A content marketing system is vital for any business’ success. You can have a unique business idea with article ideas ready to go, but without marketing, you won’t get far. Part of the reason why the practice is so hard to master is because of all the moving pieces. It also doesn’t help that social media algorithms change and competition makes it hard to get ahead.
As exciting as it is to start a new business, you need a solid content marketing system to really make your idea stand out. We decided to compile a thorough guide of how you can build one for yourself based on our own experiences and strategies.
Table of Contents
- Summary of a Content Marketing System’s Elements
- Challenges and Benefits of a Content Marketing System
- How to Create a Content Marketing System
- How To Measure ROI Of A Content Marketing System
What is Content Marketing?
In a nutshell, content marketing is a strategic approach to marketing that focuses on creating and distributing high-quality, relevant content. The point of this content is to attract and retain customers in your target audience with the purpose of generating sales.
What is a Content Marketing System?
Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s an action plan, a series of guidelines. It’s every goal you want to achieve through your marketing.
There are a lot of different ways to approach your system. Aspirations vary for each company and plans change based on specific goals. The way we built our system was by following three core pillars:
- Strategy (research)
- Create (content)
- Amplify (promotion)
Content Marketing vs Copywriting
Though they’re in the same family, when you consider the differences between copywriting vs content marketing, it’s important to understand that their function is quite different. Content marketing means you create and share valuable content to attract new clients to your business. Copywriting is more about getting readers to take specific actions, like making a purchase.
Is Content Marketing Dead?
We get asked this question a lot. Sometimes, businesses try to implement their content marketing system and it doesn’t yield any results. However, this doesn’t mean that content marketing is dead. The simple act of you reading this guide proves otherwise.
What it does mean is that your system and approach might need some work. A huge aspect of failed content marketing is a lack of quality content. In 2016, TrackMaven discovered an explosion of content from brands. In fact, an 800% increase in blog posts occurred. Though, the number of social media shares actually decreased by a whopping 89%. Why? Because the content simply wasn’t worth sharing.
That said, you can still surpass your competition with a solid content marketing system and thorough research. Content marketing is by no means dead, it just takes finesse and patience to master.
Summary of a Content Marketing System’s Elements
As we mentioned earlier, companies tackle their systems in different ways based on specific goals. Since you’re here, we might as well share with you what our tactics are and how you can implement them for your own business.
Our strategy’s foundation is built on three core pillars:
We’re going to go over what each pillar entails and how you can get the most from them.
Core Pillar 1: Strategy
Before you do anything with your content, you need to conduct extensive research. Think of your strategy as your business’ skeleton. You can’t function without a skeleton; it’s the very core of your essence. Strong bones ensure your business survives and provides overall structure.
Competition is fierce no matter which niche you land in. Just about every field will demand your attention in these areas:
- Social media presence
- Comment engagement
- Domain authority
- Audience size
- Google ranking
Sure, it’s all well and good to know what you want to write about. But, your competitors have no doubt cashed in on the same idea. Even worse, they may have several years’ worth of content on you with an already established community.
What this means for you is that a well-thought-out content strategy is in order. Look in on their content. What are they talking about? What have they covered? Even if your competitors have a leg up on their blog, that doesn’t mean you can’t surpass them.
You can also use a multitude of tools to help you see where your competitors rank, what keyword they’ve cashed in on, and where you can swoop in.
Take note of your competitors’ marketing strategies. How do they interact with their audience? What sort of content do they publish? What are some top ways they encourage engagement? Much like blog content, you can beat your competition at their own game. Take their strategies to the next level and make them your own.
Your SEO strategy should revolve around getting you higher in Google’s ranking and boosting domain authority (DA).
DA is a website’s relevance and trustworthiness. It’s based on a number from 0-100; the higher the number, the better your website is considered. A high DA also helps you rank higher in search engines and signals to clients that you’re a worthwhile brand.
There’s no real fast and easy breakdown of what constitutes good domain authority. However, a loose frame of reference can be found below.
You won’t sell to anyone if you target the wrong audience. For example, if you’re trying to pitch vegan makeup brushes to car enthusiasts, it’s time to reevaluate. The good news is that there are a couple successful methods to honing in on the right audience:
- use Google Analytics
- build a buyer persona
- join communities to learn pain points
SEO keyword research is an integral part of your content marketing system. It’ll help you know which keywords to shoot for, which ones may be out of your league, and present content ideas.
KPI stands for “key performance indicator”. They’re simple ways for you to measure your business’ success and monitor your goals. Once you’ve outlined your goals you can then plan on how you’d like to reach them. It’s recommended that you check your progress periodically and evaluate what strategies are working.
