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Content marketing is an incredibly effective marketing tactic that leverages a nuanced long-term approach to connecting with an audience.

A whopping 90% of organizations around the world have a content marketing strategy. As the positive and hugely impactful effects of content marketing can be almost unbelievable, this stat is far from surprising.

While the process of getting started with content marketing can be challenging and lengthy, it can also be an incredibly rewarding and lucrative way to optimize your business.

If you’re looking to start a content marketing campaign but want more actionable information before setting out, you’re in luck.

As long as you’re willing to put in the time and energy required, you have a great shot at succeeding in the world of content marketing. But first, you’ll need that actionable information, right?

What is content marketing and how it works

Content marketing is a marketing subsect. It’s a long-term strategy involving the creation and distribution of relevant, valuable and quality content. Content marketing works by helping you organically build relationships with your audience while establishing your website as an authority.

An overview of content marketing.

As opposed to paid, inorganic or salesy marketing techniques, content marketing represents a subtler way of connecting with your audience. You can implement it over time by producing a mix of strategic content targeted toward a specific audience.

Examples of content formats marketers might use include case studies, social media posts and landing pages. You can also take advantage of other media types, from blog posts and white papers to webinars and podcasts.

There are many aims of content marketing. But above all else, marketers take this approach to build brand identity, awareness and loyalty while attracting leads.

There are many aims of content marketing. But above all else, marketers take this approach to build brand identity, awareness and loyalty while attracting leads.

Benefits of content marketing

There are many advantages of using content marketing to expand your website’s reach, grow your business or cultivate your brand. It can:

  • Present opportunities to earn an ample return on investment (ROI)
  • Empower you to increase customer retention and engagement rates
  • Help build brand identity, reputation and loyalty
  • Boost search engine optimization (SEO) and lead generation
  • Drive sales and conversions

Not to mention, the demand for content experts is expanding. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) illustrates this. Its research shows that content producers and content marketers are the top two in-demand professional roles for organizations in 2023.

This means entering this field presents many lucrative and appealing possibilities for businesses, along with anyone looking to start a solo career as a professional in the industry.

Challenges of content marketing

Challenges of content marketing.
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Still, anyone looking for success in content marketing will no doubt face some obstacles. These challenges include:

  • Needing a long-term strategic approach
  • Difficulty measuring the results of your content
  • Learning what your audience needs takes time and effort
  • Maintaining a consistent and effective content production schedule requires a range of resources and industry knowledge

But by knowing certain things before you begin — and following a tried-and-true process — you can overcome these obstacles and achieve your content marketing goals.

What to do before getting started with content marketing

Before you start a content marketing campaign for your website, you should ask yourself why you’re doing it. Because while you’ll establish clear goals at the beginning of the process, it’s essential to first have a general understanding of why you want to get started with it.

Then, you should compile your current and past business assets, materials and plans. This will make it easier to build your entire campaign later while helping you stay consistent and on-brand.

You’ll also need to set aside some funds to invest. How much you spend is up to you, but if you work strategically, a higher investment usually provides a higher ROI.

How to get started with content marketing

1. Determine your goals
2. Set up tracking and analytics
3. Build your buyer personas
4. Do your research
5. Determine your strategic approach
6. Build your brand
7. Choose a CMS
8. Create a content calendar
9. Produce an effective mix of content
10. Distribute content properly
11. Nurture leads consistently
12. Measure your results

Now that you know the key steps to getting started with content marketing, let’s go over each one.

1. Determine your goals

Determine your goals.
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First and foremost, set your intentions and overall aims.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with content marketing. Determine what success looks like to you.

Then, get more specific. Select certain growth areas or metrics to improve upon, or choose which aspects of your business you want to optimize.

For example, do you want to:

  • Help your site rank higher on relevant search engine results pages (SERPs) to get more organic traffic?
  • Increase conversions with your content creation?
  • Build brand identity and authority through your digital marketing mix?

Whatever your aims, laying them out explicitly helps you ensure your content marketing efforts take your business where you want it to go. To solidify your goals, you can use benchmarks, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

2. Set up tracking and analytics

Next, you should implement a tracking and analytics framework. Later, you’ll thank yourself for taking this step. It makes measuring the success of your efforts much easier and helps you gain vital insights to guide your future decisions.

Google Analytics is a great option, but a range of free and paid analytics software systems are available.

