Everyone knows they need content.
That’s not the problem.
In fact, I’d argue that most brands publish far too much mediocre or low-quality content.
according to WordPress’s own numbers, websites publish over 70 million new posts each month.
WordPress (Here’s the live link for the interactive map.)
Run a search for your target keyword and you’ll see that you’re competing with millions or billions of results:
Think you’re safe because you have a dedicated content marketing strategy?
That’s an important start. After all, 43% of B2Bs say they have a documented strategy. Brands with the most successful content are far more likely to have a dedicated content strategy compared to the least successful brands: 60% vs. 21% respectively.
But a documented content strategy isn’t enough either.
Sure, a documented content strategy helps you plan goals, meet KPIs, drive traffic, and overall make your work appear valuable on paper. Those are positive things but they’re not enough.
Your content should serve as the foundation of a growth strategy.
If you’re not strategizing, researching, developing, and creating content as part of a sustainable long-term growth strategy, then what’s the point? Even the best results leave you spinning your wheels.
- Content marketing shouldn’t be thought of as an isolated strategy from other marketing tactics or business objectives. Content should provide a foundation for your overall growth strategy.
- Stop publishing mediocre content. Spend time creating content with integrity – it reflects your brand’s integrity.
- Publish meaningful and thoughtful content. Every piece should serve a specific goal and encourage a specific type of engagement.
How to Use Content in Your Growth Strategy: 12 Best Practices
Most brands approach content marketing with a fast-paced attitude. They look at HubSpot’s benchmarks that suggest publishing between one and five times per week, depending on your brand’s size and goals:
Most brands see those numbers and put blinders on. They ignore the part where HubSpot mentions your content must focus on meeting specific goals and prioritize quality.
What does “quality” mean anyways when it applies to content?
Well, your content should serve as the backbone of your growth strategy. Your growth strategy should come first. Then you can use the best practices below to leverage content at various touchpoints.
The point is to create highly strategic and purposeful content – not just content for its own sake.
1. Map Your Goals and KPIs for Content in Your Growth Strategy
Before you can place content in your growth strategy, you need a growth strategy. Most startups and enterprises have a growth strategy mapped out. Small businesses, however, should spend time developing theirs.
Plan short- and long-term growth projections and goals: monthly, quarterly, annually, five years, etc.
Once you have a growth strategy, you can develop your content marketing strategy and apply specific goals to it. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the results of your content and make sure it’s serving the broader goals of your growth strategy over time.
For example, you might want to see X% of your website traffic:
- Returning month-over-month
- Downloading lead magnets
- Subscribing to mailing lists
- Following your brand on social media
- Sharing or forwarding your content
- Converting into leads
- Converting into customers
Keep track of other growth metrics as well when you can attribute them to content: cost/lead, the value of each sale, customer loyalty, and churn rates, etc.
Understanding your goals and KPIs first helps you figure out what aspects of your content work and what parts need improvement. It’s easier to optimize when you know what you’re looking for.
2. Don’t Assume You Know Your Audience
Ask Silicon Valley about this one. Do you have any idea how many startups and tech companies have gone under simply because a market for their product never existed in the first place?
Lots of brands run into this problem. They assume they know who their audience is, what their audience wants, and which problems their audience needs to be fixed.
Sometimes, we create audience segments in our heads that don’t even exist in real life!
These are grave mistakes to make because they sabotage your content and growth strategy before it even gets off the runway. If you haven’t revisited your buyer personas, accounts, and general audience segments with fresh research since March 2020, you might still be sabotaging yourself.
Research your audience consistently. Listen to them. Read their content. Really know them.
3. Pick Your Platforms for Your Content and Growth Strategy
“I’m doing it all: email, every social media platform, Reddit, Discord, guest blogging, conferences, webinars, podcasts, videos, and then some.”
Don’t fall into the “be everywhere” trap – it can and will ruin your content and growth strategy. You don’t have the resources to be everywhere consistently and effectively. No one does except corporations with infinite budgets.
- Where you can share the types of content you plan to publish (more on that in #6) like video, audio, blogs, etc.
- Where you know your audience hangs out regularly – consider both firmographics and/or demographics.
- With promising futures and opportunities for growth. Don’t hinge your growth on a platform that might not exist next year.
- You have the resources to maintain consistently high-quality content and engaging your audience. If you can’t reply to comments and messages swiftly, you don’t have time for it.
For example, the average person only spends one minute per day on Twitter – is that worth your energy? Even Snapchat seems more promising with Millennials and Gen Z spending an average of 50 minutes per day on the platform.
4. Write Content That Earns Backlinks for Your Growth Strategy
It’s simple: Any content you publish that other websites decide is worth linking to will encourage growth.
For starters, there’s the traffic you earn from the backlink and mention. If that link includes a direct quote or branded term, even better – it encourages brand awareness.
Secondly, Google also pays attention to backlinks. If an authoritative website trusts your content enough to use it as a source or reference with a do-follow link, that tells Google your content (and really, your entire domain) is trustworthy.
When it comes time to rank your content against a competitor’s for a keyword, guess which one Google will probably choose? Yep, the trustworthy one.
So, what makes content linkable?
- Original research, stats, and industry reports
- Interesting quotes
- Infographics, GIFs, and other media
- Anything else unique to your website others can’t replicate
5. Give People a Reason to Share Your Content
Most people struggle to create content as part of a growth strategy because they don’t consider the reasons they share content themselves. What makes you say “my friends need to see this” when you decide to share something on social media?
