How to Create a Powerful Content Marketing Strategy
The strategy in general is still not valued in terms of importance and magnitude of impact it has on a business. Yet, many business owners and managers consider strategy as a useless bunch of papers, while they are interested in producing money not papers.
The strategy is needed because it shows the path, where the business is, where the business wants to be, what goals are to be accomplished and how to achieve these goals. It’s like a magnetic compass, the roadmap and framework where you return to take or retake direction, measure and improve.
A the strategy is “a general direction set for the company and its various components to achieve a desired state in the future. Strategy results from the detailed strategic planning process”. - Management Study Guide
Without strategy it’s like grabbling in the dark, or some try and error play. In our ever-evolving world this approach means losing even before starting a business. So, strategy is a compulsory requirement.
There is a never-ending discussion concerning strategy and plans and quite often they are considered equivalent terms. Strategy does not equal plan, strategy uses tools like plans and tactics to be designed and implemented.
A plan is a ” Written account of intended future course of action (scheme) aimed at achieving specific goal(s) or objective(s) within a specific timeframe. It explains in detail what needs to be done, when, how, and by whom, and often includes best case, expected case, and worst-case scenarios.” - Business Dictionary
Thus each company needs a general strategy, this general strategy should contain a marketing strategy. And integrant part of the marketing strategy is the content marketing strategy.
In line with what was written at the beginning of this article, Content Marketing Institute in its research for 2017 found out that just one third of B2B have a documented content marketing strategy.
The aim of this post is to create a content marketing strategy framework based on which you can easily design your own content marketing strategy. To face and beat the competition you absolutely need a solid content marketing strategy in place.
Now, realizing a content marketing strategy is not that simple as it might seem, it implies time and sustained effort, Convince & Convert sustains they need about 60 days to conceive a content marketing strategy.
A content marketing strategy gives the directions and ensures that your resources, time and money are spent in the purpose of reaching your own goals and expanding your business. This strategy will create the conditions to improve the distribution of your content, extend your audience, attract new leads and customers.
In short, how do you proceed to build a content marketing strategy? Here is the process to create it:
1. Starting Point: Set Your Goals.
What’s the aim of your content marketing? Knowing your why before starting will ease your job. This target, this purpose is the fundament of your strategy. Your goal might be:
* Increase organic traffic
* Increase brand awareness
* Generate more leads
* Increase the subscriptions to your newsletter
Establishing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) content marketing goals is important.
2. What’s Your Distinctive Element?
90% of the online content was created in the past two years. Every minute in the world is produced a huge amount of content, see SmartInsights infographic below:
In this overwhelming ocean of content, which will be your competitive advantage? What will differentiate your content from that produced by your competition? Why would your audience read your content? This is a rough challenge for content marketers, how do you stand out?
Some distinctive elements might be:
* Provide huge value
* Provide inspirational/motivational message
* Infuse story telling
* High quality visual content
* Humorous/satiric writing style
3) Run a Content Marketing Audit.
Before starting any strategy, an analysis or an audit of the existing situation is needed. Check on your past content marketing efforts and see what results you had, which of your content was the most successful, what format it had, etc.
Go to Google Analytics and see:
Analyze the performance of your content using BuzzSumo.
Profit on existing tools and verify how you stand with your marketing efforts, use a site grader like HubSpot's Website Grader for example. Website Grader appreciates and grades the principal areas of your marketing, from blogs, SEO to social media, and provides a detailed report with strengths and week points and recommendations for improvement. The tool shows you some ways to improve your site’s SEO and may offer some interesting content ideas.
Take a look at the content marketing produced by competition and influencers in your industry and check on its performance. Count on Ahrefs and SEMrush to reveal some insights.
4. Define the Metrics for Your Content Marketing
The metrics you will use to measure the results of your content marketing should be in accordance with your goals. If your goal refers to leads measure that, if your goal is views, again track that. If your scope are the leads, then likes and social shares might not be exactly relevant.
Use relevant content marketing metrics to help you achieve your goals.
5. Define Your Buyer Personas
The objective settled will indicate who’s your audience, your buyer personas, the persons whom are you writing for. You need to clearly establish and define who are your buyer personas, which are their characteristics (demographics, interests, scope, fears, etc), what problem they have and how can you solve it.
