Content marketing is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site without actually spending any money — assuming you write your own content. You can spend a lot of money on content marketing in hiring writers and editors, investing in high-quality graphics, and paying for promotion. But you don’t have to do any of those things to be successful.

However, you do need to think careful about how you’re writing your content to be successful with this type of marketing. The key to content marketing success requires the combination of a number of elements in your writing, including:

Thorough Market Research

How can you know what kind of writing or topics will resonate with your readers if you don’t know everything you can about your readers? The only way to know all that is to conduct thorough market research.

Your market research opportunities are endless, and they include your own website analytics, keyword research, competitor analysis, social media data and trending topics. You can even go so far as to conduct surveys and focus groups. You want to find out as much about your audience as you can, including important demographic data, their interests, and their problems. You need to know what kind of people they are, as well as what they need from your company or website.

Reader Empathy

Once you know who your audience is, you can write content that empathizes with their concerns. Empathy requires that you come at an issue from the same place that your readers do. That means you have to relate to the experience yourself.

For example, you can empathize with someone who has lost a pet if you have also lost a pet. You can sympathize if you feel bad for that person but have not experienced the situation yourself. When writing your content, think about how you have felt when you experienced the same problems your readers are experiencing, or when you experienced something similar. Doing so will help you focus in on the things that will be truly important to your reader and will make them pay attention to what you have to say.

Emotional Connection

Do you get more motivated to lose weight when someone lectures you with the cold, hard facts about calories in and calories out, or do you feel more motivated when you imagine looking your best and turning all the heads of the hottest people at the beach? If you’re like most people, it’s the latter.

The reason is that an emotional response is more powerful than a logical one. You already know that intuitively as a consumer, so why aren’t you making that a focus as a marketer?

If you aren’t sure what would make your customers feel emotionally engaged then you need to do more market research. You need to have more conversations with your customers online, on your social media, and in person.

Sales-Oriented Language

Content marketing can certainly create more exposure for your brand and generate leads by sending more traffic to your site, but the ultimate goal is also to increase sales. You can accomplish that by following these tips and including sales-oriented language in your copy.

You don’t have to turn your entire post into a hard sell, but you should sprinkle nudges and calls to action throughout the copy. You can include phrases like “Our product can help with that” or “That’s a problem we aim to solve.” The key is to continually encourage customers to try your product or service without making them feel pressured. You can also create a sense of urgency by encouraging readers to try today or to use a special discount code.

Content Recommendation

An easy way to get more from your content in the long run is to use a content recommendation tool like In-tag from CodeFuel. In-tag places text links for your other content on pages and posts based on user-intent signals. That way, only content that is of interest to that particular customer at that particular moment will be shown.

Using a content recommendation tool like In-tag will help you to get more exposure for your content, even without having to do more work. The tool does the work for you, helping new audience members see more of your content even without spending a dollar on new marketing strategies. If you accept advertising on your site, you can also use In-tag to increase your revenue stream. The tool will recommend the right promoted content, which will increase your click-through rate and your commissions.

Creating a successful content marketing strategy can sometimes seem like the luck of the draw, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow these simple tips to start getting the results you need from your content marketing and to grow your site this year.