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A lot of startups like Blue Apron and Design Pickle are famous for achieving staggering growth rates through content marketing. With the right content strategy, you, too, can experience phenomenal results in your business.
In this article, we talk about the best content marketing strategies for startups that will help you drive viral growth.
You will learn the most effective tactics for analyzing your audience and competitors to craft an advanced content marketing strategy, as well as how to create content that will outperform your rivals and propel your business to success.
The Importance of a Content Marketing Strategy
There are many reasons why having a content marketing strategy is crucial, particularly for startup companies.
The Content Marketing Institute reports that over 63% of businesses don't have a formal or documented content marketing strategy.
It will come as no surprise to learn that the ones that have written content marketing strategies are often the most successful.
Of the businesses without content strategies, the ones that do manage to find success often do so as a matter of luck since they don’t have any idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Without a written strategy, there is no way to measure your results and you risk all your marketing efforts going to waste.
Here Are 5 Reasons Why a Content Marketing Strategy Is Important for Your Startup:
Content Marketing Is Affordable
Compared to traditional marketing, content marketing costs up to 62% less, and yet it generates almost 3 times as many leads. It's undoubtedly one of the most affordable methods of marketing available to businesses right now.
Content Marketing Boosts Your Brand's Presence
With the right content marketing strategy, you will be able to increase your startup's presence online. By producing high-quality content, you will have more to put on your website and share on social media.
As a side note, If you’re struggling to keep up with all of the demand around posting to social media on a consistent basis (like I have in the past) there are a lot of different Facebook automation tools to help. And if Facebook isn’t your focus, you can find guides on automation for all of the social networks to help you out.
The more frequently you update your site, the better your SEO, and the more likely that your ideal customers will be able to find you in the search results.
Content Marketing Helps You Establish Your Expertise and Authority
Customers want to do business with companies that know what they're doing. When you produce and publish content on relevant topics in your industry, as well as help to solve problems your audience is having, you're showing that you have a good grasp on what is going on within your industry.
Content Marketing Increases Brand Trust and Loyalty
A Nielsen survey shows that over 70% of people trust the information on branded websites more than any other type of owned media. So if your startup’s website is full of valuable and helpful information and content, it's more likely that customers will put their trust in you.
Content Marketing Helps Your Startup Grow
With content marketing, you will be able to drive explosive growth in your business. Over 66% of startups reported that content was the major driver of their company's growth.
These are just some of the reasons why having a solid content marketing strategy for your startup is essential, but the list of benefits goes on.
In addition to offering you all these great benefits, content also has a massive influence over your other online marketing strategies. For instance:
- Do you want visitors to sign up for your business’s email newsletter? Content can do that.
- Are you working to improve your SEO strategy? High-quality, relevant content will boost your SEO.
- Don't know what you should be posting on social media? One important strategy is to share your blog posts.
- Are you looking for ways to make valuable contacts or connect with influencers in your industry? Mentioning the people in your content is a good way to reach out and start a relationship.
- Want a better way for onboarding SaaS sign-ups? Do it with content!
Basically, you can use content as the basis of any other marketing strategy that your business is using to lure more traffic to your website.
Understanding What Content Actually Means
Sure, everyone understands that content is valuable. But what exactly is content?
When most people think about content, the first thing that comes to mind is written text. But content isn't always just blog posts. It can also be YouTube videos, social media content, images, audios, and so on.
Content is the presentation of information, in any form, and through any channel, to an audience. It has to have a purpose and be outcome-oriented.
Once you understand that content is not equal to blog posts, then there are endless opportunities to create amazing content to drive growth for your startup. If ‘content’ is king, then ‘variety of content’ must be king of kings.
You need to focus on different types of content if you're going to keep your audience engaged over the long-term.
So in addition to written content, you also want to include graphic content, video content, and audio content.
There's a long list of different types of content and you can create using these formats, including:
- Blog Posts
- White papers
- Articles and Reports
- Original, Unique/In-depth Research
- Case Studies
- How-to/Ultimate Guides
- Short or Long Videos
- Opinion Content
- Photographic Images
- Reference Content:
- … the list goes on!
So, if you want to experience phenomenal results from your content marketing efforts, it's important that you go beyond simple blog posts when creating content.
Consider what types of content would attract your target customers, and then incorporate those into your strategy accordingly.
Any piece of content you create should have the following important characteristics:
- Your content has to be informative
- It must be practical, functional, and tactical
- The content should have a specific purpose
- It should also be outcome-oriented
Understanding exactly what content is and how it fits into the growth of your startup will be the key to your content marketing success.
Marketing on a Startup Budget
If you are getting ready to create a content marketing strategy for your startup, the first thing you need to look at is your budget so that you can set realistic expectations.
Creating content may be a lot more cost-effective than other means of marketing, but it still costs money – especially if you want high-quality, great-performing content.
