Table of Contents
Content Marketing Strategy Examples (5 Strategy Teardowns)
You’ve probably sat down to create a content marketing strategy and debated how to tackle it. Should you be doing thought leadership content? Bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content? Or perhaps pillar content?
Then there is also the debate of the ratio of each type of content you should produce. Should it be 75% BOFU and 25% thought leadership? But what about the expert interview we also did… should we turn that into a blog post?
There are literally thousands of options when it comes to content strategies, so I thought I’d share a proven method and demonstrate it with several content marketing strategy examples.
Why Your Strategy Should Focus On Conversions
I focus on creating 100% BOFU content before worrying about TOFU and thought leadership geared towards generating “brand awareness” (defined as organic traffic but not buyers).
First, people searching BOFU keywords are literally looking for your solution! For example, people that search “best small business accounting software” are looking for a solution like Quickbooks.
So it’s a no brainer that you should try to get in front of potential customers that want your solution.
The data I’ve seen also shows that BOFU content yields more leads (and therefore more revenue) than any other type of content. Just look at the number of signups the three BOFU blog posts in red have generated:
Now you may argue that because Google Analytics only shows data for the last 90 days, it isn’t an accurate representation of all those blog posts that took longer (say 6 months to a year) to convert.
And I agree with that.
However, wouldn’t you rather shorten your sales cycle and generate a predictable number of sales from organic traffic month after month?
TOFU content is also typically much more difficult to rank for, and then you have to spend more money and resources nurturing the prospect to the point where they are ready to make a purchase. Effective content doesn’t need to be complicated.
That’s why, of all the content types out there, I focus on creating BOFU content first. Once those terms are exhausted (and you will exhaust them – likely within a year or two of consistent content creation), you can move up the funnel towards different types of content such as TOFU/thought leadership content.
Where to Start With Your Strategy
I’ve come up with a quick framework for the best BOFU keywords
Specifically, I’ve come up with this framework:
- “Best” list posts (“best accounting software” is an example with 5-20 accounting software options)
- Real Example: Best Content Marketing Agencies
- Competitor alternative posts (“Freshbook alternatives” is an example with a list post of 5-10 different alternatives to Freshbooks)
- Real Example: Selenium Alternatives
- Competitor comparison posts (in depth and honest comparison of features/benefits of your product and competitor)
- Example: Classtag Connect vs. SchoolMessenger
- Pricing posts (keywords like “yoga platform pricing”)
- Example: Accounting Software Pricing Comparison
I also target pain point related keywords. For example:
- Use cases/How to posts (start with a how-to post that shows them how to solve a pain point your solution solves – wrap in a case study if possible)
- Example: How to Turn Facebook Commenters into Customers (they offer a tool that does this automatically)
Pain point-related keywords are tricky as they require a deep understanding of why a customer would buy your product in particular. As I didn’t have the chance to interview these businesses, I didn’t include pain point-related keywords in this blog post, though I do have another entire blog post on identifying pain point related keywords coming soon!
So let’s jump into some real content strategy examples.
Real Content Marketing Strategy Examples
Below, I’ll give you a behind the scenes look at how I would execute content marketing strategies for several SaaS businesses.
Chili Piper is a meeting scheduling app designed for sales teams.
So my first step to creating their content marketing strategy is to pull out my template of BOFU content strategy template:
- “Best” list posts/main keywords
- Competitor alternative posts
- Competitor comparison posts
- Pricing posts
Best List Posts/Main Keywords
Some businesses have an obvious head keyword. For example, Ignite My Site’s obvious head keyword is “content marketing agency.”
Though a lot of SaaS companies (and startups in particular) don’t always have a clear category, and even if they do, people use a lot of different search terms to find it. Chili Piper falls into a similar situation. It’s a meeting scheduling software/app/tool/ and has a lot of different searches.
To find these keywords, I used a few different tactics.
First, I’ll typically put a large competitor’s URL in Ahrefs, set the filter to “best” and try various other combinations with it like “tool,” “scheduler,” “appointment,” “app,” and “for,” and see what comes up.