Businesses, especially new ones, need goals. However, it’s important to part your goals into two groups: short and long-term. Don’t bite off more than you can chew in the beginning. It’s okay to take things slow.
Some good, short-term marketing goals are:
- build customer relationships
- boost website traffic
- increase social media followers
- reduce business expenses
Long-term goals are just as vital for business success as the short-term guys. These goals are the ones you strive to achieve in the next few years. A few great examples are:
- earn certification
- increase domain authority
- build a quality backlink portfolio
- triple your income
Don’t just take our word for building your content marketing system. A plethora of podcasts dedicated to this very topic can help your business stand tall. Check out our article for the best content marketing podcasts for 2020.
Core Pillar 2: Create
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about how you can really build your content. Content comes in a few forms, but they’re all equally profitable. You prove yourself as a thought leader and spread the word about your brand. You also open the door for a larger audience and the chance to build your backlink profile.
Pillar pages are awesome ways to interlink content on your site and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche. All a pillar page is an ungated guide covering all major facets of a topic. Throughout the piece you can also find tons of subtopics to write about.
Blogs are a basic part of your website and content marketing system overall. They get the word out about your brand and build customer trust. Blog posts show your audience that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re committed to providing quality content.
Social Media Content
In today’s day and age, it’s foolish to neglect social media. Not only does it help spread the word about your company, but it also introduces new marketing strategies. Plus, they’re the ones you can really run away with!
Gated content is how you capture leads and emails for a subscription list. It can be a multitude of things, including eBooks, downloadable content, or white papers. Gated content requires that users fill in a form before they can access it.
Infographics are illustrations to further emphasize your point. They include a summary of the information you just presented to the reader and make your content more digestible. They also break up walls of text.
Here’s an example of one from our sister site:
Reports are great ways to present recent findings or research to your audience. To really entice your audience, ensure your language is clear and concise. Guarantee that you know what you’re trying to convey before you start writing. Reports are solid ways to present your expertise and stand out in a crowd.
White papers are usually an authoritative document highlighting your expertise on a topic. It combines both research and your knowledge. They allow readers to understand and solve problems in their industry or niche.
In business, they’re sometimes used more like a marketing tactic. These kinds of white papers are written for potential clients, so they serve as a tool to entice new business. Be warned, though. There’s a fine line between an educational white paper and a blatant sales pitch disguised as information. You want to persuade readers based on the information you present. Don’t go overboard with your selling.
If you can provide exclusive stats on a topic in your niche, you’re ahead of the curve. You’ve seen great examples before, like OptinMonster’s list of 85 content marketing statistics. If you’re looking to build stats of your own, you can garner them with surveys, interviews, or research.
Data analysis comes from businesses gathering all the current information on their market. You can use it to put a marketing plan together for yourself, or turn your findings into a piece of gated content for others to benefit from.
Exclusive research simply means you got to information before your competitors did. If you find breakthrough statistics or market patterns, you can share them with your audience. Providing readers with exclusive research builds trust and authority.
Once you start to build your subscriber list, you can share newsletters. They’re a terrific way to boost your content and keep clients in the loop with company news and upcoming events.
Additionally, research shows that 91% of people want to hear from companies they work with, so don’t fret about bugging your customers!
Email Drip Campaigns
An email drip campaign consists of emails sent out at specific times and dates. For example, if someone downloads your gated content, you can kickstart your drip to send an email to that visitor. It can be a thank-you email or one welcoming them to the community.
Drip campaigns are meant to bring in more leads to the sales funnel. They can also act as a bridge back to lost leads or clients.
A press release is a short, one-page write-up on your company. They focus on things like breaking news, product launches, anniversaries, partnerships, and other company news. Press releases should definitely be a part of your content marketing system. You can pitch them to journalists for a bit more exposure and get the word out about your brand.
Audience attention spans aren’t as high as they used to be. With that, it’s important to keep in mind that video content has exploded in recent years. They convey a message, they’re short, and they’re easier for clients to digest. Throw some video content or webinars on your website to retain customer attention.
Outstanding website copy is a large part of your content marketing system. You can’t hope to keep customers’ attention with boring or poor web copy. When done right, website copy can:
- highlight your strength as a company
- pinpoint key elements of your business
- encourage customer engagement
Landing pages are meant to turn undecided visitors into buyers. They’re made solely for marketing or advertising purposes and have a call-to-action (CTA) included as well. You can also use them to generate leads or request a click-through action from web visitors.
