Content Marketing 101; the 8 Step Guide for Startup Founders

So it has come the day that you as the founder of your company has to grow your audience. You have inspected the options available to you and deemed that the old traditional route with disruptive commercials isn’t your thing.

That’s probably what your investors said too, but more akin “You need to do that content marketing thing. Look at HubSpot they went 10x in 3 years!”

That is if you are “fortunate” enough to have investors.

But let’s get to it.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing was the future of marketing in 2012 and now, in 2016, entering 2017, content marketing is the winning strategy.

Content marketing is basically everything you engage with online. Every blog, video, tweet, social post, infographic, webinar and podcast. All of it is made with the intentions of creating something valuable your user is actually looking for. 

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute

Content marketing is a long-term play, so be patient, be resourceful and always be learning.

But, Why Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a non-disruptive form of marketing that builds lasting relationships with people.


When done right, your content not only makes you an authority in your industry, but it is a gateway to optimizing the number one acquisition tool in the world, search engines.

According to the marketing guru, Neil Patel, content marketing produces, see the stats.

     3x more leads

     62 percent cheaper than traditional marketing

     82 percent of marketers see positive ROI

     78 percent of CMOs call it the future

The Basics Of Content Marketing

Content marketing is funny because while it is a beast in and of itself if you really want to find success, you’re going to need search engine optimization (SEO) and social media. SEO helps your content optimize and be discovered by search engines while social media is a channel to push and advertise your content to people in your audience.

Content Marketing is really a three-headed beast.

The foundation begins with finding relevant keywords searchers are using to find products or services relevant to your offering. Once you know what terms people are using, you will make content that is relevant to those keywords.

Essentially, you are making it easier for people to find the answers to what problem or question they have by producing digital items to communicate with them.

More often than not, your content won’t be a direct portal to whatever service is generating your revenue, but it lays the groundwork for a long-term relationship. It’s a long-term play, remember?

Step 1: Know Your Customer

I know everyone says this, but if you actually expect your website to be at the end of the search your customer is typing into Google, you have to know their problems & what they are searching for.

How to get to know your user:

1. Start with a theory on who your customer is
2. Interview your customer, are you actually solving their problem?
3. Learn about how they would potentially use your product

Things you should find out:

1. How are they consuming content?
2. When are they searching for content? 
3. Do they consume in advance or only in moments of dire need?

Step 2: Look For Keyword Opportunities

Types of keywords:

1. Head Keywords: 1-word and non-specific. High volume.
2. Body Keywords: 2-3 words and specific. Medium volume.
3. Long Tail Keywords (LTK): 4+ words and very specific. Low volume.
3. Keyword Examples:
4. Head Keyword: “vitamins”
5. Body Keyword: “order vitamins online”
6. Long Tail Keyword: “order vitamin D capsules online”

The best campaigns use Body Keywords or LTKs.

It is most easy to niche target your user and provide customized content for their question.

How to build a master list of body and long tail keywords

1.  Brainstorm buzzwords your user may use in a search 
2. Get onto Google and type them in
3. Gather other keywords on the Google “Related Terms” suggestion tab
4. Go to KEYWORDTOOL.IO and get a tutorial, learn the software
5. Insert keywords one by one into KEYWORDTOOl.IO 
6. Save the terms generated that are relevant to your service

Step 3: Gather Search Data On Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner (GKP) is one of many powerful tools offered by Google. It will help you find out how many people are actually searching for the keywords you generated, filter out the ones with low volume and generate actionable combinations. 

Terms to Know:

1. Cost-per-click (CPC)
2. Competition
3. Suggested Bid

Here’s how to find the search volume for your keywords:

1. Sign into GKP, on the left , click “Get Volume Data” 
2. Copy & paste your entire keyword list into the text field
3. Set your parameters for what group of users you want data on
     (i.e. City limits, date range etc.).
4. Click “Get Search Volume”
5. Analyze the average monthly searches
    TIP: Learn  competition, suggested bid and other terms
6. Use the Ad Group tab to find mid-range keywords

Step 4: Gauge Competition, Validate Opportunity

While it’s super important to spot keywords that are getting lots of traffic, sometimes, it isn’t truly a winning opportunity. Keywords like “digital marketing” might have thousands of searches, but they also have authoritative brands dominating the results.

