To generate targeted leads, your best content planning practices build on your customer centric content marketing strategy to decide what types of content to create, and how, where & when it should be published or posted. Today we’ll cover how to get this done in a super leveraged way to free up your time for working with the clients this generates!
PREFER TO LISTEN?
Welcome to part 2 of 2 where we’ll continue to explore ways to elevate your content marketing. In part 1, I talked through the process of harnessing your ideal client avatar work to create your message pillars, and decide on your best content platform choices. Now, it’s time to get the process and logistics planned out, and then look at how content performance – that is, the efficacy of your content plan – can be tracked and measured.
The biggest opportunity I see many business owners missing out on is to leverage content you have already created and published. Just making some minor tweaks and adding internal links or promoting on different channels can really increase the amount of organic traffic you get coming to your website.
Assuming you have a relevant and compelling lead magnet, both updating and re-promoting existing content, and creating and publishing new content, will significantly increase your digital presence and visibility as well as drive website traffic to generate targeted leads.
Today, we’ll be looking at ways to create your content marketing plan and fast content creation. There’s also a huge opportunity now with new AI tools like ChatGPT to produce content faster, have the technology do much of the heavy lifting for you. And I have a three-part series on leveraging generative AI coming out soon.
I like to organise this into four phases:
Align & Define
Placement & Plan
Create & Publish
Track & Improve
Choosing What Content to Create and Where & When to Share It
Let’s start with the align & define phase, and ‘what’ content to create.
And when I say ‘what’, I don’t mean a long list of specific topics and titles (not at this point).
Start with the themes that mirror what someone needs at all the different stages of the journey or level of awareness to build that epiphany and trust bridge.
Think about what your ideal customer is going to be interested in? Should your content be formal or informal? Academic versus entertaining tips and tricks or best practices, stories or FAQs? And if you’re already doing content marketing, look at what’s working and do more of that.
In terms of how you produce the actual content, there are a few options here.
You can author it yourself.
You can outsource it.
You can buy content that you adapt, customise and brand as your own (aka white label licensed-use content).
You can repurpose content you already have.
And the new kid on the block, you can use ChatGPT to give you titles, outlines or build the whole piece out.
In terms of where to share it, you’ll again want to leverage your ideal client avatar work.
Because, you want to make sure that you are thinking about your content in the mind of your audience – it could be you placed it in the right place, but have the wrong message.
In this situation, you can re-angle and refresh your old content, and it’s immediately going to improve your rankings so you come up higher in the search results.
Or maybe you have the right message, but placed it in the wrong place. You might want to test this by reposting your content in different places. When you identify the right platforms you’ll should see an upsurge in engagement. And regardless, this could immediately improve your reach so more people find you.
And finally, the ‘when’. Think about this in terms of a content calendar, not just weekly topics you can post about, but take account of seasonality and trends. Look at the timing and frequency to meet your lead generation and nurturing objectives, particularly if you are running into a particular launch.
Content Creation Best Practices for Getting Noticed
Next, let’s move to our create and publish phase. And I’m not going to spend much time on this today, but I’m going to give you a few tips to help keep you on the straight and narrow.
In terms of content creation, there’s a lot of content out there on the internet – a lot of noise. And I’m often asked:
If a key objective of content marketing is to get visible, how do you get noticed?
Here are the headlines for content creation best practices.
First, you want your content to genuinely reflect you, your values and voice. And while it’s great to leverage your time and effort by outsourcing or using ChatGPT, you want everything you put out there to be very much your authentic self, your brand, your message.
So you have to keep your leadership in the process. And the way I do this is that I’ll make sure my strategy stays on trend, responds to my audience needs, what they tell me they like, what I get less engagement in, and I do all of that analysis before planning any topics.
I know some businesses, they’ll have a marketing strategy person, but you want to stay involved, especially if they’re more of a marketer than an expert in your field. Since you are the one doing the work with your clients, you’re going to have the best sense of your current customer’s needs and preferences.
