How do you attract the right type of audience to your blog content? And how do you get your content to sell your product? This guide will help you create a blog content strategy that delivers results.
Align your target audience and marketing activities
So you’ve taken steps to start a blog and now you’ve realized that you lack a coherent blogging strategy.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the different opportunities and options in content marketing for your startup.
Having a blog content strategy helps you stop running around like a headless chicken getting distracted by the latest buzzwords and wasting time on all the shiny but worthless activities.
A blog content strategy will:
- Help you figure out which of the different areas make sense in your situation
- Make it easier to prioritize and organize your work
- Help you come up with a very specific and targeted approach that will deliver results
- Make you focused on the content marketing goals you want to achieve and the way you’re going about achieving them
Content strategy is all about making choices and strategic decisions. It’s all about saying no to things that do not matter. You need to align your target audience with your content marketing activities:
- Who’s your target audience? Who do you and who don’t you go after with your marketing?
- What’s your positioning? What do you and what don’t you stand for as a brand?
- How are you going to get the customer? What steps will you take to make the sale?
Understanding the market situation
A proper blog content strategy always starts with the customer in mind.
Ideally, you built a product that scratches your own itch. You had an issue but you couldn’t find a good solution to fix it, so you made one yourself.
You really understand the pain points and you have an easy time getting into the mindset of your target audience.
But how about if you’re working on a product that solves issues you don’t really understand deeply yourself?
You take your underlying assumptions about what the problems really are and see what people actually need and validate your startup idea.
You need to take a step back and do some market research first in order to understand the market and your target customer.
Many guides make this whole process more complicated than it needs to be which makes many entrepreneurs ignore it and that is not good either. I will simplify this process for you so you can get started quickly.
1. Who (are you selling to)?
You need to build a clear segmentation and clear targeting of who you are selling to:
- Who you want to reach and why?
- Who are the people who have a reason to use your product?
Create a customer persona. It can be one or multiple personas. Your customer persona is a fictional ideal customer for your brand.
Identify your target audience and make a clear description of their desires, emotions, issues, fears, needs and the context in which they would want to use your product.
2. What (value do you provide)?
Now you figure out what you can do for the customer persona you are targeting:
- What value can your product bring them?
- What pain is your product relieving?
3. Why (should someone pick your solution)?
This is your unique selling proposition (USP):
- Why should the customer persona pick your solution? What makes you different from the other solutions on the market?
Case study: Fitbit positioning
Let’s say we’re working with the activity tracker and wearable brand Fitbit.
They focus on health and fitness industry and are positioning themselves as more than just a fitness device. Their device features coaching and workouts, personalized insights, health tracking and more.
Fitbit is a “life companion” that allows users to “live your best life”. People with goals. People that want to get fit, that want to be active and that want to live healthier.
4. Where (is your target audience)?
You should identify platforms which have the best potential for reaching your ideal customer:
- Where do you reach out to your customer persona?
- Where are they and what are they doing when they find out that your product exists?
5. How (do you plan to win their attention)?
- How do you plan to win the attention of your customer persona?
- How do you choose to communicate and what do you stand for?
We will answer the “where” and “how” with the help of the customer journey.
Creating a content strategy for the customer journey
In most cases, you’re not really trying to build a growing audience of people who loyally keep visiting your front page looking for latest content you have published.
You’re targeting people who are actively searching for answers to specific questions and solutions to specific problems. When they need an answer, they go to Google looking to solve those problems.
Turning these information seekers into leads and customers is your main creative and marketing challenge.
Break down the process the prospects go through to turn into customers. Visualize the different stages your customer persona might be at and what they’re doing, thinking and asking.
Do you truly understand the challenges your target audience is facing and can you really give them the solution?
Each piece of content you create should have one specific customer persona in mind and the specific stage of the purchase funnel they are in. Each stage of the customer journey requires a different approach from your content.
You’re basically linking your brand’s goals with the customer intent using content marketing. Your content strategy delivers value to your customer persona and at the same time, it drives benefits to your business.
It’s a win-win situation.
Awareness stage (Top of the Funnel)
Here you are targeting people who don’t know about your product. Or they don’t even know they need a product like yours. Or they are not actively searching for a solution.
This is where a customer persona might recognize they have an issue and a pain point they want to be solved.
It might have been something they came up with on their own or even your content could help create awareness of a specific problem.
It’s when the troubleshooting starts. Your customer persona begins to search and looks for advice on how to best address the problem:
- They may want to fix something that’s broken
- Or may want to prevent something from happening
- Or optimize something they’re doing
A vast majority of Google searches are informational queries. Searches may not have any interest in buying something at this stage or they are very early in the buying process. It’s all about information and education instead.
Figure out what the audience wants to learn more about and address these by publishing educational content featuring practical solution to problems and answers to question-based search engine queries.
- Perform keyword research to come up with appropriate topics to develop content for a specific situation.
- Use a keyword tool such as Google Keyword Planner to help you identify things people search for on Google. The higher the search volume is, the more people are interested.
- Use question-answer platforms such as Quora to find questions real people are asking
- Use sites such as AnswerThePublic that aggregate user questions.
Educate your potential audience about their issues without attempting to sell, persuade and promote. You don’t talk about yourself and your solutions too much. You enable and empower your customer persona instead.
The potential for traffic is at the highest level here but conversion potential is low. It’s about increasing brand awareness and establishing trust instead.
