Fundamentals of content marketing state that the concept is not all that complicated – one needs to consistently provide something of relevant value to their target audience in the hope it will create trust and loyalty. Startups to even medium businesses today recognize the value of content marketing but it is only achievable through an optimized content strategy. Hence the creation of an optimized content strategy designed to support your brand objectives and comprehensive marketing plans is vital for your business.
A content marketing strategy (not to be confused with a content strategy) looks at how content marketing can be used in a strategic way and with other marketing, customer and sales strategies. The power of a content marketing strategy is to bring in new customers, drive revenue, educate new users and help build a powerful brand for any business.
Serving the needs of your audience with high-quality, valuable content consistently is an admirable goal for any company. But of course, all your efforts will be wasted if your content doesn’t trigger the audience behaviors that would help your company achieve its business goals. In order to get the desired results, every content marketing leader should be prepared to answer a few questions:
- Who specifically should your content be most relevant to?
- What distinctive and desirable content experience can you consistently deliver?
- What benefits will your audience receive from consuming your content?
Why do you need a content marketing strategy?
Your company should certainly have a content strategy – a strategic plan for all its content usage across the enterprise. Often content marketers benefit from having a strategic road map that focuses exclusively on using content to attract, acquire, and engage prospective customers.
Content marketing strategists determine what content will build the customer base by helping the audience make decisions or solve problems at crucial points in their experience with the brand.
The main reason you need a content marketing strategy is that content marketing is not an island. Without a content marketing strategy, you risk focusing on the content itself, not on the overall goals anymore. In fact, this is one of the most crucial and deadly mistakes in content marketing. Unfortunately, this disconnected view on content marketing happens very often and leads to focusing on the wrong things.
What’s in a content marketing strategy?
Your strategy should define your customer needs and key business areas, as well as how your content efforts address them. While no two strategies are exactly alike, they all should detail a few essential components:
- Your purpose and goals – What do you want your audience to do once they’ve read your content? What value do you expect their actions would provide for your business?
- Your audience – Defining the characteristics of the audience that will benefit most from your content, their current user state, and an estimate of how their needs and goals may evolve.
- Your mission – your company’s unique perspectives and approach to creating content and how that distinguishes your content from your competitors.
Steps to build a content marketing strategy?
A content strategy involves various components.
Let’s detail the content marketing strategy a bit more with a quick to-do list.
1. Define Your Content Marketing Goal
Every content marketing strategy needs to start with a clear goal and true purpose.
How are you going to measure the success of your online campaigns? Is it with traffic? App downloads? New subscribers? Social shares and engagement? Conversions? Video views? Sales?
Understanding your goal early on will guide other important decisions as you proceed to develop your content marketing strategy. Such as, what are we making? And where are we going to distribute our content? One of your goals could be to attract new readers through clever blog posts and then converting them into email subscribers who can later be converted into paying customers.
2. Research and Understand Your Audience
Who you create your content for is equally important as what you create.
Once you have clear guidelines of why you are making content, the next step in your strategy is to define the audience. You need to understand exactly who is going to view, read, or watch the content you create.
Effective content is only produced with the direction, involvement, and feedback of your audience. The best content marketing strategy is designed to answer the most pressing questions your target audience has – to educate and transform them. The most important step is to understand the demographics (age, gender, location, job title) and psychographics (attitudes, belief systems, values, and interests) of your ideal audience.
3. Creating Your Audience Personas
It is all about buyer personas – the fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.
Developing a clear understanding of who your target audience is, will help immensely in crafting the right messaging in your content marketing efforts.
For each of the audience personas you create, write out their (demographic and psychographic) attributes on a bulleted list. This will give you info like whether they are searching on Google or are heavy Facebook users or use community sites like Quora/Reddit to source answers and ideas.
4. Set Up Your Blog
This is the technical part of your content marketing strategy.
You need to find a place to host the content you’re going to create, now is the time. Do you want to build your own blog on a WordPress-powered platform?
You can opt for a ready-to-go content management system like Squarespace, or you can simply host your content on an external domain like YouTube, Medium or Apple.
5. Update Your Current Content
You need to know exactly what kind of content ‘types’ you plan to produce.
If you are already in the process of writing or creating other types of content, now it is a great time to align your published content with your new content marketing strategy. Which topics are you going to create on a consistent basis?
If you have content already published, check if it fits into your new content marketing strategy. Does it speak to your audience and work towards your goals? If not, you can start updating it.
6. Start Building an Email List
Content marketing is useless if you are not getting in front of the right person. Your email marketing goals should relate back to core business objectives.
Let us discuss the most important piece of your content distribution puzzle: emails.
Email lets you communicate directly to your subscribers and gets you into their inboxes – where so many of us spend countless hours each week. Starting early with list-building is a great way to amplify the content you’re creating. Some of the most popular ones for marketers are – MailChimp, ConvertKit, Campaign Monitor, AWeber, ActiveCampaign.
7. Brainstorm Content Ideas and Use Keyword Research to Find What Your Audience is Looking For
Here we talk about the actual content.
For your content marketing strategy to be successful, you need to make sure you stay strategic in what you’re creating and apply the principles of content marketing into your plan.
Firstly brainstorm topics and note down blog posts ideas your audiences might be interested in. It would be good to involve end uses like customer service or sales guys. Secondly use a keyword research tool to gather information like Google’s Keyword Planner, Moz, keywordtool.io etc. Thirdly, outline your SEO-friendly content that will serve your goals, the user’s needs, and the keyword targeting.
8. Decide on the Format of the Content You Want to Produce
Blogging is essential to content marketing because it has a low barrier to entry and high returns.
Blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics – they all have their place in your content strategy and it is your discretion to use them.
Blog posts or pages are a great place to start with your content marketing strategy as they have the lowest barrier to entry, by far. You do not need design software or special tools. Just start writing and you’re ready to go.
9. Use Social Media to Promote Your Content
Content marketing is a long term investment in your audience but pays massive dividends
It’s pretty much impossible in recent times to separate your content marketing strategy from your social media strategy. Social media plays an integral part in getting your content in front of the right people. Generating platform-specific content should be a part of your strategy as every platform has its pros and cons.
Final Thoughts on Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
These tips should be everything you need to plan and execute a killer content marketing strategy. Everyone today wants to produce more great content, whether that means articles, videos, ebooks, podcasts, blogging or even social media content that is engineered to get lots of shares. A content marketing strategy is a roadmap that not only tells you what you are going to create, but how you are going to develop it, and ultimately use it to attract, retain, and convert readers into customers.