Running a startup isn’t easy.
Let alone growing, scaling, and securing its success.
After all, nine out of ten startups fail.
How can you drive revenue, nurture relationships, and prevent being another statistic?
By publishing content.
But, it’s not that easy.
That’s why I asked 21 startup content marketing professionals for their expert opinion.
Here’s what they said:
Build relationships and trust with evergreen content
“We use content marketing to establish an evergreen digital presence while also creating a deeper relationship with our customers.
Most digital marketing channels like paid ads, email, and social media are usually transient engagements; customers have a few seconds to interact with your marketing material and then move on. With content, our goal is to work towards building a relationship.
Our content encourages customers to spend some time to learn and trust our brand. Additionally, our content is created with long-term SEO benefits in mind.
We write our content so that it is intentionally agnostic of time and current events; it can be re-posted and used in re-engagement email campaigns later on, providing even more value.
Be contextual and in-depth
Adam Smartschan is the Chief Strategy Officer at Altitude Marketing.
“Content is all about context. Think about your website like one of those research papers you wrote in high school. You made an opening argument, then supported it. Your site works the same way.
Ultimately, you’re building a site about something – whatever your product, service or offering is. From there, your content should seek to address every possible question about that topic.
Don’t be sales-y; nobody’s fooled by “5 things to think about when you’re looking for a …” anymore. Instead, give good, solid, authoritative advice about your thesis.
Answer the questions your target audience has, whether or not your product addresses them directly. This builds your site’s authority. In turn, this makes both people and search engines more apt to send links and traffic to it.
More users + more relevant content = more conversions and leads.”
We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text
Rameez Ghayas Usmani is currently working as a Digital Marketing Executive for PureVPN.
“One of the most effective and useful startup tips to market your content is to convert your blog into interactive visuals in the form of infographics, quizzes, and videos.
Written content is undoubtedly useful but today visual materials such as infographics or videos are outperforming for content repurposing and they will continue to be one of the most frequently used content marketing strategies for 2020.
Because the human processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, it is far simple for people to remember visual information than the same information in a written form.
That is why marketing videos and especially infographics are all the rage now for startup content marketing purposes.”
Have a clear buyer persona
“When creating a content strategy to acquire customers, it’s imperative to define your target audience, without your target audience you won’t be able to create the content on the right channels with the right messaging, therefore wasting precious time and money.
Once you’ve defined your audience, think about which channels they visit. For example, if you’re starting a beauty company, you’d be better off spending your time promoting your products/services on social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook rather than LinkedIn.
When creating content make sure it’s high quality and think about what your customers need. If you’re selling a complicated SaaS product, thought leadership articles or whitepapers would be helpful.
Video content is often a great way to start too, you can show off how your product works and the benefits your customers will get. Top tip, your customers don’t care about the features, they care about the benefits. Try and make your content benefit-focused.”
Go old school with offline content
Richie Pusateri is a Marketing Associate at Postal.
“One area that’s commonly underlooked is developing an offline content strategy.
Startups can do so by leveraging offline engagement within their existing workflows and send personalized direct mail to targeted lists of contacts.
Whether it’s an introductory postcard, condensed case study, follow-up, or thank you note, there’s a wide array of use cases.
It can be used for lead generation, inbound nurturing for education, and establishing trust with prospects to drive conversions from the middle of the funnel.
Online to offline parity is the best way to go about this strategy and many start-ups can capitalize on incorporating offline content into their sales and marketing processes.”
Quality over quantity is crucial
“Larger companies will always have one key advantage over startups: resources. Smaller companies lack the resources to put out a dozen blogs a week, but that doesn’t mean they can’t beat out the competition.
Put your content efforts into quality, not quantity, to build out resources that really help customers. Google is getting better and better at identifying content quality, so investing in quality is essential if you want to rank over time.
Remember: one well-researched, well-written piece is almost always better than five subpar pieces.”
Develop and master a single funnel
Dan Bailey, President of WikiLawn Lawn Care.
“As a startup, you’re not going to have that big of a budget for content marketing. You need to do the best you can with the options at your disposal.
That’s why I recommend focusing on one funnel and developing that as much as you can. For example, you can create a low budget (but still focused, keyword-centric) videos on topics that will be of great help to your target customers.
That’s your content, but you need a way to market it. Like I said, focus on one solid funnel.
One of the best is definitely Facebook CPC ads. Use it to collect email addresses, put a Facebook pixel on it for the sake of analytics, and direct your ads there.
Fine-tune things, do split tests, and gradually scale up those ads. If that works out well, you can expand your content marketing efforts to other platforms.”
Encourage readers to take action
“While tactics may be different based on context, there’s one strategy and design item that can help with lead generation and revenue creation more than any other: consistent, site-wide implementation of calls to action (CTAs).
