A-Z of Digital Marketing – How to create a content marketing strategy (that your customers will actually care about)

Dave Clough

Head of Content




Over the last 3-4 months, Receptional have been running a series of webinars in collaboration with the Financial Services Forum called the A-Z of Digital Marketing.

Over three webinars, we have covered a lot of ground:

Firstly, we presented 10 fundamental questions that every CMO should be able to answer – and we provided the methods to answer them.

In our second webinar, we provided 10 ways to stretch your digital marketing budgets further to help with the current climate.

Finally, we shared our 25 point checklist of ways to improve your websites conversions rates.

All of these webinars are available to watch again on the FS Forum website.

The members of the FS Forum were then asked what they wanted to learn about next – with the majority citing Content Marketing.

Having covered Content Marketing strategies quite broadly in our previous talks, I decided to use this webinar to delve deeper into the techniques I use to create content strategies that your customers will actually care about.



I should state at this point – this is a practical masterclass – it’s an advanced tutorial.

We’re going to be taking a tour of some pretty geeky tools like SEM Rush, Google Ads and AHrefs. We’re also going to be using a range of Excel formulas such as VLOOKUP’s and SUM IFS.

If the material we cover today is too granular or advanced for anyone, but you’re interested in this kind of work, don’t hesitate to get in touch for further advice, training or support.

Don’t worry about taking notes – The slides we’re presenting basically act as an instruction manual and you will be able to download them from FS Forum website along with a transcript after this webinar.



What’s coming up?

Firstly, we are going to take you through a series of Customer-driven Content Marketing Strategies.

We’ll point you in the direction of some great tools that you can use to build content plans based on easily accessible customer data.

Then I am going to do a step-by-step tutorial on how to produce a Content Gap Analysis which is basically when we steal your competitor’s best content ideas.

There should be time at the end for Questions… if you have any, just throw them into the chat box and we’ll get through as many as we can.

If we do run out of time, I’ll get back to you personally on email.

So… just to get warmed up


Why should you care about Content and Search Data?

Because… 89% of customers will use a search engine to conduct research

This stat was uncovered by Receptional when we surveyed high net worth individuals across the country.

What this means is that 9 out of 10 of your customers are on Google trying to find answers to questions that you can provide.

Remember: these are your potential customers and right now….



This graph shows us that since news of Covid broke, there has been a huge increase in the number of questions being asked around Investing.

In recent months, overall interest in investing has remained approximately 55% higher than the previous year.

Investing is just one example in finance, but this trend is seen across the board.

This offers a great opportunity to drive additional, relevant traffic…. But you may be wondering….



What’s the point? Why publish answers and guidance online..? Why give away your expertise…?

Here’s why.

Firstly, you can drive traffic to your website and increase brand awareness.

More importantly, showcasing your expertise will elicit a positive response from the reader – this will result in “trust” and assurance that you know your stuff.

Once your readers are captivated, you can then provide a solution in the form of a product or service.

Finally, add a strong Call To Action such as “call us”, Book an appointment or fill out this form… and turn your readers in to actual prospects.

This isn’t about driving traffic for the sake of it – we’re primarily interested in driving new customer acquisition.


This generates significant returns

Our content optimisation strategies for Liberis generated a 700% increase in website visitors – the work undertaken was simple Keyword Research and landing page optimisation. It followed similar steps to those we’re going to talk about today.

It also led to our winning “Best Digital Campaign” at last years FS Forum awards…


Quick Quiz –

Which of these Wealth Management firms ranks highest on google when you search for “what is an ISA”?

None – which is a bit odd….

So who does?

Information sites such as Money Saving Expert…

This is really important because

  1. Search Engines offer a huge opportunity
  2. Google knows that people want information
  3. Information websites perform best in search engines

Solution: deploy intelligent content marketing strategies designed to inform customers

That’s what the strategies we’re talking about today are designed to do.



So – first up, let’s take a look at our Customer-Driven Content Strategies.


Listen to your customers

The world would be a lot easier if you can tell what your customers are thinking about and their biggest challenges – what do they want to know?

Questions like ‘Is now actually a good time to invest?’ or ‘What is a lifetime ISA?’

As we have already touched upon, 89% of all your customers are going to be looking online for answers to these questions.  All this information is collected by Google and other tools.


Search Data is key to unlocking customer insights

I’m going to show you some of the amazing tools you could use to help discover the most popular questions being asked by your potential customers.

These are: Google AdWords, AHRefs, Answer the Public and Quora

By using these tools, you can immediately enhance your content strategies. The data they provide enables you to align your content with your customer needs which eliminates all the guesswork.

