Content Marketing Strategy: A Step By Step Guide
When meeting the term Content Marketing many people will think about blogs, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube videos, but it’s so much more than that. In fact, content marketing has existed for far a longer time than the Internet. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the first-ever example of true content marketing was published in 1732 by Benjamin Franklin to promote his printing business.
Through centuries the methods of content marketing have changed and improved, but the core of it remains the same: storytelling. People love to hear and read stories about different things and each audience has its own preferences, favorite topics and styles. Here comes the importance of the content marketing strategy – the plan to create engaging content for the target audience.
Creating engaging content is a tough business. 65% of marketers find it hard to produce engaging content. But having a well-defined strategy will help to create high-quality content, bring the target audience to your content and make people interested in your brand. Without the strategy, it all depends on luck whether people will like and react to your content or not. So, before posting any content, it’s better to create a strategy.
Here is our step-by-step guide for content marketing strategy. Whether you’re new in content marketing or already have experience, it will be useful to everyone as updating your content marketing plan is as important as creating it from scratch.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at:
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is the process of creating engaging and highly relevant content for the target audience on a consistent basis. Its aim is to build long-term relationships with customers. Typical content types are blog posts, videos, social media posts, podcasts, etc. Content marketing is not just a process of creating and sharing content. It’s a strategic approach that helps to attract the target audience and reach marketing goals. Compared to advertising, content marketing shows that your brand cares about the customers, that you’re not just interested in selling a product but creating value for the customers.
Today content marketing is more focused on online content, the online presence has become essential for any sphere of business. The emergence of digital marketing has created many more options and possibilities for marketers to create great and engaging content for customers.
If you want to read about B2B content, check our B2B Content Marketing Guide.
Let’s explore all the steps needed for creating a successful content marketing strategy.
Step 1 - Set the Goals and Establish KPIs
Start creating your strategy by setting the right goals. Why do you need content marketing?
- generate more leads
- increase traffic to your website
- establish the authority of your brand
Whatever is your goal or goals, it’s important to clearly define them so as to know in which direction you should work and not to waste your time on insignificant things.
Be specific in establishing your goals. You can use the SMART method when planning a strategy. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based. An example of a SMART goal will look like this:
- Increase the traffic to the website by X% in a year.
To achieve this goal, you need to set KPIs (key performance indicators). For example, for this specific goal, a KPI would look like this:
- Post 4 blog posts per week to reach 20 000 new visitors to the website in a month.
Set KPIs for each of your goals and it would be easier to achieve them.
Step 2 - Define Your Target Audience
The next thing to do is to define your target audience. How well do you know your audience? Research and understand what they like, what motivates them, which type of content they prefer. Collect data about the website visitors, subscribers, social media followers. Segment them by their age, gender, education, interests, etc. This way you’ll understand what’s your audience expectations are from you, and you’ll be able to create content that your audience is truly interested to read or watch.
Define your buyer persona, which is the profile of your ideal customer. You can collaborate with the sales team to better understand the behavior of customers, as they are in direct contact with them. If you want to dig more, you can try to collect feedback from your customers. It will help you to understand if they are satisfied with your content and what you need to change.
Step 3 - Research Your Competitors
Next, research the competition. Analyze how they are attracting people, what type of content they are producing, etc. Note that you should analyze not only your traditional competitors, who are producing the same product/service but also news sites, entertainment sites that are producing similar content for your target audience. Try to find out all the places where your audience is hanging out. Pay attention to the keywords they are targeting and which of their content is more successful.
Step 4 - Review Your Existing Content
If you’re a new brand and haven’t created any type of content then skip this step. If you’re not, then you need to pay attention to this step. Analyze and review your existing content. You may get valuable insights from this information. Investigate what type of posts were interesting for customers, what they reacted to mostly, what channels were the most successful and the least successful. It will help you to identify your mistakes and improve them. Also, find out the keywords that your audience is using in order to find you.
Step 5 - Decide Your Content Type
You’ve already done tons of research, it’s time to put everything you learned into action. Depending on the preferences of your target audience, choose the channels and the content types. Also, note that there are some content types that every content marketing strategy should include.
Most successful content marketing strategies always have content published on their website. They can be then repurposed and shared on other sites. Blog posts are still an important part of the content. They should be valuable, actionable and easy to share. Some of the readers prefer long, well-researched blog posts, some don’t, it all depends on your industry and audience’s preferences.
