LUNIR's 4-Step Guide to Content Marketing
How to Build an Effective Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business
Launch your business to new heights!
Build a loyal customer base!
Keep on top of all the administrative tasks!
Boost sales and expand your network!
Also, do all of this while maintaining a healthy work-life balance…
As a startup or small business, the to-do list can seem endless and your business goals can sometimes feel out of reach.
Everyone keeps telling you that you need to market your business well in order to gain traction and grow. But perhaps not everyone is telling you exactly HOW to do it.
Do you need a website or a Twitter account?
Will Facebook ads be effective?
Should you be blogging?
Do you need a marketing agency to help?
There are many questions, and many contradictory answers too… But the common thread?
You need to create online content to build brand awareness and boost your business.
But where do you start? And how do you fit this into your never-ending to-do list!?
We'll show you. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is content marketing?
In simple terms, it is the creation and sharing of online material, such as blogs, social media posts, videos, podcasts etc, to attract, engage and retain an audience.
Content marketing can achieve a range of marketing goals, including:
√ generating brand awareness
√ demonstrating expertise or product benefits
√ boosting Google search rankings
√ building and maintaining a wide audience base
√ promoting customer loyalty
√ keeping your business top of mind
With a list of benefits like that, you may feel eager to start churning out social posts ASAP!
It is critical to thoroughly plan your content strategy before you hit that publish button!
Otherwise you may spend hours crafting some glorious masterpieces, only to see your efforts fall flat. And with an endless task list, meetings to attend and goals to smash, your time as a business owner is precious.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the 4 steps to building a content strategy for your business that will be effective and time efficient.
But first, let’s start with dispelling 3 big lies...
Lie No. 1: You don’t have anything to offer
The online universe is a crowded space, and statistics like these can cause content creators to feel disheartened.
How can you stand out and be heard in between all the online noise?
Why would someone click the link to your blog rather than someone else’s?
At the risk of sounding like Dr Seuss: Because you are you, and there is no one else exactly like you.
Your particular experience, personality, passion, knowledge – all of that makes you unique. No one else on this planet knows exactly what you know in exactly the way that you know it.
You have an angle, a story, a voice that no one else has. You have something different to offer.
It is essential that you embrace this fact with confidence from the get-go, because if you don’t believe that your voice is worth hearing, your audience won’t either.
Lie No. 2: Your industry is too boring to create content about
Maybe you agree that content marketing can work for some industries, but you doubt that that applies to your particular business.
We hear you – you own a hardware store in Luxembourg City and you don’t think many people want to do some casual reading about the variety of nuts and bolts in your shop.
But people might want to read about the best way to hang up a painting without hammering nails in the wall. Or how to fix their dishwasher for under 10 Euros. Or fun DIY projects to do with their kids when it’s raining – which is probably a rather common search query for parents in Luxembourg!
Suddenly the potential topics are endless, and there are a million opportunities to attract the attention of your target audience.
Lie No. 3: You don’t have time for blogging or social media
You’re busy, we get it.
Company administration, procurement, managing orders, bookkeeping, tax returns - and yes, actually running your business… These all seem way more important than posting a picture on Instagram.
But the truth is, to grow your business, you need customers… Content marketing is one of the most effective methods to boost brand awareness, drive sales, and build customer trust and loyalty.
In the long-term, it is also the most cost-effective form of advertising. Compared to traditional marketing and paid advertising, content creation can fit much more comfortably in your budget.
So, yes, prioritising a Facebook post might take some mental gymnastics to get used to, but in the long run these efforts could be crucial to the growth of your business.
That being said, it is obviously important to recognise and pay attention to your personal limitations. You might feel that you are simply spread too thin, or that creativity is not your strong suit.
Delegation is one of the most important skills that business owners learn, and it may be beneficial in the long run to outsource your content creation – whether to your new intern or to an agency or freelancer.