You can write the best content in the world, but if you don’t encourage your readers to take the desired action that’s core to your business’ growth, that content is just a bunch of words on a digital “page.”
Site-wide CTAs ensure you’re at least giving your content a chance to drive conversion.
The most successful CTAs I’ve seen are header navigation sticky CTAs with a solid, value-driven offer, inline CTAs to catch the reader’s attention while reading a blog, and a floating sidebar CTA that stay with the reader as they engage with content.”
Hire writers with industry expertise
Marc Prosser is the CEO of Choosing Therapy.
“The number one mistake that most marketers make when it comes to content marketing is having a freelance writer with no domain expertise write their content.
A college Journalism or English major is generally not going to be able to write quality content for your business.
The content they produce will likely be a copy of a previously written article on the topic, using slightly different phrasing and vocabulary.
Choosing has licensed therapists, including psychologists and social workers, to write content on mental health topics.
How could a freelance journalist match their years of academic work and real work experience, when writing an article on Seasonal Affective Disorder and your readers will be able to tell?
Even if you are able to get readers to the article, you will lose their trust and the sale due to the quality of content.”
Analyze what consumers are already reading
“The best way to go about executing a content marketing strategy is to research what kind of content your audience is already consuming elsewhere. Do a competitive analysis.
Then, brainstorm ideas for content for each stage of the buyers’ journey, starting from becoming problem-aware to beyond making the purchase.
Take the time to plan content for each stage of the buyers’ journey, and break it down into a spreadsheet.
Your “What” content will go out first, then your “How” content. Treat each quarter as its own campaign where you focus on one aspect of your product or one specific service, tailoring each piece of content to the place your potential customers’ are at the time.
Jake Rheude is the Vice President of Marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment.
Connect with him on LinkedIn.
“It’s important to put your effort into building content that is deep in quality, has a high engagement rate, and can serve as a building block for SEO.
My advice to startups is to choose up to five critical topics within your niche and then create a limited number of content pieces around these topics. It can be a long-form blog post, a video seminar, a whitepaper–whatever.
Once you’ve created the content, the next step is to aggressively and relentlessly link back to it wherever possible. Wrangle up a contributor account where you can write blog posts that link back to the content on your site.”
Use feedback surveys to understand readers pain points
“Understanding your audience is key. You want to know what problems most customers struggle with, and you also want to understand the specific types of questions your readers have.
This boils down to understanding your user’s demographics, asking them what their biggest desires are, and what products/content/ they would like to see you create.
The best way to get their feedback is to ask them. Tools like SurveyMonkey offer short surveys for free which can be used to create a question and answer forms. Once ready, simply send your survey link to any current customers, email subscribers, followers or readers you have.”
Ashton Newell is the Lead Digital PR Strategist at Directive.
“Have a promotion strategy ready to go. You’ve built great content, but how do you get people to see actually see it in a crowded space? Share your work on appropriate social channels.
Try to pull the main parts of your articles and share them in the copy of the actual post (with the link in the comments) to catch your followers’ eyes.
Also, gradually start to compile an email list of interested prospects that you can eventually send a newsletter to that’s filled with your top content each month.”
Build a comprehensive content library
Bruce Hogan is the Co-Founder and CEO of SoftwarePundit.
“My top content marketing tip for startups is to define the structure of their content library prior to getting started.
Over time, the company should build out a comprehensive library of high-quality content that addresses customer needs at different levels of the conversion funnel.
However, if the company does not do the proper customer & keyword research prior to getting started, they will likely prioritize the creation of the wrong content and use a suboptimal website architecture.
By mapping out the content library, the company can identify all related topics with high search volume.
Over time, this will allow Google to trust the site as an authoritative source in their domain, which results in organic search traffic, increased awareness, and new customers.”
Set a strict content schedule and leverage other blogs
“You need a strict content schedule, as to build an audience your readers need to know when to expect content.
If fresh content isn’t there when it should be, they will stop checking for it.
Aside from your blog, guest posting is a great way to reach out and get your content in front of your target market.
You ask if you can do a guest post on a website in your niche, and then you write an article that can either be primarily text-based or video-based to post on that blog.
In your written text you include a link back to your own site. This is normally added in the byline. The blogs get free content, and you not only get good backlinks, but many of their readers will also click through to your site from that article.”
Do what competitors are doing but better
Aiden Angeli is the Founder and Senior Marketing Consultant at Ripe Marketing.
“Ubersuggest is a great free tool to know how your competition is ranking online.
Take the suggested keywords and Google your competition’s name + the keyword. Read the articles that come up on the first page and create content around the same topics.
Determine what they left out of the article and how it could be improved or even updated to current trends.
Write an article or blog post on the same topic but with the improvements mentioned above.
Include a video at the top with a summary of the content to make it more mobile-friendly and enticing for those people who hate to read.
