Content Marketing Strategy to Drive Leads and Sales ( 2021 Updated )

by Masooma Memon
11 minutes
content marketing strategy to drive leads and sales

Did you know that 69% of B2B marketers have documented content marketing strategies? The paperwork (digital files) isn’t a pain in the neck, trust me on this one. If anything, a documented content marketing strategy amplifies your odds of success. Wait, what?

Yep. You read that right. 69% of those who have a documented content marketing strategy report success in contrast with 16% of the companies with the least successful marketing and zero documentation. Convinced yet?

What is Content Marketing Strategy? A content marketing strategy also brings your team on the same page including content creators, strategists, editors, and so on. It also helps you measure and optimize your efforts, which automatically sets you up on the road to success.

So are you ready to document your content marketing plan?

If you’re only just getting started and planning your strategy, we have a guide on how to make a content marketing strategy for you.

In this post though, we’ll look at tips to improving your content marketing strategy (documented or otherwise) for more leads and sales in 2021 Along the way, we’ll look at what others in the field are doing from creating powerful sales presentations to building sales and pack in examples, so you can learn and apply the takeaways.

Ready to perfect your content marketing strategy? Let’s start:

1.      Base your entire strategy on providing value

This one’s a no-brainer. A content marketing plan that doesn’t offer value to its audience is as good as a non-existent strategy. So, foremost of all, understand that you’ve to pack a punch of value in everything that you create.

Or, as Alice Hollis, B2B Copywriter for IT and tech companies say preach what you practice.

Alice has tried this for herself in Q1 of 2021. She shares, “Wanting to push my blogging service, I decided to write about anything and everything I could think of to do with blogging, to essentially teach people how to improve their own blog. It might seem non-sensical to teach others how to do the very thing I’m trying to sell, but I believe that if you educate your audience on the process, they’re in a better place to choose whether they need your help.”

As a result, Alice has started to develop a reputation for blogging in the industry. And her efforts have brought her 3 new clients in the last quarter – good enough for a freelance writer. What’s more, Alice’s efforts have continued reaping sweet fruit despite the pandemic crisis we’re all finding ourselves in.

2.      Make data-informed decisions only

This way you’re more likely to create what your audience finds valuable. The only catch is we’re in a situation that we’ve never been in before (thanks to COVID-19).

Even so, the CEO of Big Buzz, Wendy O’Donovan Phillips, emphasizes the need to gather data one way or another. She thinks, “it’s the job of every content marketer to gather data and provide direction.”

So what did Wendy and her team do? Wendy shares, “we used programmatic surveys to gather data from thousands of leaders in the industries we served. [Based on the data gathered] we developed a webinar series by using the best webinar software and partnered with the major associations in the industries we served.”

The results? Amazing: 👏

  • 4000 attendees in 11 webinars Big Buzz has hosted so far
  • 1200 marketing qualified leads
  • 120 sales qualified leads

Wendy and her team haven’t stopped here. Based on the questions their audience asked in the webinars, they’re creating more follow-up webinars alongside written and video content that is another form of content creation and content development.

3.      Back your strategy with search intent and keywords your audience is using

By doing so, you’ll be improving your SEO writing and covering exactly what your audience needs. And, by writing for them, there’s a good chance you’d see a good improvement in your conversions – maybe even as much as 187% – something that the team over at Brosix has seen last year.

Statistical graph

Their Digital Marketing Manager, Nikola Baldikov praises keyword refresh for this.

He outlines, “we just started writing on topics that people are looking for, but before that, we did an audit of our existing blog content and removed or combined many of articles that do not rank at all, as well as, we improved and updated many others. That is improved existing content rather than content creation all over again. Also, we did keyword research before content development and made a content calendar.”

Consequently, this team saw a 187% improvement in conversions in the first three months in comparison with the first three months of last year.

In fact, this tactic is so helpful that Andrew Helling, a Nebraska-licensed real estate agent and the owner of REthority.com has been following it too. He shares one main approach that he has taken – writing what his audience wants to read.

Related Read: Social Media Marketing for Restaurants

So, that’s more COVID-19 articles. Plus, Andrew highlights, “I found that many people are seeking templates for letters to their landlords, banks, and tenants. As a result, I made generic templates for users to print and send to the other party. So far, I get about 200 users per day per article. Not bad!”

These efforts have encouraged an uptick in blog traffic by 46%. Andrew attributes this to writing about, “real estate trends, investing software, and home improvement [as] people have more time to dedicate to planning their own improvement projects. I’m doubling down on these articles and expanding my ads on homeowner-specific pages.”

The idea is simple – make your content marketing strategy for 2021 flexible, so you can tweak the content development as per the need of the hour. To this end, keyword research can help you make the changes required in content creation. Gathering data like Wendy suggested works too.