However, you should always be fundamentally involved in the creation of the content strategy, because it is deeply personal to your brand.
Right, now that we’ve dealt with your potential misgivings, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it.
HOW TO BUILD A CONTENT STRATEGY 101
Voice & brand personality
STEP 1: ANALYSE
SET YOUR GOALS
As with all planning, if you are not crystal clear about what you want to achieve, you can spend a lot of time and resources and still miss the mark.
There are three main goals for content creation: SEO, sales and connections, and brand awareness.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
How many Google search results pages do you go through when you’re looking for something?
75% of people never scroll past the first page.
For this reason, an important goal for many businesses is making sure that their website ranks highly for relevant search terms. Content is one of the key strategies to achieve that without investing in paid promotions.
Sales and connections
Consistently publishing good quality content is an effective method to build customer trust and engage them at sales funnel level.
People know an advert when they see one, and this “in-your-face” marketing strategy is becoming increasingly ignored by customers.
On the other hand, content which addresses pain points and provides helpful information is something customers actually want to read. In fact, they actively go looking for it!
Content marketing is also an effective way to build connections with important contacts and influential people in your industry. Through your content, you can position yourself as an expert authority, which can open other doors for business growth.
According to Investopedia, a company's brand is one of its most important and valuable assets. It is the heart and soul of your business, and it is what sets you apart from the rest of the market and builds customer loyalty.
With nearly 45% of internet users now turning to social media to do brand research, it is clear that online content is one of the key ways that people get to know your brand.
CONTENT MARKETING GOALS
Consider which of the 3 goals is most important for your business right now. While you will still shoot at all three targets, your primary goal will help you focus your efforts in the right proportion.
In the startup phase, for instance, your main focus might be to boost your SEO rankings, whereas at a later stage you may want to prioritise customer engagement.
Define clear KPIs (key performance indicators) which you will use to track and measure success. These could include the number of leads generated, ranking for certain SEO keywords, number of social engagements, etc.
2. IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
Being crystal clear about exactly who you want to reach cannot be overstated. Awesome content is useless if it isn’t going to reach and appeal to your target audience.
While it may be a confidence boost, having 10,000 people like your Instagram post will not translate into business growth if only 10 of them would actually buy your product!
Who do you want to see reading the content you create? This could be one specific persona, or there could be multiple if you are targeting several niche audiences.
You might already know exactly who your audience is, right down to their age, neighbourhood and shoe size. In other cases, however, it might not be so obvious or detailed.
There are many methods and analytics tools that can reveal who you should be targeting. These include surveys, interviews, social media monitoring, Facebook Insights, competitor audience analysis, Talkwalker’s social search, to name just a few. HubSpot also offers a free persona template to help you create detailed personas for your target market.
The deeper you dig into your audience and the better you get to know them, the more likely you are to create content that will reach, impact and convert.
Also bear in mind that you will be creating content for personas at different stages of the buyer journey. Are they ready to swipe their credit card, or have they not even heard of your product yet?
Generally speaking, the buying cycle has 3 stages:
You will tailor your content depending on which stage your target reader is in, so keep this in mind during your audience analysis.
3. DEFINE YOUR DIFFERENTIATION FACTOR
What is that specific thing that sets you apart from your competitors?
There are several digital agencies in Luxembourg. What makes yours different?
Why would someone choose to sign up to your gym, and not the fitness center down the road?
In order to stand out, you need to identify your unique angle or niche, and then use your content to present that to your audience.
Ask yourself: How are you helping your customer better than your competitor is? What do you do or offer that is different to what everyone else is offering?
Let’s say you do website design in Luxembourg. You’re certainly not alone in the market! But you are also an ex-banker with a wealth of e-commerce tips and tricks up your sleeve. Immediately you’ve got yourself a niche that can edge out the competition.
4. DETERMINE YOUR VOICE & BRAND PERSONALITY
A brand goes far beyond a logo or a slogan – it is your business’ core identity and public image.
