Many businesses invest efforts in different marketing actions that are focused on “going for the kill” – trying to sell to people who don’t know who the business is, have expressed zero intention to buy and aren’t in a state of mind to hear the business out. It’s interruptive and in most cases simply doesn’t work. (And that’s when those efforts actually reach relevant target audiences).
In this post, I’ll try to help you take that step back and plan your efforts wisely using a more strategic approach.
First things first, let’s get on the same page:
What is a content marketing strategy?
A content marketing strategy is a well-planned approach focusing on communicating with your audience without bluntly selling to them. It’s done by creating valuable content, building trust, creating long-term relationships and turning them into users/customers when they’re ready through blog posts, SEO, social media, email marketing, storytelling, and so on.
Why a content marketing strategy is important
Do you want your content marketing efforts to be successful? Then that’s reason numero uno.
Content strategy for digital marketing ultimately breaks down to this:
figuring out what type of content will help your target audience and stimulate them to take action that will impact your business.
Once you do that, you get a certain level of flexibility to experiment with other potential revenue-making content avenues like paid advertising, sponsored content, and so on. Not only will you attract potential customers, but you’ll also be educating them along the way and turning them into better customers while simultaneously raising awareness for your brand.
How to plan and build a successful content marketing strategy
Creating from scratch is difficult because there is no content marketing strategy template you can copy and replicate success. However, there are some guidelines I can offer to keep you on the right course. Here are 7 things to consider:
1. Know your end game
Ask yourself this simple question: what are you trying to achieve? Define your goal(s) before you settle on your plan so you can determine what’s the best approach. Use the SMART methodology (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) to establish tangible and realistic goals.
2. Set up your KPIs
You need to measure your goals in order to accomplish them. Now, the thing with KPIs (key performance indicators) is that different businesses have different goals and challenges, so measurements vary to reflect those differences. While most common KPIs for digital marketing efforts include impressions, clicks, click-through rate, and conversion rate, remember this:
each marketing campaign is unique and requires specific KPIs to optimize for, depending on your budget, industry, type of business, and goals.
3. Know your audience
To get a clear idea of how to reach your target audience, you first need to have a good grip on who they are. You can’t be too general – research and map out who your ideal customers are to truly understand what their needs and challenges are. This is called buyer persona research and it’s vital for growing your audience and creating tailored content for it.
4. Figure out relevant topics
Think about keywords your audiences will search and plug them in Google’s Keyword Planner to compile a list of relevant ones. Monitor relevant industry terms and phrases on social media (Twitter is great for that) and keep an eye on current trends via Google Trends, YouTube trends and Reddit. Hubspot has a number of useful tools such as Blog Ideas Generator that will help you in the topics department.
5. Figure out best content types
As you progress with your content marketing efforts, you’ll create a central core of your published content. Until you do, you’ll have plenty of options. As you’ve surely noticed by now, blog posts are a mainstay of almost every content marketing strategy. Video, infographics, case studies, and ebooks all account for the most popular content marketing formats. Podcasts and audio blogs are increasingly becoming used as content delivery mechanisms to keep audiences engaged so you also need to think about their ears.
6. Form a distribution strategy
Content creation is just part of the effort – distributing it will help you attract more people and start interacting with them. Social media is mandatory to keep your brand at the forefront of the audience’s minds, while email marketing is great for a direct, one-on-one connection. A lot can be achieved through organic distribution if you don’t want to immediately burn through your budget on paid distribution. The best way is to delve deep into content amplification to create an omnichannel experience and make the most out of your work.
7. Measure and improve
Once things kick off, you need to evaluate how your content is performing. Your continued success depends on those KPIs I mentioned earlier and adjusting to create the type of content you know is connecting with your audience. There are loads of tools out there (both free and paid) that will help you in this cause, such as Google Analytics, SemRush, Buzzsumo, and many more. Use them wisely.
While content marketing is constantly evolving, these core principles remain its pillars. If you follow these seven steps and do due diligence, I’m positive you will know how to create a successful content marketing strategy. It’ll take time, resources, and dedication to make it work but it will be worth it.
Content marketing strategy table of contents:
Know your end game
Set up your KPIs
Know your audience
Figure out relevant topics
Figure out best content types
Form a distribution strategy
Measure and improve