Why your business needs a content marketing strategy
Hiring a professional writer can pay enormous dividends.
Creating written content helps you reach new customers, form your brand's identity and increase your revenue. Why is content effective, and how can you create a strategy to leverage on this? Read on to find out.
Why content matters
Content is one of the most effective tools you can use to market your business. In fact, 90% of companies use content in their marketing strategy. It's little wonder, considering the return on investment content represents. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and generates three times as many leads.
Communicates brand identity
Content helps to determine your brand voice. There's a brilliant test from the Content Marketing Institute that challenges companies to question whether their audience could identify their brand from written content without their company logo. Building a brand voice helps you achieve this.
Brand voice sets you apart as an authority your business field. It helps you connect with your customers on a more human level. It gives you a consistent way to communicate what your brand is about and what problems you're helping your customers solve.
Introduces you to a new audience
Written content can capture an audience that you might otherwise never have contact with. Your customers have likely developed some strong barriers to advertising. In fact, marketing data shows that 86% of consumers skip TV ads, 44% ignore direct mail and an alarming 91% of consumers unsubscribe from company emails.
However, the same studies show that 70% of consumers would rather learn about a company through written content rather than advertising, 60% actually enjoy reading relevant content from brands and 82% feel more positive about a company after reading custom content. Content marketing breaks through barriers that advertising can't.
Helps you understand the audience you have
In addition to gaining you a new audience, content marketing helps you better understand your current audience. You can track the performance of the written content you post to see which content returning users most engage with. You can measure which content actually leads your customers to a buying decision. You can even see what geographic areas your audience is coming from, and what device they're using to access your content. All of this is invaluable data for your marketing decisions.
Makes you look professional
As we've already mentioned, the vast majority of companies use written content as part of their marketing strategy. Custom content is what consumers have come to expect from brands. A content marketing strategy gives you a seat at the table and lends legitimacy to your brand.
Gives you a better return on investment
Content marketing provides a better return on investment than traditional marketing. As stated above, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and delivers three times as many leads.
Custom content has a measurable impact on your bottom line. A report from Aberdeen found companies that adopted content marketing saw 6 times as many conversions as companies that didn't adopt it. And a recent study found that consumers who read a brand's content were 131% more likely to convert than consumers who didn't.
What kind of writing might your business need?
A good content marketing strategy is multi-channel, and you'll need good writing for each channel with which you engage.
Good website copy engages your customers, communicates the benefit of your brand and leads people to a buying decision. Sloppy, poorly written website copy communicates that your brand is unprofessional and untrustworthy.
While your content marketing strategy will be a key point of focus, it's likely you'll engage in traditional advertising as well. For this you'll need compelling copy that educates, informs and motivates consumers to engage with your brand.
Blog writing is one of the cornerstones of a good content marketing strategy. Research has found that companies with 400 or more blog posts get twice as much traffic as companies that have published between 301 and 400 posts. Likewise, companies that publish 16 or more posts per month get 4.5 times the amount of leads of companies that publish 0–4 posts per month.
Your blog posts position you as an expert in your industry. They build trust with your customers, and they bring your site traffic through organic search. Well-written blog posts aren't just a sales pitch. They provide actual value to your customers.
Technical writing consists of drafting materials like training manuals, instructional materials and troubleshooting guides. If your business works with technology, it's likely you'll need a good technical writer. While this might be secondary to your content marketing strategy, it's important to provide your customers with materials that help them use your product or service.
A ghostwriter authors materials that appear under someone else's name. If you want to position yourself as an industry expert, you could use a ghostwriter to help you author blog posts on your own site as well as guest posts on other sites.
Social media post writing
Facebook's latest statistics show the platform has 1.56 billion daily active users. Twitter has 126 million daily users, while Instagram has 500 million daily active users. In order to meet your audience where they are, social media has to be part of your content marketing strategy.
Writing for social media is an art of crafting the right message for each social channel. While Facebook offers the opportunity for longer posts, your brand has only 140 characters to communicate its message on Twitter. And in all social channels, short, punchy messages perform best. It will take a skilled writer to convey your brand's message in a medium where space is at a premium.
