What is Content Marketing Strategy?
With the potential to double website conversion rates, more companies are turning to content marketing to grow their businesses. While their content marketing strategies may vary, every organization wonder, “How can we create the best content marketing strategy?”
A content marketing strategy focuses on developing and launching a competitive content marketing plan. This plan is the roadmap for all the original content your business plans to create. That content can include written materials, as well as visual ones.
To separate the two, think of your content marketing plan as the “what” and your content marketing strategy as the “how.” Your content marketing strategy answers the question of how your content marketing plan will increase brand awareness or improve lead generation, for example.
How to create a content marketing strategy
When it comes to developing a content marketing strategy, many businesses follow the appropriate steps. They research their audiences, develop their content calendar, and monitor their content’s performance.
Their content, however, doesn’t drive the results they expect. What happens is that these businesses often follow the right steps but overlook important details.
1. Set your content marketing strategy’s goal
Whether you’re looking to increase your revenue, drive your lead generation upward, or improve your user engagement, there is a goal behind your content strategy. A lot of times, however, companies skip on investing the time to develop their goal.
When you create your content strategy’s goals, make S.M.A.R.T. goals:
· Specific: A well-defined goal can answer the what, why, who, where, and which questions related to it. Spend time brainstorming what your company wants to accomplish with content marketing, as well as who would need to oversee your content marketing strategy.
· Measurable: Whether you’re overseeing your content marketing plan in-house or partnering with a digital marketing agency, you should have a measurable goal. If you’re looking to increase your lead generation efforts, for example, how much of an increase do you want to see?
· Achievable: While a challenging goal can push your team, it’s important to keep your content marketing goals achievable. A few factors to consider are your company’s marketing budget, as well as the time constraints and other responsibilities of your team.
· Realistic: Another factor to think about is whether your goal is realistic. For example, maybe your lead generation aspirations are more feasible over a two-year period, rather than a one-year timeframe.
· Timely: Your content marketing goal should have a deadline. For goals with a distant deadline, such as a few years or several months, set checkpoints. If you want to increase your lead generation by 10 percent in one year, for instance, commit to hitting five percent by month six.
With a S.M.A.R.T goal for your content marketing strategy, you establish a foundation for your content marketing plan. Your team knows what your company wants to accomplish, as well as when, which provides them with a base for fully developing your content marketing strategy.
2. Determine your content marketing strategy’s audience
A critical component of content marketing is your audience — they’re reading your content, after all. That’s why companies don’t overlook this step in creating a content strategy often. It is an area that businesses can improve, however.
In most cases, you probably already know the following about your audience:
It’s their basic demographic information and provides tons of value when building a strategy for your content marketing. The best content marketing strategies go beyond demographics, however. They research what target audiences do on the Internet.
Reach your target audience by answering these questions:
· Where is their Internet hangout? If you’re looking to create one-of-a-kind content, then you need to know where your target audience goes for answers. The questions they’re asking can serve as the foundation for an amazing how-to blog post or comprehensive guide. Depending on your audience, they may like Reddit, Quora, or an industry-specific forum.
· What is their go-to social media platform? It’s also worth investigating their favorite social media platforms. While the demographics of your audience will likely influence their preferences, knowing whether they prefer Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat can target your content marketing strategy to the platforms that matter most.
· What are their pain points? While researching their favorite Internet hangouts, you’ll likely discover your audience’s pain points for your industry. For your content marketing strategy, that’s valuable. You can develop content that is both SEO-friendly and provides solutions to those issues — you can even emphasize how your company solves those problems with your sales-orientated content.
· What kind do they like? As you explore the hangouts of your audience, as well as their interactions on social media, notice the types of content they respond to. Some may react well to infographics, while others engage with videos. These interactions offer insight into your target audience, as well as ideas for how to connect with them.
- Who do they trust? In most industries, there are influencers. These are people that your target audience trusts, which means partnering with that influencer could offer immense value to your content marketing plan and business goals. Browse social media, as well as forums, and you can probably spot a few influencers your audience trusts.
· With a better understanding of your audience’s motivations and habits, you can enhance your content marketing strategy. That improved strategy can lead to better content, engagement rates, and lead generation.
3. Audit your content
While many content marketing strategy guides recommend a content audit, a lot of companies skip this step. Some, because they only have a few pieces of content and others because they have a ton of it.
No matter how much — or how little — history your company has with content marketing, conduct a content audit. It’s a critical step to creating a content marketing strategy. The results provide insight into your past approaches and can even offer ideas for future content.
Complete a content audit with the following steps:
· Create a content inventory: A content inventory serves as a directory and includes the content URL. In some cases, you may include the content’s heading and sub-headings. You can create a content inventory with any tool, and then export the data to a spreadsheet.
· Catalog content topic: Once you have your spreadsheet, classify the content. For maximum documentation, note the content type and topic, such as a 500-word how-to blog post or 800-word service page.
· Grade content: Next, grade each piece of content. Consider the quality of writing, as well as the content’s relevancy and accuracy for audiences today. Review the content’s organization, tone, and visuals too, as you want it to match your current branding.
· Log content performance: The last detail to include in your spreadsheet is the content’s performance. A few metrics to include are the amount of traffic earned by the webpage, as well as the bounce rate and engagement of users, which you can find in Google Analytics.
Use the results of your content audit to build your content marketing strategy. What does your past content do well that you’d like to include or avoid in future content? Or, how can you repurpose that content to align with your new content marketing goals?