To avoid having your content lost in the pack, create content that stands out. Make sure it’s unique, it’s got a distinct voice, and most importantly, offers real value to readers.
This also goes for SEO. Do your keyword research. Don’t be too broad, or you’ll get competing with companies who are paying thousands, even millions, to get that top spot. Look to build your ranking for long tail keywords that are less competitive and you can rank for on Page 1.
If your choice is written content, often it’s easy to lose sight of the need for visual appeal. So for any content, a big part of the job is finding engaging imagery. And here, I mean, find interesting pictures or photos to go with your posts, but also building good layout headings, white space, call out boxes, that kind of thing makes it easier on the eye for the reader.
The same with video. There’s only so long you can stay engaged with a talking head. You should aim to vary the tone, pace, inert pictures, add sound, add transitions. People tend to skim and scan long pieces of text. They’re deciding whether it’s relevant and worth reading. If it is, they’ll do one of two things. They’ll either save it for later or go back to the top and start reading, and either way, you don’t want them to miss what to do next.
Make sure you have a clear call to action and don’t have more than one on any page and avoid things that take someone off your page. It’s best to open up links in a new tab or window so they don’t get lost and can get back to where they left off fairly easily.
I see this customer journey process in three steps that your content coupled with your ‘sales’ copy is helping with:
ENGAGE > EDUCATE > ENROL
On the first point – ENGAGE – what would grab your ideal client avatar’s attention? What’s a hot button for them?
On the second – EDUCATE – you’ve got to meet them where they’re at, and that means trying it out a little bit. What’s their level of awareness? How can you guide them to the next level to see the issue in a new light?
And then when they’re ready, the next stage is to make an offer to ENROL them into your course, program or service. And to do this, sometimes people forget to ask! You have to let people know what to do next. And you want to get really clear on the benefits of taking this action.
And you can go into a lot more depth in these kind of areas in terms of customer journey, content planning in my book, plus I’ve got a free content marketing hacks resource where you can see these ideas as graphical illustrations so that you can see how to build out these areas along the customer journey.
How to Have a Never-Ending Stream of Content Ideas that Generate Targeted Leads
In terms of content ideas, I like to think about topics in terms of conversations, what questions your perfect person might ask about. That’s the only way to engage people and generate targeted leads that are already pre-disposed to what you do. We talk about where in terms of communities and where people hang out. We talk about the who in terms of habits and preferences for the kind of content that people want to consume.
We talk about the how in terms of curiosity, imagining what they might be thinking or feeling or wanting or typing into a Google browser. And it gives you a really great way to build your content themes and topics around these questions. We’ll also talk about, um, a number of. Places you can go, links for questions that people search for.
There are some really amazing tools around where you can get to some of those questions. And we talk about when in terms of calendaring and the kind of content planning templates and spreadsheets and tools that you can use to really map your content out and align them with that kind of posting formula of the type of posts that will promote your content.
And a bit later on, I’ll move on to talk about how track and improve how well your content is performing- essentially, content management. At the end of the day, if it’s new content, you want to know if it’s performing, if it’s all content, you want to know if it’s still performing, if it’s actually still relevant. With any content you’ve published, you want to know is how did it land and is it still working?
And that goes back to what we were talking about before, about updating your old content. And it’s a really good place to start if you want to get your head back in the game. So, we talk a lot about marketing return on investment – there’s even a specific term – MROI.
This is because, your marketing investment, be it time and money, it’s going to be deemed as justified if the return is positive, if the conversion at each touchpoint is good, or if there’s room for improvement.
Tracking What’s Working in Your Content Marketing
Now, for the track and improve phase, let’s connect all the dots here and look at how the efficacy of your content marketing can be tracked or measured. Content performance is really about how well your content generates targeted leads that ultimately convert to sign ups, sales and revenue for your business.
For successful content marketing that results in targeted high-quality leads, you will need to create a clear plan that’s designed to help you decide on what, where, how, and when to publish each piece of content, and then how to promote it effectively, manage its performance and success. Keeping it simple, I map out a three-step path for my content: engage, educate, enrol.