The majority of large companies can afford to splurge on a variety of marketing methods, but if you are working with a small startup budget, then it's particularly important to be innovative in your content strategy.
Here are some of the questions you need to answer:
Do you have sufficient resources to allocate for your startup’s content marketing strategy without affecting your other core business processes?
Do you have the time to allocate to creating and implementing your business's content strategy?
Do you have the skills necessary to get the job done well, or do you need to hire qualified professionals to assist you?
You need to invest a lot of time into executing and monitoring your content marketing. In addition to writing blog posts and creating other forms of content, you also need to do content promotion and outreach.
You need to measure results, test the different options to see what works best, tweak, and improve your process – and then do it all again.
As you can see, a lot goes into implementing a great content marketing strategy.
Here are some of the most familiar roles in content development:
- Marketing Strategist: Plans the content you or your team will develop
- Content Writer(s): Use their expertise and skills to create desired content
- Content Editors: To proofread content and ensure accuracy of facts
- Content Promoters: To do outreach and promote your content on various channels
- Graphic Designers: Create eye-catching visual content for your business
- Videographers: They produce video content as per your business’s requirements
- Content Analysts: To analyze content performance and find what’s working best
Whether you're doing everything by yourself and trying to make a little extra money blogging,, working with a team, or outsourcing, you still need to ensure that you have enough resources (time, money, skills, etc.) to get the job done and to get it done right.
Content marketing is not something you can approach half-heartedly, otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your time.
If you want to see real results, you'll have to put in the time and/or money necessary to do so. So make sure you allocate the necessary resources and plan your strategy accordingly.
Less can Sometimes be More
Most startups make the mistake of trying to be everywhere doing everything at the same time. For instance, they will try to create blog posts, videos, and social media posts, and promote them on every channel they can think of.
When it comes to creating content, if you spread yourself too thin, then you'll find it very hard to provide value to anyone, let alone see any real results from your marketing efforts.
If you are just getting started with your business’s content strategy, it's important to focus on just two or three tactics in the beginning.
After you master those few, you can then add more. However, you may not see the need to do so once you have a few successful tactics as you can easily scale your processes to get twice the results without putting in much additional effort.
When considering the types of content strategies you can start with, play to your strengths. For example, if your forte is writing, then start with blogging. Choose a couple of channels for promoting your posts and focus on that until you have achieved good results before moving on to another strategy.
You can choose to start with guest blogging, email marketing, or any other content marketing strategy. But whatever you do, stick to one medium until you’ve mastered it. Once you have your systems in place for creating, publishing, and promoting content on a consistent basis, you can then branch out in a different direction.
When considering which channels to start with, you must choose the ones where your target audience spends a lot of their time.
- If they enjoy reading, you may want to start by producing e-books.
- If they spend their time on social media, then focus your efforts there.
- If they’re on YouTube, then instead of blogging, you may want to focus on creating useful and informative videos instead.
No matter what you decide to start with, always make sure that the content is aligned with your business objectives.
Understanding Your Audience Before You Start
Before you create your first piece of content for your startup, it's important for you to understand your audience.
If you don't know who you are creating the content for, then it's going to be impossible for you to create content that caters to their needs and wants. If readers don't find your content helpful, you won't be able to generate any leads.
The last thing you want is to spend all that time and money creating content that isn't relevant to your target audience.
So your next step is to get to know your audience by performing audience development and persona research.
Here are some of the most important characteristics to help you identify your relevant audience:
- Demographics: Find your target audience’s age, gender, location, ethnicity, income, job title, etc.
- Psychographics: Determine their hobbies, beliefs, interests, habits, etc.
- Pain Points: What problems are they facing in their lives that your product or services can solve?
- Challenges: What type of challenges do they face that make them search for your products or services?
- Seeking Information: Where is your target audience searching for solutions to the problems they are experiencing?
- Content Preference: What type of content format or structure do they prefer?
- Your solutions: How can you help your target audience find and use the information they are looking for?
You need to create a primary audience for your content marketing strategy, as well as a secondary audience. The former should be made up of those who are most likely to buy your products or services. All your content should be targeted at them.
Your secondary audience should be made up of those people who require a little more convincing before they can be part of your primary audience. This will require your content team to be a bit more strategic with the type of content they develop for this segment of your audience.
Once you've strategically identified the people you should target with your content, you will be able to easily determine the right ideas, topics, and keywords that you need to incorporate into your strategy.
Analyze Your Competition
In addition to understanding your audience, you also need to understand your competition before you start creating content.
You must study the ground to identify what's currently working and what's not, as well as any possible opportunities and problems that you might encounter in your own content marketing campaign.
They are a lot of tools that you can use to help you in this regard, but I highly recommend using Ahrefs, a powerful, yet simple to learn software that allows you to gather useful data, clues, and insights on your competitors' content strategies.
With this tool, you will be able to spy on your competitors and get a good idea of how they are performing on the market.