This gives you twice the content. Post the video to YouTube and social media. Google owns YouTube and YouTube videos often come up in search results above plain text articles.”
Run live webinars to generate leads
David Richards is the Founder of System Shortlist.
“My number one content marketing strategy to generate leads as a B2B startup is to run informative webinars.
If you’re just starting out you probably don’t have much organic search traffic to your website yet. It takes time.
What you can do from day-one is run webinars and drive tons of traffic to it through organic and paid social media.
In addition to social, you can promote your webinar via email. If you don’t have an email list already, it’s easy enough to build them.
You can either research relevant contacts using LinkedIn and find (or work out) their email address using a tool like Hunter.io. If you’ve got the budget you can employ a freelancer or assistant to do the research for you.”
Put the reader first, SEO second
“My advice is to create content that people want to read. Don’t worry about search volumes or keyword rankings for your content (at least initially). Focus on niche topics. Your content will be more relevant and rank for keywords that are highly relevant to your products or services.
In the case of my website, I’d love to rank for “wrestling shoes”, but being realistic (as I’m a very small player in the industry) I’d never outrank companies who’ve dedicated 10+ years to their websites around selling shoes. At least not in the short term. So why try? Someone looking to buy wrestling shoes isn’t likely to drop a few hundred dollars on the shoes I sell anyway.
I found my niche in the rare and discontinued wrestling shoe market, and all content that I create, whether it’s a blog post or a product page, is tailored around that. It supports the products I sell at the price point I sell them.
Content marketing is all about finding your position in the marketplace and creating content that supports that. These niche spaces are less competitive and you’ll be able to grow your business through them on the web.”
Get more bang for your buck with repurposing
“As startups are often restricted by time, it’s important to get the most of each piece of content they create. By repurposing content, it reduces the upfront workload in creating original work and allows teams to create more with fewer resources.
If your brand were to record a 30-minute podcast, you can repurpose this into several pieces of content, all in different formats.
You could not only publish the podcast itself but also use a tool like Headliner to create engaging, bite-sized snippets of video that can be shared across social platforms.
Next, you could transcribe this audio using a tool like Rev and create a long-form blog post with the copy.
By taking the time to record just one podcast, you can create weeks worth of valuable content across a myriad of channels.”
Make a meaningful impact with storytelling
“Our number one tip for startups is in the storytelling. To remember that when telling the story, the story must be for others. Truly meaningful and impactful to those you are trying to reach.
And it’s not done until it hits those marks. Test it. Refine it and then test it again and again until it’s right. It doesn’t have to be perfect (we don’t believe in unachievable goals) but right and by right we mean meaningful and impactful.
Just because a story sounds good to you, doesn’t mean it’s going to touch your audience as you really need it to generate the leads and brand loyalty you’re looking for.
The second part of the tip is to never fluctuate from your story. Your story can evolve and change but when you’ve locked on what is important to your business, don’t divert from it. Make it simple, effective, and meaningful.”
Connect your marketing and sales teams
“If resources are limited, startups should try to focus on creating content that serves both the marketing and the sales teams—and ultimately—the customer.
Have marketing work with sales to develop content. Not only does this enable startups to produce content pieces based around specific objections that the sales team hear commonly through the customer acquisition process, but it then creates new opportunities for salespeople to reach out to prospective customers with value-added information.
Examples of this sort of multi-purpose content are case studies, white-papers, blog posts, and webinars; all forms of content that traditionally assist with brand awareness, education, and lead generation.”
Video marketing is stronger than ever
Courtesy of Breadnbeyond.
“One way of helping our customers move forward in creating a strong first impression is with video marketing campaigns.
Aside from the obvious fact that the demand for video content is higher than ever, there are other technical reasons why you should use videos in your marketing.
A great video can create a strong first impression, bringing your brand to the front of your audience’s mind and positioning your product as the go-to.
An increase in engagement can translate to the increased public interest in your product. As a tool in the brand awareness stage of your marketing funnel, videos can be incredibly versatile.
Explainer videos are a prominent tool that can be used as promotional content through paid advertising or a more organic route like landing page videos. You can read more about how a landing page video can help your conversion rates in our post on landing page videos.”
Refresh, recycle, and expand content
1. Refresh old content: If you take a look at Google Analytics, it shows that nearly 80% of most blog traffic comes from old content. In some cases, this content is months or even years old. While it’s still important to produce a lot of content, how and where you use it is what makes the difference.
2. Recycle into new formats: If the core of your blog content brings in the majority of the traffic, then consider how you can repurpose that content as lead magnets to drive users down the sales funnel. Recycling content also has the added benefit of greater retention and reducing opt-out rates.
3. Expand into other languages: For instance, Spanish is used by millions of people and more than 5% of websites. Making your content more accessible to other parts of the world can be a huge benefit to your company.