I also use Google suggest. For example, I’ll type in the beginning of a keyword like “best meeting scheduler…” and see what comes up.
You can also look at the very bottom of the search results for other suggestions.
Finally, I also Google keywords that I think would be perfect for my business but don’t have any volume in Ahrefs or come up in Google suggestions. For example, sales appointment scheduling software is a perfect keyword for my business, but it’s one I came up with on my own (as in I didn’t find it in Ahrefs or see it in Google suggest).
Then I click on the top ranking page for that search result, take the URL and plug it into Ahrefs, and then see what similar keywords it ranks for. This is how I found “sales scheduling software.”
You can also create posts targeting specific industries:
And those are all the methods I used to come up with these ideas:
From here, I’ll identify the keyword that best fits the search intent of my ideal customer. As I don’t know what their ideal customer is (title, pains, industry, etc.), I won’t make a final selection, though I hope this helps you understand how to create a strategy.
Competitor Alternative Posts
You probably already know who your biggest competitors are, though if you don’t, ask your customers who they switched from and who else they were considering.
Ultimately, here are the competitor alternative post ideas I came up with. (Note that there are usually a lot more alternative post options, I just didn’t do an exhaustive search).
While most people would probably say that “calendly alternatives” is the best keyword to start with, I would argue that you should look for the competitor that the majority of your customers switched from and start with that keyword.
For example, if most of your customers switched from ScheduleOnce, I’d start with that keyword.
Competitor Comparison Posts
If you’ve just completed a post on competitor alternatives, it might seem a little redundant to also include a competitor comparison post in your content strategy.
However, I would still do both as they are very different search intents. For example, while the competitor alternative post is typically a list post of many different alternatives, the competitor comparison post is typically a more in depth comparison of just two or three tools.
Obviously, the idea here is to pit your product against the competition.
However, what if your brand doesn’t have any search volume for “(your product) vs.”? This is exactly what happens when I typed “chili piper vs” into Ahrefs:
If I create content for “chili piper vs acuity,” it might be a useful resource for people that are already on chili piper, but nobody from Google is going to find it.
If that’s the case, start with the competitor that most of your current customers switched from to use your product and do the same search. Let’s say that competitor is ScheduleOnce:
In this case, I would select “scheduleonce vs calendly” as the main keyword, though rather than just leaving it at that, I’d introduce Chili Piper to the conversation by writing it as “ScheduleOnce vs. Calendly vs. Chili Piper.”
In this case, you’d still have the keyword (“scheduleonce vs calendly”), though your brand is also introduced.
Ideally, you don’t want to pit more than three against each other because it dilutes the power of the keyword.
For example, if the searcher is looking for “calendly vs scheduleonce,” Google wants to find them a resource that spends the majority of its time talking about Calendly vs ScheduleOnce.
However, if you have “chili piper vs calendly vs scheduleonce vs acuity vs google calendar,” Google likely won’t rank you first for the term “calendly vs scheduleonce” because only a portion of the post is talking about those two things.
Finally, there might be some keywords around pricing that work for your business. While I won’t guarantee it, it’s still worth searching.
In the case of Chili Piper, I didn’t really find any pricing related keywords, and that’s fine.
Final Thoughts (And How to Choose Which Keyword to Start With)
Here’s the keyword document that I came up with, but which keywords should you choose for your first content marketing campaign?
I generally choose the ones that best fit our target audience. For example, if most of Chili Piper’s customers are in a particular industry, I’d focus on that industry. Similarly, if 90% of customers switched from ScheduleOnce, I’d write a competitor alternative and comparison post on that.
For the most part, I don’t worry too much about difficulty or volume as it’s more important to follow customer trends and create quality content that your target audience loves. The only exception is if the site I’m working with has a domain authority under say 25 or 30, I try to only target keywords under a difficulty of about 50.
The next content marketing strategy we’ll create is for Close, a CRM for startups, small businesses, and even freelancers. They’ve grown their brand through content marketing, but here is how I would create a strategy for them from scratch.
