Whether you're a marketer, a business owner, or somewhere in between, it's likely that you've heard the phrase "Content is King." Online marketers have been using it for years, and it still rings true. Without great content, your brand can easily become lost in the shuffle of infinite web pages and other companies providing similar products or services.
Content is still king for tech startups. It's the best way to build a loyal following of your ideal audience, and it embodies Simon Sinek's Golden Circle, which can help your business be an industry leader. Content is the most effective way to do business with people who have similar beliefs as you.
As a startup, you want to connect with your ideal client, build trust, and get them to share your info with others in their network. Keep reading to learn more about why creating high-quality content that helps your target customers work through a problem is an undeniable strategy to gain credibility. Not only will your ideal consumers come to know and love your brand, but search engines like Google will, too.
Top 4 Reasons Why Content is King
If you want to focus on what great content can achieve for your company, it can be narrowed down into four basic benefits. These benefits will exponentially impact your company and how quickly you can build and scale it. If you take the time to create excellent content that speaks to your target audience, you can pretty much bank on the fact that these four things will happen.
1. You will connect with your customers.
High-quality content that is thoughtfully designed with your reader in mind will help you connect with them in a way that other brands cannot. It's important to connect with your audience and build a relationship with them because that builds loyalty and trust. Consumers will show loyalty to brands that represent who they are as a person and the brands that strive to help them achieve their goals.
2. You will create brand awareness.
This is particularly important for startups because your business is not yet well-known in the marketplace. Creating content that is highly engaging will help put your company on the map and lead potential consumers to your website and other digital channels. Every additional click or view on your site will help build your reputation and, subsequently, your book of business.
3. You will establish authority in your field.
Being seen as an authority in your field is critical in the technology space. Consumers want an expert to guide them through the process and offer experienced opinions that will help them make the best decisions for their business. As your audience builds trust in you and your brand as an authority, they will start to refer their friends and colleagues, which in turn will help you grow.
4. You will increase SEO rankings and website traffic.
There is a reason this is listed last on our top-four list. Although it is highly likely to happen, it should not be the number one reason for creating great content. Your key reason for putting a ton of effort into your content is to serve your audience to the best of your ability and help them achieve their goals.
As a secondary perk to serving your audience, you will see an increase in SEO rankings, backlinks, and web traffic. These are almost an outcome, rather than a reason. However, we listed them as a reason because they are still extremely important factors in your content creation process.
What is Content?
Simply stated, content is any information that is made available on your digital platforms for public consumption. It can be presented in various forms, including:
- Blog Posts
- Podcast episodes
Content demands from consumers are becoming more and more competitive, and smart brands are responding appropriately. Consumers are looking for information that is either helpful or entertaining. It's your job to provide that information or entertainment and keep them engaged all the way through the customer journey.
To build an effective content strategy for your tech startup, you need to begin by separating your content into three main categories:
Once you understand the differences between these categories, you can start actually creating content that fits into each one. Let's break them down and talk about the specifics of each category.
Paid content is advertising. This is the type of content that you see when scrolling through your social channels or watching television. The company pays the channel for time or space on their TV station, radio show, digital platform, etc.
Paid content includes a variety of advertisements such as:
- Banner ads
- Radio spots
- Sponsored Instagram ads
- TV commercials
- YouTube commercials
Paid advertising was the king for a long time when the only available entertainment was television or radio. The internet came online in 1983 and slowly began pulling consumers' attention away from traditional forms of entertainment. In 1994, the first banner ad was displayed online, and from there, it grew into a huge industry encompassing tons of advertising opportunities, including those listed above.
Now that digital channels are so plentiful, audiences are much more segmented and harder to reach. Many users also have ad-blockers and other tools implemented on their devices to prevent them from seeing advertisements. This means that traditional paid advertising is becoming less and less effective for marketers.
Owned content is the information that you publish on your blog, website, or social media channels. You own the site and are therefore able to publish just about anything. This gives companies a ton of freedom over their messaging and specific language.
Owned content should be viewed as one of the most important ways to build brand loyalty. Unlike paid advertising, this is content that is available when people WANT it, rather than being a nuisance (i.e., pop-up ads). Instead, you want your content to make consumers happy, rather than angry.
Successful content marketers use different types of owned content, such as:
- How-to guides
- Images and photos of real people (not paid actors)
- Informative articles
- Product and service reviews
- Videos for both entertainment and education
In keeping with the theme that you want your content to be helpful, these are all excellent formats to use when creating content for your site and social channels. If you become the go-to source for your consumers, your brand loyalty will go through the roof. Being a partner and an ally for your ideal client will almost always lead to a purchase, even if it takes a few years.
Earned content is any content that is written or produced ABOUT you. This means that you can't create it on your own. Someone else has to review your company, product, or service and publish it for others to read.