When it comes to driving customers to your brand, nothing works quite like a case study. Case studies are often extensive reports on a company’s success with its customers.
Businesses are interested in the same things you are: attracting customers and brand awareness. So, if you approach people in your niche for an interview, you can score backlinks for your profile, build relationships, and engage in mutually shared exposure.
Your blog isn’t the only place to display your expertise. Blogs and websites everywhere appreciate a good quality blog post every now and then. Lists of guest post opportunities are everywhere online as well, so you never have to worry about finding something.
An E-Book is just an electronic book. It’s that simple. They’re the same kinds of things you find on your Kobo eReaders. The difference here is that when eBooks are available on websites, they often require you to fill in some sort of form since they’re considered gated content.
Core Pillar 3: Amplify
Phew. That was a lot to cover. But, a lot of work goes into building the perfect content marketing system. The final stage is to amplify your content, in whatever form it may be. Kicking things into high gear comes in various forms, but that’s a good thing! This means that you’ll have ample opportunity to share your work and create fruitful content marketing strategies.
When your content takes off and you start to guest post for other sites, you’ll want to think about a backlink portfolio. Backlinks boost your domain authority and drive a larger audience to your site.
You can garner backlinks with several different methods, including:
- link reclamation
- HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
- targeted press outreach
- authority guest posting
Social engagement is the practice of your participation in a community or social media platform. Remember, it’s not all about your customers being active members. Content marketing entails you getting out there and spread the word about your work.
A lot of companies have Medium blogs that they use to further promote their content. You can create a blog solely on the platform itself or you can maintain one on your website. Either way, Medium is a place where you can share content with like-minded people and stretch your reach.
Many companies share their news or recent blog posts on LinkedIn. The platform has actually picked up traction over the last few years, especially for businesses. So, it’s not a bad little place to share recent posts of yours.
Don’t just join any ol’ Facebook group. When you start joining communities and groups on social media, you want ones relevant to your niche. You’ll be able to participate in the comment section and spark curiosity about your brand.
These groups have beneficial information for their members, too. So, you’ll be able to pick up a thing or two as you go.
LinkedIn groups are one of the best places to go. You can chat with like-minded people and build your connection list. Once you join a group in your niche, you can reap the benefits of discussing solutions and strategy suggestions with some of the platform’s finest.
Mastermind groups are specifically designed to help community members learn more about success and their niche. They’re run by experts in the field, so you know you’re learning from the best. If you share great tips with people in these groups, you’ll watch your trustworthiness skyrocket.
Setting up a Quora account is an awesome way to get serious site traffic. It’s also an excellent way to improve your social engagement. By tackling questions on Quora, you can raise awareness about your business while providing helpful answers to your community.
As you can see, we answered a few recently. The article we tried to garner attention to pertained to link-building strategies. So, we hunted down some relevant Quora questions and provided a valuable answer. The key to answering Quora questions is to provide a thorough response that people can get information from. You don’t want your account to get flagged for spam or being too promotional.
Reddit has sort of garnered a bad reputation for being a time-waster site. But, it’s so much more than that. The platform has an active community of businesspeople looking for the best tips and strategies for their company. We cashed in on the activity with our post, which earned over 100 comments and over 500 upvotes.
Social Media Engagement
Getting your followers to engage via social media posts is a vital part of content marketing. It keeps clients involved in your brand and includes them in your strategies. It’s also a great way for everyone to stay connected. Plus, you can use social media engagement to figure out audience pain points or questions that your company can help address.
Strategic collaboration is a great way for you to build relationships and help your marketing efforts. These collaborations come in many forms. For example, if you perform some outreach for an article, you can let those you contacted know when you publish a piece. They can then share it on their end. You both get more publicity and can work together again in the future.
Sponsored posts act the same way as an advertisement does. So, if you pay to have a sponsored post published on someone’s website, they’re often labelled as such. However, you can then use them to get access to a larger audience.
Paying for ads on social media isn’t a new concept. Rather, it’s a common practice businesses use to ensure their posts reach the right audience. If you have the resources, you can engage with this practice as well. Depending on where you pay to play, and how much you pay, you can thousands of new views each day.
Guest Post Outreach
If you have a guest post to pitch, outreach is a good way to introduce your content to even more people. You can share your views on popular topics or establish your expertise on a subject to similar audiences. The practice also helps you build relationships with editors and webmasters, who may give you dibs on upcoming opportunities if your content is good enough It’s not a bad way to build backlinks to your site either.