So let’s start with the framework again:
- “Best” list posts
- Competitor alternative posts
- Competitor comparison posts
- Pricing posts
Best List Posts/Main Keywords
In this case, Close has a very straightforward category. It’s a CRM. So the first term that comes to mind is “best CRM.” Unfortunately, that has a ridiculously high difficulty, and while Close has a strong enough domain authority that it could probably take this, newer startups would not be able to compete with these keywords.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other longer tail keywords like “best crm for small business” and “best crm for startups.” Given that these are more specific and therefore more likely to drive conversions anyway, I’d start with them.
Overall, this one was quite easy to generate ideas for:
Again, ask your customers which tools they switched from to choose your competitor alternatives post. Here are a few for Close:
If you find that there isn’t much search volume for the competitors that your users most frequently switch from, it’s still worthwhile to write about them because search volume isn’t always accurate.
For example, “Pipedrive alternatives” shows no search volume in Ahrefs, yet it is still an option in Google suggested search, so it’s worth it clearly does have some search volume:
To find competitor comparisons, I again plugged in some “competitor vs” keywords into Ahrefs:
Again, I wasn’t able to find any search volume for smaller competitors, like “leadsquared vs,” in Ahrefs. Given that Close is a CRM for small businesses, it’s definitely still worth it to capture any volume for these smaller competitors.
However, I did a Google suggested search and found that there is volume for all of these keywords:
In the end, these are the keywords I came up with:
To find pricing keywords, you can take a competitor’s URL, put it in Ahrefs, and use the filter button to include both “price” and “crm.”
Therefore, these are the pricing ideas I came up with:
So that’s a wrap for Close! If you want to see the full spreadsheet of keywords we came up with, you can do so here.
Lingo Deer is a language learning app similar to Babbel. While its largest userbase is individuals, they also do partnerships with schools and businesses.
Therefore, if this was a real client, my first step in creating their content marketing strategy would be learning which customer earns them more revenue. I assume that schools and businesses are likely more profitable, though it’s important to ask as content targeting a business is very different from content that targets an individual.
For example, valuable content for a business would emphasize integrations and performance tracking, while valuable content for an individual would emphasize ease of use and offline capabilities.
So look at your biggest ROI opportunities before creating your content strategy and 80/20 it.
That said, let’s jump into the examples.
Best List Posts/Main Keywords
Unlike most large language learning apps (like Babbel) that offer hundreds of languages, Lingo Deer only offers 11 languages.
Therefore, they may not have the authority to rank for major head terms like “language learning app.”
Though they may have the authority to rank for a term like “best app to learn korean.”
Therefore, I would exhaust these more targeted keywords first.
While I only did the variations of this keyword for the Korean set, I would do it for the other 10 languages as well if I were working on this account.
Notice that not all of the keywords are referred to as “korean.” For example, there is one that is “learn hungul app.” In this case, I would just add that keyword to the “best app to learn korean” post. However, if you notice that the keywords are very competitive (for example, if “best app to learn korean” had a really high difficulty), you might want to target only “learn hungul app.”
I also want to note that while most of these can be “best” lists posts, I noticed that when I Googled “learn Korean online,” the search intent is not a list post:
In fact, they are all simple landing pages. While I find that landing pages are typically easy to outrank, it also means that Google doesn’t have a clear search intent. Therefore, you can try creating a how-to guide about the best way to learn korean online versus in a classroom and key tips from an expert.
This app has plenty of competitors, so finding them wasn’t too difficult. If you don’t really know who your competitors are, ask your current customers who they were considering before you and you can also do a quick search of your largest competitor and see what other competitors are part of the conversation.
As I’m not part of Lingo Deer, this is the strategy I took, and here are the keywords I came up with
In this case, it’s pretty obvious that the Duolingo and Rosetta Stone pieces of content should be a priority.
However, if you have a lot of options, choose to start with the competitor that most of your customers have switched from.
Similar to the competitor alternatives, here is my competitor comparison keywords:
I was surprised to see so much volume for these compared to the alternatives keywords, so I would prioritize them first.