Another word for earned media/content is "publicity," and we all know that it can be both positive and negative. Gone are the days that consumers only discuss their experiences around the coffee machine in the breakroom. Instead, consumers publish reviews, give shout-outs and condemnations, and tell the world about their experiences with your company via every social channel imaginable.
Earned content is highly effective. People are likely to trust the opinions of their friends, family, and colleagues. According to HubSpot Research, 57% of people in the U.S. trust the information they hear from a friend or family member about a new product.
This doesn't mean that your company is without power in the earned content realm, though. You can take steps to make your company the feature of various articles and reviews without paying for the publicity. Here are some ideas for you to consider:
- TV News Segment
You can potentially earn this type of media by creating press releases when your company is doing something big. Send your press release to major media outlets a few days before the event is set to occur. Then follow-up the day before and see if anyone is willing to cover the story.
- Newspaper article
Same as above. You can send your press release or media kit to local publications to see if they are interested in what you're doing and willing to do a story on it.
- Tweets, Likes, and Shares
You can create strategic partnerships with other companies who have the same client base you are targeting. This typically takes the form of "you share mine, I'll share yours," meaning you share one another's content in order to reach more people. It is free and can be highly effective in developing relationships and reaching more consumers in your target audience.
The Basics of Content Strategy
ontent can be used to elevate a number of functions in your business. For example, you can divert phone calls from call centers to highly effective digital platforms where you can close the sale. You can also transition from face-to-face sales over to digital, which saves time and money for both parties involved. People are conditioned to purchase online, so the market is primed for this type of commerce.
However, your content strategy has to align with the company's goals and the goals of your potential consumers. You can produce content all day long that teaches people how to build a website, but if your ideal consumers already know how to do that, the content will be irrelevant to them. Instead, build a strategy that is all about your target audience and not about you.
Identify Your Target Audience
Hopefully, you've already done this in the business plan for your company, but we would be remiss if we didn't mention it as part of your content strategy, as well. Understanding who your consumer is and exactly what they want is the key to any successful business venture. Without this critical information, you might find yourself wandering aimlessly around the internet, trying to figure out what to post and how to advertise your business.
There are tons of tools available on the internet to help you identify your target audience, so be sure to go through that process first, if you haven't already.
Educate Your Audience
After identifying your ideal consumer, you can begin creating content that will be helpful for them. Focus on sharing information and teaching them what they want to learn. Not doing so is one of the biggest mistakes that content marketers make.
If you're a tech company, your consumers are likely on a quest to improve their business by integrating better technology. Regardless of your specific product or service, it's important to give them helpful information about their goals. Based on what you know about your target audience, what will be helpful to them?
As we mentioned above, the content you provide should be about your consumer and not about you. The last thing they want to read is more information about how awesome your company is. Instead, give them the knowledge they are looking for and how they can implement it in their business.
Give Everything Away
When you create educational content, consider going the extra step to give them something tangible. It's great to have a helpful blog post or an insightful podcast but think about what else you can do for your audience. How can you make the information actionable?
Here are some downloadable items you can create to go the extra mile for your audience:
- PDFs with graphics or helpful tips and tricks
- Step-by-step guides for how to accomplish something
- Process maps for the specific strategies covered in the article or video
Not only are these items helpful to your audience, but they also help you build a database of warm leads. If they find your content extremely helpful and enter their email to download the item in question, you now have a list of leads. You can use this list to offer additional content that will be helpful to them and keep them engaging with your company on a regular basis.
Focus on Quality
Producing content for the sake of producing content is a terrible idea for many reasons.
- First and foremost, it will slowly convince your audience that you don't have anything valuable to say.
- Second, it will affect your SEO, and Google will recognize that readers are not staying on your page for long.
Instead, take the time to produce high-quality content that will engage readers and keep them on your page for a longer period of time. When possible and appropriate, link to other content on your page. This will help the reader identify other helpful content you have provided and show Google and other search engines that your content is good, increasing your rankings.
Building a Content Strategy Plan
After considering all of the basics that are necessary for a successful content strategy, you can begin building the actual plan that you will follow. In your plan, you should address the different types of content and how you plan to use them together to create a cohesive brand presence. Building the plan itself is the easy part – creating the content is the challenge!
To build your plan, start with the bigger stuff and work your way down to the details. By "bigger stuff," we mean the main format of content that you intend to use. We call this "macro-content."
This is the main type of content that you intend to create for your audience to consume. Formats that fall into this category are generally long-form content such as:
- YouTube videos
This type of content will serve as the basis upon which all of your other content is built. It will:
- Attract your consumers
- Give them helpful information
- Give you insights into what else you should focus on in your other formats
For example, suppose you publish a blog post about how to build a successful eCommerce site, and several of your readers comment on a specific portion of the article. In that case, you might use that feedback to build micro-content later on.
