In the digital world where content is king, the importance of content creation is obviously known by many. Yet, content marketing doesn’t stop in the development process: there are the promotion and distribution processes, there is the content leveraging, content integration and many more.
Having a sound content marketing strategy will help you prepare all those important processes in two main areas: cost and reliability. Content marketing, as with any marketing, can be really expensive if you don’t plan it well, and you can even end up losing money. Second, even with all the effort you’ve put, you might not get any result at all. Having a clear strategy will help increase the effectiveness and reliability of your content marketing.
Below are several key areas you should focus on when developing a content marketing strategy:
- Targeting the right audience/buyer persona
- Determining the needs of said audience, and attempt to answer their questions and solve their problems with your contents
- Content formats you will focus on, or if you want to be diverse, how diverse?
- The uniqueness of your contents
- Which channels you will publish your contents
- Content scheduling and management
- Content promotion
- Content leveraging
A Step-By-Step Guide To Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
For the rest of this guide, will discuss the key steps you will need to take in building a content marketing strategy. Let us begin with the first one.
1. Determining Your Goals and Purposes
Any marketing plan, or even any plan at all, should begin by defining your goal(s). Your goals should be both specific as realistic. Focusing on too many goals at once not only can lead to confusion, but will divide your efforts. On the other hand, if your goals are unrealistic, you simply won’t produce the desired results, or any result at all.
Specific to content marketing, here are the common (and proper) goals you can focus on:
Contents, when delivered well, can effectively increase traffic to your site or blog. The KPIs for this goal should be the number of visitor, number of returning visitors/readers, engaged time on your site, and in some cases, conversion rates if your content involves CTAs
- Brand Awareness
The quality and relevance of your contents will determine how your visitor perceive your brand. Social shares both in quality and quantity (shares from those that matter to your brand).
- Lead Generation
You can specifically tailor your contents for lead generation purpose. Your KPI here are obviously the numbers of leads generated, and conversion rates of your landing pages.
- Nurturing Your Leads and Customers
Regularly giving valuable contents to your visitors including existing customers can maintain or even improve their loyalty. Focus on churn (retention) rate, upsell revenue, and returning customers as your KPIs.
Arguably, conversion should always be your ultimate goal. Case studies, white papers, and other informational contents regarding your products/services can effectively encourage conversion.
2. Finding Your Audience
Most businesses assume they know their audience, and they are right. However, it is also common for businesses to target the wrong audience, and they only realize it when they are too late. Don’t make that mistake!.
Knowing your audience is very important in content marketing, so that you can produce contents that are relevant and valuable for that specific audience. The most common (and effective) method to find your target audience is to create your buyer persona: a fictional, ideal representation of your customer. Here are several approaches you can try:
- Arguably, one of the easiest ways is to look at how your competitors are doing. Chances are, their audience can also be your audience. This is where competitive analysis (Link to guide) comes into play/
- Use your forms effectively to capture important information regarding your persona. Information like age, occupation, and gender are obvious, but you can also aim for more specifics depending on your niche.
- If you already have previous campaigns, look through your contact database and find patterns about certain leads or customers demographics.
- Collaborate with your sales team. Your sales often have more interaction with your leads and customers, and so they can have insights you don’t.
- Actively interview your customers and leads, it can be in person, over the phone, or even by utilizing forms. Especially, your interviews should be able to answer what they like about your brand, products, and services.
3. Determine Your Media
Now that you’ve determined your ideal audience, you should choose the right content media(s) that will cater to that audience. Just because video and live streaming seem to be where everyone is nowadays, doesn’t essentially mean it is the right medium for your business.
Audience is definitely the number one consideration here, as certain personas will be more comfortable with specific medium(s) over the others. However, there are two other major considerations you should have:
Different mediums will require different costs, although in this modern age the gap between the most expensive and the most affordable is getting closer. Producing a video content with high quality will require more money than a textual content. Remember that you should focus on a continuous developments and placements of contents, so manage your budget accordingly.
- Your Message
The message you want to say to your audience might be more effective if delivered in a certain form over the others. Your message should be aligned with the goal of your content marketing strategy (as discussed above). That way, it will help you in the process of choosing the right media.
4. Develop A Content Calendar
Arguably, the most important part of your content marketing strategy is to have a content calendar to effectively manage the what (content topics and ideas), when (to publish) and where (the media) of your contents.
There are two key aspects to developing a content calendar: first is to come up with content ideas that will turn into topics, and planning when and where you should publish them. Try to at least come up with a 6-months worth of content editorial calendar, with a 1-year calendar being most ideal.
There are many tools you can use in the idea generation process:
- Keyword Analyzer Tools like SEMRush, Moz’s Explorer, and others
- A very handy Blog Idea Generator tool by HubSpot
- RSS is still a thing, use Feedly to keep track of trending topics and contents in your niche
- Headline analyzer tool by CoSchedule
- BuzzSumo, a powerful and popular site to analyze and generate topics
‘And many more.
5. Get a Content Management System
In conjunction with your content calendar, you can use a content management system to manage everything about your content marketing strategy in one place.
A good content management system should at least cover the content development, publication, and analytics processes. There are many options you can try from free to paid ones, WordPress is arguably the most popular content management system out there, as well as a popular blogging platform. HubSpot also offers an excellent content management system.
6. Content Promotion
Content promotion is a pretty broad subject, and this guide won’t give it much justice. Refer to our previous content promotion guide for a more in-depth discussion here (link).
The idea is, promoting your content is as, if not more important than the content creation itself. It’s no use to have an excellent piece of content without anyone reading it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Promote your contents in your social media channels not just once, but with a set schedule depending on your customer’s behavior
- If budget allows, consider getting an influencer in your industry to promote your contents
- Guest posting still works if you do it properly, the key is not to focus on backlinks but reputation
- Paid advertising is always an option, if not the most important option out there. Consider running ad campaigns to promote your contents
7. Track and Pivot
Here is the harsh truth: no matter how well you plan and execute your content marketing, there is no guarantee that it will succeed. So, what we should do is to always keep track to our progress, and adjust our strategy whenever necessary.
This guide by Digital Marketing Institute covers all the important metrics for content marketing you should focus on.
One of, if not the most important key to a successful content marketing is to adapt with the changes, including your failures.
Having an actual strategy is very important to ensure the success of your content marketing, because as you can see, there are a lot of things beyond the content creation process. As with any strategy, the first thing you will need to do is establishing clear and realistic goals, and so you can move in the right direction.
It is also important to constantly monitor your progress, and adjust your strategy and even goals when necessary. A good marketer is one who knows when to pivot and when to endure, and having a clear plan in the beginning will help you assess each situation accordingly.