If you’re a non-marketing founder, a marketer new to the startup world, or have just been asked to develop a content marketing strategy for startups, it can be hard to figure out where to start.
Startups have many limitations you don’t always run into in larger marketing departments.
You may be a solo content marketer, you could be without budget, or you might be completely new to content marketing.
In this post, we break down a content marketing strategy for startups into six digestible sections:
- Planning your content marketing strategy
- Content production
- Content optimization
- Publishing your masterpiece(s)
- Content promotion
- Ongoing updates
Content Marketing Strategy for Startups
1 – Planning your content marketing strategy
Knowing what content you are going to produce is the first (and hardest) step.
You could follow the success of larger companies and establish a podcast with great guests—but if nobody has heard of your startup, that could be a problem.
Not so much a problem if you have a large social media following yourself or if your CEO is well-known and will be interviewing them.
Another option is to start out on YouTube creating videos. If this is your strength, play to it.
It doesn’t make sense to leave your video skills behind just because it’s a non-traditional method.
YouTube has over one billion views per day and they’re not all Baby Shark. A good amount are B2B videos from startups that exploded.
The most popular starting point for content marketers in startups is a blog. This is mostly because of the power Google has over how buyers consume content and buy products and services.
The power of search engine traffic to a blog cannot be underestimated. It is estimated there are around 5.6 billion Google searches per day.
But ranking high for content is harder. For example, if you search for content marketing strategy for startups on Google, you get 54.2 million results.
Notice the top four results have Ad next to them. This means the business has paid for an advert to appear above the organic search results.
In your content marketing strategy, decide whether paid ads or organic blog posts are best for you. This will likely come down to budget.
If you don’t have a budget, the decision has been made for you!
2 – Content Production
When you know what content you’re going to produce, it’s easy to rush into it and crank it out.
Volume of content only works for publications who upload content en masse every single day. Think about daily newspapers that upload hundreds of stories per day. The sheer volume keeps them ranking high.
Unless you’re in a startup with a serious amount of money and resources, this isn’t for you.
So, don’t rush into it. Preparing your content is just as important as producing your content.
Start with keyword research.
What are your potential customers searching the web for?
Start by talking to some potential customers. Offer them a chance to win a gift card in exchange for a 15 minute interview. Record the session and note the keywords, apps, and jargon they use.
When you have a good amount of these, you’ve got a few options for keyword research.
- Use Google Trends to see if these are high-volume search terms right now (this is free).
- Use keyword research tools like Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMRush to gauge the estimated monthly search volume (you can get free trials for these but they’re not 100% accurate).
- Google the terms yourself and see what else comes up.
For example, you might be a startup that sells invoicing software.
When you Google search invoicing software, here’s what comes up:
In the People also ask section, these are questions that people have actually typed into Google.
Use these and the section at the bottom of Google to answer questions in your content. These are searches related to your search term.
These might be more specific. So, if you make invoicing software in the UK, tailor your content to the UK market and make sure you use the word ‘UK’ after your keywords and phrases.
One piece of advice: don’t let Google dictate your content. Google is still a machine. Your audience must always remain the people you write to and for.
3 – Content Optimization
It’s one thing to produce content using your audience’s questions and sprucing up to fit Google’s algorithm.
It’s another to optimize your content.
You should optimize your content for three main areas:
- Your reader: the most important person in your content marketing strategy is the reader. Is it easy to read your blog or watch your videos? Do you answer their questions and solve their problems? If not, they won’t come back.
- Google: if you want to rank high on Google, you’ve got to play their game. Install a free plugin like Yoast or Rank Math to check off items they suggest you need to add so your post is best-optimized for search engines.
You can see above that Rank Math flags SEO “errors”. These are easy fixes and best practices to help your content rank high on Google.
Sure, there are thousands of other things you can do to optimize SEO. But, as a startup, you probably don’t have the resource to invest in a full-time SEO pro just yet.
- Make sure your content is optimized for sharing on other websites: social media and internal collaboration tools need specific elements to present your content as nicely as possible.
For example, you don’t want your content to look like this on Twitter:
When it could look like this:
4 – Publishing Your Masterpiece(s)
These last two examples show the difference between a blog post optimized for social media sharing and one that someone has just hit the publish button on.
If you’ve produced content so great that someone wanted to share it, you don’t want to be let down by it looking grey and boring.
Make sure you add a featured image and address all the optimization elements in your content management system.