Think about how to present your brand personality authentically to your audience.
Is your style technical and formal or casual and playful? Will vibrant, funny content showcase your brand personality, or is conservative and objective the vibe you are going for?
Every single piece you publish should reflect your brand identity, and style consistency across all your online channels is crucial.
Imagine meeting someone at a conference. They speak to you casually, full of jokes and witty comments. You then get a super formal inMail from them on LinkedIn, so you check their business Facebook page. Their newsfeed is a confusing mix of funky, existential videos and objective business newsletters…
Who is this person!? What are they really like, and how can you trust them to deliver consistently?
Your brand is what builds customer trust and loyalty. Presenting multiple personalities across your channels is going to confuse your audience - and perhaps even yourself!
To ensure consistency (especially if you plan to outsource some or all of your content creation) it can be helpful to create a content style guide.
How will you write your name? (For example, LUNIR is always written in capitals.) Are there certain colour themes you want in all your visuals? How formal will your voice be?
The more specific you are, the clearer your brand identity can be presented.
STEP 2: STRATEGISE
Okay, now we know who we are, who we are talking to, and why we are talking to them.
Now we need to figure out the best way to do it.
The online universe is massive, and there are endless places for you to publish your content. However, not all platforms will be effective for your business.
To avoid wasting time and resources on channels that will not yield results, it is essential to carefully consider which platforms to invest in.
If you have a website, it should be your first core focus when it comes to your online presence.
Your web address is probably on your email signature and business card, and it is what customers will find on a Google search. It is essentially your primary identity card.
It will in many cases also be your contact or conversion point. It is senseless having a flashy, dynamic Instagram feed that directs customers to a dull, outdated website.
Check the flow of your site. Make sure the text and visuals are attractive and SEO optimised. Ask yourself whether it clearly reflects your brand personality and differentiation factor.
In a recent article, we looked at how having a blog can be a powerful marketing tool.
Blogging can achieve several content goals at once, which makes it a high-ROI marketing strategy.
It is also the content format with the longest lifespan. Studies show that high-quality blog content can continue to drive traffic, impressions, engagement and returns for up to two years after publication!
You can also update old blogs to revive them and generate fresh engagement, further extending their lifespan.
If you decide to start blogging, aim to publish an article at least once a month, however a new post every week is optimal in most industries.
● Social media platforms
LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat…
All of them? None of them? Some of them?
The answer depends on your brand, product and audience.
However, a 2021 study showed that nearly 45% of internet users research products or services on social media. This is even higher for Gen Z, who say they are more likely to search for a brand on social media than on a search engine!
This means that not having a social page can actually be detrimental to your business growth in some cases.
Social media platforms can be a useful space for posting news and promotions, and they provide another medium for paid advertising and promoted posts. They also offer added opportunities for exposure, through hashtag searches and users seeing who their friends or influencers are following.
That being said, they do have some drawbacks.
Because of the nature of these platforms and their algorithms, high frequency of posts can be essential. This means you can spend a lot of time generating content for some channels.
The lifespan of social posts also varies drastically across different platforms, and some content has a very short window of visibility and impact. (You can see the average lifespans in our social platforms summary, linked below.)
Also, unlike your website content which will live until the day you take down your site, social posts die along with the platform.
There are many people out there who had amazing content on Vine or MySpace. All that hard work is now buried in an online graveyard, never to see the light of a computer screen again...
Well-established platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are obviously a relatively safe bet as far as longevity is concerned.
On the other hand, the latest trending platforms which pop up might generate high exposure, even if the channel's lifespan is uncertain.
So, how do you choose?
Your brand personality, audience and goals will determine the best channels for your business.
How do you want to position yourself?
Where does your target audience spend time online?
