Does your content marketing checklist simply involve creating and publishing different forms of content for your business?
If you want to get results from content marketing, you must create content that your ideal clients will find extreme value from it and even share it.
To be successful at content marketing, you need to be strategic and structure your content in a way gives your prospects what they want and educates them along the buyer’s journey.
Blogging for your business is so much more than writing an article and throwing it up on your website. Publishing content that matters to your ideal clients and that they are eager to read and share with their network encompasses planning, optimizing and promotion as well as writing and editing, to ensure that you create something that truly resonates with the audience you’re trying to reach.
To organize this process for myself and my team, I have created a content marketing checklist that you might find useful when creating and promoting content for your business.
I’ve distilled it down into five critical steps:
- Planning and Research
- Writing Your Content
- Optimizing for SEO
- Making it Shareable
- Promote Your Content
While I am mainly addressing written content in this article, many of the processes within this checklist are relevant and vital for all content formats.
Your 5-Step Content Marketing Checklist [Infographic]
1. Planning & Research
a) Pick your topic
Before you can start creating content, you need to know what topic you will be addressing with your content.
This first step can actually be the hardest for many people, as they are not sure where to begin. Thankfully there are many resources out there that can help you to find ideas and decipher what your ideal clients are most interested in learning more about.
Start by writing down the keywords that are tied to your business including the products or services you offer. For example, in my case, I might choose keywords such as LinkedIn training, social selling, social selling training, digital sales and marketing, B2B lead generation, and of course, content marketing.
Use Google Keyword Planner
Use the Google Keyword Planner to find specific and relevant keyword phrases that people are searching for, to use in your content creation.
With this tool, you will discover ideas for content topics and get a general idea of how many searches are being made on that topic each month as well as how much competition there is for that keyword phrase.
Keep in mind that while you may eventually create content for both the high and low competition keywords, you may see some of the best results initially from the topics with more monthly searches and little competition.
You can then use this information to create an initial list of content topics you can address.
Search LinkedIn and other social media platforms for ideas
Try searching LinkedIn or any of the social media platforms for your chosen keywords to find ideas for potential content you can create.
Pay particular attention to those posts or topics that are getting the most engagement, as this can indicate that it is a topic people are interested in. Valuable insight can be gained by observing what people are already reading and engaging with.
On LinkedIn, you can also see the level of interest in a keyword or topic by searching it with a hashtag in front of the keyword phrase. This will show you all the content posted with that hashtag and how many LinkedIn members are following that particular hashtag.
What questions are your prospects and clients asking you
There is no better source for content topics than the questions your prospects and clients are already asking you or the challenges and needs they are sharing with you.
These are topics that you know your prospective and existing clients need more information on and that they haven’t currently found adequate resources about.
This is a tremendous opportunity.
You will reinforce your authority and credibility with them by providing content that solves their problems or challenges. Additionally, this creates opportunities for people who don’t already know you to find your content and to see you as a knowledgeable resource to potentially solve their problem.
b) Pick your content format
Once you have a list of topics you are going to address, you need to decide what content format is most appropriate for your audience as well as for the topic.
For example, if your ideal clients are busy professionals with a long commute, they may be interested in a podcast that they can listen to on their commute rather than a written article.
Or if your topic is explaining step-by-step how to do something, like how to use Google Keywords Planner, you might want to use a video that shows the process. Many people will find it much more helpful and valuable to be able to see the process demonstrated to them in a video versus reading about it.
This being said, while a video may be more desirable to your audience, you may not have the resources and knowledge yet to do this. In this instance you might instead write an article with detailed screenshots, which can still be extremely valuable.
c) Research your topic
Before you start creating your content you want to ensure that you have the most complete and up-to-date knowledge on your topic as possible.
Even if you know your topic well, you may want to include relevant stats or industry trends within your post so it will be important to do a little research before you begin writing.
Begin your research with a Google search for your keyword. Look for new or recent content from industry experts or organizations. You can also check relevant social media sites for current content.
Another great way to stay up-to-date on your topics is to receive newsletters and emails from the various experts and organizations within the industry.
2. Writing Your Content
Once you have completed the planning and researching phase, you are ready to start writing your content.
Before you start writing, be sure you are creating your content with your audience in mind.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the most important ways you can do this is by finding out what their problems and challenges are and then creating content that offers a solution. If you understand where they’re coming from, what their motivations are, and if you speak their language, your content marketing will resonate with them, and they’ll be interested in learning more about you.
Below you will find specific tips for writing useful and compelling content. For additional information to improve your content marketing, check out this guide on how to write blog posts that get read.
a) Create a compelling headline/title
The first thing people see is your headline (aka the title of your blog post).
