We were recently working with a software company, who had developed a high-ticket SaaS product and service offering, that understandably had a long sales cycle. The cost was high and the target market was extremely niche (a niche within a niche you could say).
We had created a really solid body of content on their site and rankings and traffic for relevant keywords were well up, but we weren’t seeing the new enquiries generated turning into sales.
There was a missing piece of the jigsaw.
Those prospective customers needed to be served content that addressed their very specific questions and problems. Content that is further down the marketing funnel, in other words.
These were coming up again and again in conversations they were having with key decision makers in prospective client businesses. These are pretty niche issues, so they were largely going unnoticed in our keyword research, but they are relevant and weigh on the minds of the budget holders they were talking to.
They needed to demonstrate their expertise by directly addressing these pain points. Whether that’s through email marketing, their blog or through other marketing assets that could be sent directly to leads, this kind of convincing content was missing from their sales funnel.
Of course, it’s all very well to talk about pain points, but how do you distil a working content strategy from what your customers or clients keep telling you?
Well let me explain how we do it. But first a quick word on keyword research and how and why this approach to content ideation differs.
Sometimes keyword research will only get you so far
Keyword research is the central pillar of any SEO strategy. It tells you what people are typing into Google to find your products or services, what keywords your competitors are outranking you for and what keywords you’re not ranking at all for, when you should be.
This isn’t limited to your service pages, product listing or product category pages either (transactional pages, as we like to label them), but also encompasses more informational searches that will be served with news, FAQs, guides, opinion and other editorial content.
In other words, keyword research tells you what content you should be creating to capture all that juicy search traffic, wherever it is in the sales funnel.
But ultimately, there’s something that will always be missing from keyword research.
And that’s you!
You are the best person to come up with content ideas for your website, because you understand your customers and their problems better than any agency possibly can. And you also understand how best your product or service can address these problems.
Addressing your customer’s very specific problems is a sure way of building trust and, ultimately, to get them to buy from you.
Whilst keyword research can identify all the opportunities we’ve mentioned above, it is centred around search data, which means its primary aim is to feed your SEO strategy. There is a whole raft of potential content ideas that may attract zero searches in Google, but could be the difference between a potential customer picking up that phone or submitting that enquiry form.
Keyword research can only get you so far in other words.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Joe, I barely have time for a lunch break, I’m so busy. How on earth will I find the time to put together a working content strategy?”
Well coming up with a fully implementable content plan doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. Not if you have a structured process in place.
And I’m going to show you how.
The Content Planning Matrix
Not nearly as confounding as the real Matrix, but just as revelatory, the content planning matrix is brilliant in its simplicity. There are really only two elements to it in fact.
The first element is keeping a log of conversations you’re having and the feedback you’re getting. Whether that’s through telephone calls, client meetings, online reviews, email feedback or conducting questionnaires or polls on social media, your customers and leads are your greatest source of content ideas.
Get in the habit of doing this and keep a central document that you and your team can access, then it won’t be long before you start identifying some common themes. I like to take five minutes to jot down ideas after meetings or calls with clients or prospects, as this is when so many of those really important themes come up over and over again.
The second element is taking those themes and creating a content ideation process that really gets to the heart of them. And we do this first by identifying our customer’s pain points.
So you need to open a spreadsheet first of all. We’re going to need five columns to do this.
- The first column needs to be your customers’ problems or challenges. Some of these will be identified through your log but some may be anecdotal. Whatever they are, it’s important this is phrased as a question or challenge and not a solution.
- In the next four columns, you need to write four solutions to the problem that could constitute pieces of content. This could be delving into the how or the why, but it should try to address your problem or break down the salient issue related to the problem.
Let me give you an example of a few of rows from our own content marketing matrix:
|Problem or challenges that your market faces||Solution 1||Solution 2||Solution 3||Solution 4|
|I’m scared of spending a lot with no idea of the results||How much should you spend on SEO||What is the value of an enquiry or lead to your business||Getting buy-in from senior management||How to forecast SEO|
|I’m unsure of who to trust as I’ve received a bad service in the past||Red flags to look out for (big listicle)||Asking the right questions to prospective agencies||How to compare and shortlist agencies||The advantages of working with a niched agency|
|Where are my leads coming from?||How to set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics||Attribution in Google Analytics||Capturing customer data in your CRM||Understanding the value of repeat business|
Problem 1 & 2 – Commercial focus
“I’m scared of spending a lot with no idea of the results” is probably one of the biggest issues we face from prospective clients and it’s very much a commercial issue. Much of it stems from an underappreciation of the value of SEO and the results it can deliver. As such, we’ve kept the focus on topics like getting buy-in from decision makers and forecasting ROI. In regard to the latter, this allows us to draw attention to our SEO forecaster, which is a free downloadable framework for doing exactly this.
Similarly, “I’m unsure of who to trust”, is also a commercial problem, but one that is equally about building trust, another big issue we regularly come up against (unfortunately there are a lot of SEO cowboys out there, guys). For this we have come up with mainly practical guides, which explain how to spot a good agency from a bad one and hopefully portray us as one of the former in the process. We’ve also talked about why it pays to work with a niched agency (us again), which feeds into this theme.
Problem 3 – Technical focus
“Where are my leads coming from” is another common commercial issue, but the answers to this question tends to be more technical in nature, and this is reflected in the kinds of solutions we’ve brainstormed. Whilst we can tie a lot of this back to the commercials – as that’s what clients ultimately care about – topics like attribution and conversion tracking in GA are all seeking to address this pain point.
The commonality here is that we’re now approaching these topics, not from a keyword perspective, but from the perspective of addressing a specific commercial problem that we know from experience keeps our target market up at night.
How we can supercharge your content strategy
At Superb Digital, we spend a lot of time creating content strategies through keyword research, but we’re also all about empowering our clients in the digital marketing process, especially around content ideation and creation. This means getting oversight of their wider business goals, developing an understanding of their industry and interviewing directors, managers and staff in order to create specialist or technical content.
As a strategic partner, we also want to give our clients the training and the tools to be able to develop their own in-house team. The content matrix is just one of the ways we are doing this.
We may be the SEO experts, but collaboration is at the heart of so much of what we do. Because, at the end of the day, the best strategies will always come from a combination of our SEO expertise and your industry insights.
If you’re interested in developing a content strategy that perfectly complements your SEO strategy, then why not book a strategy call with us today.