For longer form content, e-books can help bring your brand credibility while being simple and inexpensive to produce. E-books have perceived value in the minds of your audience, and are a good way to position yourself as an expert. You can even repurpose some previously published content marketing material for your e-book.
How do you produce good content?
Effective content marketing means you have to produce content that offers value to readers. Just pumping out blog posts won't be enough to set you apart from your competitors. The content you offer has to be high quality.
Know your audience
Knowing who you're speaking to will help guide your brand voice. It's worth conducting some market research to understand who your audience is. Knowing key demographics like age, location, income and education level, along with some data on other brands they interact with, can help you produce content that targets the right audience and addresses their needs.
Take a stance
Don't be afraid to voice your opinion on your industry. Taking a stance on issues in your industry is what will give you your unique brand voice. Moreover, opinion pieces engage readers. While you don't want to be so polarizing as to alienate your audience, taking a middle road on industry issues will make your content seem flat and boring.
Write the way you talk. A conversational tone makes your brand seem more approachable and human. You want to connect with your audience on an emotional level. Writing conversationally helps you achieve this.
Don't hard sell
Readers can see through a sales pitch pretty easily. Yes, the purpose of your content marketing is to drive conversions and revenue. However, you won't offer value to your readers if all you do is flog your product or service.
Use different content formats
Different content formats engage different audiences. Use the format best suited to the subject matter. Content doesn't just have to be a long-form blog post. You can branch out into other mediums like:
While some of these formats might require skills such as graphic design or video or audio editing, you'll still need a writer to produce scripts or copy.
How do you measure success?
It can be difficult to gauge the direct impact of content marketing on revenue. After all, if you're doing content marketing well you're producing material that gives value to the reader first and foremost, with sales as an afterthought. But, there are a few key metrics for success.
One easy way to gauge the success of your content marketing strategy is how much traffic it's bringing to your website. A key benefit of content marketing is that your site will begin to rank in Google for terms that aren't specifically associated with your brand. This will bring traffic to your site from sources you otherwise couldn't have tapped into. Pay attention to your site traffic after launching your content strategy, and measure the uplift you get.
Good content marketing should translate to leads. You can capture leads by including an email signup form on your blog. And offering something in return for an email signup can significantly increase engagement. This is where materials like e-books can be valuable.
Ultimately, content marketing is all about conversions. Analyze your conversions in the year leading up to launching your content marketing strategy, and then watch your conversions over the next 18 months.
How long will it take?
Content marketing can be a bit of a waiting game. You can't expect to see immediate results, but over time an effective content marketing strategy will pay huge dividends. There's no hard and fast timeline for success with a content marketing strategy, but there are a few milestones to watch.
Integrate content with your sales
One way to get an immediate boost from content marketing is to integrate your content with your sales process. If you've produced content answering key questions or concerns that consumers have about your product or service, you can use this as a resource in your sales meetings.
You can identify valuable content for each part of the customer journey, from customers being aware of the problem your product or service solves, all the way to customers choosing your specific brand. Arm your salesforce with content relevant to these steps in the customer journey.
Allow 6 months to see significant traffic
According to search engine guru Neil Patel, it takes at least three months to see rewarding traffic from organic search, and around six months to see a significant uplift in traffic. The good news is that this trend continues to accelerate. Patel points out that marketing company HubSpot grew their organic traffic by 538% in a year through content marketing, but only started to see considerable results after six months.
Allow 15–17 months for an impact on revenue
In his book Content Inc., marketing expert Joe Pulizzi found it took around 15–17 months of consistent content creation to reach monetization. As Pulizzi said, "Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint." However, the results it leads to compared to the investment required mean it's a marathon you need to be running.
Why you should hire a professional writer
To run an effective content marketing strategy, you'll want to hire a professional writer. Hiring a professional writer will ensure the content you produce is high quality, well researched and on message.
A content marketing strategy loses credibility if you produce copy that's full of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. It sends the message that your company doesn't pay attention to detail. And if you can't write coherently, you'll use your readers before you've gotten the chance to introduce them to your brand.
A professional writer provides quality control. By hiring a professional, you can be certain you'll produce content that portrays your brand positively and professionally.
