to decide what to cook?
By finding the type of food that he knows how to cook and that the locals enjoy eating.
You don’t want to be Babu Bhatt from Seinfeld, serving several cuisines and then, at Jerry’s urging, opening the “only authentic Pakistani restaurant in the whole neighborhood” – with no evidence that anyone in the neighborhood wanted Pakistani food. Better to be the “Soup Nazi” (but much nicer), using original, high-quality recipes to make a meal (soup) that is enjoyed by many in the neighborhood.
Your neighborhood is your niche. And you need to create original, high-quality content that appeals to the locals (your target audience).
Think about the problems that your audience is experiencing. What is keeping them awake at night?
Once you have a few ideas, it’s time to do some competitor analysis. If you were opening an Italian restaurant, wouldn’t you want to know what your local competitors were doing right… and wrong?
Is the chicken parm delicious at the top restaurant in town? Do the locals consistently order the linguine with white clam sauce, but you think that you could make it better?
For a prospective restaurant owner, some of this data may be hard to get. But for a marketer, there are tools that can help you hone in on the right strategy.
Check out BuzzSumo – the tool can be used to uncover the most commonly shared blog topics in your niche.
Then there’s Ahrefs. Ask 100 SEOs to pick one tool they couldn’t live without, and I’m pretty sure at least half would say Ahrefs. With Ahrefs, you can search your competitors’ domains and see which pages are generating the most traffic for them and which keywords are getting them that traffic.
But don’t try to rank for any highly searched terms. I was looking at the Honey Copy website on Ahrefs recently. Cole Schafer is doing an excellent job with it. Anyway, two of the pages that get Cole the most traffic are:
- Charles Bukowski quotes
- A list of five “kick-ass” copywriting courses… including his own
Yeah, it’s nice to get traffic from the Charles Bukowski page, but it’s obvious that Cole (and his competitors) would value the traffic to the course list a lot more.
If you were one of Cole’s competitors, you’d want to look at that course page and figure out how you could make a better version of it. It’s usually a tall task to improve upon high-ranking pages, but that’s the name of the game. And it’s why you need to put an excellent content team in place.
What ingredients are you going to use to create your content?
This is where the restaurant/content analogy breaks down a bit.
If you own a restaurant and you use lower-quality ingredients, you can pass the cost savings onto your customers. Think McDonald’s. But if you want to use higher-quality ingredients – like ShakeShack – your customers are going to have to pay up.
It doesn’t work like that with branded content. It’s all free. This means that you have to make your content better than your competitors’ content. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Here’s the deal:
You could have an incredible content strategy, but if your execution isn’t on point, it’s useless.
As Mary Kay Ash said, “Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless.”
Those people cost money. There are native English writers that sell their services for as little as 2 cents a word (yes, really), but you get what you pay for. With content marketing quickly becoming winner-take-all, spending 25% of your competitors’ per-post budget is not going to get you 25% of their return.
Look for a writer who not only has experience crafting well-written content in your niche (or a related one), but also comes up with unique insights that set their clients’ content apart. You can have someone who writes like Stephen King, but if they’re simply rehashing existing content – intentionally or unintentionally – your readers are going to be disappointed.
And here’s one easy-to-overlook, but super-important consideration when hiring writers: how are their introductions?
The introduction is, sentence-for-sentence, the most crucial part of your article. If your writers don’t craft strong introductions, your readers aren’t going to stick around and do what you ultimately want them to do (join your email list, request a demo, read more of your content, or whatever else).
What if you don’t have enough time or money?
Becoming the “Content Marketing King” of your niche is a major (and expensive) endeavor. What if you don’t have the time or the budget?
If you don’t have the time, you may want to outsource the content strategy and creation to a freelancer or agency.
Not having the budget is a trickier issue. If you have a small budget, it’s tempting to shop at the dollar store of content writers. But you may actually want to pay even more for content than your competitors.
Before you yell, “But, I don’t have money!” at me, let me tell you how you can pull this off:
You can publish less, but when you do publish, put out incredible, evergreen pieces. You may only be able to publish once a month, but if those pieces are a) jam-packed with value and unique insights and b) going to be relevant for years to come, then you can outdo the competitors that publish pedestrian content twice a week. You may not be able to get to the top, but better to be in the middle-of-the-pack than in last place.
We’re in a new era of marketing; people prefer to be talked to like, well, people.
They want companies to help them solve their problems. Not to be inundated with pesky advertisements.
Being “Content Marketing King” means being your prospects’ go-to problem solver… which is guaranteed to have a massive long-term payoff.