Terms to know:

1. Back-links
2. Page Rank (PR)/Page Authority (PA)
3. Domain Authority (DA)
4. Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Here’s how to find high volume keywords with low competition:

1. Analyze the GKP suggested bid. If it’s high, that might be symbolic to how many people are fighting to be a result for that keyword.
2. Download and learn about the chrome extension; MOZ Bar
3. Google search your top keywords with high volume
4. Observe the results on the first page and ask:
      a. Are the top results strong domains with high page authorities?
      b. How many back-links do these pages have?
5. Investigate the backlinks with
      a. Paste the top links into Ahrefs and learn who links to that page.

Step 5: Read Up On SEO

As mentioned earlier, SEO is an incredible beast. It’s the second language your content must be speaking. While you never want to sacrifice user quality for SEO, you do want to make sure your content wins in the algorithmic marathon.

The idea behind SEO is that your content is found by search engine algorithms. These algorithms search through the web pages of the internet and gauge the content inside of the posts, the titles, the traffic, the back-links and essentially score the page in relation to whatever keyword in generated.

Google, for example, uses this score to determine where and when your page shows up in the results. Your goal is to show up at the top for your specific keyword.

SEO matters because 93 percent of organic traffic acquisitions online are generated through Google’s search engine.

SEO is truly a beast and I wouldn’t do it justice to try and touch on this topic. Here are some incredible resources.

15-point SEO Plan

17 Untapped Back-Link Sources

Content Marketing vs. SEO: Ending a Debate

Step 6: Build The Content

When you build content, you have to make a piece of content that reaches your user in the medium to which are most accustomed to consuming content. You need to service their need and effectively optimize for SEO at the same time.

Be mindful of SEO when you create your content, be mindful of the user funnel, but most important of all, is to make something that serves the need of your user in a clear, concise and easily consumed manner.

The Golden Rule: Never sacrifice content quality to optimize for SEO.

First, Pick A Format: 

Determine your users most likely channel of consumption.
        – Blog/Article
        – Infographic/eBook
        – Video/web series
        – Podcast/webinar
        – Slideshare

Second, create the content:

Storyboard and draft.

Step 7: Distribute your content

Great content is important and using SEO hacks will score you some big time points in the long-term, but that simply isn’t all you need. What you will come to find out is that distribution is your secret weapon. 

Distributing content is an effective way to gain social traction and initial momentum for your work, this would be akin to social media. Even more so, you can re-purpose some content through distribution channels to get amplified exposure.

How to Build a Strong Distribution Channel:

1. Pick distribution channels that you can manage. Believe it or not, even one channel (when done right) can be pretty time-consuming. 
2. Do lots of research (use my articles) on what channels help you reach your customer. Research when to post and how to post.
3. Build a schedule with what channels you choose and stick to it.

Top distribution channels:
1. Email
2. Facebook
3. Twitter
4. Youtube
5. Influencer/Syndication

TIP: you need to be consistent with distribution channels. Social media has lots of noise, without a constant presence, your posts will be lost. Make a plan of days and times that you will distribute your content and stick with it. It doesn’t have to be daily, but plan to hit it at least 3-4 times per week.

Step 8: Track and understand the data

In content marketing, you need to become obsessed with numbers and data. It’s hard not to. There is a tool out there for any metric you may want to track. While it is easy to get lost in data, it’s important to remember the key metrics to look at.

The overall motive of keeping up with the analytics of your content is to optimize your funnel on each level. You want to figure out what is working, what is not and try test out new strategies.

Levels in the Funnel and What to Ask:

Acquisition: What’s content is acquiring the most users?
Engagement: What content is engaging users the most?
Conversion: What content is converting the most users?

And of course, ask the opposite scenarios here. So what content IS NOT converting, IS NOT acquiring and is NOT engaging. Then learn from it. 

Essential Tools:

Google Analytics:

GA is the tool you have to have. You’ll be able to keep up with it all through here. My recommendations are to learn this in and out. Tutorials and videos are helpful, but nothing beats hands-on.

There are plenty more tools, but really in the early days, this is a great start.


As you know, you can consume hundreds of articles and videos all in one day while learning something. Believe it not, the majority of the things you read really go through this entire process.

I know it is long and drawn out but considering the fact that 94 percent of the internet’s traffic is directed towards 4 percent of the content, you should be mindful that those who put in the effort, reap the benefits.

And yes, you may be thinking, this is A LOT.

Truly, this goes a bit beyond content, it is inclusive of the entire content funnel as we tap on distribution and foundation.

But for a startup founder, you are laying the structure and the groundwork for your marketing department.

I absolutely serious when I say one piece of high-quality content outweighs those 10 you may produce in between meetings.

I encourage your journey to growing your business.

Just focus on the customer and care about what you create.

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind

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Jeremy Webb

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Jeremy WebbContent Marketing 101; the 8 Step Guide for Startup Founders

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