Another thing to try – social listening. Get the details from Rachel Wendte:

4. Make sure you pay attention to long-tail keywords

Since we are already discussing keyword research, it is important to mention here that targeting long-tail keywords are important. These are phrase-long search queries. Or, they’re at least 3-5 words long.

So, for example, instead of targeting “brand management,” which is too broad a keyword, try content development around “brand management for small businesses.”

Wondering if that’s helpful? It certainly is. The Founder of Prime Plus Mortgages, Private Money Lenders, Loren Howard, shares they’ve “gained about 300 keywords and the time on their pages has almost doubled.”

All this happened simply by, “drilling down and chasing the long-tail keywords that will get our clients on our site and really providing top tier content for them”

5.      And if you already haven’t, try out new keyword research tools

It’s also a good idea to improvise your content marketing strategy for 2021 and take some before steps of content creation by trying out new keyword research tools. You don’t need to shell out money instantly. Watch the demos and test the tools for their trial period before you call the shots.

You can stick with free keyword research tools as well. Adam Lumb, the EN Site Manager for Cashcow has found success with Google Trends.

Adam paired Google Trends with Ahrefs for “extra content ideas,” which helped them greatly in content creation. For instance, he and his team learned that their target audience was searching for Valentine’s Day promotions using Google Trends.

Their findings: “This was data that we couldn’t find elsewhere due to it being seasonal, and it gave us a great angle for driving more traffic to our sites. [Moreover], Google Trends also gave us crucial information from previous years too. Using data from 2018 and 2020, we realized that users actually started searching for Valentine’s offers around a week before the date. Therefore, we brought our publication date forward by 10 days to catch this potential traffic – and it ended up being around 50% of the total number of Clicks we got from Google!”

6.      Don’t forget to audit your site content and make changes accordingly

Of all the people I talked to about the changes they had made to their content creation and marketing strategy in 2021 and the subsequent results they’ve seen so far, content audit and refresh was the most prominent answer.

Makes sense though. Over half – 67% – of the marketers agree that updating content is one of the most effective methods for improving the performance of content creation.

To recap, we’ve Nikola from Brosix who shared that he and his team refreshed their content and content development plan as they conducted keyword research. Nate Need, the CEO of SEO.co took the same road.

Their team conducted a content audit in mid-2019. Of the 2000 indexed content pages, they trimmed down to 300 pages, “consolidating and culling pages that were non-performing or ‘thin,’” as Nate explains.

As expected, Nate continues, “We saw an immediate and expected drop in our website traffic, especially for many of the irrelevant terms we felt were no longer helping us in conversions. However, after about six months, we are seeing a large revival and uptick on the long tail [keywords] for many of the terms that we know convertor that we wanted to rank for.”

But that’s not even the juicy bit. Nate adds, “our daily leads have more than doubled and consistently been higher than last year even during this pandemic scare.”

So the takeaway according to Nate is simple: consolidate your content down to what is the most reflective of what you do. This can help you increase revenue. Remember, “[where] graphs of increasing traffic over time [might be important], if the traffic is irrelevant then it’s pointless.”

7.      Plan a content refresh as part of your content marketing strategy 2021

It seems we can’t have enough of a content refresh. Besides, SEO.co and Brosix refreshing their content, the teams over at Chanty and Vox Pop Branding did the same.

Jane Kovalkova, the CMO at Chanty, shares they simply went on to rewrite their content from scratch after her team noted a 20% decline in their traffic in December. Another smart way of content creation!

But how did all that rewriting help them? Jane has the answer for you, “that got us the 20% that we lost and we actually gained another 4% on top in just two months.”

So you could either rewrite your content or make it interesting and up to date using beforehand content development methods. Unlike the Chanty team who rewrote though, the Vox Pop Branding’s team doubled down on existing content to update and improve it.

And what did they gain? Here’s what: “we’ve seen our position improve on a number of articles from pages 3 and 4 to the front page in search results, specifically above the fold.”

Here’s what they did in the words of Vox Pop Branding’s Founder and Director, Urina:

  1. “Check our Google Search Console and look at keywords we are showing up for and their corresponding pages. Our agency has a blog so this was fairly easy to do.
  2. Look at the keywords that have the highest clicks and impressions and write them down.
  3. Write down current search rankings (this is to be able to see if the search ranking actually improves after the refresh).
  4. Look at the list of keywords and prioritize based on which words have the most potential. Go to those pages and add more content, definitions, and examples to improve the overall quality of the search result. Specifically making sure that the keyword if turned into a question was answered.”

So, for instance, their target keyword was ‘small business marketing expenses.’ They’d turn it into a question like ‘What are small business marketing expenses?’