3. Build your buyer personas

Build your buyer personas.

Once you know which specific part of the industry you’ll be operating in, you can start creating your buyer personas.

These represent the types of people who might buy your product or service. They include a collection of demographic information, lifestyle specifics and preferences.

“Strategic Sarah, 34-year-old content marketer,” could be one persona, and “Creative Carrie, 27-year-old influencer,” could be another.

These personas are versions of your ideal buyer or target audience. And your target audience is comprised of potential buyers, who you’ll target your marketing efforts towards.

Having robust and strategically-created buyer personas helps you create people-first content. And due to Google’s helpful content update, making content for humans rather than just search engines is absolutely essential.

Having robust and strategically-created buyer personas helps you create people-first content. And due to Google’s helpful content update, making content for humans rather than just search engines is absolutely essential.

4. Do your research

Knowledge is power. So the more you know about your target audience, industry and competitors, the better.

Do as much market research as possible, analyzing surrounding contexts and shifting realities that may affect your industry or niche. Do competitive analyses, and learn everything you can about how your peers and competitors are finding success.

Analyze historical data, current figures and future projections, and leverage the insights you gain. Browse online for great content ideas, and take note of inspiring or creative approaches.

Learn everything you possibly can about your ideal buyer’s primary motivations, needs and priorities. Then use that knowledge to inform your overall strategy and business decisions moving forward.

5. Determine your strategic approach

Determine your strategic approach.
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A content marketer is only as good as their content marketing strategy.

The good news? You’re spoiled for choice when selecting a great mix of organic and paid tactics.

Semrush’s research revealed that these are the top organic tactics that helped B2B marketers rank higher:

  • Creating more content more often
  • Improving content quality
  • Focusing more closely on keyword research
  • Making more research-based content
  • Analyzing search intent more strategically

Popular paid tactics include:

  • Investing in display ad campaigns
  • Working with influencers to increase brand awareness
  • Starting a values-based social media campaign
  • Implementing retargeting campaigns, which follow up on potential leads by targeting users who visited your website but didn’t take action

The best overarching strategy depends on your business. So you should return to your previously set goals and lean on your research when determining which methods to adopt. Using a content marketing checklist can help you solidify your strategy.

Don’t skip this step. As Semrush’s State of Content Marketing 2023 Global Report notes, 80% of “very successful” content marketers document their content marketing strategies.

6. Build your brand

Developing an entire brand for your business is a must. Making a brand kit, or a comprehensive resource that compiles different elements of your brand, helps you solidify and elevate your overall branding.

First, determine your brand’s core values, mission and vision. These form the foundation of your business’s story and help you form a consistent, curated and unique brand kit.

Then you can create visual assets, like your logo, color palette and fonts. Pin down your brand voice, tone and overall identity. And don’t forget to develop other brand elements, such as slogans, content templates or image guidelines.

7. Choose a CMS

Choose a CMS.

Next, you need to select a high-quality content management system (CMS) to create and distribute your content.

We recommend WordPress, a user-friendly CMS that offers a wide range of functionalities while making it easy to produce and share content.

8. Create a content calendar

When conducting a website content marketing campaign, creating a content calendar (or editorial calendar) is vital. A content calendar lets you strategically schedule content in advance, organize media by type and see the full scope of your long-term content plan.

To create a content calendar, start by planning content ideas that align with your brand identity and overall content marketing plan. Then, organize your planned content by type — using different colors or categories — and schedule it intentionally at regular intervals.

When planning timeline specifics, consider that HubSpot’s 2022 State of Inbound Marketing report showed that posting social media content on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday is the most effective. And don’t forget to think about important dates, holidays or seasonal trends.

In this step, you should also decide which channels to distribute each piece of content through. Thinking about the buyer’s journey when doing this helps, as potential customers on different levels of the sales funnel respond better to different channels and formats.

9. Produce an effective mix of content

Effective content is the kind of content that engages the reader and makes a positive impact on your business.

But this impact can take a variety of shapes and sizes, from increased customer retention to a decreased shopping cart abandonment rate. And the most effective content for your business is content that pushes you closer to achieving your goals.

So refer back to your main goals, content calendar and target persona to know what to include in content and which impacts to strive for with each piece. Then, make various types of content that align with your plan, as a single format can’t do everything.

