The ultimate guide to creating an effective content marketing strategy
Follow this guide to increase your content marketing productivity and impact with a documented content marketing strategy that’s backed by research and data.
The effectiveness of content marketing cannot be denied. There’s tons of evidence available to prove it effectiveness.
This article from Newscred insights studied data from 10 000 articles to find out just how effective content marketing can really be. Hubspot’s Not another state of marketing report shows that about 70% businesses invested in content marketing in 2020.
We expect more businesses to turn to content marketing because of its strong focus on consumers and cost effectiveness.
But success in content marketing doesn’t miraculously happen. If you’re going to invest in content marketing you’ll need a plan- a solid content marketing strategy. Within your content marketing strategy you’ll also need to define your content strategy and content plan.
Content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategy is a content marketing road map and it focuses on your “why” as a business. It covers questions like, why are you creating content? Who are you helping? And how you can help them better than anyone else?
It also details how you’ll let your audience know who you are. A good content marketing plan continuously demonstrates who you are and the expertise you bring to your industry.
Content strategy differs from a content marketing strategy in a way that it delves deeper into the development, publication, and governance of useful, usable content. A content strategy refers to the management of all the content a business has.
On top of a content strategy, you need a content plan. A content plan specifies how the content strategy will be executed, who the team members are and which individual will handle which tasks.
A content plan is more tactical and comes after the content marketing strategy and content strategy. A good content plan includes details such as what content you’ll create, what topics the content will be about, call to actions to include, where and how the content will be distributed.
Why is a content marketing strategy important?
A content marketing strategy enables businesses to prepare and execute consistent and cost-effective marketing.
Having a content marketing strategy not only helps you improve your marketing results and ROI. It also enables you to understand your target audience better, why you’ve decided to use the specific type of content, what topics to cover and why, what digital channels to use, what content to create and who’s in charge of creating it.
A research conducted by the content marketing institute found that 83% of marketers have some sort of content marketing strategy in place to guide how they execute their content marketing. Of that 83%, only 35% have a documented strategy.
The same research also found that marketers with a documented strategy are more effective at content marketing. They’re often less challenged than those that don’t have a documented strategy.
Data also indicates that documenting their content marketing strategy also helps them become more effective on running their social media channels. And, they can make sense of their higher percentage of their marketing budget on content marketing
How to create a content marketing strategy?
To help you get started with your content marketing, here are 12 steps we ourselves here at Avuiremedia have followed to create and execute an effective content marketing strategy.
1. Document your objectives
As mentioned before, your content marketing strategy focuses on your “why”. Why are you doing content marketing? What are you hoping to achieve?
This is where your business goals come in. Before you get started on creating any piece of content you need to have your goals and objectives defined and documented. This is the starting point of effective content marketing.
Make sure your goals are sustainable for the long-term and they are aligned with your company’s overarching goals, mission and vision. It helps to have fewer goals as it allows you to create a clear and more focused content marketing strategy.
Some of the common goals include:
- Increasing revenue with content marketing
- Reducing marketing costs as your content marketing becomes more effective
- Increasing sales to fulfil your revenue increase goals
- Getting more qualified leads
- Generating more website traffic which turns to leads
- To become a thought leader in industry and have influence
- Improve your SEO which leads to more website traffic
Once you have clearly defined your content marketing objectives, document them and move on to the next step.
2. Define your audience
Success in marketing of any kind depends on how well the target market/audience is understood. To be successful in content marketing you will need to be clear about who your audience is.
By knowing exactly who your audience is you will produce more relevant, engaging and valuable content that they’ll want to read, and keep them coming back for more.
In a case where you are not sure about your target audience, there are a couple of steps you can take to help you understand and define your audience.
Collect customer feedback and demographic data
You can use different channels and tools to collect data on your current social media followers, customers and website visitors. To get basic data such as age, gender education, location and income, you can use social media analytics and web analytics tools such as Google Analytics.
Collect feedback from your current customers, they’ll help you get a clear picture of which audience to target. Also, you’ll gather valuable insights that will help you keep them happy and engaged.
Use any of these methods to collect customer feedback:
- Encourage your customers to take a survey.
- Email and customer contact forms on your website.
- Usability tests.
- Exploratory customer interviews.
- And, social media.
Feedback from your customers will help gather insights into:
- Their needs and pain points
- How they feel, view and consume your current content and whether they find it useful or not.
- How you can improve your content
- How you can best reach them and their lookalikes
Create buyer personas
Once you have enough data on your current and target audiences, you can then analyze that data to get better insights into who they are, what they like, how much they make, where they live, etc.
