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Content marketing continues to grow in popularity. But, simply creating blogs and posting on social media every other day will not significantly impact the bottom line.
To succeed in content marketing, a comprehensive and holistic strategy is required. A proper content marketing strategy will allow you to attract the right audience and generate profitable customer activity.
Today, we’ve created an in-depth guide where you can map out the primary steps that you need to create a robust content marketing strategy for your business.
What Is A Content Marketing Strategy?
What comes to your mind when you hear Investopedia or HubSpot?
Investment and marketing- right? These businesses have used different types of content to create expertise and brand awareness in a particular field.
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of relevant articles, videos, newsletters, emails, social media posts, and other media to attract, engage and retain current and potential customers. When done right, this marketing approach establishes expertise and clarifies what your company deals with.
A content marketing strategy is a plan for getting to the level of expertise you want your brand to be known for using content. It includes mapping out, implementing, and distributing your content marketing material.
Why Do You Need a Content Marketing Strategy?
Today, digital marketing has made it easier for us to reach customers. Even smaller businesses with a smaller budget can now book Facebook or Google ads affordably.
On the flip side, this affordability has people bombarded with adverts leading to ad fatigue. In fact, it’s estimated that over 42% of web users have installed an ad blocker.
A content marketing strategy helps you move from creating content chaotically to building an organized system. You create specific goals and success measurement metrics and implement continuous improvement measures.
Also, you improve your SEO, build brand authority, and effectively generate leads for your business.
What Makes a Powerful Content Marketing Strategy?
An effective content marketing strategy is made up of these core elements:
1. Well-defined Audience Personas
Before you tell your brand story, it’s good to know who you’re telling the story to. Your first step in creating your content should be identifying your audience persona.
An audience persona is the visualization of a “person” who embodies your ideal audience. Think of it as a singular, distinct person. What are their demographics, behaviors, challenges, goals, interests, etc?
To identify the audience persona, you can:
- Research industry trends;
- Survey your existing customers;
- Check whom your close competitors are targeting;
- Steer clear of anyone you are not targeting.
2. Positioning Your Brand Story
Defining your brand and product positioning helps you provide your audience with a consistent experience. You build the right image across all your content marketing channels.
To brainstorm on positioning your brand, ask yourself these questions:
- What are the goals of my existing and potential customers?
- How do my top competitors market their brands?
- What is my brand’s unique selling point?
- What solutions does my product provide?
These questions will help you shape your brand story.
A brand story is a collection of your company’s history, mission, purpose, and values you hold. A brand story will be a guideline for your content marketing strategy, curating the right messages and topics to make your content.
For a great brand story, focus on these elements:
- Make the customer the hero of your story; use their goals and challenges;
- Your brand’s personality, purpose, and critical values;
- How your product or services and your content can help empower your hero (customer).
A brand story will be highly beneficial if you’re running a small business or a start-up that can rely on your unique background and identity.
3. Owned Media Value Proposition
Your owned media value proposition helps you find the differentiation point in your content strategy and compete better.
Find out the unique value that your products offer to your customers, and create content that stands out from other content creators.
Additionally, create a content marketing mission statement that will define the purpose of every piece of content you create.
Your content marketing mission statement should have your audience and their goals as key elements.
4. Your Business Case Combined With your Content Marketing Goals
Giving value to your audience is a vital determinant of the success of your content strategy. But, besides attracting new readers and followers, your content strategy should drive sales for your business.
Find the business goals your company needs to meet through content marketing. How much do you need to invest in your content strategy, and what results do you want the content to generate?
5. Action Plan
How will your content marketing campaigns achieve your marketing goals? Put a plan in place of how you intend to meet your set business objectives through content marketing.
Putting a plan in place will help you identify priority areas such as content formats and topics. You’ll also identify the priority channels for content distribution.
We have looked at the key elements to loop in your content strategy. Now let’s see how you can create an effective content marketing strategy.
How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy
- Step 1. Set Goals that Align with your Business Objectives
- Step 2: Find out Everything You Can About Your Audience
- Step 3: Assess Your Current Position
Log Your Content
- Step 4: Find out How Your Content is Performing
Identify Content Gaps
- Step 5: Decide on Content Types
- Step 6: Develop your Content Plan and Content Calendar
- Step 7: Develop and Distribute Your Content
Step 1. Set Goals that Align with your Business Objectives
The first step to creating a winning content strategy is to set out clear goals and objectives. Without goals, you have no way to evaluate the success of your strategy and ROI.
You can have more than one goal for your content marketing strategy. For Instance, your goals may include:
- Increase sales- Getting high-quality leads that can be converted;
- Build a mailing list;
- SEO success- increase inbound leads and web visitors;
- Acquire new users for a mobile app;
- Social media engagement;
- Establish your brand as an authority and gain influence.
Go for goals that have a clear vision and a performance metric and set your KPIs to keep your campaign in check.
Step 2: Find out Everything You Can About Your Audience
Relevance has a magical touch in creating time and attention. To be relevant, you’ve got to figure out who you’re talking to clearly.
Who are you designing for?
