How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy in 7 Steps
Want to create a content marketing strategy to supercharge your lead generation efforts?
If not, then you should seriously consider doing that.
‘Why so,’ you may ask.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers surveyed say they are creating more content this year than they did in 2016.
Therefore, you need a robust content marketing strategy in 2017 to beat the competition.
Agree or not, content marketing strategy is going to be the backbone of your overall marketing efforts.
“Content Marketing is all the marketing that’s left.” – Seth Godin
In the first place, content marketing is one of the best way to establish thought leadership, generate leads and improve conversion rate.
Here are top seven reasons to use content marketing outlined by Heidi Cohen:
Most of marketers believe that they will simply create quality content and put it online (blog, social, e-mailer) and that will be good enough to get online traffic and leads.
I wish that was really ‘good enough.’
But it’s not!
Even great content needs to be marketed.
And to market your content, you need a definite plan, a concrete content marketing strategy.
Despite having high quality content in huge amount, it may not fetch you desired results if you don’t have a right Content Marketing Strategy.
Do you have a content marketing strategy for your online marketing?
A content marketing strategy will help you tie up every single action to a certain marketing goal.
Why a Content Marketing Strategy is must?
1. It would help you focus on creating the right piece of content and stop you from creating irrelevant content pieces.
2. It will help you focus on your target audience and right channels to efficiently distribute your content.
Remember, it’s about working smarter, not harder! That’s easier said than done.
Whoever can deliver customers with right information (content creation) at the right time (content marketing) will win the customers’ trust and their money too.
In simple words, it is your ‘content marketing strategy’ that can help you get more traffic, leads and revenue from your digital marketing efforts.
Now the question is – how do you craft a right content marketing strategy?
In this blog post, I’ll show you how to create an effective content marketing strategy.
Here’s a 7 step process for creating a content marketing strategy that works perfectly for your business.
7 Steps for Creating a Custom Content Marketing Strategy:
1.) OUTLINE YOUR KEY GOAL
The FIRST STEP and The MOST IMPORTANT step – define your goal.
Without right goal(s), nothing will work out. So give extra attention to this step.
Ask yourself: what are your most important goals?
In the long run, You want more subscribers, more traffic, more leads, or higher conversions.
Once you find out this, you can focus on choosing the type of content pieces to meet your key goals.
However, the interesting point is – many people confuse operational tasks with the key goals.
For example, increasing organic traffic and creating certain number of content pieces are two different goals but one (increasing organic traffic) is the goal and another one (creating 10 blog posts) is just a means to the end – increase in organic traffic.
Also, remember only to set goals and KPIs which aren’t operational tasks, are easy to track & measure in the end.
You simply can’t measure the brand visibility as a goal.
So, make sure that your goals are not typical operational tasks.
IN summary, I recommend you to set a tangible, realistic and measurable goal.
Let’s say, as a marketer, you want to increase your:
- Organic traffic by 30%
- Page Views by 35%
- Email subscribers by 70%
- Online leads by 20%
- 20,000 Facebook likes
Since these goals are highly tangible and measurable so make short term goals in the beginning.
Think about how you want your content to serve you to meet your key goals and start working on the content creation.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
No content marketing strategy will work unless you really understand your target audience.
By definition, your target audience is a select group of customers that you aim your marketing efforts and ultimately your products.
To begin with, find out your target audience and know what kind of information they want.
When it comes to your audience, if you target everybody, you target nobody.
How to do that?
Hence, focus on developing ‘Buyer Personas’.
Besides, using the ‘Buyer Persona’, try to create your ideal customer and what are his/her motivations to buy your product / service.
Your target audience will share certain characteristics. Make a list of these common characteristics and map them together to create an ideal customer profile.
Look at the kind of social media conversations your TG is making. Find out which online channels/forums your TG visits and what type of content they are consuming online.
Try to understand what are they searching for, what are their pain points, their motivations to purchase your service and what kind of content can help them make the buying decision.
The more granular you get, the better it will be to create your ideal customer’s buyer persona.
Knowing this kind of information about your TG will help you formulate your content marketing strategy.
3. Find Your Unique Focus
It always helps to have a focused content approach for your content marketing strategy.
You have two options.
One – Create generic content and expect exceptional results.
Two – Create niche /focused content and get exceptional results.
So, find a unique focus that enables you to develop content to stand apart from the crowd.
Do a competitive research in your industry on what kind of content is being generated.
Find out what is the missing component that you can leverage to fill the gap.
Besides, try to break a myth, deliver detailed long form in-depth content on a specific topic, provide a unique view to a given concept in your industry to stand out your content.
Make a quick checklist to make sure the content meets certain standards:
My content is:
- Correct and credible
- Insightful and informative
- Easy to scan and understand
My Advice to You:
Find out your niche, and start creating your content around your unique expertise.
