Every company needs a content marketing strategy to plan and create content that will drive website traffic and boost sales.
If you’re creating content without a strategy or haven’t looked at your original content plan in months, it’s time to get a proper content marketing strategy in place. It could be critical to staying competitive. In fact, 78 per cent of chief marketing officers see custom content as the future of marketing.
However, winning over audiences with carefully crafted content doesn’t happen without a solid content marketing strategy. So why has content become such an effective marketing strategy? Research shows that 70 per cent of people would rather get information about a company from an article or blog post than from traditional advertising.
Developing a content marketing strategy is necessary to drive website traffic and grow sales. Yet, only 43 per cent of marketers surveyed by the Content Marketing Institute have a documented content strategy. A content strategy plan is critical because it gives your marketing department clarity about who you’re trying to reach or how you’ll engage them.
How to plan a content marketing strategy
- Outline your goals for your content
- Identify your target audience
- Distinguish what problems do you solve for your audience
- Recognize what makes you different from your competitors
- Find out where your ideal customers spend time online
- Streamline what marketing channels will your use
- Determine what types of content are popular with your target audience
What is a content marketing strategy?
A content marketing strategy provides goals, plans and resources for all the content your business will create. You can create an overall strategy and then develop a detailed content plan to carry it out. You should build your strategy using what you know about your business and your goals for the future.
Here are some of the factors you’ll need to consider:
1. What are your goals for your content?
Consider what you want your content to do for your business. Do you want to attract more traffic to your website, boost brand awareness or increase sales from your online shop? Knowing your priorities will help you make better decisions and allocate resources to the best types of content creation.
2. Who is your target audience?
Ideally, your marketing team has researched your ideal customers to have a sense of your target audience. You may even have developed buyer personas to represent these customers. Refer to these resources to ensure you keep your target audience in mind as you build out your strategy.
3. What problems do you solve for your audience?
Keep your company’s purpose and mission in mind. What problems do you solve for customers? Answering this question will help you clarify your messaging and stay on track.
4. What makes you different from your competitors?
Every company has something that sets it apart. When creating content for your audiences, weave your differentiators into your messaging.
5. Where do your ideal customers spend time online?
If you know who your ideal customers are, you can do a bit of research to see where they spend most of their time online. Then you can focus more of your efforts on creating content on those channels.
6. Which marketing channels will you use?
Your best choice for marketing channels will be a combination of where your customers spend time, where they show buying behaviour, where you’ve seen success in the past and what you can afford. There’s no magic formula, but targeting the channels that seem most effective with your ideal customer is an excellent place to start.
7. What types of content are popular with your target audience?
See what data you can pull up about the types of content your target audience engages with most. Do they prefer blog posts, infographics, videos, case studies, how-to guides, social media messages or podcasts? Learning the answer will help you present information your target audience wants and needs in formats they enjoy.
A well-developed content marketing strategy will help you create relevant content and allocate your resources to the best forms of content. In addition, it will help you determine how to show up for customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey with the content they need.
How to plan a content marketing strategy
Now that you’ve reviewed all the information needed to craft a powerful content marketing strategy, it’s time to lay out the details of how you’ll execute it.
Bringing your strategy to life requires a plan that sets out how you’ll get things done, who is responsible for each step and when things will go live. You can create a content calendar with topics that will be covered over a certain period. This calendar also sets out the details of how and when each piece will be created and published.
Make sure your content marketing strategy includes:
1. Content checklist
Start by identifying the steps you’ll need to take to put your strategy into action. These steps should take you through creating and managing an effective content workflow. Having a clear plan can help ensure your whole team knows how you’ll execute.
Put these essential items on your checklist:
- Content calendar: A content calendar helps you map out content that needs to be created and published each month. This ensures everyone involved can meet the deadlines.
- Writer’s guide: A document covering tone, voice, brand messaging and editing preferences will help keep your content consistent in style.
- Content budget: Define a clear budget so you know what you can spend on content creation, technology, tools, advertising and other costs.
- Content creators, writers and editors: Compile a list of content creators and other professionals whose talents you’ll need to produce quality content regularly.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Decide which metrics you’ll use to track your performance. You should be tying these metrics to the goals you set out in your strategy.
2. Content planner
Once you have the high-level elements identified in your checklist, you can organize your content production with a content planner. This document breaks out all the relevant information about each piece of content to ensure everyone understands what they are working to create and why.
This planner should outline every step from the content concept (idea, topic and pain points) to production (title, important dates and people needed to create it). It should also include technical information, such as keywords and relevant resources.
3. Tracking document
Robust content production is the result of multiple team members co-ordinating their efforts to complete each step, from an initial idea to a published piece. Tracking each step for every piece of content ensures your whole team can quickly tell which pieces are complete and what you need from them. In addition, your tracker can help you assign items, track dates and even ensure invoicing stays organized.
4. Contact information and rate directory
Rarely is content created by a single team member who devotes all their time to the task. You’ll probably outsource some or all writing. Keep this information in one spot so you can easily get in touch to assign writing, check on how big projects are progressing and process payments accurately.
Information you will want to keep organized include names, contact information, company or freelance details, and current rates.
It’s easy to see why every business wanting to reach customers online needs a content marketing strategy. It will lend structure and purpose to every piece of content you publish and ensure the best use of your marketing resources.
Download our content calendar planning template to create a workflow to manage each step of your content production.