Let’s set the record straight: Hiring a content writer is not a plug-and-play solution.
Your marketing team will need to support writers by providing strategic ideas and goals that work to improve your content marketing ROI if your investment in blogging, whitepapers, social media posting and copywriting is to succeed.
Yes, a knowledgeable writer is important, but they must also be well equipped with an actionable strategy that is measurable. This content marketing strategy will ideally include extensive keyword research, a mapped library that connects content with the entire buyer life cycle, backlink outreach, journalistic-style research and interviews, Google Analytics conversions studies and much more.
If your team’s strategy is missing any of these, then you’re not maximizing your content marketing ROI potential.
Today, successful content marketing is about much more than just ideating and assigning thought leadership articles. Indeed, thought leadership pieces are better for building brand awareness and buzz, not for generating customer growth and, thus, boosting a monetary ROI.
To improve your content marketing ROI, your team will thus need to establish a content agenda that is built upon strong SEO articles and knowledge base content.
However, to truly stand out of the crowd, your content marketing team will also have to combine time-tested SEO practices with journalistic research and interviews, all of which should be organized into a marketing funnel to ensure that you are targeting every buyer persona at each stage of awareness.
This strategy folds three core disciplines into one methodology, which is best illustrated below.
To start improving your content marketing ROI, we’ve developed the following list of specific (and actionable) ideas that can be applied to any vertical.
While SEO-focused content marketing is a long-term strategy, the below ideas are immediately deployable, which means that your content team can start the process of moving the needle sooner than later.
1. Conduct keyword research to discover top-priority topics
The first step to improving your content marketing ROI starts with developing a well-researched SEO keyword strategy.
In essence, this document is the ideation cornerstone of your SEO articles. Think of it as a content roadmap that will provide guide posts that your team can use to flesh out a foundational list of high-interest topics to start writing about.
The most effective SEO keyword strategies track keywords by a variety of metrics, including global volume, CPC, keyword difficulty, SERP features, among others, and take into consideration the SEO profiles of top relevant competitors.
Importantly, you’ll need to use the information in this document as rough guidelines rather than strict rules when selecting your articles. This is because not every high-priority keyword idea will have high-traffic volume, which most people assume is uni-dimensional purpose SEO (it is not). Indeed, which topics you prioritize writing first will often have to best match your website maturity and your current marketing objectives best, and that may not match up well (at first) with the highest volume keywords on your list.
We’ve written a detailed article on SEO keyword strategies that reviews the importance of each metric, as well as how to read them. Review that article if you have never created one of these documents before.
2. Write a content marketing strategy that addresses search intent
Selecting the right keywords to focus on requires matching search intent with your objectives to grow the bottom line.
SEO is really just this in a nutshell: the process of aligning search intent with your company’s missions.
To succeed here, you’ll need to understand your message-market fit and build that into a documented content strategy.
In other words, your team will have to identify what they should write about for who. This becomes easier to organize and visualize through a document that records several factors per piece of content, including keyword rationale, buyer awareness stages, content format, top SERP format, expert interview or internal sources, and more.
Read our article on how to develop a content marketing strategy that is built to generate the right kind of traffic.
In the end, this step will have the most potential to improve your content marketing ROI. Without mincing words, your content strategy must identify how to attract an audience that is most likely to convert into paying customers.
3. Map your content library using a buyer persona matrix
Your target market has varying degrees of awareness of your product/service, and your content needs to reflect this fact.
An effective way to start improving your content marketing ROI is to fill out and maintain an updated buyer persona matrix that maps out each piece of content for each of your buyer personas.
This tool (we use this Buyer Persona Topic Matrix) will help identify and fill content gaps in your content marketing strategy according to awareness stages.
By using this matrix, you’ll ensure that you are “mind mapping” each persona by offering them content no matter what stage of awareness they have of your brand.
What’s more, instituting this tool will give you foresight into building brand evangelists further down the funnel. SEO articles are the perfect tactical content marketing tool for boosting growth in traffic that lead to conversions. However, brands will need to supplement SEO articles with more strategic thought leadership pieces, depending on the maturity of their vertical.
Having a buyer persona matrix will force your content team to begin thinking about these mixture of content types, including thought leadership pieces that fit outside of the funnel, or even after the purchase phase.
This is where you can begin to build your brand loyalty and create buzz by promoting unique points of view.
4. Conduct journalistic research and interviews
Journalists instinctively know that their stories are only as strong as their sources. Likewise, a savvy internet readership has come to understand that credibility doesn’t come from pure opinion.
Yet, many content marketers don’t refer to reputable sources or gather expert interview commentary for their blogs, instead leaning on only their brand’s voice. This is an error that misses a grand opportunity to build topic authority (a major metric that Google uses to rank), as well as establish credibility with your audience.