As for the relevancy check, they’d make sure the updated content on the page answers the question.

In short, you need to, “pay attention to what you are already getting traction for and maximize that to fuel your overall SEO strategy.” This is a good content development and refreshes strategy.

Planning to refresh your content? Start with our comprehensive guide on content refresh.

8.      Align service level page with your sales messaging

Another good tip for a polished, results-encouraging content marketing strategy is to make sure your service page stands out. Lots of people don’t reveal what’s it like to work with them until a prospect gets on a call with them.

The Media Captain is one such name. Their President and CEO, Jason Parks shares, “when the [service] pages were created, we didn’t want competitors knowing the ‘secret sauce’ to how we operated. We realized this was only hurting our chances at closing new business as they couldn’t gather and absorb all the needed information for each service.

So the team did what made sense to them – they started to “align their service level pages with sales messaging” to make the content stronger and more convincing. The results might shock you!

Jason outlines, “our conversion rate has increased by 22%, people are staying on our site 34% longer, they are viewing an average of 4.4 pages of content versus 2.8 as they are clicking through to more of our internal links.”

9.      Consider adding podcasting to your content marketing strategy mix

33% of the bloggers appreciate the effectiveness of audio content on their sites even though only 7% of the blogs have audio content in some format.

percentage graph

 

So what does that mean? This means audio content improves your chances of success. And since fewer people are doing it, your chances are brighter.

This is why working on a podcast is an important tip for your content development strategy this year. In fact, Christopher James Foust, the Founder and CMO of Motus Creative Group, has seen first-hand success with podcasting.

He discloses, “the biggest shift we’ve seen and made for our clients is focusing on podcasting as an effective content marketing strategy. Podcasting does two things incredibly well –  it enhances output opportunity and increases lead.”

In other words, not only does podcasting offer audio content for your visitors, but it also sets the wheels of content repurposing in motion. So, you can easily multiply your content output by reusing the podcast content.

Here’s how the Motus Creative Group does it: “One podcast episode (roughly one hour of production time) can yield a full-length audio episode, a full-length video episode, transcript, blog posts, infographics, animated text videos, pull quotes and more that can fill your content pipeline for months.”

And this is just one podcast episode. Imagine what a season could give you.

Not only that, but podcasting is also a great source for leads as well. James explains, “podcasting provides the opportunity for your organization to get Face time with the clients you want and promote their brand. Let’s say you have a marketing podcast and you really want the business of Company A. Having a podcast, you now have the ability to invite Company A’s leadership for a conversation about their work, provide value to their brand, and start a relationship that can yield future business. It’s all about generating content smarter, not harder, and finding unique ways to position yourself as a person who adds value, not just noise.”

Isn’t podcasting simply worth it?

10. Work on video for your content strategy too

Same as podcasts, videos are underused as well. But they always deliver strong results. In fact, of the 26% of blogs that feature videos, 41% say they deliver great results. So your potential for incredible results is strong here as well.

But here’s the key to success – make short and engaging videos. Research has learned that viewer engagement reduces at two minutes, six minutes, or 12 minutes into the video. So your best bet is to aim for one-minute long videos. And make sure you introduce your hook early on so your reader continues watching.

Find out more tips for video marketing success here.

11. Pay attention to social media if you already aren’t

This one actually deserves a separate blog post, but it’s important to tell you here that building your presence on social is crucial during these trying times.

Hard to swallow? The stats speak for themselves:

Ready to grow your social visibility? Here’s the game plan – create personalized graphics, use hashtags, tag other users, and engage with your audience. All these are hat tips to Madison Smith, the Content Marketing Strategist at Bestcompany.com.

Madison shares she grew her Twitter impressions by over “5.5x in two months” using these tips. But remember, your goal should be to “consistently socialize.” That’s what’ll help you the best.

Let’s wrap this up with a recap

Refreshing and updating your content marketing strategy might not exactly sound interesting to you. But trying out proven tactics that warrant results is always interesting. Here’s a look at what we’ve talked about that you can try next:

  • Always focus on value
  • Conduct surveys and keyword research to understand your audience
  • Tap into the potential of long-tail keywords for your content strategy
  • Try out new keyword research tools to gain insights into search intent
  • Plan a content audit and refresh content accordingly
  • Update your service page so it shows what you truly offer
  • Give podcasting and video creation a shot
  • Focus on social media if you already aren’t

So, how are you planning to polish your content marketing strategy to drive home more leads and sales in 2021? Tell us in the comments.

Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer by day and a novel nerd by night. She crafts research-backed blog posts and articles for small businesses and app companies who aim to employ quality content to educate and engage with their audience.

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