I’ve also covered this in episodes 27 and 43 of my podcast, and you can find those one the Leveraged Business Podcast episodes 1-55 page here, including one on how to fix a leaky sales funnel, because that’s what we’re talking about here. You want to identify where in the process, the end-to-end customer buying journey you’re seeing good conversions or drop-offs from the content that you’re putting out, be it lead magnets, emails, talks, resources, or offers.
Because your marketing data is often held in different places, you have data around your website and your Google Analytics, around your social media platform or your email marketing system. They’ve all got their own analytics, and one of the things that happens is that you kind of dot around these, but you, you don’t always see the full picture or line it up across the customer journey, so it’s hard to see where the gaps are, where the drop offs are.
One of the things that I advise my clients to do is to create yourself a simple dashboard so that you can have everything in one place and a single line of sight of what actually is happening. There are some content research and analytics tools that you might want to look into.
A great tool is SemRush, which I think is just brilliant because it brings SEO keyword research, competitor research paper, click campaign optimization, all under one tool. And it’s great for analysing how your competitor’s website content is performing.
Another that does roughly the same job is BuzzSumo. I’m not used that as much, but I do hear that people really rave about it. And again, it analyses what content is performing best across both search engines and different social media platforms. And again, it looks at competitor data as well.
All of this taken together really allows you to monitor your content strategy, you are both measuring and evaluating your content’s performance, and you’re also maintaining and updating your content plan, and you can see that content is big business, you know, done well, done consistently.
Content marketing can make a huge impact on your ability to shepherd customers through your marketing and sales process.
And the best content planning practices build in a process of continuous improvement, even if on a small scale. There’s no point spending a ton of time creating content if you are not watching whether the effort is actually bringing good quality customers or clients into your business.
7 Content Hacks – Your Free Gift
My gift to you is 7 content hacks where we go through some of the areas that we’ve talked about and give you some kind of shortcuts.
HACK #1 – WRITE AS YOU SPEAK
HACK #2 – UPDATE OLD CONTENT
HACK #3 – REUSABLE CONTENT
HACK #4 – CONTENT MAPPING
HACK #5 – CONTENT CREATION [A+B]
HACK #6 – CONTENT SCHEDULERS
HACK #7 – KEY METRICS DASHBOARD
For hack#5, there’s an A and a B strategy and this a little bit of a heads up really on using AI and ChatGPT in there for you.
One of the things that’s really interesting about the arrival of ChatGPT and some of these predictive generative tools is that it can vastly speed up a lot of your content creation in terms of actually writing stuff, creating ideas, creating titles, creating outlines, and then even building out the content.
You do have to keep an eye that it is actually accurate stuff, because AI is not a thinking tool. It doesn’t understand the content it comes back with. It doesn’t have expertise in what you do. So, as the expert, you are the one that really has to evaluate the ‘sense’ of the content ChatGPT generates. You’ll want to edit and give the final structure, emphasis and voice to it.
Nonetheless, using AI tools can take 80% of the heavy lifting out of a lot of the content creation process. And there are tools that can help you automate some of the actual scheduling and publishing for when things go live.
I’ve been using a VA to do that for a long, long time. But actually what I’m finding is I can now use them in different ways because both my work and the VA work is leveraged by the AI tools.
Using Technology to Create, Automate and Schedule Content
You can use ChatGPT to speed up the whole production and publishing process. You can ask this AI-powered chatbot to:
- Research the Kind of Content They Prefer
- Find Topics Your Target Audience Cares About
- Create Content for Different Parts of the Funnel
- Write outlines
- Build out the outlines
- Consolidate content you already wrote
- Repurpose content for a new angle
- Rewrite existing content for a new audience segment
- And probably a tonne of other things no-one’s even thought of yet.
If you’re wondering if ChatGPT can or will replace content and copy writers, the answer is it’s unlikely. Here’s what it can do well, and not so well.