Your headline is what determines if people will actually click on your article to read it or move on. The title you choose needs to give your readers a clear idea of what the blog post is about and how they will benefit from reading it.
b) Add subheaders
The large, bolded words in subheaders give readers critical visual cues as to what they can expect to find in any given section. This helps them to scan quickly and find the information they are most interested in. And most people will scan the blog post before they decide to read it, so you need to grab their attention throughout the article, not just in the title.
c) Keep paragraphs short
Paragraphs in blog posts are not the same as the much longer and more complex paragraphs that you will see when reading a book. Ideally, your paragraphs should be broken up every 2-3 lines or roughly every 75-100 words.
Why is this important?
Only 16% of people read web sites word for word. (Source)
Many will also be reading your posts on their phone. Long, cumbersome paragraphs are daunting to read. So, make them short. This makes it easy for readers to scan your post and decide if they want to read it.
d) Include visuals
Make great content better, and more engaging with visual elements.
Not only are images an easy way to create impact and share information, but they are also shared much more often than text alone. Articles with images get 94% more total views (Source).
While there are many different types of visuals, you can create or use, they don’t have to be fancy or take a lot of time to create. Often a screenshot works well, especially when you are providing how-to style content.
e) Use bullet points and lists
Bullet points and lists are an excellent way to break up your text and make your content more consumable.
f) Link to other valuable resources
An excellent way to provide additional resources on a topic or idea, without making a post impossibly long to read, is to link to another resource on the topic within your blog post.
This allows you to provide a brief overview on a topic or idea, which is what most people will want while providing a quick and easy way for those who do want more information to quickly and easily access it.
Be sure to provide a source link to any stats or quoted information you use within the blog post as well.
g) Add a call-to-action (CTA)
Always include a short (and appropriate) call-to-action at the bottom of your post.
If you don’t specify the action you want your readers to take, most people will just click away from your post and take no action. This is a lost opportunity.
A call-to-action can be as simple as asking readers to leave a comment or share your post. It can also be more complex like inviting them to watch a free masterclass or sign up to receive Facebook Messenger notifications every time you publish a new post.
Your call-to-action can and in some case should be different for each post, depending on your topic.
h) Edit for errors
This would be number one on this content marketing checklist if it weren’t for the fact that your blog post needs to be finished before you can edit it.
When possible have one or more people read and edit your blog post for errors. Regular errors in your posts can lessen the authority and credibility that you are trying to establish with your audience.
A helpful tip when editing a post is to read the post slowly word for word. This can help you catch grammatical errors as well as ensure that what is written makes sense.
3. Optimizing Your Content For SEO
If you do not optimize your content for SEO, you are missing out on tremendous opportunities for organic traffic to your website.
Most online experiences start with a search engine, and nearly 75% of them will be on Google. Also the first five results of a Google search get 67.60% of all clicks, making search engine optimization crucial.
Before you begin, you will need to understand what keywords are best for your content. This will tie back to the research you did before you before you started writing, using Google Keyword Planner.
Below you find several of the most important SEO factors that you need to keep in mind when creating content.
For a more detailed training check out this comprehensive step-by-step article on how to optimize your blog posts for SEO.
a) Aim for 1500-2000 words
While blog posts of 300 to 500 words were once believed to work best, today the best-ranking articles in SEO are long-form content. Google likes in-depth content and longer articles, you will never find a top ranked page that features a short article.
Generally, 1500-2000 (or more) words will improve your Google search rankings, as long as you are writing high-quality content and of course, optimizing it for SEO.
b) Include your keyword phrase in your blog title
The first and most important place to add your keyword in your blog post is in the title.
Keep in mind, that while you want your keyword phrase in your title, it is more important that your title makes sense to readers and generates interest. It is people, not search engines who will read your content.
What do you think my keyword is for this blog post? If you guessed Content Marketing Checklist, you guessed right! But it could certainly also be B2B Content Marketing Checklist, which is a secondary keyword phrase I have selected for this article.
c) Add your keyword phrase in your subheaders (H2, H3)
It is also essential to add your keyword or keyword phrase to your subheaders (also known as your H2 and H3 headers). Aim to have at least one H2 header that includes your keyword phrase in it.
It must make sense though, keyword stuffing is NOT ok.
d) Use your keyword throughout your post
Add your keyword or keyword phrase throughout the body of your blog post. Again, everywhere you add it should make sense and not take away from a reader’s ability to understand or find value from your content.
Try to include your keyword in the first and last paragraph of your post and when possible, also hyperlink one of the mentions of the keyword phrase to another relevant blog post on your website.
4. Make it Shareable
Creating high-quality content marketing requires work, so you might as well make sure as many people can see it as possible.
