I like plans.
Yes, they are boring. Yes, creating them is work. Yes, you need a lot of discipline and focus to follow them.
But they also have this magic power of bringing you the results you need.
So, as much as having a new plan every day based on a “how to” article you’ve just read sounds like fun, I’ll ditch it for the predictable outcome of a thought-through strategy anytime.
Do you have a plan?
I mean, for your website and how it’ll help you get new clients and customers.
Have you ever set down and thought about what exactly you’ll be doing for the next 6 months to get more traffic or grow your audience?
“I’ll buy a domain, get a nice design theme, write one blog post a week and send a newsletter once in a while”
…is not a plan.
“I’ll add a fancy social sharing plugin and a pop-up to my website to encourage shares and sign-ups”
…is not a plan either.
What I mean is a defined set of actions you will be focusing on for the next months to achieve measurable goals.
Oh yes, creating a plan like that is exactly like it sounds: A pain in the butt Not fun and a lot of work.
That’s why not everyone does it. And that’s why not everyone’s website is successful.Creating a plan is boring. That's why not everyone does it. And that's why not every website is successful.Click To Tweet
So today, I thought I’d help you create a plan. In particular, your content marketing strategy for the next 6 months.
Whom is it for?
This strategy is for you if:
- You got a website to advertise your services because everyone has one. But you feel overwhelmed and have no idea what the hell you are doing.
- You’ve been running your website for a year or two, but things’ve been stagnating for a while, and you don’t know how to make your website do better.
One thing for sure: Implementing every tip you find in the “how to” articles just for the sake of it is not going to work.
So, you need a plan. Nothing huge or long-term, but something that will give you a clear direction to follow and some measurable results to expect.
Something like this:
Your no-nonsense content marketing strategy for the next 6 months
The following 9 steps will give you a foundation for all your future efforts to get traffic to your website and to build a loyal audience.
Even if you aren’t new to this, it’s possible that you’ve left a couple of aspects out, and that’s why things haven’t been moving forward.
Feel free to share this image on your site!
#1. (Re-)Identify your target audience
What kind of people would you like to visit your website? Whom will your services or products benefit most?
Oh, you’ve done this already? My bad.
Quick question, though: How much time did it take you to identify your audience? 5 minutes? 10 minutes?
Is it possible you did it like this:
One of the reasons that you aren’t getting more traffic, more subscribers and more client inquiries could be that you haven’t defined your audience or defined it too broadly, and your content is lacking focus.
So, before you do anything else, you need to (re-)identify your audience.
#2. Start a blog
If you don’t like writing cold emails or calling strangers on the phone offering your services, you need a blog.
Your blog posts will lure your potential clients to your website through search, showcase your expertise and let your prospects be the ones taking that awkward first step of contacting a stranger.
#3. Define the focus of your blog
Answer this question as specifically as possible with one sentence:
“If someone has been reading my blog and my newsletters for 2 months, how did it make their life easier?”
Here you have it: The main reason why people should bother reading your content.
Knowing this, you can now brainstorm ideas about the lead magnets you’ll be creating and email newsletters you’ll be sending.
#4. Lay foundation for your content strategy
Keeping in mind your ideal readers and your blog focus:
- Do keyword research and select 3 broader topics you’ll be writing about for the next 6 months.
- Do more keyword research to uncover specific questions your audience wants answers for. Select as many keywords as you can that fit those broader topics you picked and that you have a chance to rank for.*
- Organize them in smaller groups related by subtopic.
* – Here’s how to determine whether you have a chance to rank for that keyword:
#5. Write SEO-optimized blog posts
Start publishing the blog posts targeting the keywords you’ve selected in #3. Make sure to add something new to the conversation and not just paraphrase what the others are saying.
For example, if you’re in the personal injury business, write about how to choose a personal injury lawyer. Share your own experiences with the topic and what you learned while going through the process of choosing a lawyer. You can check this article for more tips on how to write a blog post that ranks high in search engines.
