2020 is here! It marks the end of a decade, a time where we draw a line and we make fierce plans.
How are you going to rock this brand new decade?
How’s your business going to grow and leave its competitors behind?
If you don’t have a clear answer to the questions above, I have a suggestion for you: content marketing.
I’ve been a digital marketer for more than 10 years, so I’ve pretty much tried every trick in the book. And I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that, of all the marketing tactics out there, content marketing brings the best ROI – when done, right, of course.
Content marketing generates more leads than traditional methods.
And here’s one of the reasons why: over 30% of internet users have an ad blocker installed. Since the average user sees more than 4,000 ads in a day, it’s no wonder people are sick of them.
So, instead of ads, smart marketers invest in content. Because they know their target audience prefers to see relevant content instead of annoying ads (who wouldn’t?).
I could go on and on with these stats. If you’re not yet convinced you can read more of these here.
Bottom line: every study and research report says that content marketing WORKS.
I have seen this firsthand: since 2014, I have built two brands on content marketing and SEO alone. The digital marketing agencies I run, Copywritech and Idunn, have never acquired a single client through paid ads. All of them came through organic traffic or content marketing.
And when we took over content creation for them, they had great results, too. There is, for instance, this company that gained the top three positions in Google through content alone. Or this company that generates 50% more leads through content alone.
You get the point.
Content can work wonders.
But simply hitting publish won’t get you there.
In 2020, a coherent content marketing strategy is more important than ever.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned about this topic in the past decade and how to leverage these lessons for business growth in 2020 and beyond.
2020 Content Marketing Trends and How to Leverage Them
First things first: they say small businesses can’t compete with large corporations that throw millions at their content marketing strategy.
I beg to differ.
In fact, I strongly believe that the smaller the company, the more agile content creation, and promotion can be. And with the right tactics in place, your budget doesn’t have to be huge.
Here’s what to focus on to get a bang for your buck:
- Super-Targeted, Customer-Centric Content
If you learn something from the past decade, make that something the importance of personalization.
We already know that email personalization comes with enormous benefits.
But why draw the line at email? Why not personalize every piece of content you produce?
Granted, you can’t add customers’ names in blog posts and “address” them to specific people, but you can create targeted content in at least two ways:
- Content for Different Buyer Personas
Segment your ideal customers in various buyer personas according to how they use your products or your services. HubSpot has a great guide on how to create a detailed buyer persona.
For example, a social media marketing SaaS like Sendible or Buffer could segment their buyer personas depending on where they work: Sally is the Social Media Manager of a medium-sized company, while Megan heads the Social team in a digital agency that works with dozens of customers.
Sally and Megan have different needs from a social media marketing tool. But they also have different needs when it comes to the content they consume.
Tips of agency productivity would be great for Megan but Sally doesn’t really care about that. Sally needs to know how to justify social media marketing costs to her boss.
Based on these factors alone, you can generate two distinct pieces of content and promote them accordingly. You don’t want to spam Sally with a blog post about agency productivity, do you?
No. But you do want to send her a newsletter that seems specifically created for her.
Lesson number one for 2020: never create a piece of content without thinking about your buyer personas and how said piece helps them.
- Content for the different phases of the buying cycle
Following up on the example above, would you send a comparison sheet to a lead that’s barely learning what a social media management tool is? Of course not, they wouldn’t even understand why the features you listed matter to them.
Any SaaS content strategy should begin with the buyer persona (detailed above) and their journey – and this goes for any industry, not just SaaS. This means creating different content for the different stages of this journey so as to help your lead advance.
You can find a good example of content types aligned to the buyer journey below. But do note that this should only serve as a guideline. Every company is unique and so is their audience, so make sure you put some thought and research into what yours prefers for every buyer journey stage.
Actionable tip: take a look at your content calendar. Can you map each of your topics to a buyer persona and to a buyer journey phase? If not, go ahead and replace that topic with something else.
- Content with Purpose
Make 2020 the year when you cross random acts of content off your list.
We’ve already covered aligning your content with the buyer persona and their purchase journey. But there’s one more missing piece to this puzzle – aligning your content with your business goals.
At the intersection between your buyer persona’s needs, their purchase journey AND your business goals lie the perfect content you need to create and publish.
Case in point: three years ago, when I launched Idunn, my team and I were blogging A LOT. The traffic spikes were increasing month after month, especially organic traffic ones.