Call-to-action is better focused on things such as join a competition, take a survey, follow us on social media or sign up for our mailing list.
What type of content fits here?
Research reports, studies, and comprehensive guides.
Content that answers questions such as:
- “What is…”
- “How to…”
- “Best _____ for ______”
How Fitbits builds the awareness
Looking at Fitbit, here are some good examples of content they have produced for the awareness stage:
- 6 Things Your Resting Heart Rate Can Tell You About Your Health
- Should You Really Take 10,000 Steps a Day?
- Nutritional Information, Diet Info and Calories in Cauliflower, Raw
- Fat Face Off: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil vs. Virgin Coconut Oil
- Feeling Sore 2 Days After Working Out? Here’s Why
Click on these articles and explore them. The articles are hosted on Fitbit’s website, and they mention Fitbit occassionally within the content but there are no flashing banners, pop-ups, and aggressive sales tactics.
Their simple aim is to educate the visitor with great content full of practical advice, tips, and references for deeper investigation.
And this content strategy works in ranking and driving traffic from search engines. These articles rank top in Google for searches such as:
- “resting heart rates chart” (10,000 monthly searches)
- “how many steps should you take a day” (8,000 monthly searches)
- “how many steps per day” (5,500 monthly searches)
- “calories in cauliflower” (6,500 monthly searches)
They introduce thousands of new people to Fitbit every month.
Fitbit website gets more than 25 million monthly visits with their strong brand driving about 60% of those. Search engines are the second biggest traffic driver with just over 30% of total traffic.
This means that millions of people find Fitbit in Google and other search engines every month. And many of them go directly to these educational articles.
Consideration stage (Middle of the Funnel)
This is the content strategy stage where your customer persona explores different solutions for problems they have identified in the discovery stage.
They may add or subtract brands as they figure out what they want. Your job is to publish content that ties their challenges to your specific solution.
Rather than educating a broad market, you are now targeting a potential customer who has expressed some interest.
You align the problem you have solved with various issues related to your business in order to generate interest in your product and drive urgency.
Your content needs to help them differentiate your brand from your competitors. It needs to help them evaluate you and your product.
What are the benefits of using a product like yours? How can you help them decide that your solution is suitable and the best one?
Make sure they know how you can help so they hone in on to you as the solution they feel best solves their pain point.
What type of content fits here?
A go-to comparison resource, real-life case studies, and examples, how-to guides and tutorials that showcase your product, demo videos (see my advice on how to start vlogging) and webinars.
And this is how Fitbit does the consideration stage:
People search for a variety of phrases such as:
- “difference between fitbits” (8,000 monthly searches)
- “fitbit comparison” (8,000 monthly searches)
- “what is fitbit” (6,000 monthly searches)
- “how does fitbit track steps” (4,000 monthly searches)
Look beyond your site here
There are many “best product” searches in any space as users are looking for the best solutions on the market.
Your official website will have a hard time ranking for these terms as Google normally looks to impartial third parties but it’s worth trying things out:
- Worth trying: Do some broader product comparisons on your own blog and see if you can get traction
- Long term: Create an unbranded site with comparisons and similar content
- Quick win: Work with the third-party sites that rank high for these searches.
These get thousands of visitors themselves as people search for phrases such as:
- “best fitness tracker” (50,000 monthly searches)
- best waterproof fitness tracker (6,000 monthly searches)
- best fitness tracker with heart rate (3,000 monthly searches)
Acquisition and decision stage (Bottom of the Funnel)
The user has decided what he or she wants to buy and is ready to take action.
This is where the customer persona examines the solution they’ve identified as the best in detail. They look at the product pricing, user reviews, and other specifics. They try to justify a decision to purchase.
They just need a bit persuading. This basically means that your approach is shifting from teaching to selling at this stage.
You are now writing compelling copy rather than educational guides. You are hyping your product or service rather than educating or helping a person.
Here you are targeting the transactional queries in Google where users have a commercial intent. At this stage of the content strategy, people may also arrive using a brand search or simply by typing the URL in the browser.
This stage might be better suited for your sales team, especially if you’re selling an expensive solution that may need a bit more hand-holding.
What type of content fits here?
FAQ, reviews, pricing, customer stories, terms, free trial, live demo call, discounts, coupons, and special offers.
Some examples of this from Fitbit:
Fitbit is a big name brand so they get tons of branded searches for their different products. And there are also searches such as:
- “where to buy fitbit” (4,000 monthly searches)
Retention and advocacy stage
You have a new customer and your job is now done. Time to relax. Not really!
You now have a new goal for your content strategy. Your new goal is to retain those new customers or to turn that one-time buyer into a repeat customer.
This is about maintaining relationships with your clients, making them more loyal, and increasing their lifetime value.
This further boosts your organic marketing as happy customers will help you provide free marketing using word of mouth, social media, reviews and referrals.
What type of content fits here?
Product onboarding, the help section, regular communication with tips and advice, updates on the latest features and fast and reliable customer support.
And Fitbit does this too even though their devices seem to have some sync issues:
These cover a variety of customer service type of phrases such as:
- “fitbit won’t sync” (12,000 monthly searches)
- “how to reset time on fitbit” (8,000 monthly searches)
- “how to charge fitbit” (8,000 monthly searches)
And that’s it. Now you have a better idea on how to create your own content strategy and what steps to take in order to start delivering some results.
Understand your target market. Identify what your solution can help them with. Then start writing valuable and interesting blog posts for the different stages of the journey that your customer is on.