Create a Content Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps

Marketing content is a communication tool.  Optimizing your marketed content will help drive results and create meaningful connections with your target audience. Building a content marketing strategy will ensure that your resources – time, energy and money – are set on reaching a particular business goal. Focusing on this goal will help you create relevant and meaningful content pieces that will stand out and help you attract new visitors, all the while you listen to the needs of your existing customers.

 

A content marketing strategy will help you plan the creation and delivery of content so you can reach a much broader audience and distribute the content more effectively to professionals, bloggers, and journalists.

Do you have a content marketing strategy?

 

According to Content Marketing Institute’s research, 72% of B2B marketers said that having a content marketing strategy implemented to increase the odds of their organization’s success, whereas only 27% have a documented content marketing strategy in place.

 

Many companies avoid developing a content marketing strategy because it requires a substantial amount of effort. Whatever the reason, we recommend you give it shot. We can lend you a hand and assist in the process.

 

How to Create Content Marketing Strategy

 

To make things easier and clearer, we are going to walk you through the five basic steps of creating a content marketing strategy.

 

1. Define Your Objectives

 

Step number one of getting on the path toward building a winning strategy is defining your objectives. Make sure to align your digital marketing mission and objective with your overall business mission and objective. From there, derive your content marketing strategy’s goal.  

 

Think about how you want your content marketing to help you achieve your goal. Well defined objectives and clear KPIs will help guide your content marketing efforts further. A handy KPI template to use might be: goal, e.g. ‘Increase traffic’ by X% in X months. But be realistic about the expectations, and identify methods that will help you measure each KPI. That way you will be able to have positive results and keep track of your efforts and the effectiveness of your strategy.

 

2. Explore the Competitive Landscape

 

The second step of creating a strategy is investigating your main competitors. Discover what kind of content they produce and how it is performing. Also, look at industry leaders and learn what they do. You can take your efforts a step further and use tools such as BuzzSumo to analyze specific posts and articles, or Ahrefs and SEMRush to analyze keywords and organic traffic.

 

Learn what works in your niche and how your competitors attract and keep the attention of their target audience, allowing you to employ similar tactics to lure customers over and convert them.  

 

3. Find Out What Worked (and What Didn’t)

 

Now that you know what works for the competition, it’s time to turn the focus back on your own content. Find out what types of content brought you success in the past, and which ones were not so popular.

 

The easiest way to do this is by going to Google Analytics. For example, use it to check which articles are getting the most page views. You can also track keywords that are driving the largest volumes of organic traffic to your website; your social media channels; the types of devices used to access certain content. Explore how your content performed in the past, but not only what worked best, but also pay attention to low performers. That is the type of content you want to stay away from in your new strategy.

 

4. Learn to Speak Your Audience’s Language

 

In order to best communicate with your audience, you have to able to ‘speak their language’ and address their interests and needs. Supposing you already know who your target audience is (you do, don’t you?), it should be easy to place them at the heart of your content marketing strategy.

 

Begin by developing personas. Use market research and insights from your current customer base. Start with determining the basics such as age, gender, location, then move further and identify the problems you can help your target personas solve. Look at the information stored in your Google Analytics account and use the “Audience Reports” to identify key characteristics of your target persona. Additionally, you can use tools like “Answer the Public” and Twitter Audiences to see what your target audience is searching for in Google.

 

5. Identify Your Means and Make the Plan

 

Before making a plan, make sure you have the means to commit to it. Define your budget, and allocate a specific portion to each digital channel you want to use for paid promotion, but keep it flexible so you can make future allocations based on the results each channel brings you. Review your current channels and decide which ones to keep and whether you want to invest in new ones depending on where your customers are and the time you have available. Look at your team and assess what you can achieve and identify whether you need to hire more people.

 

Now that you know what you have, make the plan but don’t stick to it. Insightful assumptions and analysis can’t predict how your audience is going to behave. Therefore, you need to continuously measure and monitor the performance of your content marketing strategy and make adjustments where needed.