Make a checklist for every piece of content to make sure you add the following:
- Custom URL with your keywords included
- Featured image relevant to your content
- Meta description to display on Google or social media
- Social media sharing buttons to make it easy for other people to share your content
Remember: you don’t need to rush the production and publication process. If you make a mistake, you’ll only have to come back and correct it later.
And, at that point, people may have already seen your content and got a bad impression.
Sloppy content reflects badly on the rest of your business.
5 – Content Promotion
When you’re starting up, it’s unlikely you have an established website.
New websites or blogs start off life without domain authority.
This means search engines, like Google, don’t recognize your site as authoritative in your niche—or any niche for that matter.
What does all this mean for content marketing strategy for startups?
Well, it means you’re going to have to work hard to see any blog traffic from search engines.
Even the most keyword-oriented blog post, with loads of links pointing to it, may not rank above a site with high domain authority.
To find out your domain authority, go to Moz’s free domain authority checker. You’ll need to sign up but you can get a free trial with limited searches. While you’re there, check out competitors to see what the gap is between your site and theirs.
For example, if you’re launching a video conferencing product, most of the topics your content will be about are possibly covered by Microsoft, Cisco, and Zoom.
Competing with these companies in your early stages will be hard. At least on Google.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom.
When SEO won’t bring immediate results, there are many other content promotion strategies you can use.
6 – Ongoing Updates
When you’ve created, published, and promoted your content, you’re done, right?
You can sit back and wait for the leads to come to you?
If you’ve published and promoted everything you set out to in your content marketing strategy, the next step is to update it.
It may have been a year. It could have only been a month.
Consistently updating your content is crucial for startups.
- Google loves up-to-date content.
- Your competitors are producing similar content all the time and yours needs to be the best.
- Publications that aren’t competition may write about topics that are high volume purely for the traffic.
- Every time you update your content, you gain an opportunity to promote it.
Let’s dig into these a little.
Google Loves Up-To-Date Content
This means your content must contain the most up-to-date facts and figures. It also means you should gather new quotes from experts and influencers to refresh your perspective on the topic in hand.
When you do update your content, make sure to update the published date too.
Some SEO experts believe that updating the published date is enough to trick Google into thinking your content is new and updated.
While you could try this, it’s better to complete the process in full. Why risk no change to traffic when you know what you should be doing?
Competitors Producing Similar Content
If you’re looking at Google and social media to see what your competitors are up to, you can bet your bottom dollar that they are doing the same to you.
It’s tricky to find out who is and isn’t checking out your business. You might have some fancy tracking in Google Analytics but they could be using private browsers or masking their IP addresses.
If you’ve invested time into building a personal brand in your niche, it might be as simple as checking who viewed your LinkedIn profile.
If you see someone from a competitor in this list, they either want to hire you or they’re being nosey!
Other Publications Writing About Your Topics
If you’ve found a high volume keyphrase specific to what your startup does, you might find a magazine, newspaper, or affiliate marketing blog that is writing about the same topic.
It could be relevant to them.
Most likely, they’ve identified it’s a high traffic search term and they want people to come to their site where they serve adverts and generate income.
While they’re not direct competitors to your business, they are competitors to your content.
Make sure your content is up-to-date so you don’t lose traffic to these sources.
Extra Content Promotion
When you’re managing your social media queue, how often do you find yourself with nothing unique to share?
Rather than creating new content for the purpose of promoting something new, you can use your updated content to let your audience know you’ve updated it.
If they read it the first time and found it useful, they’re likely to read it again now it’s got more tips and a better way to solve their problem.
Content marketing strategy for startups isn’t always about new content.
Use this blog post decision chart to help you work out whether you need to create new content or not.
Content Marketing Strategy for Startups in 2021
You might be wondering whether this information will carry forward into 2021 and the future?
Ultimately, investing in content marketing carries a risk.
You need to produce consistent and high-quality content. Which is hard as a startup, right?
It feels like time, resources, and budget are always against you.
Through content marketing, these startups have grown audiences from zero to millions of blog readers per year.
While Google is becoming flooded with more and more content, it’s algorithms have improved (and will continue to improve) to reward the best content rather than the content with the most links.
Outside of Google, both B2B and B2C marketers will be rewarded by finding other content promotion areas. Social media isn’t going away. Reddit has more users than ever. Podcasts are booming but only really just beginning.
There’s an endless amount of content viewing opportunities for your startup to take advantage of.
Now is a better time than ever to start your startup’s content marketing strategy.