Use those insights to create buyer personas, also known as customer avatars. A buyer persona is a data-informed and detailed characterization of the goals and behavior of your ideal customer.
Combine your audience demographics with psychographics to get a better understanding of who they are. Identify their needs, wants, and motivations and document all that you find.
3. Establish your KPIs
In step one you specified your content marketing goals. Now you need to know how to measure them. That is where key performance indicators (KPIs) come in.
KPIs help you identify how your content is performing. It lets you know when you have achieved a goal or a check point. KPIs will include everything you plan to achieve from increasing brand awareness, getting more web traffic, to getting sales and more revenue.
There are 4 metrics to focus on to measure how your content is performing.
- Consumption metrics: This is the simplest and easiest metric to watch. It measures how many people read, viewed, downloaded or listened to a specific piece of content.
- Sharing metrics: These metrics tell you more about how resonant is your content and how many times it has been shared with others. Think actions: retweets, pins and inbound links.
- Leads metrics: These metrics include downloads, form completions, and subscriptions. They let you know if your content is generating any leads.
- Sales metrics: Very important metrics, measuring your sales metrics identifies any sales that resulted from a specific piece of content.
4. Audit your current content position
Except for startups, majority of businesses already have content out there on the internet. This can be web content, blog posts, social media posts, videos and other types of content.
If you’ve been producing content for a while, review your content marketing performance and results by auditing your content.
Are you getting close to achieving your goals? Are you creating content that’s relevant to your target audience? Are you publishing enough content? Are you using relevant channels? These are some of the questions you need to frequently ask yourself.
What you find during your content marketing audit will help you figure out what you need to do differently and set new goals. The marketing scene changes so fast, it easy to get distracted by all the new trends, data, and end up forgetting your “why”.
Audit your content marketing every once a year to make sure everything you’re doing is still aligned with your overall business goals.
5. Choose a CMS
A content management system (CMS) is an environment of tools and systems put in place to help with the creation, management and tracking of all your content. A complete content management system includes 3 vital parts:
- Content creation
- Content publication
- Content analytics
Review and choose a CMS platforms that you’ll be suitable with using. Others are free, other are paid for. Other are specific to only handle web content, other are dedicated to content creation and social media.
6. Develop content ideas
Get a pen and paper, or jump in front of your computer and start brainstorming content ideas. This step should be easy since you already compiled data on your target audience, analyzed it and obtained valuable insights.
Use those insights to generate content ideas. At this point in the content marketing strategy development you understand your audience better than everyone. You know they’re struggles, needs and what motivate them.
Brainstorm content ideas based on your findings, answer their questions, address their concerns, and solve their most common problems.
On top of the ideas you come up with, use tools available online to help you discover more topics and generate more ideas.
BuzzSumo.com is an online tool you can use to find related topics and more content ideas. BuzzSumo helps you see other successful content that’s out there. You can use it to get inspiration and see how much traffic and engagements you can potentially get from a specific piece of content.
To use BuzzSumo, enter your topic into the search box. The next page will be similar to the example below. You’ll see stats like engagements and social media shares.
Use Answer the public
Answerthepublic.com is simple to use platform, it monitors what the public is searching for on search engines and put together useful phrases and questions people are asking around a specific keyword.
This is a create tool to use if you’re just getting started with content marketing and have no ideas. You will get hundreds of content ideas from a single phrase you enter.
7. Create a content calendar
Having a content strategy includes having a content calendar. You need to know exactly what content you’re going to publish and when you’re going to publish it on each platform you’ll be using.
A content calendar will help you plan for all your content a year ahead. It might take time but it’s worth doing. A content calendar allows you to see a big picture of your content marketing.
Here are a few benefits of having a content calendar:
- Keeps you organized: A content calendar will give you a better perspective of your overall marketing strategy.
- Helps with consistency: A content calendar will help you stay on your audience’s radar by posting valuable content consistently.
- Helps you plan for social media: Since every type of content you’ll produce can be used for social media, having a content calendar will help you plan ahead for your social media marketing.
A content calendar doesn’t have to be anything complicated. A Google calendar will do just fine too. Simply put the due dates for each piece of content you plan to produce.
If you have a lot of content to produce and you have a content team, you might want to use a tool with more features than a simple Google calendar. There are thousands of productivity and task management tools you can use such as Asana, Wrike and many more.
8. Decide the content type to focus on
There’s a variety of content types you can produce from images and illustrations, to infographics and videos. The content type you decide to use depends on the individual topic you’re covering.