 

Determine the content types you are going to produce including blog posts, how-tos, ebooks, infographics, videos podcasts, to name a few. Next, establish the process for content creation including a schedule for content creation and publishing; assign who will come up with ideas and a chain of approval for the ready content; and decide who is going to create it.

 

Then, make a promotion plan to get the most out of your content. Since you already know which channels you want to use, and your budget per channel, you can plan your regular social media posts as well as paid promotion.

 

Lastly, identify KPIs for each channel and processes to measure in order to determine what’s working. Constant monitoring and measuring will help you assess your efforts and make the necessary changes and refinement to your strategy.

 

Once your strategy is documented, and roles and responsibilities are defined, share it with your team members, and other teams you work closely with. Whether you are operating independently or working with a digital marketing agency, ensure you are relating your business goals with your content marketing strategy.

 

Learn to Share the Right Content at the Right Time

Anyone who is involved in content marketing knows that effective customer engagement requires more than simply publishing content on the company blog and social media to the same aggregated audience. Reaching the audience that is most likely to take action – like, share, comment, sign up for your newsletter, click to get a special discount code, or visit and browse through your website – requires the right timing. The first step to being successful in content marketing is to create quality content that answers your audience’s most important questions. The next, is sharing that awesome content at the right time.

Here are guidelines on how to time your content sharing strategy better and improve your audience’s engagement.

 

1. Learn About Your Audience

You may already know how your regular buyers behave around your website and social media profiles, and tailor your efforts around that knowledge. You might want to rethink that approach. Yes, knowing how your current clients behave is great, but your content is aimed at engaging a wider audience that is your potential customers and prospects. So listen closely to the audience, and make sure you keep up with the newest trends. They evolve together with your prospects’ habits so you must evolve as well to stay current, informative, and engaging.

Besides being active on social media and listing to your customer’s online conversations, continue to learn about your customers by using your own customer data. Extract data and statistics from all of your internal resources like your website, social network profiles, analytics, and CRM. This will help you follow your clients’ journey, from prospects to buyers, and learn how they move through every stage, and what type of content pushes them further down the sales funnel. Which leads us to the next step.

 

2. Map Out the Buying Cycle of Your Buyer Persona

Now that you assembled all the data, it’s time to map out each step of the way that your buyer personas make, from being a new visitor to becoming a customer. Analyze which devices they use, what type of content they find most engaging, and what questions they need answered in every stage.

By analyzing the audience’s’ engagement with your content throughout the sales funnel, you’ll be able to identify which types of content work at the beginning of the cycle, and which work in the later stages of the cycle.  Once you identify the patterns of your buyers’ decision making cycles, you will be able to identify their typical paths to purchase and utilize predictive analysis with your overall content strategy. The insights about your audience’s behavior can also be very helpful in the process of optimizing your ecommerce conversion funnel.

 

3. Choose the Right Time

After understanding your potential and current customers, you need to figure out when to publish your content. Since everything we post online is available at any time, you may wonder why it is important to pick a specific time. The answer is: because you don’t want your content to get lost in your customers’ cluttered news feeds and inboxes. Sending too many emails may tire them and push them to unsubscribe, and sending a message too late can cause a permanent loss of conversions.

The content may be accessible at any moment, but your buyers aren’t accessing it all the time. So it’s very important to deliver your message at the precise moment when your audience is ready and willing to read it. The best way to determine the right time for sharing content, depending on the types of content and your audience’s preferences, is to test publish at different times.

Generally, people connect early in the morning, while having their breakfast, and later in the evening when they come back home, after dinner. Also, lunchtime is when people are usually active on social media and check their personal emails. Another observation we made is that we can divide two phases of connection among young professionals: one to personal social networks in free time, especially over the weekend; and one dedicated to professional platforms upon arrival at work and during waiting periods between tasks and appointments.

 

4. Decide on the Right Publishing Channel and Format

By now you have learned from your data who to target and when. But in what format and which device do you need to broadcast it? Mobile users may not want to see and interact with the same information as a desktop user. Downloading and reading an ebook on your smartphone is not very convenient.