With this information to hand, all you have to do is choose what content is ideal for your brand and the audience that you want to target.


AdWords – Keyword Ideas Tool

Firstly, let’s talk about Google AdWords. Those of you that work on PPC campaigns will already be using this tool. It’s arguably the most powerful keyword research tool so far, and it doesn’t cost a penny to use, as long as you’re working on PPC Campaigns.

Its keyword planner tool is one of its most effective features. To use it, search for your chosen subjects within the ‘Discover new keywords’ box to see a long range of keyword ideas.


When it works well…

It works well when you search for queries in question format.

For instance, searching for “what is isa” will bring up keywords such as “what is a cash isa”, “what is an isa account” and so on.

The green box on the right shows the average monthly search volumes which is an indication of the keywords’ popularity.

This process took me about 2 minutes to complete, and these results will provide your copywriting teams plenty of material to work with.

However, AdWords doesn’t always produce great results like this. It doesn’t work so well with generic keywords as we’ll see in our next slide.


… and when it does not…

Searching for a term like “investing” in Adwords brings up keywords such as “stock market” and “tesla stock” – keywords that are too competitive to be used in a content marketing strategy and therefore not going to be ideal.

With AdWords, it takes a bit of experimenting in order to find the desired results.

The best way to use the data from AdWords is to download it and work in Excel.


Export/download all keywords

After the data has been imported into Excel, the task is to isolate and extract all the question-based keywords.

Questions asked by people on Google most likely have a higher character count, so in essence they are longer keywords.

Use the Excel function “=LEN” to count the number of characters that each keyword has. After this, arrange the spreadsheet with the longest phrases at the top. You will now see the question-styled keywords, making it easier to choose the most popular but relevant questions.

From this example, we’ve exported the information from Adwords and arranged the spreadsheet in order of ‘highest character count’ first.

You can see the keywords such as “highest interest savings account” have a significantly high monthly search number at over 22,000, so it would be worthwhile to concentrate your content around this theme.

Alternatively, you can focus your content on other popular themes, such as ‘best way to invest money’ as highlighted here in the bottom black box.


Group keywords in topics

I’m going to show you a handy tip you can use in Excel.

People are going to be looking for the same thing but in different ways.

As you can see in this table, “investing for beginners” can be searched for in 10 different ways but it’s so unnecessary to answer the question for all of those 10 times.

When all these keywords are in a spreadsheet, you can use the filters to find “similar topics” then simply divide them into their correct categories.

This can then give you a greater total of the search volumes across the range of keywords, so you can see the real value of the topic.

The topic in this example, “Investing for beginners” actually doesn’t just target 1,900 people every month but over 3,500



The second tool we recommend is Answer the Public, a much simplier tool than AdWords and also free.

Similar to Adwords, just search for a topic and you will be shown a wide range of relevant questions to work your strategy around.

What this tool doesn’t have is the search volume data.

But to get around this, you can use both answerthepublic and AdWords together. By exporting the questions from answerthepublic then importing them into Adwords, it gives you the search volume numbers. So the best of both worlds.


Browse questions on quora

Going on our third tool, Quora.

By content marketing standards, Quora is really underrated for discovering insights.

To use Quora, simply search for the topic to see all the associated questions that have been asked by their communities.

Looking at the number of “answers” highlighted here in orange shows you how popular each question is. The higher the number of answers, the more engagement the question has.


ahrefs keyword explorer tool

Finally, we take a look at AHRefs.

It comes fully designed with a feature dedicated to keyword research analysis.

Within the “Keywords Explorer” tab at the top, you can find the ‘Keywords Ideas’ section on the left to take you below onto the “question” tool.

In the search field, insert your subject (like ‘buying shares’) to bring up a list of questions along with their metrics such as Search Volumes and KD (or Keyword difficulty). Now, Keyword Difficulty is a metric used to gauge how easy or hard it is to appear in Google. The higher the keyword difficulty, the more competitive it is.

To round things up, the tools I have shown you will help unlock customer search insights. These will enable you to build editorial plans aligned to your customer’s needs.



Coming up with a decent content strategy can be time-consuming.

And if you’re not basing it on data, it can be a little hit and miss too.

However, your competitors may have done all the hard work for you – and with a sneaky bit of analysis, you can basically steal their best ideas and make them your own.


We call this a Content Gap Analysis.

The objective is to find the Gaps in your Content by comparing your pages and articles with that of any competitor in your niche.

By doing so, you should be able to identify a number of pages missing from your website.

Then, you can use keyword data to reveal the potential number of related keyword searches and calculate the traffic you might receive if you produced similar content.

You can build out an entire editorial calendar based on those gaps.

