Content marketing is an extremely powerful tool, and many businesses are starting to utilize it. Research indicates that over 80% of companies are now implementing it as part of their marketing strategies. With such a high number, you would think that many of them would document their plan. Yet, less than 40% have taken the time to document whatever it is they are doing with regard to content marketing. Ignorance of how to create the right strategy is a challenge many businesses have.
Many marketing managers do acknowledge that they need to learn how to create effective ones. We will delve into the topic of how to create a content marketing strategy in our article below.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is when you create and distribute relevant content to a target audience. It aims at driving profitable customer action that will translate into conversions for a business. You stop focusing on hard pitching your services or products. Your focus shifts to giving relevant, usable content that responds to a need you have identified in your target audiences. It does not matter the size of the business; a solid content marketing strategy will provide solutions to all marketing needs.
The company will realize an increase in sales, cost-saving, and, most importantly, more loyalty from customers. It is critical to understand that content marketing should be an integral part of any of your processes. It will contribute to all marketing you do, including social media, SEO, PR, PPC, inbound and local marketing.
Developing a Content Marketing Strategy
When developing your content marketing strategy, think about the following?
- Do you really need a content marketing strategy? With the high level of competition, especially due to the online space, there is barely any business that would answer no to this question.
- What do you want to achieve with content marketing?
- Do you understand your target audience?
- Which keywords will help attract the right audiences?
- What content should you produce?
- How often should the content go out?
- Which channels will you use to push out your content?
- What are your competitors doing?
- Which Resources do you need?
The process of developing your content strategy requires research. You then proceed to create and publish information that gives value to your audiences. But, without understanding how to create a content marketing strategy, you will be operating in the blind.
So, let us look at the process you need to take below.
How to create a content marketing strategy
Follow our step-by-step guide below when developing your content marketing strategy.
1. Identify Your Mission and Goals
Like any other strategy, start with a clear mission and the goals you hope to achieve. Your mission statement will guide your thinking and processes. It will allow you to align your activities, thereby helping you stay on track. The most critical elements of your mission statement include:-
- Identifying your target audience
- Deciding on what content you will use to reach them
- Outlining how they will benefit from the content you share
The next important step is to decide what your business goals are. They could for example be:-
- The use of content marketing strategy to improve income.
- Get high quality leads that you will be able to achieve into conversions.
- Attract more traffic to your website for greater brand and product awareness.
- Position yourself as a thought leader by improving the perception of the audience’s towards your business thus gaining industry influence
- Achieve better success with your SEO activities.
- Better utilize your marketing budget by reducing the overall costs.
- Improve engagement with the audiences on social media platforms
The goals we have highlighted above are just some of the things you could be working towards. Each business has its unique vision and mission, and that is what will guide in coming up with measurable goals for your business.
You must have ever stick to the SMART principle when developing your goals. They should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. You should also be willing to adjust your goals accordingly. Some goals may, over time, become irrelevant or require tweaking depending on different circumstances.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Many business owners think that the more people they talk to, the better chances of conversions. The reality is that you could be talking to the wrong people, thus wasting time and money. Identify your target audience so that you increase the chances of the right people hearing your messages.
Developing a target person is not a simple job because you really need to have a good understanding of who you want to talk to. It means you do market research to understand what their needs are or what gaps exist in the market. The critical components you need to check when developing a targeting persona include:-
- Marital status
- Education level
- From Where they shop?
- How many children they have?
- Where do they work?
- What media platforms do they consume?
- What sways their purchasing decisions?
- How much influence do other people have in whether they consume a particular brand or product?
- What are their hobbies, interests, lifestyle behavior?
- Who are the main decision-makers?
- What are their needs?
- What obstacles do they face when purchasing products or services?
The points above are just guidelines, but not the whole list of what you need to look at when developing a target audience. It is, however, a very critical step that you should spend a bit of time on. It will be quicker and easier to generate relevant content if you have a good understanding of who you are talking to.
You will connect with them at their point of need by giving them workable solutions. The advantage you have is that you have so many online tools available that can help the process. Such include social media analytics, web analytics, surveys, Google Analytics, to name a few.
Customer feedback is also critical because it gives you more direct information. Depending on how you format your questions, you can learn a lot about your target audiences. They will tell you how they feel about your content and what they feel you need to address. It eliminates guesswork when you are collecting critical information for your content marketing strategy.