The way you relay your message will greatly influence the way it is perceived. So make sure you structure your content accordingly to the format and channel you are using, and the device you are targeting. Again, make these decisions based on the customer data you collected and analyzed before. People who are in different stages of the buying cycle respond differently to social media posts, emails, ebooks, or videos. Make sure you match the content with the stage they are in, especially if you are sending personalized content.  And make sure that you have content suitable for each audience member and each buying cycle stage throughout your website, social media profiles, email campaigns, newsletters, and whatever additional content type you share.

 

The greatest dilemma of sharing the right content for the right customer at the right time can be precisely answered only if you listen closely to your audience, and constantly analyze your data. In the Age of the Customer—when the customers are in control, and have access to tons of information and countless choices, it’s the marketer’s’ job to precisely meet their expectations at every moment in their buying cycle, or risk losing them to the competition.

We know that the struggle to create the content is hard enough, and additionally learning when, where and what to post can make if even more complex and time-consuming for you. And you end up spending the time on learning about content marketing. Let’s make a proposition – let us help you with your content marketing efforts while you focus on running and improving your business and creating new valuable business relationships.

 

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Get in touch and find out how our team can help you drive results!

Contact us today

 

Predictive Content – Why You Should Leverage It as a Marketer

If you’re a marketer, you almost certainly already use analytics every day.  The most common, and most obvious, way to use analytics as a marketer is to understand what brings visitors to your site, and what activities they engage in while they’re there.  However, there is a second use of analytics, and that is to use scoring algorithms to identify potential conversions, and use that data to identify what content will be most effective for the consumer.  This is called predictive content analytics.

What is Predictive Content Analytics?

Predictive content analytics is a relatively new approach to content marketing in which the supply of content is customized to match the demand.  As content marketers, there is a constant struggle to produce content that consumers will actually – well, consume.  The answer in the past has been to influence consumers in order to better shape demand, and the other approach (and typically, the domain of market research) aims to tailor content to more closely match demand.  Predictive content analytics streamlines the tailoring of content, taking it out of the hands of market researchers and into the hands of the content marketer.

Why Use Predictive Content Analytics?

To understand the benefits of Predictive Content Analytics, consider an example situation: you’re a content marketer consistently producing content, but then your traditional analytics show that only 5% or so of the content you produce is responsible for over 80% of your website’s interactions.  In other words, 95% of your content is failing to generate any results at all.  If this sounds familiar to you, there’s a reason: it’s very typical of most content marketing efforts.

So, as a business owner, how do you justify the expense of a content marketing strategy that is 95% useless?  Simple: the content that does produce conversions makes up for the cost of the content that doesn’t.  That’s the power of content marketing.

Imagine if you were able to get a higher percentage of your content to perform with that kind of efficiency.  Imagine you could get all of it to perform that way.  This is the power of predictive content.

How Predictive Content Analytics Works

So, all of this may sound well and good, but how does it work?  When developing a predictive content strategy, it is important to first understand where your current strategy is failing.  Why is it that 95% of your content is failing to draw interactions?  The answer, of course, is because all content is developed, more or less, based on educated guesses as to the habits and interests of consumers.

Using predictive analytics allows you to move out of the area of trial-and-error keyword research and content development, and get right to better results.

Predictive Analytics vs. Descriptive Analytics – Key Differences

In marketing, and content marketing in particular, we rely heavily on hindsight to do what we do.  Predictive analytics, rather than looking in the past, builds out a map of prospect interests right now and iterates those interests into the future.

Predictive content works by collecting data based upon what consumers are actually reading and interacting with right now.  Once that data is compiled, it can be predictively modeled, as long as you have access to predictive content analytics.  Predictive analytics systems take this data, and then take a look at your content repository, along with the content repositories of your competitors.  Then, for every piece of content, the analytics system builds a topic composite, defined by a cloud of keywords extracted from the content, consisting of the primary topics, peripheral topics, and associated topics that give that particular piece of content its unique character.

This allows you to do something you’ve not been able to do with traditional analytics:  look forward rather than backward.  With this composite, you can construct interest profiles on consumption patterns, and as consumers interact more content, those profiles actually evolve.