There was one problem though: that traffic never got us any leads. None, nada, zilch.
I felt like a hamster on a spinning wheel – we were going nowhere mighty fast.
Luckily, I discovered the problem: you see, we were trying to sell digital marketing services, especially copywriting and SEO content writing. But our blog topics were not aligned to our business goals.
We blogged a lot about how to write. Copywriting and content writing tips, tricks, examples – you name it, we wrote about it. So our traffic came mostly from other writers looking to hone their craft.
You see, how-to posts are great to establish you as an authority in your industry. In-depth guides, too. But they have to be balanced with articles that help your leads move forward along their buying journey.
So we switched gears. Our how-to guides became oriented toward small business owners or marketers. And we added high-level posts targeting keywords that truly mattered to us, like how to hire SEO copywriters – a post that has been keeping positions 1-2 in Google for almost two years now.
This is the kind of query that people who are looking to hire SEO copywriters (that’s us!) are using in search engines. This is what we should have been doing from the very beginning.
We are, however, doing it now.
Actionable tip: learn from our mistakes. Don’t optimize your content for keywords that only attract competitors and people looking to learn. Balance them out with topics that attract buyers – you need to sell your products, don’t you?
- E-A-T Your SEO
E-A-T stands for:
It’s an acronym that has first appeared in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator’s Guidelines, a document that’s almost two years old but more relevant than ever. Briefly put, this document tells us that, in order to rank high in SERPs, a piece of content has to have all the three attributes mentioned above.
In Google’s own words:
“Remember that the first step of PQ rating is to understand the true purpose of the page. Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating. For all other pages that have a beneficial purpose, the amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important.
Keep in mind that there are high E-A-T pages and websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forums, and Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable perspectives on specific topics.”
So, how do you make sure that your content aligns with the Google guidelines? Follow these three steps:
- All the authors that sign your content should have a detailed bio. This helps Google bots understand that the person in question is an authority in their field and that they should be trusted.
- Get links from high authority websites. You can reach out to influencers that you mentioned in your content, guest post or set up various email outreach campaigns. However, the best way to get links organically is to publish top quality content. This way, people will link to your posts without even being asked to!
- Earn search engines’ (and your readers’!) trust by always backing up your claims with data. Link to relevant research reports, studies, and whitepapers. This proves that your content is well-researched and that you’re not just making up facts.
Actionable tip: the days of poorly written and poorly researched but keyword-stuffed SEO articles are thankfully over. Today, you need to think about your online content as a cross between an opinion piece and an academic paper. State your opinion, give your advice but explain how you got there.
- Quality Content Reigns Supreme
All the points I made above can be summed up in a single one: only publish and promote quality content.
Quality content has all the E-A-T factors, is well-written and it has a purpose – for both your business and your readers.
A few pointers to make sure that your content is not just white noise cramming up internet space:
- Topic selection: don’t write just because you have to. Your writing should answer real needs and real problems. It should educate, inform, or, at the very least, entertain. Offer real solutions and actionable insights. When in doubt or lacking inspiration, ask your audience what they would like to read about.
- Go in-depth: don’t just scratch the surface. Tackle every topic exhaustively. Take a look at what ranks on top positions in SERPs – can you go even deeper than that? If not, choose a different topic. BUT avoid fillers and stuffing just to reach a word quota. Simply write as much as needed, no more, no less.
- Repurpose your content: maximize your content ROI by repurposing. A series of blog posts on similar topics can become an e-book. A webinar can be turned into several blog posts. A whitepaper can also become a series of blog posts or several infographics. You can get more content repurposing ideas here. This way, you can reach audiences that prefer various formats with very little effort.
Actionable tip: when in doubt about the quality of and need for your content, always go back to your buyer persona. Think about what they need and how you can help them with that need. And, more importantly, never stretch yourself too thin. Don’t publish more than you can comfortably create without compromising quality.
Wrapping Things Up
The beginning of a new decade is the perfect time to sit down and reflect on what we can do to improve our business and the way we serve our customers.
With an increasing need for quality content, your safest bet is providing exactly what your audience wants to read, see or watch. Invest in content that attracts and converts leads instead of ads that everyone hates.
Need help with your content strategy or creation? My team and I have helped dozens of small businesses meet and exceed their business goals through quality content. Take a look at our content writing services and let’s talk!