You might be a massive TikTok fan, but the type of content that wins on that channel probably won’t set the right tone if you are a serious Luxembourg tax advisor…
There are some general trends across certain industries which can be a helpful guide. Local businesses and restaurants often attract a lot of business through Facebook and Instagram, whereas B2B businesses often see better results through LinkedIn.
Competitor analysis can also be helpful. Look at what social media pages your competitors have, what kind of content they are posting, and how much engagement their content is generating (or not generating).
Of course, your geographical location also plays a role. For instance, in 2021 the potential audience reach in Luxembourg for Facebook was 330,000, compared to LinkedIn’s reach of 290,000 and Twitter’s potential reach of just 136,800.
Overall, there is no hard-and-fast rule. Consider each platform in light of your specific business and audience, as well as your available resources to create the content format that is required for each channel.
Check out our summary of a few of the common platforms, which might help you decide:
If you’re not a master of the visual arts and are worried that your audience is sitting on Instagram, don’t panic! More than 98% of users of any given social platform also use at least one other platform.
The key is to select only 1 or 2 strategic channels.
If you dabble in a bit of everything (unless you are superhuman, have a massive team or an impressive budget) you will either not have time to actually run your business, or your content will most likely be a little flimsy.
2. CONTENT CALENDAR
Once you’ve chosen your channels, resist the urge to just start posting!
An active social page that just dies can create the impression that your business activities are dwindling. While you may feel super inspired to take the digital marketing world by storm today, next month you might have just too much on your plate...
Planning a schedule in advance will help you manage your time and plan your resources, so that you can maintain an active page without excessive weekly burdens.
In addition, as we've mentioned, content marketing can achieve various goals – but it can also achieve none! Posting just to tick a box might result in a regular content stream, but it is unlikely to be very effective in meeting your business goals.
Strategic planning ensures that your content stays goal-orientated, so that your efforts achieve the highest impact.
You’ve undoubtedly made or followed some form of calendar before, so you may have a clear idea of how you prefer to plan and organise one.
At LUNIR, we follow a 4-stage process to designing our content calendars:
Stage 1: What
Stage 2: When
Stage 3: Why & Who
Stage 4: How
Stage 1: WHAT
Decide on the content format that you want to publish. This is determined by 3 main factors:
Certain social platforms dictate the type of content required. For instance, TikTok restricts you to videos, whereas Twitter requires short text.
For your website and some of the other social channels, you have more choices: blogs, vlogs, podcasts, videos, pictures, webinars, infographics, etc.
● Content goals
If your primary goal is boosting SEO, you'll probably allocate a large share of your efforts to written content. If your current focus is expressing your brand personality, you might want to prioritise videos or images.
Variety is the spice of life! In an ideal world, you would publish a range of content types. In addition to your blog, you would post a blend of text, images and videos on your social platforms to keep your content interesting and varied.
But, very important, quality always trumps variety!
Limit your content to the formats you are comfortable with. If your design skills are below par and you don’t have the budget to outsource, stick to words.
There is never a good reason to publish poor quality content!
Stage 2: WHEN
For each channel, decide how many posts you want to publish each week. Again, the channels you selected will play a role. Our social platforms summary can provide some insight into general optimal frequencies.
As a rule of thumb though, consistency trumps frequency.
Be realistic about your available time and resources. Don’t aim for a publication schedule that you can’t maintain in the long term!
Next, establish which days of the week you want to post your content.
Mountains of research has been done on the optimal days and times to post content on different social platforms. Sprout Social, for example, has published a reference guide based on 2021 data, which also includes best practices across some of the main industries.
While the actual prime times will depend on your specific audience, location and industry, you can use these resources as a starting point. Over time you will notice what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your calendar accordingly.
Stage 3: WHY and WHO
For impactful marketing, you must be intentional about every post you publish. For every piece of content, be clear about 2 things:
● Which content goal are you aiming at?
While your overall strategy will aim to achieve all 3 content goals (SEO, sales and connections, brand awareness), not every piece will hit all 3. Which target(s) is this piece shooting for?