In this way, by performing simultaneous surveys of industry topics along with profiling their inter-relations and keeping track of interactions as always, the predictive content marketer can track user behavior pertaining to specific topics, and use it to build a projective content strategy.  This allows you to predict – in a measurable way – what content will capture the interest of consumers moving forward in a way that is constantly evolving.

The Brass Tacks of Predictive Content Analytics

So far, our discussion of predictive content analytics, fascinating though it may have been, is a little on the conceptual side.  Let’s talk about some real ways you can leverage predictive content analytics in your own content marketing practices, once you begin compiling interest data for both your own and competitors’ content.

  • Personalized Content Experience: By utilizing predictive content analytics along with simple tracking cookies, you can do something magical: display different content to different readers, based upon that reader’s unique interest profile.
  • Competitor analysis: By considering not only your own content but also competitors’ content in your interest profile, you can get a clearer picture of where those competitors stand in the content supply-demand race.
  • Anticipate Trends: Using predictive analytics, you can keep a closer eye on what industry thought leaders are writing about – allowing you to keep you finger more firmly on the pulse of your industry.

When it comes to crafting a successful marketing strategy, analytics is an important tool: but by allowing hindsight-laden traditional analytics to dictate your practices, you could end up living in – and marketing to – the past.  Predictive content analytics enables you to take a more real-time approach to development, make more accurate and informed decisions, and develop a deeper understanding of your own industry as a whole.

Have you used predictive content analytics? If so, would love to hear your ideas in the comments. If you’re looking for help getting predictive content analytics set up, reach out and our team would be glad to help!  And, remember to follow Visible Factors on Twitter.

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Get in touch and find out how our team can help you drive results!

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Content Marketing Metrics

Every content marketer wants to be able to measure the results of their campaign. But, very often they believe that they can’t accurately measure the results generated by their content. And the truth is, most content marketers give up after they check numbers of page views or social shares. The scope of metrics, however, goes way beyond that, extending to the fundamental business and its goals.

Let’s take a look at the four categories of content marketing metrics and what they actually mean. Then, you can decide which ones are most significant to you. 

Basic Consumption Metrics

Basic consumption metrics measure brand awareness and web traffic, answering the most fundamental content questions about how your strategy is performing. You get to see how many people viewed and accessed your content, while gaining an overall idea of which pages of your website are most popular and attractive to users.

Basic consumption data can be found in Google Analytics.

  • Users: total number of unique visitors to a particular page on your website
  • Page views: total number of times a particular page on your website is viewed
  • Pages/Sessions: total number of pages a user visits while browsing your website
  • Average time on page: average time spent on one page, for example a blog post  
  • Downloads: total number of times users downloaded your content
  • Retention metrics: number of returning visitors to your site and specific content pieces  
  • Bounce rate: percentage of people that leave a page of your website without viewing other pages
  • Email open rate: total number of opened emails shows how many people are interested to read your email content

The resulting numbers show which pages are attractive and unattractive to let you see which campaigns were effective, while providing insight into how you can drive people to your website

Sharing and Engagement Metrics

These metrics measure brand awareness and user engagement, showing you how your audience interacts and engages with your content. You will gain a clearer understanding about what types of content are more interesting to your audience and inspire interaction.  But keep in mind that sharing metrics measure publicity, not actual competitiveness of your content.

Some data can be found in Google Analytics, the social networks you use, as well as other free and paid tools.

  • Likes, tweets, +1s, pins: number of (positive) social reactions to the content you share on social media   
  • Shares: number of shares via social media but can also be analyzed as shares depending on type and length
  • Forwards: number of content forwards from one user to another, via email or direct messaging
  • Referral links and inbound links: number of link backs, usually to your website content
  • Comments: how many people commented on your social media posts

Social metrics are useful for determining what types of content you need to create to keep your audience engaged with your brand, and which to avoid. Also, they might reveal opportunities for future content campaigns.

 

Lead Generation

Lead generation and lead nurturing metrics track how your content is performing and whether it is fulfilling its purpose – converting visitors into leads that your sales team can take over, and turn into customers.