Making your content shareable will make it easier and more likely for those who are already reading it and have found value to share it with their networks.
To make your content more sharable, be sure to include ways for your audience to engage with your content.
a) Create a custom graphic with your blog post title
Make your blog content more shareable on social media platforms by creating a custom title image for each blog post (or podcast or video blog), which includes the title of the post.
Don’t want to hire a graphic designer? Thankfully there are many free or affordable graphic design tools such as Adobe Spark or Canva, which makes it fast and easy to create a title (or other) image, even if you have no design skills or background.
b) Include tweetable quotes
Provide your readers with a way to quickly take action and share from your post with tweetable quotes. Your quotes should be relevant, short and include interesting, humorous, or useful information.
Readers can manually grab that tweetable quote right out of your post and share it or can use tools such as Buffer to grab and share the quote. You can also use tools such as Click To Tweet, which integrates directly into WordPress. This tool makes it quick and easy for your readers to share specific, impactful tweets that you include in your post.
c) Embed a video
A great way to add value to your content, create more engagement and make it more sharable is to include videos in your blog posts.
79% of consumers agree video is the easiest way to get to know a brand online.
People respond well to video content. Video humanizes you and allows people to get to know you more intimately. People relate to video, and science shows that the brain is hard-wired to trust the human face making video especially effective for business.
d) Embed social media posts
Another way to increase engagement on your blog is to embed social media posts from your social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You must ensure that any posts you embed are relevant to the point you are making.
5. Promote Your Content
While you may one day receive the majority of your reader traffic from organic sources like search engines, this can take a lot of time and growth. In the early days of my blog I was only getting 25-30% of my traffic from organic search, now most months organic traffic is usually more than 70% of my traffic.
While you are waiting to get that kind of organic traffic, there are thankfully many ways you can promote your new content to increase the number of people who find and consume your content.
Keep in mind that many of the most popular websites still use every promotion tactic available, to drive as much traffic as possible to their sites. If even the most popular sites are using these promotion strategies, you might want to consider using them as well.
a) Send a newsletter to your email list
If you have an email list, a great way to promote your new content is to include a link to your it in your newsletter. This can often provide you with an immediate spike in traffic.
Keep in mind that these are people who have taken the time to actively become a part of your community, so it is important that you value their time and concisely explain what they will find in the content and the benefit they will get from it consuming it.
b) Share as a LinkedIn status update
One of the best places a B2B business can promote content is to share it as a status update on LinkedIn. Like in your newsletter, you want to include a short explanation of what they will find in the content and the benefit they will get from it.
You will also want to add one to three hashtag keywords in your post, to help others looking for information on those topics find your status update.
You can do this both for both your personal profile as well as your LinkedIn Company Page if you have one.
c) Share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
If you know that your ideal clients are using other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, be sure to post your new content on those platforms as well. If you have created your cover graphic, this will ensure that your post is more eye-catching and will get more engagement.
You will want to include a short explanation of what they will find in the content and the benefit they will get from reading it. The summary you will use for each platform will be slightly different, as each platform is unique. For example, you only have 280 characters on Twitter, to sum up your content, whereas, you must have something visual to share if you are sharing on Instagram.
d) Consider Facebook ads and/or LinkedIn sponsored updates
You can significantly amplify the traffic to your content by adding some paid promotion to your strategy. Depending on your audience and budget, you may want to consider using Facebook ads and/or LinkedIn Sponsored Updates.
Unless you have a significant advertising budget running ads to your content should be reserved to your pillar post – meaning your highest quality content.
e) Look for niche sharing opportunities
Consider niche locations to post your content such as Reddit subforums (aka subreddits), Quora or industry forums and platforms.
When considering these niche areas, make sure that the audience is, in fact, your ideal clients and that the information that you are posting is appropriate for the platform. In these locations, it is also vital to be aware of the specific posting etiquette of the platform.
f) Send a broadcast via your Facebook Messenger Bot
If you have a Messenger Bot set up with ManyChat or some other bot service, you can send out a broadcast to the people who have subscribed to your bot.
You want to reach your audience where they are and on their preferred platform.
Your B2B Content Marketing Checklist
If you are publishing content for your business, it is essential to have a content marketing strategy in place, to ensure you are creating the best and most useful content for your ideal clients. Even if that content strategy is as simple as the checklist, we have shared here.
Using a strategy like this content marketing checklist will make you more effective and efficient at creating and sharing content that your audience wants and needs, and that will represent you and your company professionally and credibly.
Ultimately you will get the best results if you monitor your results and modify your content marketing checklist to suit your unique business and situation.
Did you find the content marketing checklist helpful? If so, would you please share this on your preferred social media profiles, and with any friends or colleagues that you think should read this too.