● Who exactly are you speaking to?
To be effective, every piece of content must be tailored to the target reader.
If you are writing to customers, be clear about which persona you are targeting (if you have more than one), as well as which phase of the buyer’s journey they are in.
If your post is aimed at building connections with industry leaders, think about who they are and what they want. Don’t fall back into the same communication strategy you use for your customers.
If you lose sight of who you are targeting and what you aim to achieve, you are likely to miss the mark.
Your content calendar should reflect a distribution of efforts across the content goals and audience groups that reflects your business objectives.
Allocating colour themes to each goal and audience category can be a helpful visual indicator to keep you on track.
Stage 4: HOW
There are various online tools you can use to create a content calendar. Loomly, for example, allows you to create posts for various channels and publish them directly from the platform.
You can also create a calendar in Word or Excel, if you are more comfortable with those platforms. Your calendar framework could look something like this:
The power of the calendar is to stick to it. But it is an organic document!
Remember that your content reflects your brand personality and you are speaking to actual, living humans – so keep your communication real and authentic.
If something current and topical comes up that isn’t on the calendar, don’t ignore it. Replace that day’s post or publish an additional one. Ignoring current events can make your business appear insincere or static.
STEP 3: CREATE
Right, now that we’ve done lots of analysing and strategising, time to get your hands dirty!
Brainstorm a list of topic ideas. Remember that your content does not always have to be specifically about your offering, but it should always be relevant to your product/service.
For example, as a bicycle shop in Luxembourg City, you don’t have to limit your content to reviews of the latest bicycles. You could write about the best cycle trails in Luxembourg, or nutrition tips for long races.
Think about subjects that would be interesting for your audience and express your differentiation factor.
If you start running out of ideas, ask Google for some!
Plug in relevant search terms and see what comes up. Look at what your competitors are writing about (and what they might be missing!). You can also use keyword tools or platforms like Answer the Public to see what your audience is searching for.
For each topic on your list, tag them according to their content goal and target audience. These tags will help you slot the topics into your calendar, ensuring that you maintain a rhythm across your goals.
If your topic idea doesn’t tick at least one goal box, it’s out!
Research, write, design, film, photograph, record… Go!
The more content you create in advance, the better you can plan and avoid last minute pressure.
Remember to adapt your content for each channel.
While you may be able to use the same core text or images, keep in mind that LinkedIn users and Facebook users are looking for different things. Tweak your posts for each platform to achieve the highest engagement.
Because life gets busy, set reminders to publish your content according to the calendar. Many of the social platforms also allow you to schedule posts to go live automatically at an allocated date and time.
There are also various tools that can help you manage the publication process, like Google Calendar, Trello and Loomly.
STEP 4: OPTIMISE
Strategies are not foolproof! Effective marketing requires regular analysis and optimisation.
Each month, measure the performance stats for your website and social media platforms. Analyse which posts performed better than others, and think about possible reasons. Was it the time of publication? The topic? Maybe the images you used?
Over time you will get to know what works and what doesn’t. Adapt and refine your strategy to make sure you are getting the most out of your efforts.
Don’t be shy to test out different publication days and content formats. Even if it goes against conventional practices or what your competitors are doing, you might find a unique rhythm that hits the nail on the head!
Bear in mind, however, that content marketing is a long-term strategy! The number of likes you got (or didn’t get) on your LinkedIn post this week is not the be-all and end-all.
Every good quality publication adds to your chance of success, but not every post will lead to a click or purchase! It is the totality of your marketing over time that has the major impact.
Phew. Okay, that was a lot!
If you’ve made it this far, you must be pretty serious about boosting your business with content marketing! If that’s the case, we hope this has been helpful and gives you some guidance. If you want to dig a little deeper, feel free to get in touch.
Our parting advice: Don’t let the digital marketing world intimidate you. Have fun expressing your brand in your own, unique way!