For example, a video post would be more suitable for a tutorial on how to use a specific product compared to a blog post. So, for each and every topic you’ve added to your content calendar be careful when choosing which format/type that content piece will take.
Also, think about where that piece of content will be distributed. For example, if it’s a social media post, a high quality picture or short video makes more sense that a long text post.
Types of content types:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Social media posts
9. Choose appropriate distribution channels
Where does your audience hangout online? Are they on Facebook? YouTube? LinkedIn? Browsing the internet or spend most of their time checking emails. You need to know where they are.
Audience research performed earlier (see number 2) will help you identify the best channel for your content if you’re new to content marketing.
If you already have an online presence and you’ve been producing content for a while, you should have enough data to determine where most of your content success comes from. The best thing to do from here on is to focus on what’s working and expand from there.
If you are not sure about what works for you, take a look at your web analytics. Find out where you get the most traffic from, which social media channels your content gets the most engagements from and focus on those channels.
10. Identify and allocate resources
This section of the content marketing strategy deals with making sure that you have everything you are going to need in order to carry out your content marketing strategy accordingly.
Ask yourself these questions:
Who will be in charge of creating and maintaining content?
This question helps you allocate roles. Who will be creating which content and why choose that individual? Who will be responsible for content delivery? Who is responsible for overseeing everything that is content creation related?
What tools do you need?
Next, identify which tools you need to actually create the content. By tools, we mean personnel, physical and digital equipment necessary to produce content.
If you will be having a podcast and videos, do you have podcasting and video equipment? Do you have a professional videographer on the team? It important to identify early which tools will be needed for your content creation.
You don’t want to get stuck and break your consistency because you suddenly realized you’re missing equipment or persons with skills required to produce a certain piece of content.
The good news though, is that you don’t necessary need to have an in-house team of content creators in order to be able to consistently publish great content. You can reach out to other content creator and ask them for help, or you can hire freelancers available on sites such fiverr, upwork or Toptal.
11. Create, publish, and market your content
You are now done with the preparation work that goes into your content marketing strategy. You have defined your goals, your target audience, came up with content ideas and put them on your content calendar.
Now is the time to actually create, publish and work towards marketing your content.
Start with content research.
What you need to do first is research your content. Take a topic from your content calendar and do a research on it. You want to publish well researched and relevant content, and be able to back it with undeniable data.
When you’ve decided the topic, find out what’s already out there, improve or add to it and create content that brings more value to your audience. This is what’s called a skyscraper technique.
You’ve done the research now it time to create the content. Create content that will resonate with your audience. You also need to be mindful of how to reflect your brand’s personality in the content you create.
You have to decide your brand’s personality. Are you super professional? Fun? Casual? Once you have decided your brand’s personality, you have to be consistent with it throughout your entire content marketing.
Another tricky part when it comes to content marketing is managing the balance between showing your expertise and not patronizing your audience. So you’ll need to be careful.
Publish and market the content
If you did everything we’ve talked about above well, this part should be fairly simple. You’ve created the content, you know who you’re reaching out to with your content, and you know where they hangout. The next step is to publish and distribute your content using the right channels.
- Schedule for social media posting.
- If you have a list of subscribers, use email marketing to share and market your content.
- Reach wider audiences by notifying influencers and collaboration partners of your new content if it relevant to them and their audiences.
- Run targeted Ads on both social and search to make sure your content gets in front of the right people.
12. Measure performance
Earlier we spoke of the KPIs of content marketing, now is the time to get back to them. Now is the time to assess the success of your content marketing strategy. You’ve pushed out a bunch of content, you need measure how it performs across all channels.
- Use tools like google analytics or matomo to analyze your website traffic and where it comes from.
- Use BuzzSumo to measure social media sharing activity
- Look at your social media analytics to measure how your content is performing on social media, is it getting engagements?
- Use tools like SEMRush to measure how your content ranks on search engines, this tool will also help you optimize your content for better performance.
- Use email marketing software to track email signups and subscribers. More signups means you have engaging content and your audience wouldn’t want to miss your next post.
Monitoring your content marketing performance will help you make the necessary changes to your content marketing strategy. So this is something you have to do frequently to make sure your content marketing strategy is up to date.
Create your content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategy is a lot of work, but it’s worth it if you want to maximize your content marketing efforts and impact. Follow the steps we laid out and you’ll soon have a complete content marketing strategy of your own headed into 2021.
If all this seems like too much work and you need help developing your content marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you grow your business. Give us a call at +27 61 469 9273 or contact us online to discuss your 2021 content marketing strategy.