4. Determine Content Types
I’m sure, you want to deliver massive amounts of value to your customers and nothing less.
You don’t want to shoot arrow in the dark.
To avoid that, dig in deeper and audit your content pieces created in past an audit to gain insights on what worked for you in past and what didn’t.
Ultimately, re-purposing the old content or forming fresh content using the old popular type will help you understand your target audience’s preferences.
In effect, you can use tools like Buzzsumo to see what type of content is trending online in your industry.
Another key point, check your “search console” and “google analytics” report to see what content has fetched more search queries in past.
In particular, gain insights as in what exactly worked for those posts – was it visual content or long-form content?
Based on these insights, start creating the content types you may need to create.
So, decide under which categories your content is going to fall.
With a plethora of options available, you don’t have to tap into each and every form, so experimenting with what is working for your niche is the key.
Let’s look at some examples of what type of content you can leverage in your content marketing strategy:
- Blog Posts
- Custom illustrations
- How-to articles
- Industry news
- Q&A sessions
- Product updates
- Case studies
Once, you are sure about the content types, now think about the frequency.
For blog posts, at least one blog a week would do if you are a beginner. For experts, 2 to 4 blogs per week will be a great start.
Don’t forget to segregate your content so your content stays fresh and varied.
Content is not only about writing blog articles.
You can engage your audience with a rich variety of content besides the typical blog articles.
You can use images, info graphics, videos, GIFs, e-books, surveys etc. Convert your 8 series blog articles into an interesting e-book and offer to your readers through your blog, email marketing, and social channels.
Repurpose your old content into ebooks, presentations. Youtube videos, pinterest infographics.
Prezi – Use Prezi to create art of your presentations. That’s one way of using your content.
Quizzes – Using quizzes in your content marketing is also a great way to attract your target audience.
Buzzfeed uses quizzes as their one of the most crucial part of content marketing.
Qzzr – You can also use to create some great looking quizzes and gain customer interaction.
When coming to blog ideas, you may stuck with choosing the right topic to right about. Whenever you feel stuck, use HUBSPOT’S BLOG TOPIC GENERATOR to find out new topics for your upcoming blog posts.
5.) DEVELOP A CONTENT CALENDAR
We all face challenge of conceptualizing, planning, writing, scheduling, publishing and sharing activities.
All these challenges can be solved by having a content marketing editorial calendar.
Your content marketing calendar helps you keep content pieces organized in effective manner.
A custom content marketing calendar can empower you to:
- Better brainstorm ideas, research and optimize the final content
- Identify the past, current and future content for promotion
- Monitor, track and tweak your key content KPIs
Having a fully thought out organized content calendar is one major step towards making your content marketing strategy a huge success.
Again, it’s just about setting up a goal on how long you want to plan your content in advance.
You should plan and build your own content marketing calendar to avoid missing aggressive content creation, publishing and promotion deadlines.
According to Curata research, 90% of marketers now use an editorial calendar.
Just plan everything out in advance.
Plan,organize and schedule every piece of content, be it your social media posts, your blog, newsletters, videos, all in advance and sort out any open issue.
You can align content with right keywords, relevant audience segments and map buyer’s journey to your content.
(Example: Content Calendar from QuickSprout.)
With a planned content calendar, you can anticipate what is coming down the pipeline and you can get really strategic while planning out what, when and where to publish if you do it beforehand.
Create your content and market it but in a planned way.
Make weekly, monthly or quarterly editorial calendars. Learn some of the best ways on how to actually leverage your content by maintaining a content calendar.
Here few of the popular content calendar sources:
This tool is bomb!
Coschedule offers a free content marketing editorial calendar that shows you how to increase leads and conversions with your blog and social media.
It brings together your marketing content and your social media posts under one roof. You can plan your blog and social media content also publish it through the same tool.
Drag and drop features, easy to plan,organize and schedule.
Did I mention their WordPress plugin?
Plan & organize your content. If you are already using other tools for publishing your content and need something basic just to plan and organize, trello is the tool for you!
Built-in calendar, all content at one glance. If you are a visual, you will love it even more with its color coding feature.
Ever seen google left behind?
Google Calendar is a time-management and scheduling calendar service developed by Google.
With Google’s free online calendar, it’s easy to keep track of life’s important events all in one place.
Reminders can be enabled for events, with options available for type and time.
Though not many features to use but they do provide you separate calendars for blog posts or FB / Twitter content.
This Calendar Templates: The Ultimate List will help you choose a template based on your preferences.
6. Find out Ways to Promote Your Content
You’ve chosen the content types and topics.
You’ve created the quality content. Your content is ready to be posted online.
And it needs to be marketed.
To market your content, you’re making your content marketing strategy.
You have to promote it with right channels.