For top of the funnel articles, conducting journalist research and interviews with external subject experts can be a potent way to jump up Google rankings. Moreover, featuring outside expert commentary allows your company to appear well networked and “in the know,” if only by virtue of having made the effort to lean on the knowledge of outside experts.
Content marketing should thus include hyperlinks to relevant reputable sources, such as PDFs from global institutions or articles published by credible news media. Using this information to back up big claims can support your ideas and will go much farther than if someone from your company just published their opinions under their byline.
However, the further you go down the funnel, and thus the closer you get to talking directly about your product/service, the more you should lean on internal subject experts.
The rationale here is simple: Only your CEO, product manager or other executive will be the ideal subject expert about the product/service your brand is providing.
5. Request backlinks from interviewees
If you’ve made the effort to reach out and interview external experts, then your team should be asking them to promote and link back to your published article by default.
Backlinks are a core metric that Google uses to rank pages. If you have interviewed an expert from a company, just simply asking them to link to your article will provide an additional backlink — one that is likely to be of high domain authority coming from a subject expert.
The important part here is to set this up as a norm. Those that don’t ask will never receive.
6. Place mid-page CTAs
There is no dearth of information about how to write a high-converting call to action. For many companies, this message tends to be a mixture of informal and informational text that is engineered to push a visitor into contacting them.
However, more and more content marketing agencies are also exploring the efficacy of mid-page CTAs. That is, placing more than one CTA in your content, ideally in a contextually congruous part of the article.
The idea here is simple: For some articles, particularly SEO articles, if your topic is addressing a search intent where a strong amount of traffic that is coming is already looking for a specific service/product, why not give them the opportunity to contact you faster?
Simply put, give people what they are looking for faster.
[Does your team need professional help building a content marketing strategy that improves ROI? Schedule a call and we’ll demonstrate how we use SEO-focused content marketing to build organic traffic with high buyer intent.]
7. Use multiple relevant images (and videos)
Quality images are just as important as the quality of your content. This is double true for content marketing that is focused on improving ROI.
To better rank on Google, your content will need unique images that accurately depict the search intent that you are targeting.
If you want to go a step further, then multimedia also makes sense. Often, older SEO content (published over a year ago) can get a significant boost by updating it with videos and infographics that reinforce the target keyword.
For bottom of the funnel keywords that are purely tactical in nature, screenshots of your product/service are a must. Your content is missing out on a golden opportunity to help your readers visualize your business if these images are not included.
8. Maintain high website health
Besides backlink building and topic authority, the other core metric that Google uses to rank your pages is website health.
Technical SEO requires specialist technical work and is integral to ensuring that all the above steps perform as planned.
I’ve heard technical SEO described as gardening. Every once in a while — usually twice a year — you’ll have to prune your garden. The same can be said with the technical SEO of your website.
This can take the form of disavowing toxic backlinks from external domains, as well as improving links across your domain in order to ensure there are no orphan pages.
9. Benchmark your Google ranking profile
Your content team should become accustomed to checking up on your Google ranking profile.
Ranking for SEO articles can be notoriously hard to predict given the multitude of factors that help determine ranking, from domain health, domain authority and topic authority. Sometimes articles can rank in a week, while other articles will take up to 3 months (or longer) to rank.
Compiling a starting benchmark will help you measure the ROI of your content marketing effort, allowing you to clearly detect where improvements in more quality lead traffic is coming from. As articles go up in ranking, so should your planned high buyer-intent traffic.
Following step 2, this traffic should be the right kind of traffic; that is, people that are most aligned to your message-market fit. This is the traffic that is most likely to convert, so it helps to ensure that you are observing and measuring each SEO article to determine the efficacy of each keyword. That information will be invaluable for when it comes time to syndicate content into new mediums.
10. Use Google Analytics to measure conversions
The final but perhaps most important idea to improve your content marketing ROI is to start measuring everything.
With Google Analytics, there are a number of tools that you can use to leverage the stream of data coming off your page for the benefit of content marketing.
CTAs (and mid-page CTAs) can be measured for efficacy here. Your team can even connect Calendly links to these CTA links to measure which pages are most effective in creating scheduled leads.
Google Analytics also offers a Conversions Modeling tool that allows you to measure goals. These goals can be set up as conversions that you define, such as signing up for a product/service, which you can measure for every piece of content.
Gone are the days when we’d just publish and pray. Now low-functioning content ideas can be tossed in the bin, and successful high-conversion content can be updated and syndicated into other formats. That’s what content marketing growth is made out of.
Want more ideas on how to improve your content marketing ROI?
Mint Position is a content marketing agency that works with B2B and B2C companies to transform their content strategies into business-generating tools, and we have formed a specialization in fintech content marketing.
We do this by creating a documented content agenda that plans two to four new articles into the pipeline every month, ensuring that subject expert interviews, marketing funnel and SEO strategies are interwoven with your brand.
Schedule a call and we’ll happily demonstrate how we use documented content strategies to fix underperforming blogs.