ChatGPT can assist content writers in keyword research, proofreading and editing, and statistical references, reducing the waiting time, making content writing effortless, and optimizing the content according to SEO best practices. So, ChatGPT isn’t meant to replace your human content creators – if you want to read more, Sharmin Ali founder and CEO of InStoried, wrote an excellent piece on this.
And likewise, I doubt that ChatGPT can really replace professional copywriters. Just because it’s an AI-based tool that can generate content quickly and efficiently, does not mean it does a good job. ChatGPT is very useful for research, brainstorming, and generating ideas. But in my view (and I’m definitely not alone on this), it’s not going to be an effective substitute for human creativity and expertise.
Many marketers worry that Google will penalise ChatGPT content in terms of search engine rankings. But Google explicitly mentioned that the appropriate use of automation or AI is not against its guidelines. This means that using AI or ChatGPT to generate SEO-optimized junk will still be considered spam and attract penalties.
While Google can detect AI content, this means it won’t affect your rankings as long as your content is created for people first and foremost, not search engines. What matters is the intent and guiding hand behind your content creation, not so much the method you used to create it. And you still have to develop good prompts to have ChatGPT generate good content.
Universities can detect ChatGPT-generated content if plagiarised or closely resembles existing content. Plagiarism detection software can identify similarities in language and context, even if an AI language model generated the content.
Inventa International wrote a very useful article on this – ChatGPT – Are you infringing on copyright? – in which they clarify that using ChatGPT-generated output may lead to copyright infringement if it contains protected material such as text, images, or audio.
Since ChatGPT is trained on all indexed internet content up to 2021, the big question isn’t whether Chat GPT can be detected as plagiarism, but does ChatGPT plagiarise when generating its responses?
The ROI of Content Marketing
Finally, I wanted to just say, you know, there’s a reward for all of this hard work. It seems like a lot, but going about it in a very structured way allows you to be disciplined, allows you to be consistent, and it really allows you to see where your efforts are being rewarded. The wonderful thing about content marketing for me has been, building an audience, increasing your digital presence so that you are moving up what I call the Maven pyramid. You don’t have to move all the way to the top, but certainly it’s a great way to shift from a generalist to a specialist, to an expert so you attract and generate targeted leads.
Your thought leadership needs an outlet. Even if you’re just starting to share your message, you will gain momentum towards becoming “slightly famous” up to being a bit of a celebrity in your chosen niche.
The perceived value of what you do as a business goes up enormously, and when the perceived value goes up, your earning power goes up. So this is incredibly important because it’s all accumulative as well.
For some further visuals, here’s my strategic marketing guide training slide deck on this.
And I talked about some of this in my piece on brand positioning taking you through the 10 steps that you’ll gradually gain Maven status by honing your content strategy.
As you get super aligned and targeted with meeting the needs of your ideal audience, you’re positioning yourself as a leader. You’re building that demand narrative and that trust that’s needed for people to hire you by your product, work with you, et cetera.
So there are a lot of further resources in many of the other podcast episodes that I’ve done. I’ve mentioned some of them today. You can find them on the show notes page for each episode.
If you’ve got any questions, please submit them either via audio or via text message, and it would be great to hear from you.
I’d really like to know what has really been most helpful in the topics that we’ve covered on the content side of things, and especially what are the particular areas that you struggle with, where perhaps we can go deeper in future episodes.
Next article (and podcast episode), I’m turning the attention to the job of copy, looking at what the differences are between content and copy and how to have them work in harmony across the customer journey for your business.
And I also want to give you the heads up that we’ll follow on from there with a three-part series on surviving and thriving in the age of AI, and talk more about generative AI tools that can help do a lot of the heavy lifting for your business, like using ChatGPT for research, outlining and writing, images and more, as well as other AI tools that can help leverage time working in your business.
For now, that’s all from me for today. Hope it’s been good for you and valuable.
Take care, and make yourself a great day.
Ciao ciao for now.