Use data mining, social media channels and search to gather information and conduct face to face interviews with your clients. Also, ask your sales and customer service personnel for help in defining the buyer personas. The better you know them, the better content you can produce.
Knowing your audience’s needs and interests provides you a valuable edge. Search for the keywords that your audience uses to ask her questions and use them in your content. Use tools like Answer the Public, Quora, Reddit or Twitter Audience Insights to discover what are your readers searching and asking about and create the corresponding content.
Gather these needs for each persona and buyer’s journey stage and create a pool of content that is necessary.
6. The Core Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy is the Content Execution Plan
By now you should know who do you write for and what you should write. It’s time to brainstorm and establish the type of content needed for each buyer persona and journey stage. Answer the questions of each persona in each of the buyer’s journey stage. The challenge is to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.
Generate valuable content ideas.
Finding content ideas might be tricky sometimes. To get some inspiration and new suggestions check on some existing content generation tools that might be of help:
* BuzzSumo: From such a list, BuzzSumo could not be excluded. It rates popular content, displaying social shares and likes. So, you will have a good idea of content topics that have great chances to become popular.
* HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator: Insert keywords, topics or general terms, and after the tool makes its magic you will receive a list with post ideas.
* Feedly: A RSS feed that keeps you up to date with trends in your industry and can for sure drop you some juicy content ideas.
* ContentIdeator. Offers you information concerning the popular content of your competitors, keywords to use and content ideas.
Pick the content format to be used
Content can be presented for consumption in various forms. Nowadays the reader is in a continuous hurry and the content should be presented in an attractive form and easy to digest. This is the recipe to grab and keep his attention. Some of the most popular content marketing formats are:
The most used and common format of content is the blog post. To attract new audience and keep your readers returning, you have to constantly publish new content. Posts, like all the content otherwise, should provide value for your readers and respond to their interests. From SEO point of view longer blog posts of more than 1000 words are preferred, but it’s better to keep an eye on your audience preferences.
Ebooks are used in general as lead magnets. Generally, they are a longer piece of content that potential clients download after completing a form with their contact details. Ebooks have a smaller publishing frequency and contain more in-depth knowledge relative to a certain subject.
Infographics are by far my favorites, especially when they have an elegant design. They are very attractive and visually appealing and extremely useful when you want to present a set of data in a simple, interesting way.
Templates are another very useful content format, as they provide high value for your readers and leads for your business. Templates are shortcuts that support your readers in their endeavors and save time for them.
Video is a type of format that rise significantly in the preferences of content consumers. They tend to be more engaging and are more shareable across social platforms. Producing them might require supplementary resources, but they are more likely to get more shares than other formats.
Podcast is an alternative format for persons that don’t like reading or don’t have the necessary time. As the number of podcasts listeners is growing, this is a format to be considered if interesting interviews/talks can be arranged.
These are just the most frequent content formats, but there is a myriad of other format types. Here is a comprehensive list:
Then organize and put together a calendar for the content that will be created daily, weekly, monthly.
Don’t forget to use call-to-actions to help your clients gauge what you want them to do next.
7. Create a Content Distribution Plan
To cite Jonathan Perelman “Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.” You might have the greatest content of the world, if no one sees it, it’s useless. So, just creating high quality content marketing is not enough, you should spread the word too and share it.
Draw a detailed action plan, with steps and timelines, to establish which content will be published where and when. Optimize your content before publishing on your site and on social media.
Insert in your strategy paid ads campaigns, if your budget allows it. If properly managed, this is a great way to increase your traffic.
Create connections with authoritative sites and influencers in your industry to boost your traffic and leads.
Schedule original content for guest posts.
8. Establish a Budget
Budget is an essential point that cannot be absent from any content marketing strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute study for 2017, in average 29% of the marketing budget is spent on content marketing and 39% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spending for the next year.
So, establish how much you can spend on content marketing? Include content creation expenses, promotion expenses, paid ads, reserve funds for content marketing.
Creating and implementing a successful content marketing strategy that brings results takes time and effort. But you have above the foundation to build it.