But keep in mind that all content is not equal.
All of your content won’t get same level of leverage.
All your content may not fit for all channels and touch points.
Therefore, you need to decide which channels will be used for certain type of content for highest reach and engagement.
Even a highly engaging content won’t work its magic without proper promotion. Right content promotion will ensure that your great content has been put to right use.
Your content promotion strategy should outline the right promotion channels, frequency of promotion, duration of promotion, and budget for each paid promotion.
Out of all these aspects, choosing the right channels for content promotion is the most important part.
Some of the channels are easy to identify like social media ads, email marketing, newsletter subscriptions etc.
But these may not be sufficient. Use some of these tips beside the traditional promotion and channels / tactics.
- Reach out to influencers for a better content outreach.
- Use BuzzSumo or these tools that I have mentioned here.
- Benefit from the power of social media.
- Use hootsuite RSS feed for content curation.
- Use Outbrain, Taboola for promotion and monetization of your content.
- Try Mention, Trackmaven to promote and monetize.
- Use Curata for content curation, planning and measurement.
- Regularly promote content published by others or use viralcontentbee to solve the purpose.
- Connect with your audience where they spend most of their time online with contently.
- Have your content optimized for all kinds of mobile devices.
- While organic traffic is the soul of content marketing, using specific promotion paid tools like Quuu, makes sure to present your content directly in front of your target audience.
Some of the new content promotion platform / channels that you can & should take advantage of:
Facebook – instant article feature – get more hits and visibility.
Snapchat – Offering a great platform for sharing content to marketeers. with snapchat’s geo-filters, snap map, swipe feature – share articles, videos, interactive graphics you should totally play your content that works around it.
More than 3 billion Snaps are created every day, and Snapchat users on average launch the app close to 18 times a day, spending around 30 minutes on the app, as per TechCrunch.
Instagram – Instagram stories are creating a rave currently, even live ones.
Create Swipe-able stories: Choose a good visual, add your favorite filters and stickers add the link.
Add a call to action and there you have it, your blog on your audience’s fingertips (Literally!)
Visuals – To break through the online clutter, you gotta be creative mate and none serves the purpose better than going the visual way!
Visual content is the core to how your brand story is being communicated out there.
From memes to GIFs, infographic to videos, expect to see a lot of visual content curation in the upcoming years.
Content is currently experiencing a skyrocket popularity to establish trust with the followers easily.
Share, Share and Share!
Clicks from shared content result in a five-fold greater chance of conversions.
Use Buzzsumo to see who are the people sharing the content in your niche and then you can ask those same people to share your content too.
You can also keep a check on your followings, shares, traffic over the web and compare.
Be the social evangelist when it comes to content. Share content around the clock, tweet updates.
Ramp up your content marketing strategy by keeping abreast of all the latest trends and shifts in latest technologies, being present at all new platforms and changing preferences of the market.
Here are examples of some great brands doing content marketing just right.
With all being said, content marketing results take a little while to show but they are surely worth the hard work and efforts that you pour in.
Make a commitment today, create yourself a thorough content strategy following these steps and slay that content marketing like a pro!
7. MONITOR AND TRACK
To begin with, you’ve created the content, have published it and promoted it to the best of your abilities.
Now, it’s time to monitor and track your content marketing performance.
If this step is not performed properly, your all efforts will be wasted.
In fact, one of the top challenges for B2B content marketers is measuring the performance of their content marketing efforts.
All things considered, you need to assess your content marketing efforts against the set parameters.
Besides, some of the key measurement parameters are:
- Organic Traffic
- Social Shares
- Engagement Ratio
- Click-through-rate (CTR)
- Bounce Rate
- Email Subscriptions
By and large, focus on these parameters or your own set metrics.
What matters is your performance metrics should align with your business goals.
Also, find out the under-performing content and key reasons for it’s poor performance. Try to re-purpose those content pieces to gain better traction.
In short, keep evaluating your content performance at short periods and make tweaks wherever required.
I recommend to create dashboard that includes your all key content marketing metrics to measure. You can use NewsCred to measure your content performance across your website, blog, email or social.
In the final analysis, I have explained how to craft content marketing strategy in 7 easy steps that will help you execute your content marketing efficiently.
Hopefully, these tips will help you create a custom content marketing plan for your business. Adapt the steps discussed by me as per your own custom needs.
Another key point, don’t get overwhelmed with the steps mentioned in this post. Remember that your content marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated.
Above all, keep it simple and concise. Try to fit the entire strategy in one page.
Also, share your experience after trying these 7 steps to create content marketing strategy and how did it improve your content marketing performance.
Want more expert advice on how to make your content marketing strategy more effective?
In any event, reach out to me to discuss your marketing objectives.
If you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comments below or tweet me @iamnitinmalik.