Valuable and interesting content gets traffic – but not shares. In reality, people only share content for a few reasons:
- Clout or social capital
- Unique value (unlike anything else)
- Intriguing storytelling
- Emotional triggers
Everything you publish should meet at least one of those points, if not more.
6. Create Content in Multiple Formats for Your Growth Strategy
Here’s a secret. You can publish high-quality content much more frequently if you transform it into multiple formats.
From one high-quality blog, you can create:
- Several videos
- An infographic or GIF
- A podcast with a subject matter expert interview
- Multiple social media posts and stories
As the chart below implies, interactive content is ideal but it’s not always possible or relevant. Video and audio content are the next best choices to accompany your written content for ideas people are sure to remember.
7. Add the Right CTAs to Each Piece of Content
When it comes to content for your growth strategy, your keyword dictates your call-to-action for every piece of content you create.
Why the keyword? Because the keyword tells us the reader’s/visitor intent.
Someone searching “what is SaaS” clearly wants a beginner’s explainer piece of content to help them understand SaaS as a concept. Content riddled with buzzwords and CTAs telling the reader to buy something are confusing at best and totally out of touch at worst. Instead, suggest a relevant eBook or email list that matches their stage of the buyer’s journey.
Meanwhile, a keyword like “best SaaS for retail e-commerce” shows that the searcher is further along in the buyer’s journey and closer to making a purchase. You might offer them a CTA for a free demo, spec sheet, or relevant case study.
8. Stick to Your Niche for Content in Your Growth Strategy
You can’t be an expert in every niche or field. In fact, publishing content in every semi-relevant topic can backfire:
- Website visitors and followers won’t be able to figure out your actual expertise.
- Google’s bots won’t understand your actual expertise.
- Your content will always be too generic to resonate with anyone.
Of course, each of those points leads to a slew of other problems like poor rankings, no backlinks, non-targeted traffic, low conversions, etc.
Google’s EAT – Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness – tells us that Google prefers ranking content from authoritative and trustworthy experts. Pick specific areas you can flex your muscles and stick within those for content in your growth strategy.
At Marketing Insider Group, we stay within four main topics:
9. Guest Post Thought Leadership Content in the Right Places for Growth
Too many brands treat guest blogging the same way they treat their regular content. They choose high-traffic general industry blogs to publish generic keyword-heavy content – the opposite of what you need from content for a growth strategy.
Don’t publish content where your colleagues will read it. Publish where your audience will see it! These are not always synonymous.
Treat your guest blogs with the utmost integrity. Imagine this one blog you’re submitting is the only material someone will associate with your brand. Are you proud of that or uncomfortable?
Stick with authoritative thought leadership. Every guest blog should give readers an idea of your brand’s expertise, values, and opinions. They should be able to tell whether your culture and knowledge fit their brand.
10. No Controversy = Boring Generic Content
You can’t (and shouldn’t) please everyone. While you don’t want to go out of your way to ruffle feathers, desperately trying to avoid upsetting anyone is just as damaging.
“People pleaser” content ends up too generic, bland, and boring to:
- Create a loyal following
- Earn shares and mentions
- Build brand awareness
- Stand out from competitors
If your content doesn’t stand for something, it stands for nothing and gives nobody a reason to follow you for more content. Your main goal of content for your growth strategy isn’t to build the biggest and broadest audience possible – your goal is to develop the right audience for your brand.
The trope stands: Just be yourself. Trust your knowledge, opinions, and expertise. Share them via your content.
People will either love you or know you’re not the right fit immediately – and that’s exactly what you need for sustainable growth.
11. Separate Your Content Marketing from Your Marketing Content
What’s the difference? Here’s a quick rundown:
- Your content marketing includes industry knowledge, advice, news, tips, and best practices for people to share and engage with your brand.
- Your marketing content includes strategic material teams and leads can share internally to understand how your product/service works and whether it’s right for their brand.
You need both types of content for a growth strategy that accomplishes its goals. Unfortunately, brands that publish content in isolation (rather than as one part of a growth strategy) don’t separate the two.
For example, don’t publish a case study just because you delivered incredible results. Publish a case study because the client is in your target audience’s vertical.
Your marketing content must be even more niche than your regular content. Focus on audiences by vertical, account, or job role.
12. Integrate Your Data to Track Results and Your Engaged Audience
Content marketing alone isn’t a growth strategy. Your growth strategy really encompasses your entire business: brand awareness, reputation, reach, sales, loyalty, engagement, etc.
That’s why content marketing metrics alone aren’t enough to understand your content’s impact on overall growth.
Instead, use tools like a CRM or content management system to provide a centralized location where you can integrate data from multiple sources.
One integrated dashboard, along with tracking tools like Facebook Pixel, helps you figure out whether your content is encouraging people to consistently interact with your brand across multiple touchpoints.
Use Content as a Foundation to Propel Your Growth Strategy
Whether you’re a startup, established B2B company, enterprise, or small business, your growth strategy must come first. What are your short- and long-term growth objectives?
Once you have your growth strategy laid out, you can easily figure out where content fits into each objective, touchpoint, and stage of the funnel.
Following these best practices and thinking of content as part of your broader growth strategy ensures everything you publish is 100% purposeful, useful, action-driven, relevant, and serves a specific goal.
No more junk content. No more spinning your wheels publishing for meager traffic and sales. Just motivated and driven content.