How Do You Create a Content Marketing Strategy?
Content marketing is not about creating, publishing and distributing content just for the sake of putting content out there. Every piece of content that you create and eventually distribute – be it a white paper, post-click landing page or podcast should have a specific goal to achieve. And you should be able to measure the success or failure of that goal.
Creating a content marketing strategy allows you to plan, execute and, iterate the types of content you need to create effective content marketing campaigns.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
A content marketing strategy essentially deals with the internal guidelines and governance of content pieces to ensure that every piece of content you produce and distribute fulfills its goal, is coherent, appeals to the target audience and forwards your organization’s vision.
A content marketing strategy ensures that your content marketing is useful, inspirational and motivational i.e. every piece of content you produce engages users and convinces them to perform an action at every stage in the funnel.
Your content marketing strategy needs to be specific to your business and target audience, merely seeing what your competitors are doing and copying them doesn’t count as a marketing strategy.
A good place to start with your strategy is by looking at your company’s vision, that’s the foundation of your content marketing, it frames everything your content must achieve in order for your business to be successful.
Creating an effective content marketing strategy can be broken down into five basic steps.
1. Define your Target Audience
Whether you’re writing content for a blog post or copy for a post-click landing page, you’re addressing someone through that content piece, the person you want to engage i.e. your target audience.
When you know who your target audience is you are able to create the right content for the right people, because content is not a one size fit all bargain.
A marketing executive at a Fortune 500 company won’t react to content the same way a stay at home mother of three would – you have to know your audience first to be able to create content that engages them, inspires them and persuades them to take action.
Create detailed buyer personas to help pinpoint your specific target audience. Aim to go beyond the basic demographic questions and find out what problems are ailing your target audience and how your product can help. Find out what challenges they face, their motivations and their frustrations.
Collecting the right information from your customers is key in creating buyer personas. Conduct regular user surveys and interviews, ask questions via email, take a peek at your analytics and use tools such as Facebook Insights to better define your target audience and create detailed buyer personas.
Information that you must know about your target audience includes:
Information that you must know about your target audience includes:
1. Basic demographic info: age, location and gender.
2. Work Info: current work position and where do they aspire to reach within the organization.
3. What channels do they use: which distribution platform do they prefer and how much time to they spend on it.
4. Who are they influenced by: Who has the power to have an influence on their decisions.
5. Pain points: What challenges are they currently facing and what ‘s the impact of these challenges on their work and life in general.
Negative personas in your marketing campaigns help you visualize who you’re not writing for. The exclusionary tactic brings more clarity to your content marketing campaigns.
The graphic below explains the steps to identify your business’s’ negative personas:
After you’ve created your target buyer personas and negative personas it’s time to move onto your content audit.
2. Carry out a Content Audit
A content audit helps you get a clearer picture on all your existing content. The aim of a content audit is to perform a qualitative analysis on all your website content, social media content and standalone post-click landing pages.
Through the audit you get to determine if the content you’ve already produced is relevant for your target audience, addresses their needs and forwards the goals of your organization, it also helps shape and ascertain the feasibility of future content projects.
There are three main steps of a content audit:
Step 1: Inventory existing content
Create an inventory of all the content you currently have, you can use tools such as Screaming Frog to create the inventory as it can be a lengthy process depending on the amount of online content you have.
For content audits indexable content is important, which means you can forgo all crawlable content which isn’t relevant to the audit and save yourself some time.
Step 2: Organize and tag your content
The next step is to organize and tag the content you have in your inventory. Your content audit should be organized using the following criteria:
Topic: What does the content discuss, is it about social media, or marketing psychology? Is the content purely promotional or educational? Come up with a relevant list of categories for your business, so you know which category your audience most positively responds to.
Length: What’s the word count of the content piece. Does the length of the content have an effect on its readability? Do your readers prefer long form content or short form content?
Tone: What tone is your content mostly written in. Do you have professional content, or humorous cheeky content?
Relevance: How aligned is your content with what your product or service is? Is your content explicit or implicit about your business and the products you’re selling?
Date: How evergreen is the content? For example, trends posts usually last a year depending on the topic, another type of content that gets stale are company updates that expire with time.
Formats: Which formats do you deliver your content in? Do you use infographics, videos, lots illustrative imagery etc.
This is what a typical organized content audit looks like:
Step 3: Add success metrics
When you have the list of your entire published content in front of you it’s now time to add success metrics. The metrics will vary on the initial goals you set for the content pieces, however, the usual success metrics include:
- Engagement stats (average time spent on page, number of visited pages)
- Social shares
Step 4: Analyze your data
After you’re done with step 3 you now have in front of you a complete organized list of all your online content accompanied by their success metrics, now it’s time to analyze your data for patterns and gaps.
Is there a particular category that does well with audiences but it doesn’t have enough content in it? Do your audiences prefer beginner posts or do they like to get into the advanced stuff.
What content format does your target audience prefer. Answer questions like these to get a better idea of how you need to create future content for your content marketing campaigns.
Once you have defined your target audience and performed your content audit comes the time to set your goals. Create goals that are meaningful, measurable and time sensitive so you know how well you’ve achieved your goals.
Set metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for all the content you create so you have a better idea of what’s working and what you need to change.
Some metrics and KPIs that you can use for your content are as following:
Align your Content Style with Your Brand’s Personality
Consistency is key in every content marketing strategy, you need to ensure that every piece of content you produce has the same style and tone of voice, moreover the content should be synonymous with your brand’s personality.
Document the content style you want to go forward with so all content marketers are on board and there’s no inconsistency between content pieces.
Create an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar helps you organize and maintain consistency between every content piece you create. A content marketing editorial calendar provides you with a framework of how to reach your audience with the best content and establish trust with them.
The editorial calendar helps you strategize every type of content you need to produce and it helps you analyze the goals of the content and lets you know how you can improve your content for more positive results in the future.
Creating a content marketing strategy provides you with the framework you need to analyze, organize and iterate past content and plan and inform future content with consistency.
It keeps your target audience at the center and helps you create content that engages and inspires them.