Marketers know that creating unique content is a proven way to grab customers’ attention. Creating high-value content in an engaging and natural manner can drive organic traffic, increase sales, and improve brand image and perception.
However, successfully completing this task over time requires careful and methodical planning. This is where a content marketing strategy comes into play. In this article, you’ll look at how a successful content marketing strategy is created and consider how you can start creating one for your own business.
What is content marketing?
Content is typically free and designed to attract branded customers with the goal of ultimately selling them on a product or service.
So, a content marketing strategy is a set of plans and initiatives that a business undertakes in preparation for its content marketing initiatives.
This includes determining the type of content, how it should be distributed, who its audience is, and so on. By taking these steps, companies can ensure that their content marketing is consistent and aligned with their broader business goals and objectives.
The importance of content marketing strategy
Content marketing is a valuable marketing tool, but it requires careful planning. Implementing a well-thought-out strategy early will provide a number of important benefits:
- Ensure consistency in your message. Defining the core themes of your marketing content up front will ensure that what you publish will align with your business intentions and avoid any inconsistencies that could confuse customers.
- Understand your target consumer segment. Choosing your content theme and positioning also helps define who the customer is and how they should be marketed. This should make marketing more effective and bring customers back to more content over time.
- Create predictable content releases. If content type and marketing channels are planned in advance, content release can be scheduled on a predictable, ongoing basis, which will help customers know when to look for new material and also help the business allocate resources most efficiently.
- Track and measure success. Strategy planning allows you to define key performance indicators that help measure the success of your campaigns. This way, businesses can understand what’s working overtime and make iterative adjustments to the plan in places that could use improvements.
Important considerations for your strategy
Before implementing a content marketing strategy, it is important to analyze the state of your business and take the following considerations into account:
What type of content should you produce? There are many forms of content types available to marketers – blogs, videos, infographics, long form articles, etc. and these are just a few of them. You must decide what is best for the material you plan to produce and take into account your target customer preferences.
Who is the target consumer segment? The content must be produced with a certain type of customer in mind. This ensures that the client can relate to it and keeps the material in focus.
What channels will you use to publish content? Similar to “content type,” figuring out where and how you publish material will impact how customers interact with it and how it performs over time. For example, a third-party video hosted on a website may result in more initial traffic, in while an offline blog can lead to better long-term SEO.
How often will you publish content? Whether you publish weekly, biweekly, or monthly, having a regular cadence ensures you don’t fall behind and allows customers to regularly expect new releases.
What is the ultimate goal of marketing initiatives? Since content marketing is by definition a form of marketing, you need to know what you’re trying to get customers to do in response to campaigns. Simply providing content that customers like is not enough—all actions and other response-based communications will have an important impact on what customers do after they consume content and explore your brand.
Components of a content marketing strategy
With these considerations in mind, you can now begin implementing your content marketing strategy. Some main components of this process include:
- Business plan. Business goals and objectives will help guide all aspects of content strategy development and should therefore be clearly understood during the planning process.
- Key performance indicators. Once the business plan has been defined, key performance indicators should be established to help track and measure marketing success over time against business goals and objectives. They can also be used to test changes in strategies over time.
- Buyer personas. Creating buyer personas will guide the process of identifying who the target customer segment is for marketing content, so the storytelling can focus on these specific customer types and increase engagement.
- Brand history. Once your target customer segment has been identified, establish an overall theme in the content that conveys a relatable story for your brand to connect with the customer.
- Time and frequency. The frequency with which material is produced must be established in advance so that customers know when to return to find new material. It also helps the marketing team to clearly understand their deadlines and requirements.
Types of content marketing
Finally, after you’ve worked through the various planning factors for your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to decide through which distribution channels you’ll publish the material. Some options include:
Blogs. A blog post is text-based content posted on a website, often in a more informal tone than a traditional article or report. This form of self-publishing can be beneficial for search engine optimization (SEO) as search engines begin to drive organic traffic to a brand’s own site based on the success of its blog posts.
Articles. In addition to self-published blogs, companies can submit articles to third-party media channels. This allows companies to be noticed by media companies’ followers and leverage their existing distribution.
Video. Vlogs, tutorials, demos and other video content provide an engaging multimedia experience that can be shared and posted on a variety of other channels. Video often has higher engagement than static marketing content.
Social networks. Companies can directly share text content and other media on social networks. For shorter form content, social channels are valuable because they allow content to be directly embedded into clients’ social media channels. This means customers can view content without having to go to an external website that they may not be familiar with.
Newsletters. A newsletter is a printed or digital report used to distribute regular news updates to its followers. Today, distribution is primarily through email, a scalable and low-cost medium. Since content is sent directly to customers’ inboxes, they are more likely to see the content than other channels.
Electronic books. Particularly in B2B industries, clients often want to download content that they can share with colleagues for viewing. Downloadable eBooks are an effective way to compress longer content. You can also use it as a data collection method by linking a download in exchange for the customer’s email address or other contact information.
Podcasts. Podcasts are audio programs that are often serialized and have a consistent theme throughout the episodes. They are now featured on all sorts of mainstream channels such as iTunes and Spotify, and are a common way for people to consume content on the go. This provides a way to get customers to listen to content in situations, such as commuting, where they may not otherwise view or read other forms of media.
Tips for Creating Your Content Marketing Strategy
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when developing your content marketing strategy. Here are some tips and tricks that can help make the process a little smoother when you get started.
Set business goals and expectations
Working with a business plan has been shown to give an organization a 30% greater chance of growing. Building a content marketing strategy is no different. Plans should contain clear goals for how content marketing will impact business requirements.
For example, if a business goal is to drive more traffic to a website, an SEO-optimized blog with well-researched industry-related keywords may be more relevant than other forms of content strategies. Conversely, a business trying to improve its brand image with existing customers may find social media a better platform to engage and engage with customers.
Identify resource needs and allocate funds in advance
Content creation requires real resources. Writing blogs, creating infographics, and editing videos all require time, talent, and money. In fact, content marketing is an estimated $300 billion market, and companies on average spend about a quarter of their total marketing budgets on it!
As costs add up, it is important to plan ahead, define realistic budgets, and make sure stakeholders understand these allocations so that staffing and purchasing can be made within these requirements. This will ensure that costs don’t get out of control and minimize confusion and unexpected budget or staff cuts due to cost overruns.
Create a content calendar
Most content projects will have multiple parties involved and various stages of completion. Therefore, simply saying that content will be released at some cadence is often not enough and will most likely lead to project delays and backlogs.
A shared content calendar can help keep all parties aligned so they know when different parts of projects are due and keep each other updated on the status of those tasks. This should be done early in the planning process so that everyone knows their responsibilities in advance and can plan accordingly.
Constantly monitor results and repeat
KPIs are only effective if results are tracked and monitored over time. Any changes must be carefully tracked and iterations must be tested to refine the process. Achieving business goals is a continuous process.
Delivering content to customers through marketing automation
Creating a solid content marketing strategy is key to delivering valuable content to customers in a consistent manner on an ongoing basis.
However, delivering the required level of quality at scale requires marketing automation to help track content across channels, schedule and deliver content to customers, and track key performance indicators to understand how campaigns are performing and how they can be improved.