3. Set Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
The main reason why you have goals is that you are working towards something. Your content marketing strategy should, therefore, have a set of performance indicators. It helps you know whether you are working in the right direction or not. You will need to set KPIs for each goal you have highlighted above.
Be realistic, specific, and make sure each is measurable. For marketing purposes, you should ideally attribute a figure to each KPI. You could for example work towards:-
- Increasing revenue by 20% within the first six months.
- Grow your organic community by 10% for each social media campaign.
- Add a certain number of new email subscribers.
- Increase web traffic by a certain percentage.
- Get better engagement for your social media posts.
- Increase the number of people who share, like or comment on your posts
- Cut down on the overall marketing costs by a certain percentage, among others
4. Take an Honest Look At Your Current Position
The one thing you need to understand as a business is that many other companies are competing for the attention of the audiences. Many companies are churning out material, and the end consumer has so much choice. You may, therefore, find that what you have is not very different from what is already out there. That is the reality of the market situation and the reason why you need to take an honest look at your current position.
Therefore, you need to do a content audit, which can be a difficult process. You need to see whether the content you are churning out is really contributing to the achievement of your goals. You need to be honest enough to acknowledge that you may just be creating content for the sake of it. It could explain why you do not see any positive shifts in the metrics, despite being consistent with posting blogs and other content across the board.
The audit will also help you determine whether there are any gaps in your communication and what you need to tweak. Looking at what competitors are doing will help you come up with better content while avoiding the mistakes they could be making.
Make sure you look at what the customers are saying to better understand what it is they want in terms of content.
- Take advantage of tools such as SEMRush and Screaming Frog to analyze the content. You will get information on the descriptions and titles, length, backlinks, and social shares.
- Use tools such as Rival IQ and Buzzsumo to give you more information about what your competitors are doing.
- Determine the usefulness of the content by checking the number of inbound links, the use of relevant keywords, and whether people are sharing your content or not. Use tools such as position tracking tools and site audit for this. You may find that you need to eliminate some content or improve them somehow.
- Identify gaps that you can use to your advantage. It could include paying more attention to the keywords, responding to audience queries, and seeing how you can rank better on the search engines. An excellent tool to use is Ahrefs and SEMRush.
5. Keyword Research
Keyword research is critical if you want to rank highly on the search engines. The audiences use particular keywords when they are searching for goods or services. When you understand your audiences well, it will make it easier for you to determine which keywords they are likely to use. If you are struggling with finding keywords, use tools such as Ubersuggest to help with the process.
It is critical that you combine both long and short-tail keywords. Target both competitive and non-competitive keywords with a greater focus on the long-tail variations. If you use a keyword like exercise clothes, it is a generic search term and will target a broad audience base.
If you target keywords such as ‘exercise clothes for the plus-size,’ you will be able to narrow down or segment your audiences better. The advantage to do in this is you get better quality leads, giving you a better chance of conversions.
You could also get excellent ideas for keywords by looking at the words your competitors use for getting feedback from your audiences and team. Input all the keywords into a spreadsheet because it will guide the type of content you create.
6. Determine the Channels to Use
The main advantage of understanding your target audience is you get to know what kind of media they consume. You already have a good idea about where they are on social media platforms. You also know what kind of traditional media they like. This is the best way to focus your efforts on platforms that actually work for you. It also saves you from spreading yourself too thin.
One of the most powerful tools you have is the use of Google analytics. It tells you where your audiences are most active with regard to your content. You also have the option of using other tools such as Buzzsumo. You get reports on shares by network, content type, and length and which has had top placement within the past year.
7. Determine the Type of Content You Need to Share
We have talked a lot about content as one of the key components you need to be very careful about. It may look quite simple, but it can be very difficult to determine the best for your content marketing strategy. Take advantage of your website and look for opportunities to share it on other sites. Blog posts are critical, and if you do it well, you will get excellent results.
Think about action, value, and how shareable they are. The advantage of blog content is that you can tackle a wide range of topics. Use tools such as Answer the Public, Moz keyword explorer, and Bloomberryas resources.