In our experience, this is a really great use of time and resources as it produces an instant content strategy – powered by estimated traffic numbers.


Tools for the job…

You’re going to need access to SEM Rush and Excel – I also recommend a tool called Screaming Frog which allows you to perform a few neat tricks…


1. Go to the “Keyword Gaps” tool in SEM Rush

Once there, insert your domain and 1-2 competitors…


2. Run the report & review output

Take a look at the ”Keyword Overlap” venn diagrams to make sure that your competitors have plenty of content that you don’t.

Once you’re happy with the initial output, click “view details” to see the keyword gaps.


3. Export ‘Missing’ keywords report

There isn’t much more you really need to do in SEM Rush – simply click the “missing” keywords button as indicated, then export the list as a CSV or Excel file.


4. Examine the keyword gap sheet

Now we’re in Excel, things start to get a little more messy.

I’ve highlighted the columns that matter most. They are:

  • The keywords in blue – those are the keyword gaps
  • In green, I’ve highlighted the search volumes of those keywords – that’s really useful data
  • And in orange, I’ve highlighted the competitor websites ranking URLs.

Those URLs are the competitor’s web pages that appear in Google for the keywords that you don’t appear for. In other words – those are the CONTENT GAPS.

But right now, they’re not in a very useful format. So we need to tidy up the data.



That list of content gaps will be full of duplications.

So the first step is to isolate the content gaps and turn that long list into a short list of unique, individual URLs.

To do that, copy and paste the list of competitor URLs into a new column to the right hand side of the spreadsheet.

Then use the Remove Duplicates button in Excel to remove dupes, leaving you with a list of unique URLs.

That list is your content gaps! We could stop there – but it’s just a list of URLs and not very helpful!

So – how can we make this data more useful?


6. Firstly – by summing up the search volumes associated with missing content

Once we have our list of content gaps, we can then figure out which of these gaps has the most traffic-driving potential. I.e. which of our content gaps should we fill first.

What we’re trying to do is add up the search volumes of the keywords associated with the content gaps.

To do this, use the SUM IF formula in Excel. Fill out the formula as such:


  • The Range should be the Column with the full list of URLs – i.e. that long orange list of URLs!


  • The Criteria is the single Adjacent “SHORTLIST” URL


  • For the Sum_Range, highlight the entire Column which has the search volumes in it – which was our Green column from before


That magical formula to add up all the search volumes of the keywords belonging to the content gaps.

Then – Copy and paste that formula down the short list of Content Gap URLs…


7. Add a filter and order by highest total search volumes

As you can see on the right, we now have the total search volumes added up next to each URL.

Then I would add a filter and sort the content in order of high to low search volumes.

This will put the content gaps with the highest potential at the top of the list.

We now have our content gaps in order of popularity. We could stop there!

But it’s still a bit messy. Those URLs are hard to read and make sense of.

The tool called Screaming Frog can help us out here.


8. You can “Crawl” those  URLs to extract titles

Put Screaming Frog into “List Mode” by selecting “List” in the top navigation as shown.

Then hit the “Upload” button and copy and paste your URLs into the box that will appear.

Hit “OK” to CRAWL the list of URLs.

What Screaming FROG will do is return loads of useful data about those URLs including their PAGE TITLES, i.e. the titles of your content gaps.


9. Export the content gap titles

Go to the Page Titles tab in screaming frog – .

Then export the data into an Excel spreadsheet and open it up.


10. Use Vlookups to pull titles into your main spreadsheet

We really want all of our data in one place, so to do that, use VLookups to import the page titles back into your main spreadsheet next to their corresponding URLs  – as shown on this slide.

Finally, you can see that those page titles sometimes contain Brand Names, Category Structures that you’re not really interested in –

So as a final point, I suggest using functions like Find & Replace and Text-To-Columns to remove all that junk – leaving you with CLEAN page titles – as seen on my next slide…


11. Tidy up and sense check


All that’s left to do is go through the list of content and handpick the content gaps that you feel best suit your websites, your brand, your customers and your strategy.

And in Blue Peter fashion…


“Here’s one I prepared earlier”

You can see here, I’ve colour coded the content gaps that I liked the look of and that I would consider putting forward for production.

You can repeat this process for as many competitors as you like to build a list of gaps long enough to keep you copywriting team busy for years come….


So there you have it!

No more awkward creative meetings and no more arguing over who has the best ideas.

All of what we have shared today is data-led and customer-insight driven.

It completely eliminates guesswork and leaves you with a content plan that your customers will want to engage with.

That’s it from us, thanks for listening.


Watch the full recorded webinar here.

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