Find your voice
A professional writer can help you define your brand's unique voice. They can help you think about the values you want to convey, and can communicate these values through every piece of content they produce.
Take the time to list five or six characteristics you'd like people to associate with your brand. Do you want to be thought of as innovative? Knowledgeable? Trustworthy? Fun? Once you've determined the qualities you want to define your brand, a professional writer can strike a tone that subtly conveys these qualities.
Perhaps you actually are a good writer. Maybe it's even an activity you enjoy. You can still benefit from a professional writer.
As mentioned above, the most successful content marketing strategies involve creating 16 or more blog posts per month. This is a big task to pull off while you're also running a business.
A professional writer can help take at least some of the burden off you. If you still find joy in writing, by all means, produce some content yourself. But consider using a professional writer to complement your efforts and achieve the volume you'll need for success.
What are your options for hiring a professional writer?
There are a range of options for content marketing solutions. The one you choose will depend on both your budget and needs.
If your business has the scale, you could consider hiring a full-time content marketing manager. In fact, 73% of major organizations hire someone in-house to lead their content marketing strategy.
If you do hire a content marketing manager, you may still need the services of other professional writers. A content marketing manager can oversee your strategy on a broad scale while writers can be responsible for the day-to-day production of content.
Using an agency
If you don't have the scale to hire a full-time content marketing manager or writer, you could consider hiring an agency. An agency can help build and execute your content marketing strategy, and will have a stable of writers to help produce content.
The downside of hiring an agency is that your business will be one of many clients, so the size of your account could determine how much priority you receive. You also are unlikely to be able to communicate directly with the writers working on your content.
The cost of an agency will depend on the pricing model you choose, whether you choose to pay a retainer or to pay per project. It will also depend on the type of content produced. However, expect to pay up to $20,000 a month for an agency on retainer, and at least $0.50 a word for content.
Hiring a freelancer
A freelance writer can work on specific projects for you, or can work for you on an ongoing basis. A good freelancer can turn content around quickly, and will communicate with you to determine the proper brand voice, as well as the keywords to target.
Even if you choose to hire a full-time content marketer, you can still rely on freelance writers to produce much of your content. This enables your content marketing manager to focus on your overall strategy rather than day-to-day content production.
The average cost of a freelance writing project completed on Freelancer.com is $136.50 USD.
How much does it cost to hire a professional writer?
|In-house content marketer||$81,078 USD per year|
|In-house writer||$53,777 USD per year|
|Content marketing agency||Depends on the service, but expect to pay at least $0.50 USD per word|
|Freelance writer||The average project on Freelancer is completed for $136.50 USD|
How can I find a good freelance writer?
Hiring any writer takes a bit of research. Fortunately, hiring a freelancer makes this research pretty straightforward and simple. You can browse through some freelance writers here, or post your content marketing project by clicking the orange "Post a Project" button at the bottom of the page. Once you post a project, expect to receive bids in a matter of minutes.
Freelance writers are reviewed on their past projects. You can check a freelancer's profile to see their average rating, along with ratings for their ability to communicate, to deliver on time and to deliver on budget. Reviews give you a powerful tool for identifying the best freelance writers.
Read their previous work
Most freelance writers will post a portfolio of previously published work on the profile. Read through a few pieces to get an idea of their proficiency. You'll want to look for their ability to write coherently and persuasively, as well as their ability to write in a tone that suits the subject matter.
Set clear expectations
Once you've shortlisted a few promising freelance writers, write a detailed brief of your project. Make sure to include your budget and timeline, as well as information about your end goal. What do you want your content marketing efforts to achieve? Be clear about the kind of content you need produced, the timeframes in which you need it and the message you want your content to convey.
Communicate with your freelancer
Once you've posted your project and chosen a freelance writer, communicate with them to clarify your expectations for the project. A good freelance writer will keep in touch with you to update you on their progress, and they'll communicate with you once they've turned in a draft to make sure it meets your expectations.
Once your project is done, consider using the freelance writer again for regular content production. As we've mentioned, consistency is the key to a successful content marketing strategy. Your freelance writer may be able to help your content marketing efforts on an ongoing basis for far lower cost than an agency or in-house writer.