Another important content type to consider is video. Video is becoming more and more popular according to SEO statistics. It has high ROI, improves lead generation and keeps customers’ attention much longer. So, if your audience likes this type of content, then video is definitely worth it.
If your goal is to improve lead generation, then you should think about creating lead magnets. A lead magnet is something that you offer to your future subscribers so that they join your email list. It can be an eBook, webinar, worksheets, or some other valuable thing that will incite people to join your channel.
Other content types such as podcasts, infographics, graphics can also help you reach your goals if that’s what interests your audience. Always pay attention to what your audience likes and follow the trends, as content trends can change drastically. Don’t be afraid of trying new things, especially if that’s what your audience wants.
Step 6 - Plan Your Resources
Now, as you already know what content you are going to create, where you are going to share it and who it is for, it’s time to identify and allocate your resources. You must be sure you have everything you need to create the content you want. You need to find answers to the following questions:
- Who is responsible for producing and maintaining the content?
- What human, technical and other resources do you need to create high-quality content?
- What will your content workflow look like?
The first question is about allocating roles. It depends on the size of your company and content team, but usually, there are 3 important components.
- The CEO or the head of marketing has final approval of the overall marketing strategy and content marketing strategy.
- The content marketing manager is responsible for creating and implementing the content marketing strategy on a daily basis and working with the content team.
- And finally, individuals are responsible for creating the content according to their expertise.
Next, you need to find out what resources you have and what additional resources you need in order to create the type of content you want. Find the specialists you need, whether they are freelancers or full-time employees. Content specialists are content writers, graphic designers, video creation specialists, etc.
And finally, think about how your content production process would be. Typically it looks like this:
- Creating the outline and approving it
- Creating the content (writing the post, creating the video, etc.)
- Sending it to the editor
- Making final changes if needed
Step 7 - Set the Content Calendar
Use a content calendar and schedule the posts. If you don’t have a lot of content to publish you can use Google Calendar to schedule your posts. Simply put the due dates of each post there. If you have a lot of content to post and you have to manage the content team and the workflow, you should think about other methods of scheduling. Task management tools like Asana or CoSchedule have all these features that you will need when managing the content workflow.
Step 8 - Create the Content
Finally, it’s time to create the content itself. This is the most creative part of your work and probably the most interesting. With the research done previously, you already have an understanding of what type of content you are going to create. Now you have to find out the topics that will interest your audience.
Topic research is a very important part of content creation, as, no matter how high-quality content you create, if the topic is not relevant to the audience it will have no results.
When you’ve chosen the topics, research them, find out what’s already out there and how you can create content that will add value to customers. Don’t forget about keyword research and try to make your content SEO-friendly.
SEO optimization is important as it makes it easier for people to find your content. If people can’t find your content on search, it’s useless to create it.
And finally, create the content. Try to find your brand’s voice and style. You can be very professional or casual, or somewhere in the middle. Just make sure your style is helping to grow your brand’s personality and is not ruining it. This is the most important step in your strategy, so don’t rush, take your time, make sure you create high-quality content that is interesting for your audience.
Step 9 - Publish and Distribute the Content
After you’ve created, checked and reviewed the content, it’s time to publish it. But remember that it’s not enough. You should make sure it will reach the intended audience. Share it on different social media channels, use email marketing to distribute your content to subscribers. If there are any influencers mentioned in your content, they can also share your content. Besides your website, you can use other publishing sites to post your content. Remember to use content scheduling tools to post everything in time.
Step 10 - Measure the Results
And the final step in your content marketing strategy is to measure the results of your strategy. Return to your KPIs and goals and check if you’ve achieved them, what’s changed, what’s working and what’s not. You can use Google Analytics to analyze the performance of your content. Check if other sites are referring back to your content, use a brand monitoring tool to find out which media and blogs write about you and your content.
By measuring the results, you’ll be able to understand if your strategy is working and change it if necessary. The creation of a content marketing strategy is rather a cycle than a one-off task. You learn more and more every day and by making little improvements with every cycle, you’ll develop a great strategy that works perfectly for your business.
Keep in mind that you won’t see fast results right after posting your first content. Great achievements require long-term efforts. It will take time, so be patient and work consistently and you’ll achieve your desired results.
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