Your audience is a collection of similarly motivated people who share interests or agendas. Think around your repeat buyers. Audiences can be segmented into cross-sections- people who share one or two common traits.
It’s important to the customer journey of your audience, from the discovery phase, the consideration phase, to the purchase phase. The customers may also become repeat buyers, so keep that added too.
The goal is to develop content that is relevant to your audience throughout their purchase journey.
For example, if you sell SaaS to business owners in the field service industry, an electrician salary guide would attract them at the consideration phase while a comparison page might attract them at the purchase phase.
Besides describing your audience, go a step further to note down your user persona. The user persona attributes may include:
- Behavior patterns;
- Level of experience with a specific product or service;
- Financial status.
Truth is, your product may appeal to multiple audiences, but marketing to a college student may be different from appealing to a retired person.
Step 3: Assess Your Current Position
You’ll find that you already have content out there. This can be your blog posts, podcasts, videos, social media content, etc.
The next step in your content marketing strategy is to figure out if your existing content is aligned with and meeting your goals.
Now you need a content audit. A content audit includes:
- Taking account of all your pieces of content, i.e., blog posts, guest posts, etc.;
- Accessing the usefulness and success of your content;
- Identifying the content gaps.
Additionally, you may want to analyze how your content compares with your competitors’ content and any market needs.
Here’s an example of how you can carry out your content audit.
Log Your Content
Screaming frog is a great URL crawler that you can use. You can use the free version as a starting point and crawl up to 500 URLs. By adding your website URL to the crawler, you’ll be able to find out:
- The list of your URLs;
- Your page titles, descriptions, and article meta descriptions;
- Find duplicate pages;
- Create sitemaps for your website.
SEMRush is a content audit tool you can also use. Just set up a project and select your website for the audit. The SEMRush content analyzer will show you a complete analysis of:
- Content titles and descriptions;
- Content length and SEO competitiveness;
- Backlink profile;
- Social media shares.
SEMRush also allows you to export your content data in a spreadsheet and analyze it better.
Step 4: Find Out How Your Content Is Performing
Next, check the usefulness of your content. These are the metrics to keep an eye on:
- If your content has a lot of inbound links;
- The search engine ranking for the keywords the piece of content is targeting;
- If your content is shared widely.
The SEMRush report can give you some of this information.
Ahrefs is another site audit tool that you use. The Ahrefs Site Explorer helps you find the top-ranking posts for your keywords, content gaps, and any topics you may have missed.
With an idea of how your content is performing, you can now:
- Identify your best-performing pieces of content, and how to improve them;
- The content that needs some improvement or updating to match your marketing goals;
- Content that needs to be removed or replaced.
Identify Content Gaps
Content gaps may include:
- Relevant keywords that your content is not targeting;
- Questions by your target audience that still need to be fully covered by your content;
- Content that is already ranking but could be improved.
Ahrefs can give you a clear picture of your content gap analysis. Find out your content gaps by checking the organic search tab» Content gap. Add the competing domains to your website and find out what they’re ranking for compared to your domain.
Step 5: Decide on Content Types
Next, it’s time to identify the types of content that you need to create. You can begin by having central core content published on your website (home base) and then repurposed for other websites (outposts).
Content types may include:
- Blog posts;
- Lead magnets;
- Social media posts and emails;
- Webinars and much more.
Blogs posts make an essential part of your content marketing mix. To boost activity on your site, consider the topic cluster blogging method.
With the content clustering method, you create a “pillar” page to act as the central content hub and additional pages that relate to the pillar page.
You can have multiple pillars on your site and create a cohesive blog strategy that guides users on all your expertise and services.
After creating your blog posts, use a tool like Buzzsumo to map out your posts for potential social media posts and shares. This boosts your engagement and reach.
Buzzsumo can also help you analyze your content-sharing statistics from all social media channels. You’ll also track your backlinks, see your trending content, and get feedback from your audiences, such as questions.
Remember to include other content types like infographics. Jump into a Podcast with your industry peers and link it to your website.
Lead magnets are also great, especially if you hope to grow your mailing list.
Step 6: Develop your Content Plan and Content Calendar
With proper content planning, resource allocation and workflows become easier. Planning helps you prioritize and identify the most critical tasks that need to be done immediately.
You can plan and prioritize your content based on the following:
- Potential gains;
- Resources needed to create the type of content;
- Product and service launches.
Based on these, decide the topics and formats that go first in your content marketing campaign.
Before you begin the content creation process, identify the purpose of each piece of content. Does it cover a part of the customer journey?
Consider mapping out an ideal content marketing funnel and creating content for each stage.
- Awareness phase. Top-of-the-funnel content. It should tell your brand story, educate, inform and have a thought leadership context.
- Consideration. Content that helps users and helps solve their pain points. Showcase how your product/ service has previously solved problems and add necessary follow-up steps.
- Decision. Content that helps potential leads choose the best choice. This can include case studies and client reviews that users can use and compare your product with other providers.
- Retention. Content that answers anticipated questions that prospects may have.
- Advocacy. Pieces that show your brand’s highlight; turning ordinary customers into evangelists. You can add content that showcases your brand value, outstanding performance and even giving back to this category.
