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.

 

Why being a strategic marketer is so important

I’ve spent the last week at my parents house in a little town in Los Angeles called LaCrescenta. It’s been the first time I haven’t been in an office for over 1 week in 10 years (side note: this is the first time I’ve been at my parents for this long for almost 5 years). It has been good to take some time and reflect on things and do a little bit of looking at things from that 10 thousand foot view. Which has led me to thinking about why it is ever so important to take time, take a step back, and think more strategically.

Looking at things strategically

As it turns out, having your head down and not taking the time to create a strategic approach to things isn’t always the best…well…STRATEGY. I’ve learned a lot about how to think more holistically and strategically over the past 4-5 years. This has created opportunities for me to truly be strategic, innovate, and lead teams, while also delivering value tactically on a daily basis.

As we all know, much of marketing and creating great products is really understanding an industry, verticals within it, the overall market, and/or a customer and their needs. The creation of the new types of media, such as social media sites like Twitter, has truly shined light on how important a customer is. You can find many posts around the web talking about engaging customers, honesty, and being transparent (funny thing is, thats all some social media people talk about, but I digress). The point is, the days of shouting at people via television ads isn’t really “moving the needle” the way it use to, and, as consumers really look to at different forms of consuming media, we have to understand the people we are looking to reach even more.

Being strategic provides opportunities to see what you might have missed.

We are all in “go mode” and trying to make things happen daily, trying to “provide value.” There are so many days that I sit there and engage in social media, work on editorial calendars, and put together plans, etc. for the companies I am working for that I don’t have the time to think strategically. This becomes a problem because a lot of things that are glaring situations or opportunities tend to pass you by.

But, the question is, when you are spinning your wheels just trying to get stuff done, are you really providing value to your organization? Your Client? and even more so, the consumer?

In my opinion, you are not. That is why being more strategic provides opportunities and more value in the long run. Being strategic means stopping what you are doing, analyzing a consumer, and finding out what they are actually looking for. Analyzing a journalist and finding out what they would write about, what they would link to, who they would reach out to. Even better, looking at data to understand patterns, user behavior, etc. that will truthfully provide value to a consumer. Which means you, as a strategic thinker is providing more value by obtaining more customers or actively engaging, re-engaging, and retaining more customers.

Set aside time to think strategically

Taking the time out daily or weekly, gives you an opportunity to think more holistically as a marketer. Take time to think about what people want. Marketing is not about pushing a message or advertising your product. Marketing is truly understand what is important in any given marketplace. Marketing is the process of creating value in an industry that will ultimately lead to obtaining customers and retaining customers.

An example of this can be a product you offer or a template that you develop for your website. Some time ago, I was putting together specifications for pages that should be built on a site. I threw them together from an SEO perspective. Title Tags, alt tags, URLs, etc…you name the technical requirement, and I had it spec’d out. The problem I didn’t think through was, am I really creating value? Am I really understanding what people want out of those pages? Would customers be happy? Would the Media? Would Social Media Users? Overall, that was the problem I was not thinking through and that is an order of magnitude greater than any title tag or url in the long run.

I hit this realization that I should not just try to get stuff done and should actually take some time to think through a problem. Now that I have, I have made sure that I dedicate time to actually blocking out periods of time to think more strategically on a weekly basis. During that time, I switch my surroundings and either go to a coffee shop, lock myself in a conference room at the office, or something of that sort.

Consultants can help with Strategy

There are three ways that bringing in consultants can help with the problem of thinking strategically as an organization:

Consultants can provide a fresh set of eyes that are not tightly integrated with your business, along with being able to be objective about features, content, etc. because they are not vested in the design, for example Discover More Here. Hiring a strategic consultant also means they will not be inundated with trying to deliver on daily traffic goals, daily product meetings, etc. They will be able to work externally, analyze a business, an industry, and the consumer and make recommendations that you can implement.

Hire consultants that are tacticians to help alleviate your daily support needs. Whether you are managing communities, doing something tied to SEO, managing PPC campaigns, etc. All that matters is that you are bringing someone in to alleviate the fact that you need free time to think more strategically. Many times, a business has learned so much about their industry that they have all the research necessary to think strategically and just needs to time and ability to step away from day to day processes to actually do just that, think strategically.

Being a consultant now at days is no longer about specialization and more about strategy. Todd Malicoat just recently wrote about being a Business Management Consultant and I think its so important to think that way now. Just being a PPC consultant, SEO or Social Media Marketer isn’t going to cut it going forward. It is the exact reason that I am happy that I have prided myself in becoming a generalist in technology and the Internet. Understanding all facets of project management, product development, ideation, marketing, etc. is so important. But, be careful, because, just like the ever so popular “Social Media Experts” that can talk about being one, but, don’t really understand it. The same goes here, being a business consultant and advising businesses isn’t just knowing a few things, it’s being a generalist that understands all aspects deeply enough to truly provide holistic feedback to an organization about their market, their product, etc.

Overall Web Strategy is crucial

Overall, it is important to start thinking more strategically as businesses start to evolve online. Being strategic, being a leader, and understanding a market is more important now than it ever was. Being a true marketer involves understanding an industry and providing value. We should all be striving to provide more value to organizations going forward.

Have you spend enough time on web strategy? Are you hoping to spend more time on it? I want to hear what people are thinking about thinking strategically overall!