Google Analytics, as well as other tracking or CRM software can help you gather the necessary data.     

  • CTR click-through rate: measures how many clicks your calls-to-action- received
  • Form completions and downloads: total number of people who completed a form to download content
  • Email subscriptions: total number of email subscribers, old and new
  • Blog subscriptions: total number of people committed to reading your blog
  • Blog comments: number of people who interacted with your brand and need more information about a product or service
  • Total lead attribution: tracking where your leads are coming from
  • Conversion rate: total number of visitors who became leads

This group of metrics will inform you about content performance and help you identify which efforts push visitors further down the sales funnel, and which push them away. For example, you can identify if the copy or calls-to-action need improving, or perhaps you need to change the incentive.

Sales

Sales metrics are pretty obvious. You get to see how many people transitioned from visitors, leads, and to finally customers. They demonstrate whether your content marketing efforts were successful and profitable for the business. But to be able to measure the impact of content marketing, you need to create something trackable.

Typically, sales are measured though CRM systems, ecommerce systems, and other analytics software.

  • Online sales: number of online sales resulting from online marketing campaigns
  • Offline sales: number of offline sales supported by your overall content efforts
  • Manual reporting: number of unofficial sales deals made with future customers
  • Customer retention: number of returning customers that stay loyal to your brand due to special content efforts directed towards them
  • ROI – return on investment shows the profit generated as a result of your content marketing efforts

Sales metrics are an excellent way to quantify your content marketing results. They will express your overall content performance in terms of closed sales and generated profit, and show you how to proceed in order to gain more customers.

Each metric group compliments each other while providing valuable insight.  All metrics combined, when gathered systematically and analyzed carefully, will help you realize which campaigns work. You will find the types of content that work best, what customers need to know to make a purchase, and much more. Just follow the data, and make adjustments accordingly.

 

We believe that content marketing is part of a larger integrated marketing approach, and we aim to create content that attracts new audiences, provides visibility for your brand, and retains customers. Let us help you create your next big content marketing campaign. Contact us today and start measuring success right away!

 

Grow Your Business

Get in touch and find out how our team can help you drive results!

Contact us today

 

Content Marketing Tactics as an Influence Building Tool

Building influence in your industry can greatly emphasize and amplify your marketing efforts. Becoming a trusted, credible and meaningful source of information and knowledge is crucial for establishing your business influence, impacting the attitude of people about your brand, and has the potential to change people’s minds and their purchasing behavior. One of the most effective ways of building influence and differentiating your brand from the pack is through the use of content marketing. We believe it actually is one of the most powerful tools that every business should include in their marketing arsenal.

Content marketing can be the means for achieving many end. It can help you position your brand as an industry leader and provide sales leads, but it can also build trust and influence among your audience.

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Using Storytelling in Content Marketing

Storytelling is an ancient form of art of telling stories as a way of social and cultural expression and activity, often accompanied with improvisation and/or theatrics. Stories have been shared for generations in every culture as a means of entertainment and education about cultural and moral beliefs and values.

Starting from Mahabharata, Odyssey by Homer, the 1001 Arabian nights tales, to the emotionally moving plays by Shakespeare, all of these masterpieces have something in common – they are timeless stories that stick with the readers long after they finish reading them.

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Holistic Content Marketing Helps All Marketing Channels

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Content is king. We’ve been hearing this for years, and, to this day it is still the truth. But, the type of content and mediums to promote it have been different and can vary. But, while I was working with one of our clients on marketing strategy, I realized how important it can be to their business.

I like to think about things holistically and how each channel helps each other. I’ve proven this method to work really well when put to use with clients, companies I’ve started, and/or advised. As an example, just creating an infographic doesn’t mean it’s going to drive traffic and awareness. But if you know people are searching for the information included, that bloggers want to use that content, etc. it could drive more than you even expected.

Having a holistic plan and more than just a single use for your content can be a huge win for the company. There are many ways this can work. If you’re an e-commerce company or retail business moving online, this can go a long way in terms of driving down your blended CPA.