Public relations campaigns come in a wide range of forms. No matter which route you take, they’re used to bring attention to a business or product. They target a specific objective and find the best message to use in order to reach that objective. A few of the top examples can be found here.
Influencers are just about everywhere on social media nowadays. If you’re just starting out as a brand, you can potentially collaborate with them for some extra views. Offer them some freebies from your company in exchange for promotion. Your influencers should share the same customs as your company so you know you’re getting access to the right audience.
With these different practices and your content on its own, you can mark yourself as a thought leader. When people across a wide stretch of platforms see how knowledgeable and dedicated you are, you stand out. Providing audiences with relevant, useful content shows them that you know your stuff and that you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Challenges and Benefits of a Content Marketing System
As you build your content marketing system, you’ll start to see the ups and downs of the practice. Content marketing takes time, patience, and lots of creative hard work. It’s no easy feat, but it’s necessary for business survival.
Some of the major benefits of content marketing are:
- brand influence
- customer trust
- higher domain authority
On the other hand, some of the major challenges of content marketing are:
- fierce competition
- crowded market
How to Create a Content Marketing System
Well, we’ve talked the talk. Now let’s walk the walk. How do you build your own content marketing system? Why are the three key pillars that we outlined so essential? We’ve got the answers to all your burning questions in this section.
To reiterate, our key pillars are:
- Strategy (research, content strategy, KPIs, etc.)
- Create (blogs, eBooks, video content, pillar pages, reports, etc.)
- Amplify (Reddit, Quora, social media groups, paid ads, etc.)
Depending on how good your content is, people won’t shy away from reading your articles. The lower your bounce rate, the happier you’ll be.
The Strategy Skeleton
We’ll start with strategy (obviously, since it’s the first step). We think of strategy as our skeleton. Your skeleton is the core of your very being or business. You need strong bones to keep yourself healthy and ensure you have a solid foundation for the future. Everything we mentioned in our first pillar earlier is just another bone.
Your skeleton should consist of:
- Keyword research
- Content strategy
- Target audience
- Short-term goals
- SEO strategy
- Competitive analysis
- Social strategy
- Long-term goals
The Biology of Your Brand
This is where the second pillar comes in. Our second pillar, create, is really like the biology of your body. It makes up all of your nerves and systems, which is an integral part of staying alive. As you can imagine, the different systems of our bodies are complicated and have a lot of moving parts. This is the same when it comes to creating your content. You can’t have just one pair of nerves running through you.
Your business biology should consist of:
- Pillar pages
- Gated content
- Social media posts
- White papers
- Data analysis
- Exclusive research
- Email drip campaigns
- Press releases
- Video content
- Website copy
- Landing pages
- Case studies
- Interview content
- Guest posts
The Anatomy of Amplification
And that brings us to our last pillar (so you can stop imagining a terrifying creature of just bones and nerves). Your business can finally gain its limbs and start walking on its own two feet. Our third pillar, amplify, refers to the processes necessary to really market your brand. It’s the anatomy of your business.
When you think about amplifying things, you should think about practices like:
- PR campaigns
- Guest post outreach
- Social engagement
- Strategic collaboration
- Social media posts
- Influencer outreach
- Social media engagement
- Facebook groups
- LinkedIn groups
- Mastermind groups
- Paid Ads
How to Measure the ROI of a Content Marketing System
Your content marketing ROI (return-on-investment) is broken down by how much profit you earn from your marketing efforts versus how much money you actually put into your marketing.
Content marketing reports are insightful and useful ways to break down all the information you need when it comes to assessing your investments. It’s important to remember that you need to set realistic goals for yourself in order to see some progress. It’s okay if things take a while to get started, that’s what starting a new business is all about sometimes!
The main things you want to keep an eye on when you first start your marketing efforts are:
- Lead generation
- Bounce rate
- Website traffic
- Audience engagement
- Landing page views
- Keyword ranking
- Time spent on your site
Marketing Outputs vs Conversion Rate
These two terms are often confused for one another when they shouldn’t be. Outputs are essentially the avenues you use to get activity to your site through marketing. Conversion rate is the percentage of people who do what you want (download something, buy) versus how many people visit your site.
Content marketing can drive sales through the roof when you know what metrics to hunt for and which KPIs matter most to your business.
That was definitely a lot to cover! We know we threw a lot of information at you, but you can revisit this guide anytime you need help with your content marketing system. Of course, you can always recruit professionals to do it for you. Our dedicated team works closely with our clients to build them a tailored content marketing system that works best for them.