We recommend choosing only one or two forms of macro-content in your strategy unless you have a huge team of people. Remember, you want to focus on quality over quantity. If you're a tech startup with a small team, it's unlikely that you can consistently produce high-quality content in more than two long-form formats.
After you decide on your specific macro-content formats, you can then select two or three types of micro-content to compliment them. Micro-content platforms include things like:
There are other forms of micro-content, but these are the most popular in the marketplace right now. As a startup, it's a good idea to focus on platforms that are already established and use their existing members' power to build your own following. In your micro-content strategy, you should include things that are smaller segments of your macro-content.
Consider the example above about building an eCommerce site. If you post it on Monday and you see on Wednesday that numerous readers asked a question about the same section of the article, you can create mini-blogs about that specific piece. This process lets your audience know that you are listening to them, and you're committed to helping them find the information they seek.
Micro-content about the specific questions they asked could come in the form of microblogs on Instagram, Q&A sessions on Facebook Live, or informational links on LinkedIn. All of these additional pieces of content will not only give the reader what they're looking for but engage them in another one of your channels that will help you build your presence in the marketplace.
Aside from the macro- and micro-content you intend to create, consider what other special projects might fit into your strategy and help build a bigger audience of ideal clients. Projects like this might include:
- Linking and collaborating with other writers
- Creating video collaborations with other creators
- Doing interviews as a guest on other people's podcasts
Finding ways to connect with other companies who have a similar target audience will help both of you. Their consumers and yours will appreciate that you both found other experts in the field to provide information that could be useful to them. It also breaks the monotony of hearing advice from the same person constantly.
While we're on the subject, make a note that videos are one of the most highly consumed types of content on the internet. The more videos you can create that have valuable and entertaining content, the better off you'll be. If you don't know how to edit videos, and make them look polished, invest in someone who can.
Creating a Calendar
It can be a lot of work on the front end, but building a calendar is a helpful way to keep you on task throughout the year. Although your calendar could change over the course of the year, based on the economy and other events (like a global pandemic), but the framework will already be there to provide guidance as to a new direction you could pursue.
If you do the hard work of writing the goals and building the strategy, you will find it easier to replace certain elements with others when you find that the original plan isn't working.
There are a variety of tools on the market that you can use to build your marketing calendar. Tools such as Smartsheets, Crello, and Asana can help you create and monitor each project's progress throughout the year. Whether you're only managing yourself or you have a team of people, these types of tools can help keep everyone on task.
When building your calendar, consider the different times of the year and whether or not they have an impact on your business. Are there certain seasons or months that are busier for your specific product or service? If so, be sure to include the pertinent content during those times.
Additionally, if you plan to run specials during the year, you should include these on your calendar, as well. Creating content that coincides with your pre-planned specials will help consumers find you, learn more, and make a purchase if they see a good fit. It's better to have these items planned out in advance, rather than trying to do it on a monthly or weekly basis.
Measuring success in the digital space requires you to study the metrics and learn from them. It's not enough to simply know your numbers (although that's a really good start). Once you know your numbers, you have to respond accordingly.
Some of the metrics you should be measuring include:
- Click-through rates
- Open rates in an email campaign
- SEO rankings
- Website traffic
Regardless of what type of content you create, you should be tracking the success of each one. If people are engaging on your social media channels, you need to consider not only HOW MANY people are engaging, but HOW are they engaging? A "like" on Instagram is great, but a "share" on Facebook or LinkedIn puts you in front of a larger audience.
Studying how your audience engages and with what specific sort of content will help you produce more of the content they love and less of what they don't. After all, your number one goal is to SERVE YOUR AUDIENCE. That's what helps you grow and thrive in your business.
This is really a great piece of advice whether you're talking about content strategies or business in general. Although it can be uncomfortable to take risks, it can also pay off big time if you choose the right ones. In business overall, it might be an acquisition or a large investment, but it's all about content in marketing.
In the digital world, content really is king. You want your audience to be drawn to your content and to read, watch, or listen all the way to the end of your carefully created messaging. The more creative and cutting-edge your content is, the more likely it will be to go viral.
Viral content might not be the number one goal for your company, but it can certainly drive record numbers of consumers to your website and social channels. If your site is designed in a way that clearly communicates your brand and how it is different from others', the audience who joins you in your beliefs will stick around to learn more. On your website, attitude is everything, and you want the audience to pick up on it immediately.
If you're in the process of building a content strategy for your tech startup, consider using the strategies we have outlined for you in this article. They are proven to be effective in the marketplace and can help you build the brand that you've always dreamed of having.
Taking the time to build out your strategy on the front end is a lot more work, but it will pay off in enhanced business in the end.