What Startups Need to Know About Content Marketing in 2019

Globally, we watch one billion hours of YouTube a day. That’s equivalent to spending just over 114,000 years of our collective time watching cats get scared by cucumbers.

We also uploaded 69 million blog posts on WordPress last November and streamed around 50 billion podcast episodes since iTunes began.

We’re clearly obsessed with content. In fact, 84 percent of people expect brands to create it. But how can we possibly make our brands stand out in such a saturated online space?

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This is an especially difficult question for startups. Many begin blogging, creating videos and social media posts – but this takes a lot of time. Without a discernible strategy, it falls flat and inevitably leads to frustration and burnout.

What startups need to know about content marketing

Despite the challenge, effective content marketing can have a real return on investment. Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links than those that don’t and people tend to consume between three and five pieces of content before talking to a sales rep.

Here’s what you can do to create a killer content strategy that will actually make an impact on your target audience in the coming year.

Start with one fundamental question

Before all else, you have to know why you are producing content. It will help you unify your message, measure results and optimize your output.

So define your business objectives. You might want to start building awareness of your brand, establish your reputation as a thought leader, build a mailing list, or simply get more downloads, and sales.

Once you have identified your goals, you can decide on the type of content you will produce and set your key performance indicators (KPIs).

By being clear of your expectations from the start, you can avoid falling for vanity metrics (like a number of likes and shares), or measuring irrelevant data that doesn’t push your startup forward.

Learn about who you are targeting

Of course, we all know that in trying to please everybody, we end up pleasing no-one at all. This is especially true of content marketing when there is just so much noise online.

The most basic place to start when setting up any content campaign is your audience. Rather than walking into a party with a loudspeaker and hoping someone will come over to chat, pick someone out from the crowd and introduce yourself.

Do this by establishing detailed audience profiles based on your target customers. These profiles include demographic information, likes, and dislikes, as well as the challenges they face in day-to-day life at home and at work.

You can develop these profiles through market research, using services like Typeform to create engaging surveys. In this way, you can solve specific problems more easily and start to create value. This helps you focus your content and make your audience feel like you are speaking directly to them.

As an added bonus, these profiles will help you define your target audiences when advertising on social media.

Understand your audience context

That long-form guide to Facebook ads might be super useful to a potential client at 11 am on a Tuesday when she’s working on a desktop computer in the office. But if that same ad pops up on her phone while she is on the train home, she’s very unlikely to click on it, let alone download it.

Whether it’s a product, service or piece of content, what’s valuable to any audience is contextual. Not only does it depend on the person you are targeting, but it also depends on their needs at any given time. It’s therefore just as important to know when to target your audience (and on which devices) as it is to know who they are.

Look at the Google Analytics data to see when people are clicking, downloading and signing up, and on what devices. This will allow you to optimize: Double down on promoting content to successful audience segments, at popular times of day and on the most common devices.

Where possible, also survey engaged users to find out what problems they were trying to solve and how useful the information was. You can reach a far wider audience if you know why they needed your content.

Plan and diversify your content marketing

Start with a very loose content calendar. Use your audience profiles and additional information you gather from your market research to plan content that answers their questions and makes a positive difference in their lives.

At first, a lot of this content will be experimental. Try long form and short form blog articles, mini-videos, live streaming, and more easily produced material in order to see what works best, without investing too much time or effort.

Once you know what topics do well and meet your objectives, do more of the same! Produce longer form guides and invest in lead generation assets like ebooks, webinars and lead nurturing campaigns.

Finally, promote the right content  

Marketers everywhere are lamenting the death of organic reach. Social media sites are limiting this to encourage paid promotion – so there’s no getting away from it, you’re going to have to sponsor your content.

But you don’t have to do it blindly.  When sharing blogs, images, videos, infographics and other types of content on social media, use organic results as an indicator. The posts with the most engagement will be the ones that also have the best-paid reach.

With a strong business objective, a defined audience and a clear idea of why they need your help, you can offer valuable content that will have the right people coming back time and time again.

George Chilton has lived in the UK, South Korea, Colombia and is now based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the co-owner and Creative Director of Hubbub Labs, a content marketing agency for startups. He loves writing about tech, education, and travel.

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  • Originally published January 8, 2019, updated June 27, 2024