Don’t be shy to add your personality. Your voice and unique writing style will be one of the reasons why people will read till the end and subscribe or share your posts.
Remember that SEO is a long-term game. It will take your new website at least 6 months to start getting organic traffic (assuming you optimized your posts for search correctly).
#6. Create a lead magnet that ranks in search
Create an effective lead magnet to grow your list. Feature it on a dedicated landing page and optimize it for search. This will ensure a steady growth of your email list when your landing page starts ranking in search.
#7. Send a weekly email newsletter religiously
Pick a day of the week and send out an email newsletter every week. Try to stick to your schedule no matter what.
If you don’t have a new blog post to share that week (which is fine, because it takes time to create quality content), send your subscribers a smaller tip without publishing it on your blog. This will help you earn their loyalty and trust over time.
#8. Pick one social network
Pick one social network and be dead serious about it. Invest time and effort to do more than just share your latest blog posts.
Comment on the posts of others to connect with your peers. They will become your first fans who’ll comment on your blog posts, share your content and link to you from their articles.
#9. Pitch guests posts regularly
Pitch two guest posts a month to the websites that have an audience similar to yours. If you get a backlink, it will boost your visibility in search.
But even if their policy is not to link back, you’ll get access to a wider audience and can later use the logo of the websites you guest posted on as social proof in the “featured in” section on your website.
Of course, it’s not one-fit-it-all kind of thing. You may need to adjust it to your niche, business goals and time available. But these 9 steps are an example of how a thought-through plan that will get you more exposure and more business looks like.
How to find out if your content marketing strategy is working
After 6 months, evaluate your efforts.
- Where are your blog posts ranking in search?
- Are your lead magnets ranking in search?
- What are the click-through rates for your blog post from SERP? You can see these numbers in Google Search console:
Growing your email list:
- How well are your lead magnets converting?
- How many new email subscribers did you get?
- Where did you get most subscribers from (for example, search, social, guest posts, etc.)?
- Did those guest posts bring you any traffic or new subscribers?
- What are the open rate and click-through rate of your email newsletters?
- What email newsletters had the highest/the lowers engagement and what could the reason be?
Content promotion and social:
- What ways of content promotion worked best?
- What posts received the most comments?
- What posts received the most shares on social?
- How many new followers did you get on that social network?
- Did the engagement with your shares/tweets increase?
Adjust your strategy
After that, you’ll need a new plan for the next 6 months taking into account your results so far.
For example, you could:
- Write more search-optimized posts on the topics around your existing posts that already rank on page #2. This could boost your ranking, as Google will consider you more authoritative on that particular topic.
- Write guest posts on topics related to your lead magnets.
- Consider dropping the topics that didn’t resonate with your audience (lower open and click-through rates from the email newsletter, low number of shares and comments) where it doesn’t look like your posts are going to rank in search.
- Create more content in the formats that resonated best with your audience and stop bothering with formats that didn’t perform well (for example, stop shooting those time-consuming videos your audience doesn’t care about).
- Concentrate on promoting your content through the channels that worked best.
- If you don’t see much traffic or engagement on that social network you chose to focus on, pick another one and concentrate on it for the next 6 months (maybe after 6 months you’ll realize that Pinterest suits your business better than Twitter).
Basically, do more of what works and ditch the rest. Repeat.
Final words of wisdom
Let’s not sugarcoat it.
Making your website successful is hard. It requires planning, lots of work and patience.
In the beginning, there is rarely instant gratification, and you often feel that you’ve just spent 3 days writing your new blog post for no one. You think about giving up at least once a month, even if you have had successful moments.
Yet, the good news is that consistently showing up and doing the work pays off. But only if you have a plan.
So tell your family you need some alone time,
…lock yourself in the room,
…put your phone on silent,
…and don’t get up from that desk till you know exactly what you’ll be doing in the next 6 months to get more traffic, grow your audience and attract more clients.