First off, look for your direct competitors. Once you know who you’re competing with, there’s a lot of information you can find out by simply paying attention to the type of feedback that they receive from customers.
Pay particular attention to the relevant comments, ideas, and solutions that they get from your ideal audience.
Ahrefs will help you gather data so that you can connect the dots and figure out how you can improve on the current state of affairs within your niche.
Here are some of the things you can look for during your competitive analysis:
- Analyze your competition's product strategy
- Analyze their content marketing strategy (with the aim of identifying content gaps and opportunities for content improvement)
- Analyze their strategy for SEO
Learn as much as you can about your competition. By looking at what they are doing, you will be able to develop exceptional marketplace understanding and better-inform your content strategies.
Your final step is to put all the information you gathered to use to help you create a more advanced content marketing strategy for your startup.
In the next section, we take a look at how you can come up with better content that will outperform your competitors in the area where it matters most – the search results.
Creating Content Better Than Your Competition
Now that you know your competition's strengths, weaknesses, and the opportunity gaps in their content marketing activity, you can start to create better content than theirs.
It goes without saying that every piece of content you create should be of the highest quality, but here are some other tips to help you outrank your rivals:
- Use the Skyscraper Framework: This involves creating content that builds on an existing topic or idea that has already been proven to be popular with your ideal audience.
- Fill Content Gaps: Create the types of content that have been ignored by your competitors.
- Include Eye-catching Visuals: Create and share better images and visuals in your content to make it more likely that your content pieces will outperform your competitors’.
- Increase Content Length: Research has shown that longer posts tend to outperform shorter ones.
- Reach out to the right people. Successful content marketing involves more than just writing or creating content. It's also about doing cold outreach better than your competitors.
- Make Sharing Easy: Make it easy for your readers to share your content by including share buttons at the top of your posts.
- Make Your Content Snackable: Make your content easier for your readers to consume by using formatting best practices.
- Craft Click-worthy Headlines: Create and test headlines to find the best-performing ones for your posts.
By following these steps, you will be able to create high-quality, engaging content that will outrank and outperform your competitors.
Content Marketing Tips for Startups to Keep in Mind
In addition to the steps above, here are a few more tips to follow when creating content for your startup:
- Set clear content marketing objectives
- Make your goals measurable so you can track your success
- Make your goals achievable – aim high, but be realistic
- All the content you create should be targeted at your ideal audience
- Make sure you cover all the different stages of the customer's journey
- Set a timeline for achieving specific content marketing goals
- Spend more time promoting than you do creating the content
- Invest in effective content marketing tools like Ahrefs
Nurturing Content Success With Other Platforms
Social media, email marketing, video marketing, and analytics can help make successful content even better. Here’s how:
There are many different ways you can use social media to expand the success of your current marketing campaign. For instance, you can share every post you publish on your blog multiple times on social media.
You can even repurpose each blog post into many different snippets, as well as other formats, and use those to appeal to different segments of your audience. For example, some members of your audience would rather watch a video or listen to a podcast than read a blog post.
Once you start creating high-quality content, you will be able to promote it effectively using various email marketing strategies. So, if you create an awesome blog post or video, share it with the people on your list.
The main idea here is to feed high-quality content to your email subscribers with the aim of increasing conversion rates and maintaining consistency. Also, you can grow your email list by offering your epic content in exchange for your visitors’ names and emails.
Make sure you use a quality landing page builder as that is a prerequisite to gathering as many emails as possible.
YouTube is the world's second-largest search engine and it's a very effective channel for startups to grow their brand. Tens of millions of searches are made on YouTube daily and you can generate a steady stream of leads (and income) for your startup by incorporating videos into your content strategy.
This has the added benefit of helping you rank in Google, as well, since the search giant is now featuring more and more videos in universal search results. The quality of your videos is, of course, very important. Not just to keep the attention of viewers, but to build credibility and get subscribers.
I realized this early on with my own YouTube channel, so I created this guide to help startups and individuals understand what the best YouTube editing software is.
Measuring your effort is perhaps the most important step in executing a successful content marketing campaign. No matter what type of content you create for which channel, the only way to achieve consistent results is to know what's working and what isn't. And the only way you can know that is by monitoring the content you publish.
Without analytics, there's no way to know which types of content are effective and which ones you need to improve on. Measuring helps you analyze the effects of your content marketing campaign so that you can optimize your processes.
Once you get improved results, you can then double your efforts and budget, in order to get double the results.
Doing this will allow you to scale your business so you can experience explosive growth.
Hopefully, by now you understand the importance of content marketing for startups. You now know that the only way to outperform your competition is through the creation and implementation of an effective content marketing strategy.
All that’s left is for you to test, measure, optimize, and scale.
This is a process that you will need to do on a consistent basis if you want to see consistent results.
Use this article as your resource to help you brainstorm ideas and come up with a content strategy that will help you outrank the competition and grow your startup.