As an example, you could be a retail or e-commerce company that sells a variety of name brands or major brands. You might be thinking of how to educate the customer on why they should be Gucci shoes over something like Steve Madden. You might want to do something like”Why high end brands are more cost effective than cheap ones in the long run.” (or something a long those lines). While putting the content together you could do some industry research about the longevity of a pair of high end shoes vs. a pair of cheap ones. Doing a full study and putting a few charts together would really help educate the customer.

What this also does is creates a relatable and personal feeling for your brand to the online shopper. Writing that post tells them you’re looking out for their best interest. Educating the customer here is really the goal and hopefully this post achieves that with the data and facts you’ve provided.

Along with educating the customer, they might have needed that last tip to just convert them to a new customer. Reading the content might have made them go “okay, im sold, I’m here, where do i buy them.” Another thing, assuming they aren’t ready to purchase just then would be to browse the site for more content or more products, to really validate the brand. Whatever the case, you’re providing a resource customers are interested in. Along with customers, bloggers and journalists could be interested in this, promoting this content could lead to multiple people writing about it citing your content.

They might not only be interested in it, they might actively be search for this. For example, I might be googling “steve madden vs gucci pricing” or many long tail variations of this. I might be really concerned about spending $500 on a pair of shoes vs. $79 and not truly understand the difference in the craftsmanship and quality. After understanding this, the customer could be sold (as mentioned above). The great part is, by creating this post, you’ve driven organic search traffic to your site and now you might have possibly converted that customer.

Okay fine, that might be a perfect world scenario, but, that isn’t the only way to convert them. There are two other methods that could potentially lead to a customer buying from you in a more cost efficient manner.

One of those is methods is retargeting. You just got a new user to visit your site through search traffic, them clicking a link in facebook, or a blog post that cites your content. Again, the key here is now this piece of content is already being used in many ways. But, now you’ve got a visitor to your site, that’s being retargeted and will be reminded of your products. Converting this customer over time will be way more cost effective than paying for Adwords or Facebook ad clicks. (that’s not to say we don’t want you to do them, we highly recommend it as well.)

Finally using this content to help email marketing efforts is just another method to help drive new conversions, as well as repeat revenue from existing customers. The first and simplistic thing you can do is have an email / newsletter sign up on your site. The person that came to the site might be so interested in the insightful piece of content you created that they might be interested in more content from you. Also, if they get to site and they find the content interesting but don’t take any action, you can have a modal window (aka pop up) appear on the site that could catch their attention, a service like Picreel will achieve this for you. Here is an example of how we’ve used it on David Kind‘s Blog (p.s. they are one of my favorite companies!):

picreel-signup-david-kind

Now that they have signed up, you can continue to market to them over email through a welcome series, newsletter series, and continue to promote content, the brands, offers, etc. from your company.

Speaking of that newsletter, the blog post you created, we’re coming back to it here because you might have customers that didn’t know the difference or would be interested in it. Or people who have signed up to the newsletter or welcome series that have yet to convert. You can highlight this content (or any other content you create, for that matter) within this newsletter and yet again use it to you drive a new conversion or repeat revenue from existing customers.

Finally, using services like Taboola or Outbrain, you can use this content and promote it using low cost advertising on a variety of content sites that might be relevant to your brand. An example of this is companies like Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club, who I see all the time when I’m reading about one of my beloved Chicago Sports teams. Here’s an example of how they use the ads to drive customer awareness and also new customer acquisition:

dollar-shave-club-harrys-taboola-ads

With all the methods we just listed above, you just drove down your blended CPA. All of this was done with one single piece of content used across various channels and mediums.

Now, I know that was a lot to cover, but, think about it. The possibilities are endless with content. So you should be mapping it out and creating an entire content strategy for your business and not just creating blog posts for the sake of creating them. Think about all the different ways you can use this content to drive new traffic, new users, new conversions, new leads, etc.

Visible Factors is always here to help when you need a Content Marketing Strategy for your company. And, we’d love to hear your thoughts about content marketing below in the comments.