The most critical step is to determine the keywords you will need to use and then fashion your content around them. The list you have available is very long and includes things like interviews, DIYs, FAQs, podcasts, and press releases, to name a few. You must, however, only use those that your target audience needs. Depending on what you’re pushing, for example, how-to tutorial work very well. Make sure the type of content helps you accomplish your goals.
Incorporate things such as videos because you will get more interaction with video content and text. You significantly improve the chances for better engagement resulting in a lower abandonment rate.
The use of graphics and memes can work well on platforms such as social media. Webinars, eBooks, and worksheets will help position you as an authority. Also, take advantage of platforms such as podcasts for better audience engagement.
8. Decide How to Allocate the Resources
The success of your content marketing strategy largely relies on the factors we have already highlighted above. It also depends heavily on how you allocate the resources you have available to you. You will need to develop some of the content, such as videos. You also need human resources to produce and maintain your content. Delegate tasks to the appropriate persons, so that you maintain consistency.
Some companies will do it in house, while others may hire a third party to run their platforms. It is not a simple job, and whoever you put on it should be able to handle the day-to-day tasks effectively.
You can also invite freelancers to contribute content, thereby eliminating the need to hire someone in-house. For video content, make sure you produce high-quality footage that has excellent sound. There is a lot that goes into developing blog posts. You need to have the right ideas, create outlines, write the article, and get the necessary approvals. Consider the use of images because they attract audiences more.
9. Schedule the Posting of Your Content
Lack of consistency is a big reason why many people do not do well with content marketing. Marketers go into the process, thinking it is a simple job. Only later do they realize how difficult it can be. They make the mistake of haphazard posting of content. Audiences pick up on the inconsistency and move to competitor sites that are more careful about scheduling.
Come up with a calendar of activities to guide how you push out your material. Google has made it simple for marketers by availing the Google calendar. Simply input the due dates, and you get reminders on when to post your content. Other tools, such as Schedule and HubSpot, have inbuilt editorial calendars that are excellent for scheduling.
You can very well imagine how creating content can be time-consuming. Also, you run the risk of developing fatigue if you are not realistic about your scheduling. You would rather post a blog once a fortnight if it is more manageable for you. Thinking that you can come up with content every week may be unrealistic, depending on what else you are doing on other platforms.
10. Create Your Content
Once you understand your audiences and the platforms they use, you will find it easier to create relevant content. It is crucial for you to do the following:-
- Research on what already exists and how you can make it better. A simple Google search should give you the information you need.
- Make sure you input the relevant keywords so that you maximize search engine optimization.
- Incorporate your brand personality when coming up with content. Be professional without being too rigid, because of audiences like easy-to-digest, interesting content.
- Showcase your expertise, without appearing as a know-it-all or pushy
- Think about implementing the One Home Run Quarter Strategy. The strategy requires that you get a Homerun by using material that is relevant to your audiences. You can encourage anyone who is interested in the material to give you relevant personal information before they can access the material. Also, you can collect pertinent information that you can use to generate leads.
- You do not have to have fresh content all the time. You can repurpose what you already have, thereby giving you more material to push out. When repurposing the material, incorporate feedback from your audiences so that you improve it further.
- Think about using influencers to push your content. They have a large following and can help you build organic traffic. There are also fantastic for product reviews, How-to tutorials, among others.
- Internal links will help with your search rankings and will keep people on your platform longer. Tools such as Yoast plugin are wonderful resources for building excellent internal links.
When creating content:-
- Create a rough draft, let it sit for a while, go back and read it, and then make the necessary edits.
- Let someone else read the articles because it gives you a chance to edit any mistakes. Audiences do not like to read articles that are full of grammatical errors. You also paint your organization in a bad light by posting such content.
- Take advantage of online tools such as Grammarly to edit your work.
- Be careful about plagiarism or posting work that you have not researched well
- Create fresh content and avoid recycling
We have looked at the steps you need to take when creating a marketing strategy. It requires effort and time to come up with the right one. Consider your strategy as a live document that you continue to tweak depending on the successes and failures. Measure everything you’re doing to determine whether you need to keep doing it or rework your whole strategy. Feedback from the audiences is a good indicator that your plan is working.
Tools such as Google Analytics will let you know how people are interacting with your content. You also get to know exactly where they spend the most time giving you excellent feedback on what you need to build or discard.