As part of a recent job interview, the hiring manager asked me to outline how I approached a marketing project or challenge. Put another way: they wanted to see the steps taken and thinking behind those steps, from identifying the opportunity through planning, execution, and results. So I decided to outline the content marketing initiative that I led while working as Director of Marketing for an enterprise WordPress hosting company.
With that backdrop, this example can be used in 2 ways:
- As a starting template for anyone looking to bolster (or start) their content marketing plan
- As a framework for approaching any marketing project
1. Identifying the Opportunity
When I first joined the company, I spent a fair amount of time digging through the available data, including web/app analytics, customer conversations, competitive analysis, and previous marketing efforts.
Through that process, it became clear that improving organic search traffic through content marketing was the lowest-lying fruit. Some of the reasoning behind that decision included:
- Roughly 60% of our lead flow came from organic search
- Another 10% came from referrals, often acquired through content-related efforts
- The current content creation efforts were disorganized at best, with no direction towards content that converts, quality of content or content promotion
- The brand and domain had solid authority, setting the table for a focused content strategy to succeed
2. Setting the Content Marketing Strategy
Building on my homework from the first few weeks, I created an editorial Trello board that acted as our editorial calendar, covering:
- Writing guidelines for freelance and internal writers, including:
- Our brand voice: defined in a collaborative effort with the co-founders and team
- Target personas: identified from a separate exercise, covering industries and roles we wanted to target
- Our process: ideation, assignment, review, publishing, payouts, etc.
- Writing best practices: pulled from reputable sources at the time and my own experience
- Article promotion: collaborative effort to build awareness and links for all posts
- Guest post tracking (targets, workflow, etc.)
- Tracking out content marketing goals, KPI’s and how they align with larger business goals
- A collaborative workspace, where we tracked both in-house and freelance writing projects
- A place to store & discuss all content ideas pulled from SEO tools, keyword research, and competitive analysis
It’s important to note that traffic growth and direct lead generation from content were not the only measures of our content marketing efforts. We intentionally crafted every article as a way to build SEO value for our key landing pages, most notably the industries we serve and the tech behind our hosting stack.
3. Implementing & Adapting
After discussing the plan with the CEO and Director of Sales, I drove the early effort as a solo operation, implementing tasks that included:
- Vetting, onboarding and managing freelance writers, with attention on writing quality and industry experience
- Coordinating internal thought leaders to draft or ghostwrite content
- Editing all content before publishing, looking at internal links, grammar, tone, thoroughness, etc.
- Promoting all content through social media, bookmarking sites, Quora, outreach, paid channels, targeted communities, influencer outreach, etc.
- Hired a content support role to help manage the process
- Experimenting with infographics, Coschedule, and other tools & content types
- Started using an advanced SEO writing tool to help us rewrite the nearly 600 posts we had created over the years.
- Worked with sales and support teams to use their online knowledge bases as content + SEO opportunities
4. The Results
- We doubled organic search engine traffic to represent 80% of our lead volume (Google, mostly)
- Direct and indirect leads from content efforts contributed to a 50% increase in ARR during that same timeframe
- Earned link love from notable sites like Forbes, SmashingMagazine, and HackerNoon
- Our new content efforts helped us rank for hundreds of targeted search terms
- High-quality content always trumps quantity – spend the extra time required to create compelling, optimized content
- Spend more time promoting each piece of content than you do writing it
- Know your target audience – go deep on buyer personas and their preferred types of content
- When hiring freelance writers, find the top 5% that can help promote their writing
- Schema fixes + guest posting + optimized article updates = winning SEO strategy
Creating a successful content marketing strategy takes time and practice, but ultimately starts with great content. And you can apply the framework used here to almost any digital marketing campaign:
Identifying the Opportunity -> Strategy -> Execution -> Measuring Results
I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments below and would love to hear your tips & best practices for content marketers.