A content calendar is one of the best and most effective ways to organize your content marketing strategy. Use a content calendar to plan your marketing campaigns and execute content production.
Your content calendar should have certain key elements such as keywords, target dates, target personas, headlines, the content creator, etc.
Step 7: Develop and Distribute Your Content
Prioritize making quality content that is memorable and relevant to your audience. Invest in people and resources that will provide unique research for original content ideas to ensure your content is original.
Additionally, diversify your content types to address different customer preferences. A video will perform differently from a tweet or an infographic. That’s why diversifying your content types always gives you an edge.
After publishing a piece of content, repurpose it and appeal to new readers differently. You can turn an article into a video, or a Twitter thread, use a segment of a long article into informative social media posts, etc.
After creating your content, have a content distribution strategy to ensure you reach your audiences at the right time.
Content distribution is the use of different paid and organic channels to publish and promote your content. Guided by your audience research, share your content in channels where your audience spends the most time.
You can publish your content on different social media channels or share it via email. In this case, you need to be aware of email marketing strategies and prioritize your email security as well.
Dedicate time and effort to being aware of DMARC statistics and take the necessary steps to prevent your account from spamming and phishing.
Finally, measure the results of your content. This is a key performance indicator of your content strategy. Head to your Google Analytics to see how your content is performing.
Other social media analytics tools like Buzzsumo and Mention can help you track your content marketing success.
Content Marketing Strategy Checklist
|Know your target
|Collect data about your audience;
Create target personas and content themes around audience interests.
|Set your goals
|Set realistic, measurable and relevant goals for your content. E.g., I will publish one blog post per week.
|Create an Inventory of your current content
|Perform a content audit using tools like Screamingfrog, Ahrefts and SEMRush;
Identity content gaps.
|Plan your content
|Decide on the content format;
Choose the publishing channels.
|Create a content calendar
|Allocate content roles to your team;
Map your content to the entire buyer journey.
|Craft your content
|Focus on original content;
Diversify your content types;
Repurpose your content;
Remember to use user-generated content.
|Blast off your content and promote
|Publish content on owned channels;
Share your content on earned media channels;
Take advantage of paid channels.
|Measure your landings
|Use Google Analytics;
Use social media analytics tools to measure the impact of your content.
Example of a Content Marketing Strategy
As we’ve seen, a great content marketing strategy:
- It helps you become an opinion leader in your industry since you perform competitor research, identify content gaps and fill them;
- Keeps you memorable in a sea of content;
- Makes people read and interact with your content anywhere they see it;
- Helps you warm up and convert more leads and even turn customers into brand advocates.
Here are examples of content marketing strategy as used by brands.
Whenever content marketing strategy implementation is mentioned, Hubspot always tops the list. The inbound marketing company has mastered creating content for every stage of their sales funnel.
The stages include:
Besides properly mapping out the sales journey, Hubspot also employs other content marketing strategies such as lead magnets, reports and e-books.
Over the years, the company has risen to become a multi-billion-dollar company–and yes, they’ve used content marketing.
Plus, their huge use of content has given them a huge search engine benefit whenever sales and marketing topics are sought.
Buffer boasts over 1.5 million blog visits. What’s their number one secret? Content Marketing. In a blog post, Alfred Lua says that they relied on three main strategies:
• Understanding their audience;
• Planning and publishing their content frequently;
• Promoting their content.
They also had a guest posting strategy that increased their user base by over 100,000 users. Additionally, they’ve relied heavily on transparency, and they want their content to be known for being genuine and honest.
ASOS has mastered content marketing in the fashion space. By using Instagram’s popularity, the brand has used User-generated content to boost its trustworthiness and growth.
ASOS uses the hashtag #AsSeenoNAsos to curate Instagram posts from users across the world.
Content Marketing Strategy Templates
Now that we’ve seen how to develop a content strategy let’s see how you can put the information together in a way that makes sense for your organization.
A content marketing template can be handy, especially when dealing with people outside your marketing department. Here are a couple of templates you can use.
Here is a free content marketing strategy template from the Marketing Insider Group that you can use to compare with what your business creates.
Backlinko has content marketing templates in three formats. The template is relatively simple and doesn’t capture all the steps we’ve covered above, but it’s a great starting point.
Hubspot has curated different content templates, ranging from content marketing plan templates, and buyer persona to design and email content. You’ll find the templates helpful for your content marketing strategy.
CoSchedule also has a more robust template that comes with instructions. You can download it after completing the form.
You can also use Adobe’s template. They give you a glimpse of their strategy to compare with your own.
Master Your Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is evolving. New tips and methods keep coming up each day. But, the core principles have remained the same. The success of any content strategy is tied to top-notch content that relies on customer empathy and reliable data.
Don’t let the process intimidate you, even if you’re just beginning. Have clearly defined goals for your brand, know your target audience and create content that aligns with the relevant keywords. Perform continuous analysis and monitoring of your content and find out if your inbound leads are increasing.
As you progress, you’ll find that the process becomes easier and you can sustain your company’s organic growth.
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