If you’ve gotten a start on your marketing strategy but haven’t quite figured out how content fits in, this article is for you.

Many companies know they should or could get started with content marketing, but they don’t necessarily see how the pieces fit together. The truth is that this kind of an integrated approach to content is the only way that it can be an effective tool that’s used to its full potential.

Content marketing can’t stand on its own. Instead, it should be integrated into a broader marketing strategy that provides the right channels and tactics to make it effective.

There are many ways that you can bake content into your existing marketing efforts, even if incrementally. This will give you the opportunity to create value from your content and improve the effectiveness of your other marketing tactics.

  1. Identify and qualify prospects

Your startup can use content to engage prospective buyers and create a funnel of qualified customers.

Create content that is highly targeted to your specific audience and addresses their needs or pain points. As an example, if you sell mattresses, you might create an article titled, “13 Reasons You’re Not Getting a Good Night’s Rest.”

Then, create retargeting pixels and capture everyone who clicks through to this article. Now you have built a custom audience of relevant and interested people who are also familiar with your brand, and you know that they don’t feel they are getting a good night’s rest. These are prime prospects for your future advertising and marketing about the mattresses that you sell.

This kind of targeting and qualifying can help you build laser-focused audiences and dramatically reduce your customer acquisition cost (CAC) through pay-per-click advertising and other paid media channels.

  1. Grow your social media presence

Many startups have a Twitter or Facebook account and aren’t really sure what to do with it. Do you use it to curate content? Retweet other people? Send out random thoughts?

Companies that are successful with social media are generally the ones that use it as a content channel, creating and sharing original content that they use to engage their prospective audience.

Social media can be used as a distribution channel (i.e., where you share content from your newsletter or blog), and also to create content specifically for social media audiences.

  1. Expand your search visibility

When many companies think of search engine optimization (SEO), they think about optimizing their homepage or their product page and ranking for a small set of keywords. But, in many industries, you can amplify your organic search visibility and growth by using content to expand your keyword footprint.

For example, if your company sells steam rollers (the kind for your hair, not paving roads), you may be thinking about SEO as a function of how well you rank when someone searches for the term “steam rollers.” But, what about people who are searching for “curly hair styles” and “hair curling products” and “how to curl your hair?” All of these people are relevant, potential customers who won’t find your site because you haven’t created content that is relevant for them.

Your business can expand its search visibility by looking beyond just short-tail or product-focused keywords and instead thinking more holistically about your customer and their search behavior.

To do this, you need to do extensive keyword and competitive research to determine which topics are most relevant for your audience. Then create a content plan where you expand your website to include pages relevant to each related search term or phrase.

  1. Build a community

The basis for any community is connection. That comes through shared experiences, conversations, interests and goals.

Content is the perfect medium for building this connection and creating a community around your product, service or brand.

Use your content to tell stories and share experiences from within your company and also from your customers and other constituents. Open up your website to comments and ask for feedback directly in your article and on social media.

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