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Content strategy & marketing plan: 4 best practices for creating content that your audience will read

“Where can I find content that resonates with my target customers?”

Perhaps a question you’ve asked yourself a few times.

You may feel that you’re not ready to invest in paid content like Facebook or Google ads at this stage in your business. So you would rather focus on content for your website and social media platforms.

Well, a content strategy works too! A successful content marketing program is anchored on a solid content strategy.

But as a marketer or business owner, do you struggle to create a content strategy for your brand?

Are there times when you’re not sure where to find the right topics or how to create a robust content strategy and marketing plan that your target customers will read and share? Do you struggle to write articles that your audience will love?

Well, I’ve got some good news. Did you know that:

  • You can make an article resonate more for your readers by researching search keywords and diving deep into what topics/questions/keywords people normally search for on the internet.
  • You can network and collaborate with thought leaders and influencers in the same or complementary niche as yours. It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or have not established a strong brand yet – it can be done.
  • Produce high-quality content by using materials that you already have. Repurposing can help you create content in less time!
  • You can increase traffic to your blog content by knowing how to optimize their format, length, headline and visual presentation.

The answer to all that? A resounding yes!

Here are some best practices from content marketing experts.

Content strategy tip #1: Use online search engines to find out what your customers are looking for

Start with where customers start in their journey to discover brands – Google.

You must have seen dropdowns and suggestions for search, right? These suggestions are not random – they are the most popular searches.

By Googling about your products and incorporating words like “tips”, “how-to”, “top”, “best” and similar words used by problem-aware customers, you will get ideas on what topics to write about.

When the results show, you can look into the top ranking articles and get an idea on:

  1. What has been written over and over. Can you make an article that’s a better and more comprehensive version than these articles?
  2. What has not been written yet. Can you start an article that no one has written yet and make it the best article yet on the topic?

See these boxes on the search results? These are golden tips about what you can write about too!

You can also do keyword research on YouTube and leverage the top video results. By looking into when they were uploaded, how popular the channel is and the titles of the top results, you can produce content that will rank higher, especially if:

  • The top video results are older, i.e. uploaded two years ago;
  • The channel that uploaded it has fewer subscriptions or following as yours; and
  • You observe how the titles of the top results are written, and you write yours a little differently than the rest, without veering away too much from the topic.

From the example below, the top search result for the question “what is the best pet food” was uploaded two years ago. Because YouTube and Google favour recent content, you have a fighting chance if you create a video about the “best and worst brands” – most especially if you have a bigger following than the YouTube pages of the top three results.

You can also use tools like Keywordtool.ioAnswer the Public, and Google Keyword Planner.

Content strategy tip #2: Build and leverage your network of content creators

Reach out to influencers, thought leaders, podcasters and bloggers who create content in the same niche and industry as yours. By building your network of content creators, you are killing two (or more) birds with one stone:

  • You help your Search Engine Optimization and drive more traffic to your website. Getting links and references to your blog posts from other websites increases your “Authority”, which Google sees as “okay, this website is credible.”
  • You open opportunities for collaboration and co-creation of content with like-minded credible individuals.

Find journalists, authors, podcasters, academic researchers, event producers and blog editors to publish, share or link to your content. You can even ask for “contributor quotes.”

Reach out to them in a way that communicates that your article is aligned to their platform’s theme and that you’ve already done their work for them.

This is modern public relations. They can all happen online.

The biggest rule of thumb is not to be creepy. Be patient. Be polite. Be persistent without being intrusive and invasive.

Imagine this strategy as dating – you get to know someone first, and if you feel like you are aligned in values and belief, then you can pursue and strengthen the relationship.

Following the “dating strategy”, you can do your influencer and network outreach in the following ways:

  • Send them an email showcasing your understanding of who they are and what their platform is about. Show how your article is aligned with their existing content.
  • Follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, podcast, or Facebook page. Like, comment and engage with their post. I suggest that before sending them any message, familiarize yourself with their content. The low-lying fruit is those that you are already a fan of – influencers that you resonate with. This way, you have a deeper grasp of their content, your values are aligned, and it’s easier to create or offer your content in parallel with theirs.
  • Share your existing article and even consider writing a guest post for them.
  • Reach out to people after conferences and Zoom workshops.
  • Offer an open invitation to collaborate. 

Content strategy tip #3: Learn how to repurpose your existing content

If you think you’re running out of ideas on what to write, why don’t you look at your existing materials?

  • Do you have older posts that you can update and beef up?
  • Do you have videos that you can turn into a blog article or vice-versa?
  • How about those white papers and researches that you once published? Perhaps you can create bite-sized articles or social media posts?
  • Have you had a look at some of your internal documents? Do you have existing checklists, guidelines, templates that your target customers will find very useful?

Repurpose this content into a different format. Remember, creating a content piece can serve different audiences on other platforms using different formats. So, make your content work for you and use them across a wide range of platforms!

A quick side note: don’t worry about other people using your business practices or intellectual property. I’ve read and listened to so many business owners and creators who have done just this, and the pros have always outweighed the cons. In this internet age, sharing knowledge always seem to trump keeping them to yourself.

Content strategy tip #4: This is how an optimized article looks in terms of format, length, headline, and visual presentation

Create headlines that catch attention

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios  describes an effective headline as one that:

  • Makes a promise
  • Triggers curiosity
  • Uses numbers
  • Asks a question
  • Uses power words
  • Is sized to fit the purpose
  • is keyword first

Make your article format easy to skim

Adding the following elements into your articles can make it so:

  • Headers, subheads
  • Bullet lists, numbered lists
  • Bolding and Italics
  • Internal links
  • Multiple images

Avoid jargon

Use common, everyday words. For example, use “get” instead of “acquire.” Imagine your readers to be 8th graders. Use words that resonate better with most online readers.

Avoid long blocks of paragraph

Only include two to three sentences in a paragraph. This will help the majority of your readers – skimmers – digest your articles better. Add as much white space in between paragraphs as possible. As Jason Fried of Basecamp once said:

Short paragraphs get read.

Long paragraphs get skimmed.

Very long paragraphs get skipped.

Always link your new article to an older post

Link older ones into your new piece. Cross-linking your website content to each other help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Create long-form content

Articles that are 1,000+ words get shared and linked to more.

Add images and visual cues

Again, readers are skimmers. Images and visual cues like below can help them understand what’s being said in your post.

Based on the options below, the one with the arrow got the longest time spent on the form, followed by the one with the human looking at the form. The one with the human looking away from the form got the shortest time spent on the page.

What’s next

Read my other articles on Dynamic Business:

Growth Marketing Mindset: The user-centric approach

Product Messaging: How to write effective copy to drive sales

If you liked this article and would love to learn more, email me@tinasendin.com or connect with me on LinkedIn!

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Tina Sendin

Tina Sendin

Tina is a full-stack marketing strategist with over 10 years of marketing and business development savvy driving results for startups, SMEs, and multinationals. Tina has spent years specialising in the marketing field having worked in an agency and corporate environment. She loves to write and research about growth marketing and conversion optimisation, which she publishes on www.tinasendin.com.

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