For pricing posts, be sure that you own your branded pricing keywords. Unfortunately, there weren’t many pricing keywords. If you have a free option, you can try keywords like “free language learning app.” However, as LingoDeer doesn’t offer a free version, this keyword isn’t really a fit.
One keyword I did find in the also asked box was “Which language app is worth paying for?”
Here is the keyword document I created for LingoDeer.
Punchpass is a class management software for fitness studios.
In their own words, “Punchpass helps you manage your class schedule, sell passes, and keep track of your customers and their attendance. We help small businesses run and manage their in-person AND their online group classes.”
So let’s jump into their content plan
Best List Posts/Main Keywords
Punchpass has a lot of keywords for this category, though most of them tend to have high difficulty. They have pretty decent authority, so I think that they still have a chance of ranking for keywords in the KD 50 range.
However, if you’re a new brand and don’t have any authority, I’d probably target the lower difficulty keywords even though they have less volume.
For example, as Punchpass has decent domain authority, I’d target “gym management software” first. Though if you don’t have a lot of authority, I’d target a keyword like “best software for gym” and “best gym management software.” I also found “gym assistant software” and would consider this as a keyword if it’s something you offer.
Again, to find all of these keyword variations, I Googled “best gym management software” and then took the URL of the top ranking post and put it in Ahrefs. In Ahrefs, I can see what other keywords it ranks for.
While there are plenty of gym membership competitors out there, the market share is widely divided without a clear leading competitor. Therefore, there weren’t many with significant volume.
If you ever run into a situation where there are plenty of competitors but little volume for each of them, survey your customers to see which competitors your customers frequently switch from.
Even if Ahrefs isn’t showing a lot of volume for that keyword, it’s probably still worth writing about given that your target audience is often dissatisfied with that brand and looking for a new alternative.
I ran into a similar issue with the competitor comparison keywords, so I would recommend the same strategy here.
As a reminder, I would also add (vs. Punchpass) to the end of each of these keywords so that they are three-way comparisons.
That way, you will still rank for the keyword and introduce your brand to the conversation.
These pricing keywords were pretty straightforward. Essentially, see if there is any volume for “price” and “pricing” added to your highest volume keywords, and make sure you own your own pricing keyword.
Here is the full keyword document for Punchpass.
Xero is similar to Quickbooks and Freshbooks in that it is invoicing software designed for freelancers and small businesses.
Let’s jump in
Best List Posts/Main Keywords
Here are the “best” and main keywords that I came up with for Xero:
The main keywords for Xero are quite difficult, so if they had a low domain authority, I would first do my best to find low difficulty keywords.
One trick to finding low difficulty keywords is to enter a competitor (preferably a smaller competitor with low authority) into Ahrefs, click “organic keywords” and then enter “best” into the “include” box.
From there, sort by lowest keyword difficulty. Most of the results will probably be irrelevant (if they were all relevant, they wouldn’t have such low difficulty). Nonetheless, you’ll find some gold in those results.
There weren’t a lot of competitor alternatives for this post, though I would still do at least a Freshbooks and Quickbooks alternatives post.
However, I was surprised to see that there were a lot of different competitor comparison posts.
Finally, there were two pricing related posts:
Here is the keyword document I created for them.
Creating a Successful Content Marketing Strategy
While you may have expected me to cover various complicated social media marketing strategies, visual content tips, or an advanced tactic to encourage user generated content, a successful content marketing strategy is often a lot simpler than that.
Sure, user generated content, viral social media content and other digital marketing tactics may help improve your brand’s presence. Though there will always be an opportunity cost, and until you nail all of your BOFU keywords (which are literally people asking for your product), the cost will be conversions.
However, this news should be freeing to you. Rather than coming up with an overwhelming number of content ideas every month and then hoping that your new strategy works, this should allow you to focus on a predictable, attainable goal that will produce steady results over time. Great content isn’t a mystery – it’s just the content that produces consistent, high quality leads.