For example, if you only post on social media platforms, you can’t reap the many benefits email marketing can provide. Or, if you only create long-form content, you’ll miss out on the advantages of engaging through short-form content like email surveys or infographics.

For reference, HubSpot’s 2023 State of Marketing Report found that video content has been the most popular and most effective type of media for the past four years. Other trending formats include:

  • User-generated content (UGC)
  • Interactive social media content
  • Values-based content
  • Automated SMS or message-based content
  • SEO-driven content

You might also consider making relevant content in the form of:

  • Webinars
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • White papers
  • Podcasts
  • Multimedia landing pages

Whatever formats you opt for, always keep content interesting, valuable and relevant to your target market. Also, ensure each piece is unique and features a great call to action (CTA). That’s a message or button that urges customers to take a certain action, like signing up for your email list.

10. Distribute content properly

Distribute content properly.

It takes time, energy and a strategic approach to make valuable content. But the possibilities for creating engaging and unique media in the digital age are truly endless.

But once you have your great content, what should you do with it? Well, distribute it to your audience.

But how, exactly, should you get your content to your potential customers? And when?

Refer back to the content calendar you created. Use your strategic timeline to determine when to distribute each piece of content and which channel to distribute it through. Through trial and error, you’ll get better at getting your content to your audience.

As you do this, use paid media channels like social media ads, earned channels like reviews and owned channels like your website.

11. Nurture leads consistently

Just producing and distributing content isn’t always enough to turn your leads into buyers.

To maximize your sales, conversions and engagement rates — and ultimately convince your potential customers to buy — you must cultivate your relationship with leads.

This entails tracking and scoring your leads or assigning them numbers that represent how likely they are to become customers. It also involves re-engaging with users intermittently based on their place in the sales funnel or customer journey.

By evaluating potential leads and putting them into different categories, you can then target those different types with the most effective content for each. Doing this, rather than using a non-strategic one-size-fits-all approach, is a great way to reach new levels of success.

Also, conducting follow ups with leads who haven’t taken action helps you avoid missed opportunities and build brand loyalty over time.

12. Measure your results

Measure your results.
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Without measuring content performance and evaluating the results of your content marketing efforts, it’s impossible to understand the effectiveness of your initiatives. If you measure and evaluate impacts, however, you can make more informed decisions moving forward.

And better business decisions lead you towards higher revenues, a better website reputation and a more rewarding day-to-day marketing experience.

So it’s no wonder 70% of “very successful” companies surveyed by Semrush in the State of Content Marketing report mentioned above measure content marketing ROI in their organization.

To measure your results, return regularly to the tracking and analytics system you integrated at the beginning of the process and use it to the maximum.

For example, compare key metrics before you distribute a piece of content and then after. Contrast facts and figures prior to a long-term initiative with their counterparts at the end of the process. Weigh your numbers with your competitors’.

But which numbers are important to measure?

You should focus on important metrics that are related to your goals. The HubSpot State of Marketing Report revealed the following metrics are the top stats to analyze when measuring the success of your content marketing efforts:

  • Sales metrics
  • Web traffic analytics
  • Social engagement rates
  • Conversion rate
  • Follower/subscriber growth rates

All in all, keeping a close eye on your progress and evaluating the impacts of your strategies makes for effective content marketing.

Final thoughts: Getting started with content marketing

Content marketing is a tried-and-true strategy that offers many ways to optimize your business and website. Although it comes with challenges, following our proven 12-step strategic approach will help you find success and reach your most important goals.

Getting started with content marketing and looking for help? Bluehost’s professional marketing services might be the perfect solution to your problem.

Our expert teams are dedicated to empowering, inspiring and guiding you through this long-term process. We offer everything from PPC services to strategic website design.

Request a consultation and start optimizing your content marketing strategy today.

Getting started with content marketing FAQs

Is it easy to get started with content marketing?

Getting started with content marketing isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s certainly manageable if you know what to expect. With the right resources, knowledge and methods, even beginners can find success with this strategy.

What types of content are there?

There’s a vast variety of content types, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Email surveys
  • Landing pages
  • Videos and animations
  • E-books
  • User-generated content (UGC)
  • Social media posts
  • Guides
  • Customer reviews
  • Interactive content
  • Lists

What’s the most popular type of content?

According to HubSpot, video has been the most popular form of content for the past four years. The other top content types are images, blog posts, infographics, podcasts (or other audio content) and case studies.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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