4. Write your content guidelines
For businesses new to content marketing, this question doesn’t offer an easy answer.
It requires time and preparation, as your team needs to develop guidelines for creating and publishing your company’s content.
Many companies, however, skip the recommendation to write a set of content guidelines. It’s critical that your business doesn’t overlook this step. Without guidelines, you can impact the quality of your strategy, as well as its impact on your goals.
That’s why you should have a guide that explores the following content features:
· Content types: The best content marketing strategies focus on more than blog posts — and so should yours. Develop a list of content types and list their unique features or requirements. These requirements can include a preferred word count or calls-to-action (CTAs).
· Content images: Your content guidelines should also note the use and format of images. If you’re creating custom graphics, for instance, what fonts or colors should they use? Or, what websites should your team use for images?
· Content tone: While your company’s branding guidelines may have information on the preferred tone for press releases and other formal communications, it may not discuss more casual content types, like blog posts. Note those preferences in your guide.
Once you launch your content marketing strategy, expect to modify your guidelines. You may discover, for example, that your blog posts should feature additional images to provide a better user experience.
5. Brainstorm your content
While initially browsing guides on content marketing strategies, businesses skim past the importance of brainstorming fresh, original content. While you may have a ton of ideas now, that number decreases as your content backlog grows.
How can you continue to develop content that your audience loves? With these tips:
· Use content idea tools: A lot of websites offer idea generator tools, which can help your team brainstorm a new idea.
· Read industry sites: Another way to generate ideas for your content marketing plan is by following the leading websites in your sector. While you shouldn’t cover the exact topic, you may create content that expands on an idea mentioned.
· Watch competitors: You can also monitor the content that your competitors create. As with industry websites, don’t copy your competitors’ content marketing strategy. Instead, you want to find the features of the story that are relevant to your audience.
If you’re partnering with a content marketing agency, they develop fresh content on a routine basis for you.
The result is engaging content that’s even more relevant to your audience.
That kind of tailored content marketing strategy contributes to even better results for your company.
6. Develop your content management process
It’s not uncommon for businesses to overlook the importance of a content management system (CMS), like WordPress. If you’re a small-to-midsized business (SMB), for instance, you may consider planning, producing, and publishing your content manually.
As your content marketing strategy grows, however, that becomes unmanageable. That’s why you need to consider your management processes early. By taking this proactive step, you’re reducing the stress and workload of your team, as well as maximizing the success of your content marketing plan.
Another content process to consider is your content calendar. This calendar is critical to your content marketing plan because it provides details on the content you’re producing and publishing, as well as your content deadlines.
7. Measure your content strategy’s success
For businesses that don’t create S.M.A.R.T. goals, it’s a challenge to measure the success of their content marketing plan. Even though digital marketing provides plenty of metrics to track and analyze, you need a S.M.A.R.T. goal to measure your success.
That’s why the “M” in S.M.A.R.T. focuses on measurement.
Measuring the success of your content marketing strategy also depends on your measurement tools. For example, your business may reference the data of your webpages in Google Analytics to see if they’re contributing to your S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Why is content marketing important?
Beyond a content strategy, content marketing matters for a few reasons, including:
1. Generates new leads
Content brings new leads to your website. Potential customers seek out information, and your content provides the answers they need. It’s the first step to getting people on your website.
This type of marketing generates 3x more leads than traditional marketing, so it’s an extremely effective way to get people interested in your business.
2. Creates brand awareness
It’s important to build your brand recognition with consumers. You want them to know about your company and what it represents.
People may visit your site, but not convert right away. After they leave, you want them to remember your brand in the future when they need your products or services.
Content helps you build brand awareness. By checking out your content, visitors will become familiar with your brand and what you offer. This will help them recognize your business later when they need your services.
Your budget is important. When you invest in marketing services, you want to use methods that are budget-friendly and effective for reaching your target market.
Content marketing is very cost-effective. If you decide to do content marketing on your own, the cost will come down to the materials you need to make your content (e.g. video camera, a subscription to a design program, etc.).
The biggest cost of content marketing is time. It takes time to develop quality content that keeps users engaged. If you don’t have time to develop quality content, you can work with an Internet marketing company to create custom content for your business.
4. Encourages conversions
Businesses that use content marketing are 6x more likely to get conversions than businesses that don’t create content.
This method has such a big impact on conversions because it provides users with valuable information. It makes them feel more equipped and better prepared to make a decision. And it helps them feel confident in their decision to choose your company.
5. Boosts your search engine rankings
One method that businesses use to reach more customers is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of boosting your website’s ranking so more users can find your website online.
As you create content to address keywords related to your business, you have the potential to appear higher in search results for industry terms and phrases. And the higher you appear in search results; the more people will be able to find and contact your business.
In addition, content provides you with opportunities to link to other pages on your site. You can guide your traffic to key pages on your site that provide them with more information about your offerings and encourage them to purchase.
6. Builds trust with your consumers
Content marketing helps you build trust with potential customers. It helps consumers gain a better understanding of your business and the products and services you offer. And you can show them that you are knowledgeable and willing to help them succeed.
In addition, content marketing also helps them see the quality of your products. By using videos, photos, and other materials, you can give them an inside look at your company and provide the information they need to become customers.
When you build trust with consumers, they are more likely to use your business. They will appreciate your openness, honesty, and willingness to provide them with helpful information.